Jul 14

Serious Travel BackpackWhen setting off a long-term trip for the first time, it’s common for people to bring far more than they need; the uncertainty of what the trip may bring can lead to a mentality of packing things “just in case”, or for comfort.

I remember my first 2-week trip to Thailand, hundreds of full moons back; my backpack looked like the one to the right and embarrassingly I even brought socks for that expected cold night in the tropics. Ahem!

To help you towards the way of traveling light, guest writer Steve James – also guilty as charged for over-packing on his first round the world trip – offers a subjective and irreverent look at ten common backpacking items which in his opinion should stay in the wardrobe:

1. A Huge Backpack to rival the SAS/Navy Seals

Take a stroll down the Khao San Road and you’ll see wave after wave of fresh recruits arriving from overseas kitted out like Special Forces, tottering under the weight of bulging 70-80 liter capacity backpacks. Don’t do it to yourself! You really shouldn’t need a backpack bigger than 50 liters. Any more and you need to seriously reconsider the items you’re packing. Are they really necessary?

2. JeansLeave that trusted blue piece at home, says Steve!

It seems like a natural choice to throw a pair or two of jeans in your bag, but denim is not suited for life on the road by any means. Jeans are thick (making you hot in balmy climates), heavy and take an age to dry. You’re far better off with a pair of trousers/pants made from a lighter, quicker-drying fabric.

3. Sleeping Bag

As this is no longer the 1970s, virtually all hostels worldwide will provide you with adequate bedding for free. There is absolutely no need to bring a sleeping bag on your trip unless you are doing an awful lot of camping. Instead, consider bringing a cotton (or silk, if your budget stretches that far) sleep sheet, which will take up hardly any room at all in your pack and will be useful to separate you from the odd festering mattress you may have to lay your head on.

4. Hiking Boots

Unless you are walking around the world, leave the hiking boots at home. Big, clumpy and stinking, a pair of boots weighing down your bag will quickly become irksome, particularly when you’re in a sandals climate. You’re far better off hiring boots when you fancy doing some serious hiking, although a pair of sturdy trainers/sneakers will often suffice for “accessible” walks.

5. Laptop

Increasingly in dorm rooms worldwide there will be one or more travelers busily tapping away on their laptops. A laptop is a luxury item, and certainly not an essential item for backpacking, unless you require one for working en-route, so think seriously before bringing one on your trip. What might seem like a great idea at home may not be so genius on the road when it is stolen or broken.

AYCB - All-you-can-bring Digital SLR Camera6. SLR Camera

Hand-in-hand with a laptop on my list of no-nos is an SLR camera. You’d have to be seriously committed… to photography to bring an SLR. Heavy, bulky (especially if you bring along a selection of lenses) and prone to breaking or being pinched by shifty travelers, swallow your artistic pride and bring a crap point’n’shoot digital camera like the rest of us.

7. Enough Medical Supplies To Make Florence Nightingale Blush

One for the hypochondriacs. A compact, basic first aid kit is essential to bring with you, such as plasters, a small tube of anti-septic cream and so on. But don’t go overboard. Unless you are really going way off the beaten track, leave the sterile syringes at home and put your money into comprehensive emergency travel insurance instead.

8. A Pacsafe

Don’t know what a Pacsafe is? Good – keep it like that. Suffice to say, it is something your Mum would think would be a good idea. It’s not.

9. Mosquito Net

Mosquito bites are intensely annoying, and need to be taken seriously, as a little nip can be deadly if the blighter is a carrier of malaria. However, there are effective ways of protecting yourself without resorting to carting a mosquito net around (such as using anti-malarials, covering up at dawn/dusk and using DEET or natural repellents). Nets take up far too much space in your pack, and are not needed in most of the world. For the areas in which you may appreciate having one, such as particularly infested parts of Africa, pick one up locally if they are not supplied at your accommodation.

10. Guitar

Because there is a common consensus that people who travel with guitars are wankers.

Steve JamesSteve James is currently eight months into his second round-the-world trip and has recently started putting his experiences to paper in his very own Budget Travel Guide. Check out as well his site at overlandtales.com.

When you stay at this fancy Hotel in Toronto, you won’t have to pack much of anything!

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written by Chris

167 Responses to “What NOT To Bring Backpacking: 10 Things To Leave At Home”

  1. MikeNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Nice one about the guitar! I work on the internet for a living so I need a laptop and just bought an SLR, but you are right about them. The additional adapters are also heavy.

  2. devariNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    about the guitar =))

    about the jeans, are you sure? apart from its thickness, jeans most of the time are good as an ‘armor’. It’s good for ‘protection’ of your legs, a thorn will be difficult to penetrate jeans rather than a cotton pant, so to speak :)

  3. Louise BrownNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Hey Steve, nice one. Keep up the great writing. I agree with the jeans statement, except I never seem to follow that rule myself.

    Louise Brown
    TravelPod Community Manager

  4. Things You Shouldn't Take Backpacking | HostelBloggers UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Over at Nomad4ever.com, roving travel writer Steve James lays out his list of things you really shouldn’t take backpacking. […]

  5. ScribetrotterNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Absolutely no jeans, I agree – they take forever to dry. Try wearing a pair during the rainy season and you may be stranded for a week waiting for them to dry. There are plenty of good quality trousers that are tough enough to be protective.

    Steve, I’ll have to disagree with the mosquito net. Having traipsed around the back roads of Africa for years, I’d never leave home without my mosquito tent – it’s shaped like a tent but keeps out mosquitoes. Yes, it’s a bit cumbersome, but in rural areas off the backpacking trail you will not usually find nets – and if you’re gone for any amount of time you know the ravages that Lariam can cause… as for DEET, that’s fine for a day or two in the rainforest but not for a month. Nor have I found natural substitutes to be effective. Malaria kills, and if you’re far away from medical care, in my opinion this is the number one danger (other than slicing yourself up with your machete trying to hurl it at palm trees to swipe a coconut).

    What? No guitar?!?

    These are great tips, and I’ve made every single one of these mistakes myself at one time or another… ;-)

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    For me the list is a 90% fit, just the laptop I’m not so sure about. Guess I mentioned that in some previous posts already, but then everyone has a different setup. And yeah I don’t know what a Pacsafe is, although Steve mentioned that it’s probably not so well-known; but now it really made me curious. Have to find out finally what that piece is….


  7. JonnyNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Yep, a mosquito net is vital if you’re going anywhere off the beaten track! Pacsafes are huge chain nets you put around your bag to keep the world out – basicaly cumbersome, painful when you catch yourself on them and like carrying around an extra few kilos.

  8. 10 things NOT to bring… « TravelPod News UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Steve James is a frequent contributor to the TravelPod forums and he has recently written an article on the blog, Nomad4ever. […]

  9. CringeNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I’m looking at a guitar carrying wanker as I read this…..and I’m not even traveling.

  10. Marie-JoseeNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Great idea Steve! Your suggestions are right on. We brought nets during our 8 month trek and never used them. Many establishments where we stayed had their own nets. The best tool we had was the duct tape to fix the holes in them.
    The amount of space the net took in my backpack could have been replaced by that awesome pair of shoes I saw in Argentina!
    However, being a mom and travelling with my two sons, I had to bring the biggest medical/pack with me and it proved to be quite useful; we needed the syringes. Unbelievable what boys can get into! Go Florence Go! =D>

  11. James The Professional AdventurerNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Great list but like Chris said I am not sure about leaving my laptop behind, actually I world probably go through a coming off of heroin like withdraw if I was away from my laptop for more than 2 days – lol

  12. BingbingNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Hey! Thanks for blogging this. Its really useful tips. :D

  13. DavidNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Wow Steve. I looked at your site and see you have never been to countries where you trek. Pakistan, you can’t hire sleeping bags or boots, and in India, it can get pretty cold on those trains.

    Pathetic. you really need to take a good long hard look at yourself in the mirror

  14. DavidNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    And that is his view and having read his blogs, I see that he has never been to countries where you cannot buy/hire. Personally, he comes across as the typical person who does not venture off road, and stays where backpackers are.

    In Pakistan, I’m glad I had my sleeping bag and boots. They were not available.

    In India, in the winter, I’m glad I had my sleeping bag because on the trains, they don’t supply you with blankets

    I have travelled with/without an SLR, but I want to remember my trips through my photos, and nothing beats the quality of an SLR

    But lets be realistic. Would you put YOUR feet in a pair of used boots. I wouldn’t. I would rather wear a pair that I have broken in myself.

  15. Steve JamesNo Gravatar JAPAN Says:

    Thanks for all of your comments. I certainly expected a certain amount of disagreement to my suggestions – I noted specifically that this was my subjective opinion on the matter of packing – and indeed one of my intentions when penning the article was to fuel debate. Which it has!

    David – I’m sorry that you appear to have taken my suggestions rather personally. If you re-read the introduction you will realise that the article is aimed at first-time backpackers. Personally, I don’t think my suggestions are particularly out-of-line for the vast majority of budget travellers who take the typical first-time backpacking route around the world – of which I was one, as you point out.

    Those that have disagreed here, however, have taken the trouble to reply in a courteous manner. I find it a shame that you haven’t managed to follow suit – but your comments are nevertheless duly noted.

  16. BenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I really like these tips, and the jeans definitely make sense. However, many places people go backpacking in the mountains. For me, backpacking is hiking, so the hiking boots are extremely important. I find that I can’t go for more than a mile on a rocky trail in sneakers. However, I suppose it depends on the situation. Thanks for a good article. :-)

  17. travellerNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    This definitely sounds like a “10 things “I” would not bring backpacking” list instead of an end-all, for everyone list of what not to bring. Lots of people probably have lots of different reasons for bringing one or more items on your list.

  18. lvlephNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Well, unless you are backpacking through civilization, which I don’t consider backpacking then you most certainly should not leave a sleeping bag at home. Even if one plans to hop between hostels it is still a good idea to keep a sleeping, because you never know what might happen. My quilt only weighs 15oz, so… Besides if I am hiking I rather sleep outside. Hopefully, someone doesn’t takes the sleeping bag advice and die.

  19. Tom KoxNo Gravatar SWEDEN Says:

    Don’t agree with much of this at all, except for electronics and those wimpy anti-theftbags. They’re pretty unnecessary if you leave your electronic stuff behind. If you are bringing a computer, you’re not backpacking anywhere. Your touristing somewhere.

    Jeans- They go with everything clotheswise, they’re both casual and can look semi-formal if combined with other clothes for those occasions when you need to bitch with people at some embassy somewhere or whatever, and they’re durable. As you say, of course it matters where you travel- jeans worked fine for me in Turkey and India, less so in Thailand.

    Sleeping bag- Have to agree with the guy above, no way am I going to leave this at home. It doubles as soo many things (pillow, for one thing! I’m so glad I had this with me for those 24H+ trainrides), and I am yet to visit a single hostel anywhere outside Europe that offers “bedding” as you call it. Not any I would sleep on anyway. You never know where you’ll wind up, it’s nice knowing you always have a last resort-bed to sleep in, even if it’s on the ground. Though, again, that depends on what kind of “back-packing” you do. I don’t consider taking cabs between one hotel and another as traveling.

    Hiking boots- You have GOT to be kidding.. YET again, I don’t know what kind of traveling you do, but there’s NO way I’d make it through any place I have ever been to without a solid pair of boots.

    Medicine- You can’t take too much drugs with you. Of any kind. Ever.

    Mosquito net- If you’re gonna pick one up when you arrive, what difference does it make? I’d rather buy a clean, sturdy one at home and bring it with me. They’re not THAT heavy.

    Guitar- spot on. Those bastards make me sick.

    Regards! – Tom

  20. NathanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Found your site via StumbleUpon and glad I did. Look forward to reading more.

  21. VJNo Gravatar REPUBLIC OF KOREA Says:

    Is going to Khaosan road really “backpacking”? If you can’t find anywhere better to go in Bangkok, you don’t deserve to travel due to the fact that you are a moron. If you are planning to go there, bring whatever you want…you may just want to leave a little extra room in your suitcase for the overpriced tourist items you are sure to buy.

    Traveling tip: Remember to bring a collection of your coolest T-shirts, you know, the ones that have outdated ad slogans on them…that’s how other backpackers know that you are not a noob.

  22. kaneNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    Steve I would like to apologise for Dave on behalf of the rest of the human race. The list is classic. I’ve made most of these mistakes as do pretty much all travellers.

  23. MichaelNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    I had a guitar thoughout five months of a SE Asia and one of my favorite memories was jamming with two salt of the earth Cambodian fisherman near Sihanoukville in exchange for a hideous blubber fish that looked like it had been cooked in crude oil and some of the local beetle nut whisky that quickly made you forget about the fish… I don’t think I would have had the same experience without it as an icebreaker… bad Eddie Cochrane renditions went down especially well. ..

    I didn’t really care if fellow travellers thought I was a wanker, I was having too much fun with the locals.

    just remember to buy it over there and leave it over there :)

  24. AndrewNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I disagree with the sleeping bag – I think one of the tropic-rated ones that can be stuffed into a bag are key to a long trip. Sure most hostels and hotels provide you with bedding but a lot of the time the cleanliness of it is questionable….

    A mosquito net is also a GREAT idea to bring with. They don’t take up much room in your bag and are light. Lots of places don’t provide them anymore (especially in SE Asia) and putting one of them up is better than sleeping in DEET in my opinion….

  25. JonathanNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I dont agree with the mozzie net. Its saved me a 1000 times, and weighs next to fuck all.

  26. fredNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    no…just no.
    You’re right about the jeans and laptop, but little else.

    If you’re going to backpack in a strange culture for an extended period of time, you damn well better bring a good camera.
    Mosquito net? I hope you’d bring one if you’re going anywhere in south america/ africa.
    Sleeping bag: Hostels are NOT free. Especially if you’re going to a densely populated area.
    Hiking boots: If you’re in a tropical climate you’ll need them. Especially the waterproof ones.
    Huge backpack: …

    Know what this article is so throughly fucked up that I’m not even going to argue with you anymore. goodbye

  27. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Wow, I’m really happy with the discussion here! It seems like Steve hit a good nerve with his suggestions. Sleeping back or not, Hiking boots or not, Mosquito Net or Deet – everyone seems to agree to disagree. And yep the guitar – isn’t that great? While it surely helps with getting the girls; it is a bit problematic to carry it around with you for instance on a RTW trip or overseas. But one has to set priorities, right? And those are luckily different for every traveler! :D

  28. darrenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    i think your being sarcastic right? cuz thats my list of stuff to bring :D

  29. darrenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I guess im talking about CAMPING tho, for a journy “into the Wild” 9goodmovie) i can see packing light, i wanna be self sufficent and plant my own crops and weed and raise my own livestock, make music and move on to another part of land, work directly twards what i need to survive instead of breaking your back to make money which you still have to pay a FAKE TAX on to go to the heartless scumbags in charge just so they can exceed far beyond anthing 1 person (like the starving people all around the world) would ever need to survive in a lifetime… and on top of that possibly being arrested for being on “private property” or carrying an “ILLEGAL” PLANT… think of that and ILLEGAL PLANT… ! its so backwards and superficial and technological today i dont even know what to say about where i stand, we cant make it work… nno matter how intelligent the individual is people are still doing a considerable amount more harm than good to the earth.. let alone ourselves.. theres some messed up people out there… and mabye they should die.. to even out the situation of hunger and other population problms, but as long as greedy evil bastards are in charge they keep pushing it further… when are we the people going to say thats enuff im not going to be told things i cannot do that i beleive are right, but its just human nature to disagree and stand up for what we beleive in, i guess right and wrong has never been this complex before tho.. we better wake up now to whats happening in the world and how weve goten here and how where in hell we are going?

  30. pennylaneNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Nice work but i disagree with the mosquito net … i’ve encountered many occasions where i had no net and there weren’t any to be found … and i’ve had malaria, even while using the anti-malaria pills… its deadly and shitty… TAKE A NET, i can’t say it enough times (and some duct tape to hang it up with)

  31. andyshepNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    ill take my guitar wherever the **** i want thank you. like i care if people think im a “wanker”. im a musician. **** you very much. ;;)

  32. andyshepNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    had to post again.you are an idiot. this page is stupid.

  33. PatrickNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Man this has got to be one of they worst articles I have ever seen on what to bring and what not.
    You can tell you have never really done any serious backpacking and I can tell you dude after extensive travel all over this loverly globe if someone was to follow your advice you would certainly screw over their trip.

    Jeans are brilliant and will a good pair will serve you well for the occasional going out with the bunch of new travelers you have just met.

    A good SLR is a brilliant piece and will bring back memories for years to come, if you are a little worried about the safety of it or just a pain for space reasons look at the G9 compact camera from Canon.

    A pair of boots is a must in so many climates not only are the modern boots lightweight but they also dry fast.

    Even in a lot of hostels and I mean a lot you would be better in your own sleeping bags, some of the more western ones are fine as in some parts of Oz but go to Asia or India, or South America and many other destinations you will be glad you have one. Furthermore it is nice to get off the beaten track without one you would be stuffed.

    A mosquito net are tiny lightweight and although I would not call them a necessity try 6 days in the tropics without one, also they keep sandflies off as well on beach sleeps even worse than the mosquito.

    I believe the author has not actually travelled and all we are seeing is an attempt to make some cash from Google Ad-sense

  34. longtrailgirlNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Let’s see … on my last trip that I would consider “backpacking”, I …

    1. Was hiking across desert for almost 2 weeks and in mountains for another. If should have only brought a 50-kilo backpack, what exactly was I supposed to do with my bulky water bottles? Balance them on my head?

    2. Sticker bushes and a unexpected 100-mile ride on a donkey through ’em. ‘Nuff said.

    3. Silk sheets and hostels? Are you kidding me? That’s *backpacking*?

    4. Hahahahahahaha. You’re funny. Really. And I’m again shocked at the backpacking label.

    5. I didn’t bring a laptop but I did have enough electronics to make any geek cry, including a GPS and my …

    6. … big honking camera for big honking landscapes. That I’m actually making a little bit of money off of, so how’s that for your “artistic pride”?

    7. If there isn’t a risk of nasty creepy-crawly stings and other life-threatening injuries, then where’s the fun? Oh right, this is a list written by someone who’s never been out of the tourist section of Bangkok. My bad.

    8 – 10. Meh. More evidence this guy’s on the college bum-around-circuit.

    Bleh. I’m going back out there – too many idiots in civilization.

  35. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I partly agree with the camera thing, you dont need a bulky SLR, but a quality viewfinder camera with a good lens will do every thing an SLR will for 99.99% of photos, and these days many digitals have an excellent screen viewers instead.
    As to the guitar thing, I have to say that what I loved most about travelling was meeting and interacting with people. I am so glad I didn’t pre judge them for their looks or clothes or jewelry or colour or guitar etc. I would have missed out on an awful lot! Leave your predjudices (and jealousies) at home and take people as you find them, you will get a lot more from your travels.
    Steve James If your jealous of the attention the person gets for playing a musical instrument, instead of bitching about it, put the effort in and learn to play yourself.

  36. kaneNo Gravatar NEW ZEALAND Says:

    Wow a lot of venom in these comments.

    There are countless blunders which could be drawn out of the collective memory of all travellers. These blunders, one might think, would bring a smile to the face of fellow adventurers. As travellers, we have all made such blunders and even a seasoned traveller will not know quite what to expect when travelling. For many, indeed, this is the very point of travel. This list is a tip of the hat to the awkwardness travellers bring to their environments. If you can’t find entertainment in it, as a traveller, you’re jaded, or need to raise your eyes to the horizon. To be in an uproar over it is Monty Pythonesque.

    Travelling is supposed to broaden the mind and seeing some of the short sighted dribble above makes me laugh. An homage to the facelessness of the internet.

    The difference between the images captured by a good digital camera and an SLR are a ridiculous triviality to argue over. Most people can’t even use an SLR in a way which would justify humping one around the world. You think you can? Good for you. You’re not the majority.

    A sleeping bag liner is 1/10th the size and weight of a sleeping bag, and has 100 times the utility in 25-30 degree nights. This Blog is SE Asian. If you’re going to be spending extended time in highlands somewhere, where it gets cool of course you’d consider bringing one.

    Jeans are a waste of space for many – the occasional night clubbing doesn’t warrant a starting position. Jeans + SE Asian heat = heat stroke for me, and many like me. Tried to line-dry heavy denim in tropical humidity?

    LOL hiking boots. Most surfers, divers and beach bums would do better carrying an old hubcap around.

    Mosquito net – mileage may vary. I don’t use them often enough to carry one (though I humped one around the world with me on my first OE ha ha). Depending on your travel plans, you’re probably more likely to wind up in hospital after a scooter accident than contracting maleria (be very, very careful when using front brakes). The risk to travellers (jap enc b, dengue, malaria…) should not be understated tho. Mosquitos are the devil.

    Pacsafe. You’re travel habits are a much better safety measure perhaps. They do weigh a lot…

    Huge backpack filled with semi-useful crap – the number one travel booboo. Being prepared for anything seemed like a good idea until you’ve carried the 17kg monster for 45 minutes through Bangkok streets in the middle of the day looking for something you never find.

    Huge medical kit – upsized by your travel doctor. I err on the side of caution here but still get a chuckle out of my unused syringes from journeys past (and before you say it yes of course carrying a syringe has saved someones life)

    Guitar? My father was a guitarist. I am a guitarist. I would like a Johnny cash song played at my open air cremation. The chances of an individual being a wanker when carrying a guitar on an extended overseas trip are about 95%. Andy, it would seem, is a classic example of this phenomenon. The wanker %’s in the music industry are much, much higher than those found in the general population.

    What is important to me might not be important to anyone else so each persons interpretation of the list will differ. Missing this point, as a supposed traveller – someone who enjoys exposure to the differences in this world, is mind boggling.

    As an aside, great blog Chris. Been reading for a year now. Nomading through Bali in a week or two so might look you up. Keep posting!

  37. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I have just re read some of the comments and noticed that at No.15 Steve James is complaining that Dave was less than courteous.
    I have to say I dont think Dave was particularly rude, he didn,t do any name calling and labelling of groups in society!
    Seeing you now take the morally high tone after your initial comment and prejudice, I think that his advice to look at yourself is perhaps valid.

  38. ChrisNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Man, comments like these are the reason I never read comment boards.

    Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. But is it really relevant to insist that for your one trip in one location, this list was completely wrong? Of course it was: it wasn’t written for you, personally. It was written for first-timers, who will stay on the beaten path, won’t be desert trekking, and may or may not regret packing that extra 20 kilos of gear.

    Anyway, many thanks to those of you who disagreed while remaining civil. I’ll add a note or two to those in that camp:

    For those who must have a laptop (blogging for business reasons, etc) I would recommend the excellent Asus eeePC 700, which weighs in at .92 kilograms and can accomplish just about anything.

    As for shoes, why not pack a pair of Vibram FiveFingers? They take up as much room as a pair of socks, and can come in handy climbing, wading and hiking when foot-dexterity is of the essence. You’ve got to be good and used to them before trekking in them, since they don’t cushion your feet like boots do, but they do allow you to use the more natural walking motion of your feet.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Congrats on the great blog, Steve.

  39. GeoffNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I did my backpacking in the eighties – let’s see: sleeping bag – check; hiking boots – check; SLR with lenses – check, check; jeans – check. Not sure about the size of my backpack (it was big). Couldn’t really have done without any of them.

    I guess it depends on how light you want to travel. I packed jeans and light cotton trousers/pants.

  40. sumatiNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    nice list, thanks for sharing.

  41. DaveKNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Generally folks that feel they must have an SLR with them are generally folks that couldn’t take a good shot with an SLR OR a top of the line point and shoot. You can take as good a photo with a quality point and shoot as you can with all that impressive SLR gear you really don’t need to haul around. And odds are you really don’t know how to use that SLR anyway… when was the last time you took it off “P”?

    Good photos impress me…not gear.

  42. TylerNo Gravatar JAPAN Says:

    While internet cafes can provide adequate resources for most, slim travel models are becoming cheap enough for the average backpacker:

    regarding SLR, I’d definitely disagree. Yes, you point-n-shoots are fine for most, but the quality of pics you can get with an SLR doesn’t compare. Photos and video are my most precious travel mementos and they say volumes more than a rambling story.

    I’d like to see a bit more justification for this to be a serious article, specifically about the pac-safe.

  43. lil dunnNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I agree with your “10 Things to Leave at Home” from my experience I highly regret bringing jeans. They are heavy and take ages to dry after washing. I know its vital to have a nice pair of pants for clubbing or going out but bring something else instead! Lighter is better!

  44. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Look guys the quality of the photo comes from the lens and the composition, (yes , and the film/ccd quality) not weather you have a blooming great glass penta-prism and reflex mirror (SLR) stuck on top, The camera body is irrelevant as long as it is light tight and stable.
    If you dont believe me take an early Leica for a spin (viewfinder camera with arguably the best lenses ever made) It had parallax correction and a coupled rangefinder, so image centering and focus were never a problem (and interchangeable lenses),
    The only time you really need to look through the lens (SLR) is if you are doing super critical depth of field adjustments with aperture, but if the SLR has split image focusing in the centre, the chances are that as soon as you stop down the centre will go dark and the depth of field can’t be judged anyway, so you have to resort back to the depth of field markings on the lense body and may just as well have used a smaller lighter viewfinder camera in the first place.
    As I said previously, a good viewfinder camera will do 99.99% (if you know how to use them) of what an SLR will do. SLR’s became popular as male jewelry and boys toys, and became a must have by nearly every amateur , the myth that you had to have one was encouraged by every camera shop so that they could sell you a more expensive bit of kit!
    Yes! I know SLRs are lovely to use but we are talking about saving space and weight.
    Bear in mind also that modern digitals have a screen to show you what the lens sees and almost completely removes any advantage the SLR has.
    If you can genuinely think of a photo that you took with an SLR whilst backpacking that you couldn’t have got with a suitable quality non SLR Then I genuinely would be interested to hear about it! but they will be few and far between! (unless you went to alot of airshows and had some really big telephotos :o)

  45. PinNo Gravatar MALAYSIA Says:

    Depending. In Tropics, you can travel with short pant all the time. Backpacking is just the terms. I believe everyone has their own preference while ‘traveling’. Perhaps, it is easier to talk about what you want to experience from the trip than what to bring. It is like choosing the best guitar while you can’t decide what song to play :)

  46. 6pack absNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Great tips, me and my girlfriend always pack way too much, this should help.

  47. WhybotherNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Why even bother brining a camera at all? Isn’t that just a luxury item? And jeans will dry over night, especially in the winter time when heating is on compared to ac. Why bring anything other than the clothes on your back?

    I originally thought using forums and asking people what they brought would help, but I’m binging to realize that some backpackers carry a badge of honour for being a minimalist for no good reason. I look at people like Matt Harding now; he is the fellow that has traveled the world dancing. He takes hiking boots, a laptop, etc and he doesn’t complain or so I’m guessing he doesn’t look at these forums for advise. I think people just need to learn by experience and do it and be your own person when traveling.

    It is the same thing with food, everything is good for you in moderation. Likewise, with clothes and things you use day to day. For instance I carry my SLR everyday in NYC, sometimes treking for 6 hours and I don’t find it heavy or a nuisance. And what drives me nuts is this thing people keep mentioning: if you have an SLR you will stand out like a tourist. First of all, many people in these countries use SLR cameras, just look at flickr, so that is not true. Secondly, what is wrong with looking like a tourist? You will get more help from locals if they think you are not from around here also. Plus you are a TOURIST! Just be smart about things.

    Silly, I feel like a hater on youtube, so I apologize I don’t mean to be, but I find this whole website/forums silly now.

  48. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I disagree with Neil. For the average individual the SLR camera may have no advantage. This debate of SLR vs. point and shoot is a long standing one and I think it arises from people’s lack of knowledge of aperture, shutter speed and especially ISO. If you have a bigger lens, that has a bigger sensor to capture images, you will a) need less light (so an SLR works better in low light conditions without sacrificing ISO) and b) the saturation of colour will be better for your images. Depth of field is hard to achieve with many point and shoots, unless you really know what you are doing. This is why, among many other reasons, an SLR camera is better than a point and shoot and why people use them.

    For instance a fast lens will work great in churches without a flash. You won’t even need to increase the ISO of your camera, unlike a point and shoot that leads to grainy pictures all the time in many low light or indoor situations. It is rather shameful to have a picture ruined by grainy-ness.

    Take one if the reason you travel is for picture taking. Don’t take one if the reason you travel is to travel and not take pictures. I travel to take pictures, and my SLR camera has always been with me.

  49. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi “on SLR’s”
    Actually you didn’t disagree with me, If you read my comments I have never recomended a point and shoot, (although there are one or two now on the market that I would recomend) I said “one doesn’t need an SLR”. And yes obviously a faster lens will allow more light into a camera, but if your talking dim churches without flash, then a very fast lens will probably be required (eg f1.2) if you want to take advantage of all the other things you mentioned such as low iso (eg 25-150asa).
    Such a lens probably won’t be a zoom (if it is you sacrifice ultimate quality) so now we are talking at least two lenses if you want versatility.
    Also if you use the lens at this wide aperture your depth of field will be very limited and a large part of your church interior will likely be out of focus, which is fine if you are trying to pick out the alter or a window for example but not if you want to show the interior.
    Also a lens gives its best image quality around it’s mid f stop (so around f5.6-f8 on this example) so for this sort of critical photography we now need a tripod!

    You are incorrect in saying:” If you have a bigger lens, that has a bigger sensor to capture images, you will a) need less light (so an SLR works better in low light conditions without sacrificing ISO)”

    A bigger lens diameter of a given focal length on a given size sensor will allow
    more light and therefore be faster than,
    a smaller lens diameter of the SAME focal length on the SAME size sensing medium.
    If however you reduce the size of your film/ccd then a shorter focal length is required for the same field/angle of view so a smaller lens diameter is required for the same lens speed.

    (focal length/front element diameter=lens speed in f or focal ratio)

    so a smaller lens will do the same job on a smaller film/media as the larger lens on a larger film media. also the smaller lens on the smaller media has other advantages, such as reduced parallax error when shooting long or tall buildings for example, and cost, size , weight and potentially quality.

    You also said: “and b) the saturation of colour will be better for your images.”

    No! colour saturation is film dependant or in the case of digitals, setting dependant (usually set low as default setting, so learn how to adjust your new digital, people!)

    I also take my SLR on weekend trips and carry it about all day, I even carry a medium format technical camera and kit around for a day occasionally, but I dont take either one on long term backpacking trips,
    I take a suitable viewfinder camera and nowadays that is a digital with zoom, because this will give me more versatility than I could possibly carry with the same weight and size in SLR format.

    And you didn’t mention a shot that you couldn’t have taken with a viewfinder camera (or digital screen viewer) ie. non SLR whilst backpacking?

  50. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Simply put, there is no point in buying a nice SLR camera if you don’t use it on those trips that will lead to great images. I guess I didn’t mean to use the word colour saturation. But a big sensor leads to better quality. The dslr image sensor is the size of a post stamp, unlike a point and shoot that has an image processor the size of a finger nail. No matter what you say, the slr will have better quality images overall, in terms of colour capture, detail etc., since it has a larger sensor to capture everything with. Megapixels don’t matter in this regard.

    As for a pictures that a point and shoot can’t take, just look at some pictures on flickr. There are many times I have used my point and shoot and it has lead to incorrect light capture. It also doesn’t have many focus points to control what I want to focus on. It also is not quick enough because it lags. MOST importantly, ISO above 400 hundred suck and lead to grainy-ness! Most point and shoots work fine in decent lighting. The canon G9 unfortunately doesn’t do well in high ISOs at all. With my dslr, even when I shot with a f3.5 or 4.5, I can move the ISO up to 800 and have a great image. So when I travel I only take one lens, but that lens can work indoors under high ISO and not have grainy images like a point and shoot.

    Many indoor shots, such as museum art, with a point and shoot will suffer, unless you go with something like a G9, but its benefits are only observed when in manual mode. Otherwise, it to performs poorly and the colour is off for images. My dslr has yet to fail me in a museum.

    Here is a link that compares the G7 to a canon dslr. Overall you can see the image from the dslr is better. I’m all about the detail… but like I said, the G9 is a nice alternative and I love using that camera :D. Yet, if I only had one shot to take a picture with, I would always pull out my dslr, hands down.


    I use both point and shoot (I have a canon g9) and a dslrs. I’m sorry for centering you out Neil, but I really just wanted to respond to this blog and saying leaving gear behind is not necessary. Otherwise, whats the point, why take anything for that matter and why take pictures?

    Also, by the time you buy a really good point and shoot, like the G9, you are already hitting some low end model dslr price ranges. In the end, as I said, if you travel to take pictures, take your SLR; if you don’t, then leave it at home. That is really all I wanted to say. That is the key to decide which camera to take. Dslrs really aren’t heave especially if you are not using one with a metal frame body. People just like to have this silly minimalist approach. Take a camera you know how to use and you trust! Do what works for you, forget about reading these blogs like whybother said. So I’m gonna stop now. :D good luck with finding some balance and still following your own thing.

  51. annoyedNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    The world is not at all that dangerous anymore. Many people have seen cameras, laptops etc,. Your stuff is more likely to be stolen in your home country than abroad. I was robbed in south america from my hotel. Do you know what they took? Batteries, clothes, my toiletries and things along those lines. They did not take my laptop, my camera etc., because they have no value for those things. They wouldn’t be able to sell stuff like that, because a) nobody can afford it, b) nobody knows how to use it and c) it doesn’t help them live day to day.

    As long as you have no value to these things — I could care less if my stuff was stolen — otherwise why would you ever buy these things.

  52. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Sorry Neil, I didn’t answer your last question. But I find looking into the viewfinder of a dslr camera a) helps frame the shot better (subjective), and b) doesn’t distract me from the picture I am taking to what is going on around me because I can’t see what is happening peripherally (I only see what is happening in the picture, and I’m not bothered by what is going on around me or distracted like you do a viewfinder LCD screen). Looking through the lens allows you to wait for that moment you are looking for, it keeps you more steady, rather than a p&s which makes you shakey/unstable when using the LCD viewfinder.

    If you also look at the quality of the viewfinder on a nikon d80 or d300, you know why you just don’t look through any viewfinder that incorrectly represents the picture. I think this what you were asking me…

  53. hollyNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    wow. even super cool, worldly, artistic, “off the beaten path” types have politics like highschool girls…

  54. hollyNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    it’s like two girls fighting over a hairbrush.

  55. jamiNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    i break my camera on every major trip, but i get pictures i love beforehand, and like someone else said, a great camera is wasted if it sits at home on a shelf because you’re afraid to use it.

    but it is good for people to think two, three, five times about bringing giant bulky things on their trips.

    as a starting point, i really like the universal packing list:

    it takes individual circumstances into account (sometimes you really do want a sleeping bag).

  56. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I like how women are perceived. Could we not be football jocks fighting it pathetically as well? I’m also not super cool either. Thanks for thinking that I am as well as a high school girl.

  57. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    To “on SLR’s”
    SLR means single lens reflex which means: viewfinder through pentaprism and reflex mirror (there are some proffessional type medium format SLR’s that do not have a pentaprism but one views the image on a ground glass screen it is generally thought nicer than putting it to ones eye, I have never heard any phtographers say they find they are distracted by surroundings)
    Put the same lens and same ccd/film etc. on a NON SLR body and you will get the SAME (read identical in every way) shot! This is physics not an opinion.
    If it has a standard viewfinder, it will be similar to looking through your SLR so you wont get any more distracted and be able to frame the shot in the same way.
    I dont seem to have made myself clear. the pentaprism and mirror and mechanism is bulky and heavy and unnecessary for a good photo. They are simply a convenience to picture taking, and an inconvenience to weight and size.
    All proffessionals know this, but camera manufacturers and shops perpetuate the myth that a good photo can only be had with an SLR, and people who dont know better get taken in. Also people dont like to be upstaged.by somebody having a fancier or more expensive bit of kit than themselves.
    You are still insisting on comparing the SLR with a P&S in this discussion, which I have not done, please don’t read things in which I have not said.
    I also said photos taken whilst backpacking, and I believe flicr is not exclusive to this?
    And people I am sorry some of you find this like a “fight between two schoolgirls”
    In my arrogance I sought to educate, but being iconoclastic is unpopular, as people dislike relinquishing their sacred cows.

  58. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hey Neil,
    We are not talking about anything remotely the same — I realize this now as you bring up physics with prisms etc.,. I really am comparing dSLRs to point and shoots and the smearing of pixels that lead to distorted pictures. The article explicitly stated leave your slr at home and bring a crap point n’ shoot. So I’m directly comparing and referring to that comment and why you might not want a point and shoot. I develop pictures greater than 8×11, and pixels tend to smear from a point and shoot. I’m not referring to prisms etc., or anything in particular from the single reflex system.

    All professional photographers know about the smearing of pixels; this is the reason why professionals will use a dslr in the end (not necessarily for the SLR ‘look through the lens’ part, but for the image processor which leads to better quality). You refer to the physics of the lens (which I agree with); I’m referring to the another vital accept of digital imaging which is the digital processor that captures the image and its size.

    That is what I’m really talking about here. I apologize for starting my first comment with, ‘I disagree with you’ as you were explicitly referring to the single reflex system and I was referring to the digital processor. In the end the only thing I learned from you and this dialogue was that we were comparing apples and oranges…

    On my arrogance note, I think it is interesting how people think we are fighting like school girls. I’m a little offended that people would draw that analogy to continue and perpetuate gender stereotyping and disparity.

  59. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hey guys, no worries! I bet most readers (me included) enjoy your discussion and don’t see any arrogance here. It’s just that people have different opinions, would be bad if that would be otherwise. Okay, I travel with a crappy point n’ shoot (first Canon Ixus series, now Casio Exilim series the last few years), but only because I don’t need another expensive and time-consuming hobby.

    I have troubles already managing my Gigabytes of crappy travel pics and can’t imagine shooting in higher resolutions or carrying even more equipment around with me. But that’s just me – I use my pictures mainly to refresh my trip memories, which works fairly well. And they are still okay for the odd print or so or sharing with friends and family what I was up to the last weeks or months.

    So, it has to work for you. ;-)

  60. natessaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I absolutely agree about the SLR! I decided to take mine while backpacking in Europe and ended up forgetting it in a hostel because it was in a separate camera bag and I wasn’t used to carrying it, luckily i was able to retrieve it but the charger and memory card were missing when i went back for it! Don’t bring and SLR it’s just an extra hassle!

  61. BejaneNo Gravatar CHILE Says:

    God, I hate travel snobs. L-)

  62. jamiNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    chris, i don’t want to sound like a salesperson, but i find that a flickr pro account is a great place to keep thousands of pictures organized. it’s unlimited storage, so you can just dump ’em in there and get rid of the bad ones when you have time. i’ve noticed that a lot of people who have their own travel-related web sites also host and manage all their own photos, but i like flickr so much that i’ve never understood that. putting on a few flickr tags will help promote your pics and drive traffic to your site, too.

  63. SwaNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Terrible advice. As a person who has gone camping and back packing many times, those are some of the worst ideas I’ve heard.

    2. Jeans…
    You should bring jeans because
    A. keep bugs away from the legs along with poison ivy, oak, stinging nettles, small animals, sticks, sun ect.
    B. if falling into a large body of water, they can be used as a flotation device. Take the jeans off, tie each leg in a knot, hold the by the waist and above the water fill them with air like a balloon. The jeans will stay “inflated” for several minutes at a time before needing to be “refilled” with air above your head again.

    3. Sleeping bag
    Bring it because
    A. Hostels are not everywhere and even those you can get to, why not use your own bedding?
    B. If hurt, cut ect, use as extra fabric for a tourniquet, bandage, way of helping someone out of a hole, rescue from water ect.
    C. If camping in bear country, use as storage device for food being held above land.
    D. Protection from bugs ect when sleeping.

    4. Hiking boots
    Bring because
    A. You might not need ‘boots’ but wear sturdy shoes at least. Foot protection from the outdoors, better traction..
    B. “clunky boots” might just protect your feet better than sandles or tennis shoes from sharp rocks or something crushing your foot.

    9. Mosquito net
    BRING IT if you know you will be near water, swamps, if it has recently rained heavily or a mosquito prone area.
    Bites from bugs (not just mosquitoes) can be deadly. A simple net ( that doesn’t weight much at all) can save you.
    Plus, DEET will not fight off an army of mosquitoes and keep you safe at night.

  64. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    To “On SLR’s,
    I’m dissapointed to read that:
    “In the end the only thing I learned from you and this dialogue was that we were comparing apples and oranges…”
    because I have explained quite a few things that you apeared to not fully comprehend, but as I have had to repeat myself many times in these diatribes I can only assume that you read them to cursorily to assimilate the info.

    Once again: The fact that it is an SLR be it a digital one (DSLR) or film one does not mean it will be better image quality than other non SLR cameras. Most professionals use non SLR cameras regularly.

    I suggest you take a look at SIgma DPI this uses a (large) cmos sensor but at the price is definitely a professionals tool and is also NOT an SLR.

    Slightly less pricey but certainly not cheap is the Ricoh GX range (not SLR) these use positively gigantic ccd (1″x 1.75″) of 10+ megapixel, and as the charge on a pixel only effects the ones directly adjacent, the more pixels then the less will image (pixel) smear be noticeable, I doubt you will find it a problem even with your enlargements.

    These compact digitals are Ideal for jacket pockets, (or backpacking) Which SLR’s are not.

    Also I very clearly stated right from the start that a Quality viewfinder camera was what I was refering to, Please see my first sentence of my first comment (No. 35)
    I apologize if I seem a little short with you but I am a little exasperated at the number of times I have had to repeat myself. on so many points, and yet I can see I still am not able to explain myself in a way that you follow.

    However I am glad and relieved that you agree with the physics as this gives me some hope.

    My “goal” with all of this was to try and inform people that they can still get fantastic professional quality photos and save a bit of space, because there is a commonly held misconception that quality photos can only be had from an SLR!

    I would also suggest people have a look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ5 for a really excellent point and shoot.

    I have no connection with any of the manufacturers mentioned and use them only as good examples of their genre.

  65. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I concur, it all comes down to the digital processor. You win Neil. I’m tired of you assuming that you are educating me and your arrogance about it. You assume you are here to educate, and therefore have nothing to learn yourself. I like how you assume I really don’t know what I’m talking about or that I don’t comprehend. You seem to be missing the point I’m making.

    For instance, I’ve used a Ricoh GX and its has a poor delay in continuous shooting as well as flash response — things that don’t occur on other larger cameras. I also disagree with the quality of images out of this as well; it doesn’t remotely live up to other processors. It seems as if you have now fallen victim to believing what people in stores tell. Even at 200 ISO, images on this camera suffer. I can’t be asked to even get into it. Even the other cameras you suggest have built in noise reduction (albeit you can turn it off) resulting in the sacrifice of colour saturation or image resolution. I use the term colour saturation here correctly, and I’m for sure you’ll ‘educate’ me otherwise again. I’m not about to smear my credentials or my education into photography or my knowledge of digital equipment.

    In the end, anytime you try to pack a lot of features into a small compact camera, things will suffer. Sometimes you just can’t squeeze that much power into something so small. I think people need to realize that. There is a reason some things that are bigger work better because there is more space for everything.

    So yes, you win hands down Neil, thanks for educating me. Don’t take SLRs people, don’t bother at all… I know I won’t be.

    I apologize Chris, I think the two of us have made this forum about things it was not intended to be. I will now happily retire from it. I would not say your pictures are crappy at all, you just have a different reason of why you travel and therefore pack according. I respect that.

  66. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    To “on SLRs”
    I’m sorry you are angry! I’m sorry you feel that there are winners and losers!
    But just think for a moment, if you take the pentaprism and reflex mirror and mechanism off an SLR but leave every else thing the same it will still take photos of the same quality but be smaller and lighter.
    Those are the cameras I have pointed out to you. All I have done is stuck by my original statement and defended it.

  67. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    and those cameras are examples, as the ones you mentioned were. The GX200 is much improved over the 100, the Sigma takes film quality images. and is better in that respect than many SLRs. all cameras have their weaknesses and many have worthwhile strengths. the strengths I was homing in on was small fairly light and still capable of high quality.

  68. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I have re-read your last, and would like to add that I learn new things daily and am open to new and/or original things/information at all times, as I have always had and always will have a love of knowledge and learning, and seeing/doing new things

    I am sorry you feel you have nothing to learn. when it comes to photography,
    I have been a professional phtographer for many years and so was my Father so I had a good grounding at an early age, which is why I perhaps feel qualified to pass on some knowledge, but like everything else I learn new things in phtography continuosly.

  69. AlexNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I’ve been reading this diatribe between Neil and OnDLRs for some time now. At first I didn’t respond because I don’t think this is the purpose of the forum. But I feel that there is a miscommunication between the two. They really are not arguing about the same thing.

    For a living I design digital processors for cameras (I’m an ex professor of photography) I find photographers know a lot about focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc and not necessarily about the image processor in the camera and how we design them with software components itself (such as noise reduction, and many compensatory elements).

    It is true, you don’t need a camera that is an SLR. Likewise it is true we do save the better digital processors for a bigger camera because they have the room and need less compensatory processing. This is partly the purpose of RAW in a way as well. The bigger cameras tend to be dslrs, so I can see were the confusion comes from. Also cameras with more manual capacity, when in manual and done right, tend to lead to better images because you no longer are leaving image development to the processing system to make those decisions. Processor can often be incorrect about the scene especially if sampled from somewhere that incorrectly represents the scene. This is why enthusiasts and professional photographers want manual control and we have designed cameras to do that.

    Consumers also want zoom, zoom, zoom (maybe it is because of the car commercial, who knows). They don’t want to move their feet anymore and all that zoom leads to a lot of limitations at the far end of that focal length. Its tough to give them that and develop a processor to reduce noise at that end, I know!

    We also design these processors, when in automatic mode, to automatically make decisions so that very little processing is required in adobe photoshop, which most consumers will not use.

    So I think you both are right and have valid points, but are not realizing that you two have been discussing different aspects of equipment. I think OnDSLRs was really getting at this aspect, hence the link comparing G9 in automatic to not. Neil has been speaking of just the single reflex system and I have mostly discussed the processing chips under manual vs. Automatic. This tends to be what you will have to decide on when buying a camera – do you want creative control or do you want to choose a smart system that will TRY and do it for you.

    On the travel note. If you are going to europe with friends and for less than a month, and you know how to use a bigger camera, take it! If you are trekking for 6 months on your own, go with something smaller.

    Good luck friends and safe travels.

  70. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    jami, I agree with you 100%, a Flickr Pro account is a great thing. I have one myself but mainly use it to store a backup copy of my private pictures. Flickr is for me here pretty slow and needs always internet connection.

    Picasa I use more for sharing, as I can combine it with the outstanding Picasa Desktop software. As well I find the ease of use better than Flickr and it’s here much faster for me. Unfortunately it is too expensive to use for Gigabytes of pictures, there Flickr is for sure on top of its game with the unlimited Pro account.

    Alex – thanks for mediating between Neil and OnSLRs. I think you got some good points here! ;-)

  71. OnSLRsNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Thanks Alex. This is what I was trying to convey, but I didn’t do that great of a job at it. Leave it to the professional like yourself to make sens of my half annoyed writing :D. Thanks again for understanding what I was trying to say.

  72. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Alex,
    If you don’t mind I have a couple of questionsI
    You said:

    “I find photographers know a lot about focal length, aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc and not necessarily about the image processor in the camera and how we design them with software components itself (such as noise reduction, and many compensatory elements).”

    Would knowing how you design these help with photography, if so, would you recommend a good information source for the non designer please?
    Also, as you decided to mention the above about not knowing how you design them, does this imply that I was in error somewhere? If so would you be kind enough to correct any mis-statement that I made please?

    I expect you are familiar with the original Leica 35mm that pretty well single handedly caused 35mm format to be taken seriously by professionals, fits nicely into a jacket pocket, stunning lens quality? Can you please persuade the manufacturers to make more quality digitals in this vein, especially with the possibility of interchangeable lenses? (o:

  73. AlexNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hi Alex,

    It is rather disappointing when most manufacturers will tell you, ‘continue to do what it is that you do (photographer), and we’ll continue to do what it is that we do (chip maker).’ This is why I got into digital processing development. I’m not sure what is on the internet out there, and as of now I’m not sure I can recommend a website. I’ll ask around at work and see if anyone comes up with anything and I will post it here. The whole chip function is very intuitive to me now, just like understanding focal lengths is to you, so I would need something more specific to answer.

    I wouldn’t say you were in error necessarily. The only thing I would say is that size of the processor does matter. Pixels will get smeared if they are forced onto a smaller chip as someone alluded to earlier.

    The other thing I actually liked was the comparison of the G9 in automatic to manual. It shoes how close our ‘smart’ chips are getting to the human eye in choosing the right settings, but we are still off. You have to really trust the processor when buying a camera with no manual control.

    To answer your Leica question, the problem with the industry at the moment is nothing is necessarily made with that quality anymore or in the original way. Carl Zeiss stamps their name on every lens made by sony, and yet they are not really Carl Zeiss lens. Carl just sold it names to be used. As a person now working on the manufacturing side, this is beyond frustrating. Leica has fallen slightly to this problem as well like many companies and I hope in the future they won’t give up more and more.

    You also have to understand, the market and the price range that you are asking for (i.e. a great lens on a small camera that a) is still larger than the smaller compact, b) heavy glass) is not a big market to warrent what it is that you ask for. We asked professional photographers what they want, and time and time again they want a dslr camera with this and this. Don’t ask me why, but the majority always fall back on a slr, maybe its a comfort thing, I’m not sure. I know a few journalist out in the field who use point and shoots, but many more stick with slrs. Much of it has to do with steading your hands, resulting in a shake free image compared to holding the camera away from your body to look at a screen. That being said all you need is a viewfinder and it doesn’t have to be an slr. Most people want a viewfinder because it a) saves battery life (major reason) and b) they don’t want to stare at a screen. If they have to go with a viewfinder, why not be an slr one…. this is how they tend to explain it, and this was how many of my colleagues felt when I was a professor. Logical yes, but very subjective.

    Leica is a great company, and revolutionized image quality with something smaller than what most people had seen. Why don’t you like the M series, such as M8? I think Leica will always do its thing, just like I think Hasselblad will never make small cameras at all because their formula simply works for them.

    The 35mm format was an exciting development. That being said, there is a backwards revolution to a 120mm format using these dinky toy ‘holgas.’ The holga cameras sells like crazy. Why? Because they are cheap and affordable and the film medium can afford to compensate much better for poor quality camera design by its very format nature (especially ISO 800). I should actually say it is more giving to poor quality cameras. This is very much unlike chips at the moment. We have yet to make that one small chip that is like the 35mm format that thinks like a human when gaging the setting for white balance etc.,.

    Until then, most mainstream companies, like Canon etc., will spend time, money and research into making consumer products that will sell to the mainstream (point and shoots) and those that will sell to the typical professional (i.e. dslrs). Occasionally you will get some off shot gems like Canon G9 (soon to be G10 I think) and Lumix LX3 etc., It is a sad truth I’ve become use to…

    I’ll see if anyone knows about websites tomorrow regarding digital processors, but you can always read up more on the engines of chips like the Lumix venus system for instance on their website. A lot of this stuff is hard to share due to copyright issues and what you can share.

    In the future, I won’t be answering anymore question about photography because the purpose of this forum is to discuss travel.

  74. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Alex,
    Thankyou, I look forward to hearing of suitable sites about sensor design!

    On the M8, Not only do I like it, I positively drool at the thought of owning one, but as photography isn’t my core business I cant at the moment justify spending ten grand sterling to buy one with a small selection of lenses, even if I had that sort of money. But as an observation the standard lens doesn’t retract away like it did on the original.
    It is interesting that this camera partly achieves its stunning quality with less digital manipulation.

    Re. Leica heavy glass: I wasn’t refering specifically to Leica lens design, I was using the original Leica as an example of suberb non SLR camera in compact body, cannon for example achieved convincingly comparable (though many still said not quite as good) image quality more than 20 years ago for colour photography, with glass costing an order of magnitude less, so it is a little difficult to justify Leica’s extraordinary prices for very small gains.

    I dont recall saying sensor size didn’t matter? so just to be clear guys size does matter (o:

    My apologies but you didn’t answer my question re. will knowing how to design the sensor improve one’s photography? I dont know how to design film or lenses but I know how they work and how to use them which I feel is enough for good photographs?

    I see you too also constantly refer to point and shoot, I would respectfully suggest that this is a technique and not a camera type.
    One of my earliest lessons was when my Father put a disc of photo positive paper in the lid of a 35mm film cannister that he had previously made a pinhole in, set it on a gatepost on a sunny day for a few hours and took a really delightful vignette miniature of a cottage! One makes the best of what one has!

    Even some of the so called point and shoots can to some extent be manipulated into doing what one wants, with a thorough understanding of how the various menu settings work, and and chosen by that criteria, instead of what the menu says it is for!

    And finally (wow! I can hear the cheering from here) the whole point of my original discussion was to convince people that excellent photos can be had in a small readily backpackable package, which means non SLR (please note I like using SLRs)

    Many thanks to everybody for their forbearance.

  75. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I see these discussions have produced a whole list of quality compact cameras that people might consider for backpacking so here in aproximate price order are the ones mentioned:

    Leica M8
    Sigma DP1
    Lumix LX3
    Cannon G9
    Ricoh GX 100/200

    There are many others out there but these give a good starting point.

  76. thewalnutNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I like number 10 best.

  77. TomNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Class, pure bloody class. That one about the guitar struck a chord. I work in Poland and there’s a guy here who takes his guitar everywhere.
    I hope I never see him again.

  78. DaisySoapGirlNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I like that list of ten. Makes sense to me and I would have taken jeans.

  79. Miss ExpatriaNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    Wow, we have some real travel snobs in the peanut gallery on this post! He’s talking about mistakes me made from his first backpacking trip to Thailand, not about experienced adventurers who are addicted to being as far off the beaten path as possible.

    I think he’s spot on, if the backpackers I know/have seen are any indication (I’m a hotel princess myself). I love how one commenter says jeans are best for a visit to an Embassy – really? Jeans, better than trousers? Have you ever been in an Embassy?

    Also, I think the jeans advice is good – if only because first time backpackers – college kids who live in jeans, normally – would pack ONLY jeans, pairs and pairs of them.

    Regarding the camera – I’d have to agree. I have a slim point and shoot that has taken stunning pictures of unbelievable quality. If you’re a pro, then bring your SLR. If you’re a photo snob who “just wants to remember your trip,” get over yourself and invest in a decent point and shoot.

  80. NeilNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    pro photographers also use compact digitals (so called point and shoot)

  81. BrookeNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Yeah this is one of those topics that always strikes nerves – how you should and should not travel….

    Not all travelers are created equally. Not all trips are the same. So to each their own ;-)

    p.s. i bought a guitar when i was in Central Asia and am very glad i did. are chicks traveling with guitars wankers, too? hehe

  82. mustardPizzNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    “swallow your artistic pride and bring a crap point’n’shoot digital camera like the rest of us.”

    yeah, you got it right.

  83. ChristianNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    If I hear SLR again someones getting shot. Enough already with the freak’n camera… move the —- on….

  84. The Best of Nomad4ever in 2008 | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] What NOT to bring Backpacking: 10 Things to leave at home […]

  85. Jege41No Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Hi everyone
    I liked your review however as most things that are of a personal nature , they are subjective. As a 51 year old backpacker and fairly well traveled I think you need to pack for the trip that you are going on, just as you would prepare your body with the proper vaccinations. I’m sure you have never been bumped to business class as almost always its people with nice clothes on. To not take my SLR would be a regrettable decision as having lost one on a trip to Cambodia I had to rent one while at Anghor.I agree with the jeans, Bring a net if you have one , they are light and compress. I always bring a light sleeping bag, and a sheet and put them in a stuff sack. I also always bring my shorty wet suit, mask, snorkel and fins.I also use a rolling back pack 120L. Its true that sometimes its a real pain especially when on a motorcycle but I manage.
    Just because I’m backpacking doesn’t mean I have to live like a refuge.

    “Take lots of pictures and leave nothing but footprints”


  86. TravelSnobNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I a) traveled with jeans, b) with an SLR camera and c) everything was hunky dory! Nothing happened to my SLR and my jeans dried. Do what works for you and skip this forum and other ones like this for that matter.

  87. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    hey mr.chris is it sure the jeans not to bring but when i see your foto in lombok you get cool with your short bermuda haha :D

  88. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    ryanZoup, do you mean this one here? By the way, here is the article about this trip. Yep, I didn’t realize that it was only 5 degrees celsius in the morning at the slopes of Mt. Rinjani. But as you see, no jeans was needed. Just putting on a bit more stuff. :D

  89. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Sure that right,love your pics

  90. Richard ReitmanNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    I have to disagree with much of what he wrote. When i used to treavel i always traveeled with lightweight hiking boots/sleeping bag/slr and JEANSSSS the best pair of pants to have with ya.

    Photos made the trip and gave me something to recall.
    Also small backpack

    Now i never travel without my slr or laptop but i work while i travel. Not to
    mention external harddrive/thumb drives.

    Even with the above my bags are hapf the size of most “backpackers” i see No idea what they carry in those giant bags.

    2 pair of pants, 2 shorts, sarong, sandels, boat shores, 2 tee shirts, 2 other shirts, medical, personal kit and what else do ya need?? everythiung else can be obtained along the way and i mena EVERYWHERE your likely to go.

  91. Richard ReitmanNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    funny, i just scrooled up and see most of the comments are made by people living in western countries. While very few live outside.

    Could it be that the visitors here are all just short time travellers?


  92. ryan ZoupNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    no worries is just for fun for sure you can add as you want, but here is just the simple thing to bring just article to find up you agree or no.Otherwise is funny article what chris wrote and i enjoy much of his blog ;-)

  93. jege41No Gravatar CANADA Says:

    .Hi… A good friend of mine works for Air Canada and travels way to much(I’m jealous) and like many only brings a small carry on, and a day pack. He has been pretty much all over but go to his place and you would never know it . He is so freakin cheap when he travels squeaks when buying a postcard. I have a house full of everything from drums, to ancient opium pipes and love every piece to death.
    I was on a overnight dive out on the Great Barrier Reef once and the night dive was going to be an extra 20 $ or so. I was going to pass on the night dive but a buddy convinced me that you have traveled across the globe and you are going to cheap out now, you will regret it. I listened to him and glad I did.
    Travel within your means and if you can’t afford it stay home


  94. Hammocks+FrisbeesNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I leave tomorrow to central america and was NOT planning on bringing jeans but THANK YOU poster number 63 (Swa).
    Whew, now not only am I going to bring my jeans but will be wearing them at all times when in the vicinity of any large body of water. As far as i have heard central america is full of lakes and surrounded by oceans soooo maybe ill take two pairs.
    I wrote a poem to give thanks to post number 63.

    Large bodies of water used to give me a fright.
    I would dream i had drowned each and every night.
    Now i’m not afraid of the oceans, lakes, or steams.
    Thanks to post number 63 and my pair of blue jeans.

  95. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Great additions here from Richard Reitman, jege41 and Hammocks+Frisbees. Thanks for keeping this discussion alive! ;-)

  96. Richard ReitmanNo Gravatar CAMBODIA Says:

    I spent 114 months travelling aorund India, sri lanka, Nepal, Thailand all the way down to Oz and around to the states on a BICYCLE. I took 2 nikons with motordrives and 3 lenses. I never thought that was to much.

    Everyone has difernet opinions on what is impotant, nowadays it seems ipods and phones and stopping at interent cafe’s every day to tell the unlucky ones what they are missing. Oh and of course staying where other of your kind are so u can relate the good and the bad of everywhere.

    Hows it go, “life was so much easier than and i believed in fellow man….when i was young…”

    It matters not what you carry but carry what you want to and just go

  97. Richard ReitmanNo Gravatar CAMBODIA Says:

    that’s 14 months heheheheh :))

  98. MarkNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I over packed totally on my first trip. I came to hate my Laptop (4kg, stupid choice) Jeans and other crud. I even started to dislike the SLR and 3 lenses – but now I have 1000’s of photos that are only as good as they are because I had said camera and the skills to use it. I will always travel with the SLR / IXUS compact combo in future. But thats me and I love photography so I will make sacrifices.

  99. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Mark, I was thinking of getting a Netbook instead of my notebook. Would save me 2 kg also. But then, not being able to play games on those small things kinda sucks…. L-)

  100. Michael KNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Travel Snobs exist…. some of these replies are awful.

  101. davidNo Gravatar ISRAEL Says:

    I agree with the list, especially about denim it is terrible for travel. Cotton is banned when I travel, that especially goes for towels, use the hotel ones but pack a synthetic one for when you are are by the sea.
    Being a MD I used to schlep everything around even 2l of IV fluid. After I got old enough to come to my senses I now only carry some paracetamol, benadryl, lotramin cream, antacid, antibiotics, flagyl, a suture kit, gauze, tape, plasters, and topical antibiotic, it all fits in a zip-lock sandwich bag.
    Benadryl is great for sleep aid and motion sickness nausea, if you have allergies get something non-drowsy like claritin, and have all of the prescriptions if you are crossing any border.

  102. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Yeah david, for medicines I’m always confused also, what is good to bring, what can you get in almost any pharmacy and what is best to be left home. Glad to see I’m not the only one. ;-)

  103. HeronimosNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    Hi Steve,

    You are right about al lot of thing. The average backpacker doesn’t need the things on your list. But if you like to hike on you travels, you do need good boots and a good sleeping bag and a big backpack.

    Jeans I do ever take with me. There are better alternatives on the market. Fallraven G1000 trousers for exemple. As tough as jeans, light and fast dry.

    But for a backbacker going from hostel to hostel, your list is right on the mark.

  104. samNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    hey i’m going on my first backing trip and those are some good tips thanks for the advice :)

  105. FerretNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I’m infinitely glad I brought along my DSLR instead of a shitty point-and-click. The difference in quality between my photos and my travel buddy’s photos is huge, and I simply wouldn’t be able to take a lot of the shots I took (especially night photos, festivals/concerts and high contrast landscapes) with a generic camera. If anything I wish I brought more lenses along instead of being so conservative with it.

    As for the “common consensus that people who travel with guitars are wankers”… if you really care about something like that, YOU are a wanker L-) I’ve spent the first two weeks of my trip without a guitar mostly because the cost of taking it on various flights is more than it will cost me to buy a new one once I get to France but I’ll definitely be getting one. I’m having major withdrawls without one.

  106. Richard ReitmanNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    To me travelling is all about being on the move.

    Take as little as possible as there is hardley anywhere on earth u cant buy what u need.

    Plus wouldn’ go around the block with out my Nikon :-)

  107. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Glad to see that this thread is still encouraging so much response! ;-)

  108. marcusNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Nope, spent a year travelling and camping around south america, and needed hiking boots, sleeping bag, full medical kit (including syringes – they’re so small you might as well), mossie net (even in hostel rooms – esp. when paying $3 per night). I would say if travelling for along time, take a 50 ltr rucksack, and be prepared to chuck out/give away your clothes everytime you change climates.

  109. robNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I think you guys are missing the point. Why would you bring your laptop on a backpacking trip? Don’t you go camping/backpacking to get away from it all? Its like bringing music too. Car camping maybe….

  110. eeeeNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    this list really depends on where you are going and when.
    -couldn’t have done a month in remote china during winter without jeans
    – my 3lb tiny laptop was one of the best things i packed
    -yes i carried my boots and sleeping bag through india, but i used them every day the month before/after in nepal/china
    -and one my best travel mates in india carried a guitar, which we all really enjoyed

  111. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Well well… a year to the day since this article went up on nomad4ever, and it’s still receiving comments! I still stand by the relevancy of my list for the first-time backpacker padding the well-treaded route around the world and staying in hostels, a nuance that some travel snobs – I mean, commenters – have simply not grasped.

    And you didn’t think I was serious about guitar players, did you? ;-)

    (Guitar Player)

  112. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Steve, you are now spot on as also just 1 year ago! I never thought, that your article would get such a controversial response and I’m still happy every day about it. It seems, that it hit big at Stumbleupon with about 200 readers every day and the discussion goes on and on.

    I also learned to bring my inflatable guitar now everywhere I go, as it’s simply too convenient as a chick magnet, to leave home. :D

  113. merondNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    great list, but there is an exception to every rule–except, perhaps, the pacsafe. XD

  114. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I admire Steve’s travel advice here for people who would like to travel lightly. But this doesn’t necessarily absolute to anybody who would like to travel. Follow what best suite you. I also strongly agree with Swa’s tips (comment #63) because it surely would apply especially if your traveling in the neigboring countries in Asia.

    As for the SLR, I’d rather drag it along with me. Though I’d been photographing travel photos using my phone camera, it is still way incomparable to photos I had taken with my SLR. Maybe, yes, maybe, I’d pack up lightly but surely would carry along my bulky SLR bag.

    Well, of course, the choice is solely all up to you. YOu only have to be sure yourself what you really require for travel photos, SLR or point-and-shoot. If you really have decided clearly, then you should be more happy traveling around regardless of the kind of photography equipment you bring with you.

  115. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Dodong, really time-less the list, right? And surely, if I knew how to operate a SLR successfully, I would probably bring one also. So it looks like provoking the readership with this article worked quite some wonders. It still gets a few hundred readers every day coming from Stumbleupon. ;-)

  116. TravMonkeyNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Great list Steve! I think I agree with all of them! I blogged sometime ago with a similar post
    12 stupid mistakes of the first time traveler
    I also checked out the website. Keep up the good work!

    Paul @

  117. TravMonkey.com » TravMonkey’s Top 10 Pointless Items To Take Backpacking UNITED STATES Says:

    […] a follow up to a article I read on nomad4ever – What NOT to Bring Backpacking: 10 Things To Leave At Home I thought I’d deliver our on twist on this […]

  118. TOR01No Gravatar IRELAND Says:

    on the last point i just hiked with a group and one brought a guitar. we were in iceland and wow it was great for the group and an odd but amazing experience

  119. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Sounds like you had great fun, TOR01. Like everything else, the guitar thing is relative also, as long as it suits you. :D

  120. bruceNo Gravatar not found Says:

    point no 10 is wrong

    a guitar iis better than a girl on a hitchhiking trip- it gets you more lifts, takes up less space, doesnt whine, can be thrown in the back of a pickup/ute/bakkie, breaks down cultural barriers.

    a few bob marley songs and you’re away- whole crowds of villager kids in mozam, to dancing border officials in lesotho

    not a prized $3000 custom made taylor tho, an old pawn-shop special will work…

  121. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Wow this thread is still going. I am not a backpacker nor really interested in that kind of traveling but I have been to a lot of places “backpackers” have never been to. I’m not a tourist, I’m a traveler – I can still go to the off the beaten track places without sacrificing my comfort. I guess, compromise is always the key and of course, researching about the place much before going – understand it’s history, know its people. A lot of my so-called “backpacker friends” ended up just drinking and going to the usual trails done by millions before them.

    For some reason – most backpackers (and most of them are Western) – has a very narrow-minded view of Southeast Asia. For these rather unschooled, post-puberty travelers – SE Asia only meant Thailand (duh), Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and Malaysia. Singapore gets mentioned once in a bit. Burma and the Philippines – almost never.


    Oh yeah, have to agree with the SLR and Laptops – hate lugging them around. and instead of jeans, I use light material cargo pants and mostly pair of shorts.

  122. RichardNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    SE Asia only meant Thailand (duh), Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali (Indonesia) and Malaysia

    Yes this is SE asia asd well as sing. so ur point?

    I go no where without jeans and my nikon slr and it has been that wya for 30 years of backpacking throiughout Europe, Africa, the middle east South ASia and south East Asia.

    Take whatever u want as its not what u caqrry thta makes or breaks ur trip and who cares but u. AS long as ur the one carrying everything.

    What you dont bring u can buy this is nothe 19th centruy

  123. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Yes this is SE asia asd well as sing. so ur point?

    Richard, you realise that SE Asia also includes East Timor, Philippines, Indonesia (aside from Bali), Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam.

    It is not just all about Thailand. That Mister is MY POINT.

  124. RichardNo Gravatar THAILAND Says:

    the thread is about what to take and i was asking whats the ponint of pointing out what countries are in SE Asia

    I think the Phillipines and Burma are mentioned at least as much as Malaysia. Especailly now with whats been going on in Burma

  125. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Well, apart from what to take when backpacking – backpacking is an overriding theme here on this thread- and mainland SE Asia is the most common backpacking trail (and more often – that is what all the Western backpackers know about SE Asia)- especially with that pointed reference to Khao San Rd. in BKK. Look at the Lonely Planet Guide to SE Asia – it missed out on a lot of countries of the region – and whether you would see it either as reflective of the prevailing knowledge of the backpacking market out there, it is easy to draw a conclusion that true backpackers are really not those people who venture to the worn-out streets of BKK. This thread is an excellent opportunity to point that out.

    Burma and the Philippines only get reported in the foreign media when something bad happens in those two countries but never the fact that those countries have better things to offer than the usual backpacker’s trail. Indonesia has a lot of stunning islands but only Bali gets mentioned. Very Sad. Brunei has its own charm (yes you can surf there as well) and Timor has beaches no one has heard of. You cannot compare these countries with the other overpromoted and overcommercialised countries in Mainland SE Asia.

    Going back to the topic, since the real SE Asia is very diverse – the stuff that you may need (and take whether you are backpacking or not) will vary from country to country, destination to destination. There are countries where you can’t get the stuff that you may find quite common in another country – like bigger condoms in South Korea, or a secure wifi connection in Burma or who knows mosquito nets deep in the jungles of Kalimantan.

  126. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Guys, are you bored or what? You are 2 of my longest-time readers and still jump onto this thread? Are you having fun? Go on then… ;-)

  127. RyanNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Heh- I havent seen this thread actually Chris. But yeah, part-bored. Can’t wait to head out to the Hundred Islands tonight.

  128. Chaos A.D.No Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Good list except for the mosquito net. If you plan on backpacking around the northern part of the U.S. or/and Canada in the late summer you are a fool not to bring a net for your face and maybe even to sleep under. Extremely lightweight and will allow for some necessary Z’s. If you know that you are going into prime mosquito territory, any net is essential. Based on experience, this is a piece of gear that you should not omit. – world wide

  129. rickNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    i dont get it about the guitar.. thats just rediculous.. guitar always brings a lot of fun. sing with everyone somewhere around a camp fire is just really good fun although it does sound cliche.

    tip for the guitarplayers among us (like me) buy a travel guitar. they’re a lot smaller and only weigh like 1.5 kilo. and if you buy a descent one for around 100 euro or more) the sound is almost the same to a normal guitar.

  130. stephenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    maybe for urban traveling, this is a good list? But if your planning on going REAL backpacking (through the wilderness, where there aren’t hostels) i would suggest bringing hiking boots a sleeping bag, and possibly a backpacker guitar. Hiking boots will save your feet and drastically reduce the chance of ankle/general foot injury. a sleeping bag should be in your pack no matter where you are going, thats just straight common sense. I would agree with you that people who travel with guitars are d-bags, but it does get lonely in the wilderness, and a bit of entertainment is helpful. not to mention if you do end up in the city, panhandling isnt a terrible way to make a quick buck or two for a meal.
    Anyway, this list should not be labeled what not to bring backpacking, perhaps what not to bring while being a stupid hippy traveling around cities pretending to be enlightened and free when your still trapped in the confines of civilization.
    honestly your making real backpackers look bad

  131. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    From Stephen’s comments above, I think I see what the problem is here. I think a lot of the controversy in these comments is caused by a simple misunderstanding of the term “backpacking”. This article is NOT referring to the American English concept of backpacking as in tramping/hiking through the wilderness. This article refers to the concept of backpacking as the rest of the world refers knowns it – being a synonym for international budget travel. I think this simple misunderstanding is why people who talk of “real backpacking” are coming across as travel snobs.

    Check out the two definitions here.

  132. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Steve, I’m glad that you are still following the thread and thank you, for clearing that up! =D>

  133. survivalistNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Uhhhhh, I dont quit know what to say.

    No hiking boots, but wear sandals? You say that but do not mention regional conditions. So hikers should not take copperhead or coral snakes into consideration when hiking? Toes are a favorite target for both types of snakes. I would NEVER wear sandals in areas where copperheads are known to be at. And that includes most parts of the southern USA.

    You mention an SLR camera, but do not mention of meat, or anything else that can spoil?

    You say to leave the sleeping bag at home, but what about a tent or hammock? When I go backpacking staying in a hostel is not even an option, because I’am miles from the nearest road.

    It seems that your list is more pointed towards people that travel along roads and stay in hotels/hostels, and not people who get off the beaten trail.

  134. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:


    This article refers to the topic of “backpacking” in the international sense of the word of budget travel, not in the American sense of wilderness hiking. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacking for the differentiation between the two.

  135. VilNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    This list is rather unrealistic and foolish. Not bring a sleeping bag? What about the nights you cannot get to a hostel? What about those who cannot afford a hostel? Don’t bring a guitar for those who play? That’s freaking stupid. They make small travel guitars nowadays and when you are in the woods it’s nice to have something to play one. I agree about a few things, but for the most part, stupid list for back packers who are only URBAN back packers.

    Totally useless

  136. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Precious. Very precious, Vil! =))

  137. CephalopodNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I gotta agree with you on everything except for the jeans. Jeans may be heavy and bulky, but they can take a beating and are also comfortable to move around in (unless they’re a bit too form fitting). Perhaps they’re not the best choice to Thailand, but if I’m traveling somewhere that’s not tropical, I definitely want a pair of jeans with me.

  138. Experienced TravelerNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    This list is awful. I think that at least half of those things are a necessity, the sleeping bag especially. What if the hostel you go to doesnt provide? And what happens when you are out of major cities and need to camp. No hiking boots, get real. I hope you get stranded without all of these things James and learn something from it.

  139. Steve JamesNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    @Experienced Traveler

    This article refers to the topic of “backpacking” in the international sense of the word of budget travel, not in the American sense of wilderness hiking. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacking for the differentiation between the two.

    An Experienced Traveller

  140. Willow..No Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Ohhh look, another pretencious ‘too cool for school’ post! Totally do not agree with the pacsafe thing – I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s an essential – but I don’t think you should be knocking it! Unless you’re one of those ferral types with possessions that amount to about £20 max – then fine… what’s the risk of losing that! But when you have stuff you care about.. and bearing in mind that some hostels don’t have safes or lockers, – leaving your stuff completely unsecure, in a room with any tom, dick or harry, doesn’t really appeal! I’m also bringing a lightweight netbook… so HA. x

  141. SarahNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    I’ve always take a pair of jeans with me and I’ve always appreciated them. On occasion when it gets a bit chilly at night, or you want to go somewhere nice to eat or drink and need to at least look decent! But they don’t stop mozzies.. they take great pleasure in biting through them!

  142. NathanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    ok I agree with the Jeans thing but Hiking boots are a MUST. where I do my backpacking you will have a broken ankle by the end of the day without them.

    and we stay overnight in the WILDERNESS (yes there is true wilderness) and I use a specialized Backpacking sleeping bag and pad.

    I will also be bringing my DSLR camera (only one lens though)

    I am ready for anything with my First Aid kit (it isn’t huge and everyone on the trip carries one but Mine is a little better)

    I think oyu went backpacking in the city (useless if you ask me) it isn’t REAL backpacking till there isn’t any civilization for miles around.

  143. SargonarhesNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Most jeans are made out of 100% cotton. Their only downside is that they are heavy. If you are going into an area that you need legs covered they are best, but if you don’t need to keep your legs from being scratched up shorts will work best. And for hikes on rough terrain hiking boots will support your ankle from getting twisted if you land wrong.

    You really need to think of where you’re backpacking, for certain items before you say these aren’t needed.

  144. Regional WisdomNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    This article was written by some kind of spoiled urban pamperd tourist always with enough money to afford & with no inclination to sleep anywhere else except hostels, hotels, and motels with bedding and accomodations. No Sleeping Bag and boots? Are you out of your fucking mind?

  145. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    @Regional Wisdom

    LOL! You’re mistaken about the topic of this article…

    Backpacking has more than one meaning internationally. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backpacking for details – and gain some wisdom!

    Big Hug,
    Steve xxx

  146. JEANS!No Gravatar CANADA Says:

    I leave tomorrow to central america and was NOT planning on bringing jeans but THANK YOU poster number 63 (Swa).
    Whew, now not only am I going to bring my jeans but will be wearing them at all times when in the vicinity of any large body of water. As far as i have heard central america is full of lakes and surrounded by oceans soooo maybe ill take two pairs.
    I wrote a poem to give thanks to post number 63.

    Large bodies of water used to give me a fright.
    I would dream i had drowned each and every night.
    Now i’m not afraid of the oceans, lakes, or steams.
    Thanks to post number 63 and my pair of blue jeans.

  147. AlexNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:

    dude … how do i digg chicks whithout a guitar…. :-?

  148. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    with your brains maybe? :D

  149. RussellNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    damnit alex, not sure if you are joking or not but either way you are not doing us guitarists any favours here haha! :))

    but as for bringers of their instruments being wankers, what? why? who did you meet? i’m sorry on behalf of whoever you met. (must have been noel gallagher)

    i know it’s heavy, i know it’s big, bulky, impractical, fragile, and cliche’d, i know it will cause me problems, and earn me dirty looks from the purists who don’t beleive in guitars, but i’m bringing mine when i go.

    yeah it might break, get me held up at customs, be a general pain the ass, cause me extra costs at airports, or cause any number of problems while i carry it for 7 hours on my shoulder over some mountain,
    but they’ll be my problems and i’ll deal with them myself, you won’t see me complaining about it or asking anyone to wait.

    there’s definitely some posers who think they’re in a band, or just play to pick up girls or something, probably rarely seen outside of the normal tourist parts of the area, but there are some people who legitimately have a passion for their instrument who just want to bring the experience with them.

    someone who’s not even a musician who hates on someone who brings their gat is like someone who’s not a photographer telling a photographer not to bring their SLR.. if it’s your passion, then do it. at the end of the day the times you’ve had and the photos you’ve taken are still yours even if your bridge splits in half or your mirror jams open,

    if anyone hates on you because you are commited to the thing you like, let them be alone in their ignorance, you only have to put up with them as long as they’re there. :)

    oops sorry this wasn’t meant to be so long.. (and i’m not even that good at guitar really)

  150. AlexNo Gravatar AUSTRIA Says:


    mate… I was joking =)

    I don’t wanna piss your pocket but you are absolutely right.
    And yes it’s hell to carry that darn thing around… this is why I usually bring a ukulele.

    It’s cheaper, lighter, fun and a great conversation starter. =)

  151. stephNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    …someone who’s not even a musician who hates on someone who brings their gat is like someone who’s not a photographer telling a photographer not to bring their SLR..

    Yeah that’s pretty much it. I really don’t understand why people think people who take their guitars are wankers? Guitars are FUN, guitars are a great ice breaker, guitars are a good group activity. And anyone who is a musician who considers going away for whatever amount of time might want to take their guitar with them! I myself brought my travel guitar anyway and it fitted in a ukulele bag, and I’m really really glad I took it with me.

  152. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    It was just a joke, Steph. Lighten up!

    PS. How do you know I’m not a musician? I own two guitars, actually… not that I’d bring either travelling! :))

  153. RichNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Thanks steve, when I turned 18 two months ago and I emediatly signed up for a year in Australia, luckily i found this page the day before going out and spending a fortune on a new militery bergan and a laptop

    btw in my opinion for the music department I would prefer efficiency over entertainment.

  154. infinityxxiNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    cool article! Alot of funny comments lol

  155. MelissaNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Like the article, some thoughtful tips! But wow, it seems like there are some extremely pretentious travelers here. Seriously, it’s that kind of mindset that makes me WANT to stick to civilization, thankyouverymuch. Why would I want to spend time with a bunch of people who think less of those who prefer to travel a completely different way? (and yes, that’s how you’re coming off whether you meant it that way or not). It’s like comparing apples and oranges. First time travelers want to stick to something familiar, yet experience something different. Why is that not ‘real’ travel/backpacking?

    I thought this article had some valuable tips to give advice to those who are weighing their options in regard to what to/what not to pack. However, when I read the article I knew automatically what type of backpacking the author was referring to. I certainly didn’t read it and think, gee, I shouldn’t bring a sleeping bag – even though I’m going camping in the desert! I also didn’t read that and think, huh, take out that mosquito net – even though I’m going to a mosquito infested area of Malaysia (and I’m even staying with relatives, although they’re not exactly close to what I would call civilization). But it did make me re-think how I can make things do double-duty since I will be trekking (and hosteling in some instances) through multiple climates.

    In regard to the SLR/Point and Shoot debate – I bring both. Photos are the most important thing to me other than safety, so I make an allowance for it. I’ll sacrifice other things (like jeans!) for my ability to bring my camera equipment. I’m just not good enough at photography to get the shots I want without the SLR (and vice versa) sometimes.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about :)

  156. Penny DrumgoleNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Awesome Information, thanks for your fine Post. I will come back later , Great information about learning guitar playing: learn and master guitar

  157. brianNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Taking 4 pairs of jeans and the semi-dslr (a Panasonic G1) and not have any problems at all with a tiny 30-liter bag. Good for me, right? :D

  158. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    You are one lucky guy, brian. No doubt! :D

  159. EBNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    This list is only common sense, it’s still bad for the guitar… :))

  160. blake ramosNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I too take offense with the guitar blast!

  161. MorghanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I disagree on the sleeping bag and mosquito net. I would also recommend a good pair of boots for most people.

    I have a snugpack jungle bag and an ENO hammock with the mosquito net. They weigh next to nothing, pack incredibly small, and keep out light cold and countless venomous/disease carrying beasties. In cold areas, and I’ve been out well below freezing, some substitutions are in order. Not a concern for most people, and almost certainly not for a first-time backpacker though.

    As for the people who disagree on jeans. I’d say try some synthetic or wool trousers and add a pair of snakebite guards. They’re pretty light, slide into almost any open space in your bag, and protect you from a lot more than just thorns and brambles.

    Laptop and SLR are usually a bad idea, but some people will need them, though even for those I’d recommend a netbook instead of a full-sized laptop. This was written some time back, so the usefullness of smartphones were pretty limited and tablets were still pretty rare. This could, for most people who need a laptop, fill their needs. The quality of cameras in phones has also gone through the roof, they’re still not a SLR, but many are now more than sufficient for most people who need a camera but aren’t professional photogrophers.

    The thing that struck me most was how much of an %#$ some people were in their dissent. If this doesn’t apply to you, you’ll probably know it.

  162. talungNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    … most important: don’t travel with a backback, but with a decent, wheeled trunk and trolley like Samsonite or similar. I really hate these backpacks in my face when walking inside the plane – their holders must be either Swiss or British… (I am Swiss too, but I’m always shocked about my compatriotes when taking the plane from, let’s say Dubai to Zurich.. grannies walking with their rucksack straight into the plain !! It must be irksome to themselves, but they just believe that this is the most convenient way to travel…
    Dear Swiss, British and readers from other nations, please stop this stupid thing and kindly understand that in most other parts of the world, hardly anybody even knows what a backpack is. Or do you just want to loose your face while travelling next time to, let’s say, Asia? :-o

  163. TintinNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Some funny comments on here.

    Well I’m going to Oz / Nz next week for a month and decided to travel light.

    Taking the clothes on me, 2 t-shirts,2 long sleeved tops, one pair of light trousers about 5 pairs socks / boxers.

    Anything else ill need ill buy whilst over there.


  164. ChrisNo Gravatar NETHERLANDS Says:

    I’m a wandering nomadic guitar salesman with a penchant for taking long distance zoom shots of half naked local tribeswomen. I decided to follow your guru like advice and would you believe it? I had an absolute f’king nightmare.

  165. Beat GazeboNo Gravatar not found Says:

    I like this list, I found it as I am trying to decide to bring my mac or not … why ? – I really could “use” it, i wouldn’t say “need” it, I make a living online with web sales, I DJ with it, I record Music with it… I can build websites on the road… BUt, to be honest I can do “most” of those things with a Samsung Phone, I can always use the million internet cafe, I don’t really “want” to bring a laptop, nobody really “needs” a laptop… anyways.. the real thing for me is that I want to get away from my computer world, and all that, I don’t like having to worry about stuff.. but “if” i ended up somewhere and wanted to say there I would wish I had it as it really is my bread and butter.. but I figure I could always buy a cheap computer there.

    I always bring a pair of jeans to SE Asia, but I most times dump them, I really “need” jeans.. lol.. as do most of the people living in South East asia, and I can’t stand those synthetic travelers cargo pants, those are completely for wankers… I most times buy a pair of jeans in thailand though, just good deals to be had.. it’s not for everyone…

    Don’t bring a brand new expensive backpack, or you are a wanker…. you just look funny.. but.. whatever..

    I agree about the guitar unless you are a really good musician that will get constant live gigs.. I always travel in the USA and Canada with a guitar, I need one more than anything, It has ended up as backup pawn shop fund, busking for a living.. joining gigs.. but I wouldn’t bring myself one to south east asia as you can’t really busk, you arent allowed to gig without a permit, it’s hard to write songs with people everywhere..

    ANother thing NOT to bring is a Lonely Planet, nothing says wanker like a 10lb book that tells you everything that everyone else knows, in stupid dumb down backpacker lingo, sure go get it for your smartphone…

    Don’t bring a camera, you just need to take a few pictures now and then, use a phone, also no Ipod..

    I say get a good smartphone, take all your pics, listen to music, email, skype, voice recorder, flashlight, GPS maps, travel guides… it’s all in one unit.. this is where an iphone seems stupid because you can’t switch the battery, plug in USB keyboards, or buy SD cards to upgrade the storage… but to each is own…

    what ever you do NEVER wear, as a man, an African inspired womens shirt with plastic clog sandals and a straw hat and pretend your some sort of Indiana Jones .. while you try to bring down fellow travellers with your bull… also don’t get an ugly tattoo just to fit in..

    peace ppl

  166. HeatherNo Gravatar not found Says:

    This posting, “What NOT To Bring Backpacking: 10 Things To
    Leave At Home » nomad4ever” reveals the fact that u truly understand precisely what u r talking about!
    I completely agree with your blog. Many thanks ,Rhys

  167. maxNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    your style of backpacking looks like it sucks.

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