So, you want to be a backpacker? Part 1 - Josh Wood

Posted by Ettienne Montzka-Caceres on

So you want to go backpacking. Like most first-timers, you are probably asking ‘what do I need?’ Lets start with the basics.

As mentioned in The Bigger Three, the first three pieces of gear you need are:

  • Backpack

  • Sleep System

  • Shelter

The average person will choose the version of each item that will cover the most scenarios possible. As you spend more time backpacking, you may want to upgrade items or choose ones with a specific purpose in mind. For now, lets just work on acquiring three-season gear as many people avoid backpacking in the winter until they are more experienced.

Choosing a Backpack

Backpacks are usually classified according to their volume in litres. You will want one that is big enough for your purposes and has a solid hip belt. The hip belt helps transfer the weight to your hips and off of the shoulders.

General recommendations are based on the length of time you will be backpacking

  • Daytrip - 20-35L

  • Two to four days - 35-55L

  • Five days or more - 55-90L

There are packs bigger than 90-litres, but you probably won’t need one. I generally like to use as small of a pack as possible. If you have lots of room, you will find an excuse to fill it! I use the Kajka 65 for my work as a Wilderness Guide, and for trips over three days long. It is smaller than most guide packs, but I also pack lighter than most guides! For any trips up to three days I use the Kaipak 38. Choosing a smaller pack helps keep me from packing too much. When you start out pick a backpack that is a little larger. Most beginner’s gear is bulkier than expected, and you will want to pack more than you need as you are learning.

Now that you know what to look for in a backpack, stay tuned for part two. In part two we will address sleep systems and shelters.

Top Backpacking Picks

Kaipak 38


Simple, robust trekking backpack in G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco. This pack has a supportive carrying system with a fixed back length and robust hipbelt.


Kajka 65

Advanced trekking backpack that is extremely comfortable to carry with smart functions. Support system with Perfect Fit adjustment and main compartment with Wet/Dry areas.


Coach Josh Wood, BHSc, is a fitness coach and outdoorsman who brings together fitness training and the real world. Working as a Wilderness Guide in Tasmania, he strives to help people find their passion for activity, and loves introducing folks to the art of backpacking.


To follow his adventures head over to @coachjoshwood














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