Packing the Backpack 102 – Clothing

Part 2: Clothing

Packing clothing for a backpacking excursion is one of the hardest parts. You need to choose versatile pieces that can be used in a variety of situations and weather to prevent bringing too much! In other words, your clothing needs to be strategic and basic. Trust us, too much WILL weigh you down and will be plain annoying. And always remember (as stated in Part 1 of our Packing 101) you can (and will want to) buy shirts, pants, dresses, rompers, bathing suits, sunglasses and flip flops there so leave yourself some room! Though this list is geared towards South East Asia, it can definitely be used as a base for other backpacking trips (the only major differences being that you might need some warmer clothing, depending on climate and you may not be able to buy as much clothing there for as cheap as SE Asia).

Out of the two of us, Devon brought more, so below is her packing list with notes on how to fix it to make it ideal. This can be used for men and women; there are extra notes if anything is widely different for men and women. If you have any questions please e-mail us at We’d love to help you out!

Here’s What Devon Brought

  • 10 pairs of underwear (Alex brought 6)PackingPic2
  • 2 bras and one sports bra
  • 2 pairs of socks
    • You only need one pair! If you will be doing lots of hiking, a pair of light merino wool socks are a good idea.
  • 3 bathing suits (Alex brought 2 pairs of swim shorts)
    • For ladies: Two bikinis and a full piece for scuba diving and water activities. This was good, but you can definitely go without a full piece.
  • 5 tank tops
    • You definitely do not need this many! If you are planning on buying any shirts abroad (ex. the inevitable full moon party tank or sweet crocheted crop top ladies), you are going to regret the amount of shirts you already have. And if you get there and think you need more, then no worries, because you can just buy a shirt from any of the thousands of markets you’ll encounter.
    • Devon brought one crop top for partying on the beaches of Sihanoukville (Cambodia) or Koh Phangan (Thailand); not necessary but nice to have and does not take up much space. However, fun crop tops are abundant in the markets there!
  • 2 t-shirts
    • One or two T-Shirts is all you need, but they are a definite must as every temple will require both females and males to cover their shoulders, also great for the days you are trying not to get sun burnt…
  • 4 pairs of shorts
    • Alex: two pairs of khaki shorts to the knees
    • Devon: two pairs of jean shorts, one pair baggy athletic lu lu lemon shorts, one pair quick dry shorts
    • This was a good amount. Be sure to avoid heavy denim for anywhere hot and humid, go for the cheap stretch material that is going to be comfy and not make you sweat like crazy.
    • The lu lu lemon shorts and quick dry shorts were a bit redundant. Good to have one or the other for any hiking or athletic activity you do. To replace the other, try really loose and light shorts to have to keep off the heat.
  • 1 pair of leggings/pants
    • They were great for the plane, and Devon wore them every day in New Zealand. Look up the weather you will be travelling in (especially if this is a Europe trip instead of Asia).
    • In SE Asia, you will inevitably buy a pair of “Elephant Pants” if you are anywhere in Asia (so don’t bring more than one pair with yo
      u). Alex did not bring pants at all and bought some there. Elephant pants are amazing for temple exploring and super nice to chill in. You WILL buy some. Don’t fight it.
  • 1 light cardigan/sweater/long sleeve
    • NEEDED this for planes, night busses or rainy days.
    • Devon’s was an American Apparel cardigan. Alex’s was a light long sleeve shirt.
  • Beach sarong
    • For women, very useful to have to use as a beach towel when you want to lounge on the beach, and as a cover up for bathing suits or walking to and from communal showers if your trip towel is not big enough.
    • However, there are TONS of sarongs being sold left, right and center in South East Asia, so we would actually recommend buying a fun one there.
  • 2 Sun dresses/cover ups
    • One too many! You should bring one or zero as you can buy a cute souvenir one there. However useful to have one either way as it is a great bathing suit cover up and can be used if you want to look a little nicer one day.
  • 1 romper
    • Along with the dresses, this was overkill, but having one or the other is great.
  • 1 rain coat
    • Non-negotiable, trust us.
  • 1 compressible down jacket
    • We got these at Costco and they could compress a lot (to the size of a small loaf of bread). The only place they were used was in New Zealand as it was still chilly there. When we prepped for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing they were perfect. Keep in mind you will most likely be able to rent equipment if you are planning on doing this or other hikes in New Zealand, but research ahead of time.


The most important thing to remember for shoes is: break them in BEFORE your trip. You do not want to be worrying about blisters and sore feet while seeing those beautiful sights! Comfort over style, always.

  • 1 pair flip flops
    • A must! You’ll need them, trust us.
  • 1 pair Keens
  • 1 pair hiking shoes

For those of you who don’t know, Keens are a cross between sandal and hiking shoe and are waterproof. The benefit of them is the breathability and structure that make them a good walking shoe. However, having a pair of those and a pair of hiking shoes was heavy and redundant. Choose one or the other based on what your activities will be.

We would recommend bringing a pair of slip on, structured sandals like Birkenstocks. When you are walking around, you want something light, and often something you can take on and off quickly for temples. However, since you spend most of your days walking, you also want something supportive (flip flops won’t cut it). Birkenstocks or something similar are the perfect combination!

Any other questions? E-mail us or message us on Facebook!

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