So last summer, I took 10 days and backpacked solo across Scandinavia. It was an incredible experience and ever since I’ve been itching to get back on the road to discover new places.
As always, I did plenty of research before that trip to find out what all I might need. However, I was on a limited budget so I wasn’t able to purchase all of the little things would be helpful for unsavory situations. This time around, I expect that I will not only be taking weekend backpacking trips to European cities via train (as I mainly did last summer), but also hiking and camping excursions (a favorite weekend activity of many Germans). Now that I am also planning for the great outdoors and all the unknowns that brings, I ultimately ended up making a sort of emergency situation/backpacking/hiking kit. This kit is not how I intend to actually put these items into my backpack, but rather, how I’m keeping them in one place while en route to Germany.
I will be following the same format as my first aid kit post (linked here for your convenience) but in a much more random order. Again, all opinions are my own and I am not being compensated in any way for this post or links within it.
Rain Poncho: I happened to have two laying around so I’ll be bringing both. They are just the cheep disposable ones that are nice to have in case of an unseasonal shower.
Bandana: A great multi-purpose item; get it soaking wet and wrap around the neck to stay cool, use as a rag to clean wounds or wash up, use as a primary filter for filling a water bottle from a lake or steam, or use as eye mask when trying to nap during the day.
Water Purification Tablets: Step two in water filtration after using the bandana. They kill bacteria and other microbes that can make you sick. They don’t take much space and I imagine they’re cheeper here than in Europe.
Safety Pins: Safety pins have numerous applications aside from just backpacking and a little box of 100+ are only $2 (ish) so it’s well worth the space to pack some.
Paracord: This is great for making repairs or if you need to make a clothesline or shelter. No hiker would be caught without.
Big Garbage Bag: This came as a tip in some blog I was reading and passed it off as overcautious until I disassembled the emergency kit that was in my car and found one that was a good balance between size, packability and strength. The thought process is that you can make a shelter out of them, use them as a make-shift poncho, or as intended as a bag.
Zip Ties: They don’t take much space and can be used in many applications to secure items.
Laundry Soap Sheets: Although I’ve never used these… I’m sure they will come in handy some day. They’re small and light so I don’t feel guilty bringing them and have amazing reviews.
Duct Tape: The master repairman. I made a mini roll rather than taking a large one or buying a prepackaged mini roll. Hard Corps Travel has a great post about it. I used their straw method and although mine didn’t turn out as pretty, it’s just as functional.
Insect Repellant: Very important for any hiker/camper. Fun fact: Deet is hard to find in many countries so if you want quality bug protection, stock up.
Hand Warmers: I’m not sure how hard these are to find abroad so I’m bringing one pack for emergency situations such as winter power outages.
Flashlight: Depending on your plans, you might want to invest in a quality headlamp or compact lantern. I just have a 2-in-1, mini laser pointer and flashlight that I am bringing in with my school supplies for giving presentations.
Bag of Bags: A backpackers necessity! Grab one or two of each type of Ziplock (maybe even a Walmart bag or two for good measure) and tuck it neatly in a gallon sized Ziplock. If you ever need to separate dirty or wet clothes, store food cooked in a hostel, or transport food bought in a market, they’re available for your convenience.
Carabiners: For an easy way to attach shoes or other items to your pack.
Survival Booklet: I’m toying with the idea of bringing this but books are so heavy and can be easily damaged in the types of circumstances you’re likely to need them. On the other hand, emergency situations are when you are most likely to forget everything you ever learned and having a physical guide to refer to (that’s not on your phone which can obviously die) can be helpful.
Matches: A little pack of quality waterproof matches is a good idea and applicable for more than just backpacking. Other applications might include stopping a fraying shoestring or lighting the odd candle. A lot of people in Germany smoke so the likeliness that someone I’m with will have a lighter is pretty high but you never know.
Tinder: I’m bringing a tiny bag (meant for jewelry or pills) with cotton balls so that hopefully fire starting will be a bit easier if I’m ever in the situation.
Quick Dry Towel: A backpacking necessity. These fold up super small, dry super fast and are extremely absorbent. Word of advice: save space and money and get a smaller size. A microfiber towel the size of a washcloth will easily dry your entire body.
Multi Tool: This is a tricky item and one I put a lot of thought and research into. TSA has very strict rules about what can and cannot be brought onto a plane and many of the tools that claim to be TSA approved have reportedly been confiscated. I definitely wanted to bring something that was an all-in-one device so that if I needed to repair furniture in the dorm or open a bottle, I’m not carrying around a bunch of heavy tools. I ended up choosing the Zootility PocketMonkey which claims to be TSA approved and have opted to leave it in it’s packaging until touchdown. That way, I can point to the TSA approval stamp on the packaging if anyone wants to give me grief.
Space Blanket: Good to have, just in case. I had one laying around otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bought one specifically for this trip.
Travel Sheet: These are mainly meant for hostel goers or if you rent a sleeping bag for camping. They’re an extra layer between you and questionably clean sheets. I have never used mine but I paid good money for it so it’s coming along for the journey. Lord knows that I’ll be kicking myself if I needed it but left in on another continent.
Whistle: I had this laying around so I packed it. All the experts say to have one but truthfully, it is probably something I would have skipped if I didn’t already own one.
Compass: I’m doing this entire trip on a tight budget otherwise I would have gone ahead and bought one of those paracord bracelets with a whistle, compass and fire starter built in. Some fancy ones even have fishing hooks and line tucked inside as well. I already owned everything except for a compass so I just snagged one for a dollar on Amazon to complete my wilderness survival necessities.
Sewing Kit: The last thing on this list is the trusty sewing kit. You can obviously buy them very cheeply from nearly anywhere. However, I decided to take an old one of mine, scrap it’s contents and start over. I wound new thread on the spindle they gave me, kept the pins and needles, and added a baby roll of dental floss that my family seems to have a million of. Dental floss or fishing line is good to have because it is stronger and won’t rot in wet conditions. Finally, I have all the buttons that have come attached to the clothing I’ve been buying to supplement my business wardrobe.
That’s everything that I feel falls solidly into this category that I will be taking with me to Germany. I plan to cover my pack in my luggage post which should be up in a week or so. Let me know below if I forgot anything or if you have any questions!