Backpacking is amongst the most highly recommended activities for school leavers and seasoned travellers alike. The world is filled with hidden treasures and magical places waiting to be explored and discovered by you. Backpacking means embracing adventure, mapping out a route, taking trains, planes and automobiles to get to locations the world over while experiencing life at its very best, on a budget.
Above: Travel with all the essential on our backpack checklist. Photo by LeeA
The question is what is important enough to take up space in your rucksack and what, besides the kitchen sink, needs to be left at home. The backpacking experience does not cater for a selection of luggage enough for your own trailer or private compartment in first class. You will walk long distances and do a lot of sightseeing. As you won’t have a porter, keeping things simple will make your trip more enjoyable. Combing overlanding with a backpacking travel trip through the Dark Continent can only prove to be fun, presenting the best of Africa and nature.
It is ideal to start your backpacking overland adventure in a city. This way, you have the opportunity to stock up and take the time to prepare before meeting up with your party and crew at the truck. Leave prepared and enjoy what is bound to be an exciting, scenic and absolutely awesome journey.
The world is your oyster and you’re ready to go globe trotting from Europe to Africa, meet the world and embrace the unknown, meet new people and have the time of your life, forging memories of what will be some of the best days of your life for as long as you can remember. So let’s presume you’re planning on an extended vacation and the plan is to spend some quality time with Mother Nature overlanding Africa. Here’s what you take:
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist
The Absolute Essentials
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist Essentials are the most important backpack items you pack for any backpacking overlanding adventure. It’s the stuff you just don’t leave home without.
- Sun Protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, hat)
- A Ruck Sack. Suitcases are not suitable for overland travel.
- Decent Flashlight & Head Torch
- Pocketknife & Leatherman
- Passport, Visas & Papers
- Suitable Clothing
- First Aid Kit
The Bathroom Baggie
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist makes sure you have it all in your Bathroom Baggie helping to keep your teeth clean, your eyes clear, your hair washed and the bugs off you.
- Biodegradable Liquid Soap
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Toilet Paper in Plastic
- Contact Lenses Kit
- Insect Repellent
- Bath Towel
- Face Cloth
Keeping It Casual
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist ensures you are Keeping It Casual packing the right clothes for your outdoor safari across Africa, preparing you for all the weather and temperatures you might expect along the way.
- One Set of Smart Clothes (for a night out)
- Sandals (camp wear, wading streams)
- Cold Weather Hat (covers ears)
- Shirts (long & short sleeves)
- Pants (non-cotton, durable)
- Lightweight Wool Gloves
- Waterproof Clothing Bag
- Changes of Underwear
- Inner & Outer Socks
- Swimming Costume
- Camp Fire Poncho
- Beach Sarong
- Classic Jeans
- Fleece Jacket
- Hiking Boots
- Casual Flats
- Cargo Pants
- Track Pants
The Must Haves
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist ensures you have all The Must Haves in your back pack making sure you keep it light but don’t forget a thing.
- Regular Medication (i.e. an asthma pump)
- Long Life Reading Material
- Camera, Lenses and Film
- Pack of Playing Cards
- Hard Cover Notebook
- Memory Cards
- Travel Journal
- Cell Phone
Keeping It Tidy
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist ensures you remember that Keeping It Tidy is as important as the journey itself and leaving no trace, or as little as possible, other than your footprints is a prime idea. Try keeping it organic.
- Multi-Purpose Cleaning Soap
- Small Hand Wash Soap
- Hand Sanitizer
The Real Extras
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist ensures you remember all the Forget Me Not’s in the process of packing for your next big adventure. These are the things you can’t do without on any overlanding Africa journey.
- Plastic Bags (Grocery Bags, Garbage Bags)
- Pegs Washing Line (simple thin rope)
- Spare Contact Lenses & Glasses
- Nylon Cord & Duct Tape
- Extra Flashlight Bulbs
- Swimming Towel
- Extra Batteries
- Extra Lighter
- Extra Pens
The First Aid Kit
The Overlanding Africa Backpackers Checklist has expanded on The Essential First Aid Kit. Accidents happen and making sure you have everything you need in regards to health and safety is highly important.
- Adhesive Bandages Various Sizes
- Cold Medicine, Cough Drops
- Needle & Tweezers
- Antiseptic Ointment
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Insect Bite Cream
- Ibuprofen for Pain
- Antacid Tablets
- Roller Gauze
- Burn Cream
- Safety Pins
- Deep Heat
Keep your kits in handy zip up and zip lock bags. It makes organising and keeping things organised easier. Cramming everything straight into your rucksack can cause you a real backpack issue when trying to find anything at all. It’s all good in the beginning but becomes a mess a few miles down the road and a couple of camps later. By compartmentalising you have easier access to your gear and are able to find anything in a rush.
One of the key criteria for backpacking would be packing light, again with the “packing light is packing right” philosophy is something many people struggle with. Lugging your rucksack from place to place can be taxing on the body, especially over long distances or a couple of kilometres. Reducing continually, particularly during extended trips and gifting people along the way keeps your backpack at a manageable weight.
Overlanding Africa and backpacking across the cradle of humankind requires a lot of moving around. Keeping what you carry around to the minimum and keeping space for small gifts to take home means that unneeded articles can take up valuable space. So at most you have your rucksack and a day tripping pack, so space really is limited. A large rucksack does hold a fair amount; it’s all about how you pack it, so pack tight.
Now that you've got your backpack check list sorted, contact Overlanding Africa for details and assistance with planning your next adventure. Overlanding Africa offers over 152 quality tours. Climb on the next overland truck and backpack across Africa on either a camping or accommodated overland trip. Live a little, experience a lot.
About the author
Jacqueline has a career background consisting of nightlife eventing and entertainment fused with hospitality then blending with branding and business and over the past few years focusing on digital media. Her personal passions include the arts, travel, food, film and photography. Jacky is a social media expert, PR professional, blogger, copywriter, events designer and digital journalist with a passion for music. Jacqueline Freer is the MD and founder of Inrichmint Media Studios & Recordings, both divisions under the same brand name.