Backpacking Gear List For Southeast Asia.

I have travelled extensively through Southeast-Asia, mostly in Thailand, over the past 20 years and know exactly the kind of things you will need to backpack through the region.

Too many people are carrying huge backpacks and to much gear that is totally unneeded. This isn’t just a practical case for packing lighter, but it will also save you, the traveller, significant money from purchasing too many things before leaving.



Don’t take a big backpack! Trust me on this one, so many travellers regret having taken to much stuff with them. There are many first time backpackers in Thailand as it’s an easy entry country into the region, and many over think all the gear they will need.

A 30 litre backpack will be plenty big enough for the average traveller backpacking in Thailand and South-East-Asia. You can even get by with a 20 litre one easily enough. Maximum 40 litre.

These backpacks will be perfect, they are all roughly within the 20 – 40 litre range and not that expensive for you.

•  The North Face Recon Backpack
•  Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack
•  Osprey Talon 33 Backpack
•  The North Face Borealis Backpack
•  Osprey Packs Kestrel 38 Backpack



Casual clothes can be bought easily and cheaply in Thailand so don’t worry about purchasing anything like that before going, but whatever you do don’t pack jeans. They are heavy and most of the time to hot.

The main thing I would think of bringing before leaving is if you take a technical rain jacket with you. Cotton clothing is the best for comfort in the heat.

Sarong One of the best items to travel with. Use as a towel, sheet, clothing.
• Sunhat.
Travel umbrella (very handy for the common heavy rains and hot sun).
• 1 pair of lightweight cotton trousers (or skirt).
• 1 pair of cotton shorts (or skirt).
• 2 cotton t-shirts.
• 1 exercise top.
• 1 exercise shorts.
• 1 lightweight fleece top (chilly evenings in mountains).
• Swimwear.
• Underwear (your choice but 3 pair is what I use).
• 2 pairs of socks
• Lightweight trail running shoes or sneakers for hiking.
• Flip flops or sandals (flip flops better).

If you are planning to go to the mountains of Laos, Vietnam, and others, during the colder season you will want another warm top to bring. However you can always buy one for cheap when there.

A good place for getting outdoor clothing and accessories in the U.S.A. is my favourite outdoor shop Moosejaw –



This is personal preference depending on what you will be doing. If you plan to be doing photo editing or lots of writing then bring a laptop otherwise your smartphone and an iPad (or similar), or just your smartphone will do.

If I wasn’t blogging and doing photography work I would just travel with my smartphone and an iPad. Don’t buy a laptop just for travelling if you don’t think you will use it for more professional purposes. Save your money for travels!

Laptop This is the laptop I recommend to use as the perfect travelling laptop for size and weight.
Smartphone  (example).
Water Purifier I use a Steripen UV water purifier. The investment works out in the long run and you can help save buying plastic bottles and adding to the plastic waste. Just purify the tap water where you are.


If you just plan to take the occasional snaps and not worried about really high quality then a good quality smartphone camera would do the job.

Otherwise a compact point and shoot or mirrorless camera system is perfect for the casual backpacker wanting good quality without the weight of a dslr. Only carry a dslr if you already have one and want good quality photos.

If you’re looking to buy a new camera for travel then these are some good point and shoot and mirrorless cameras to check out that will give you a good idea on what to get.


These items aren’t essential but could add a bit more comfort to your journey.

I never used to carry a mosquito net with me as they were big and bulky but nowadays you can find light ones that pack down really small. I use the Sea To Summit Nano Mosquito Net.

You could take a travel silk liner for use in bed to give you that comfy “used to my own bed linen” feeling. This is a good option: Cocoon Silk MummyLiner .

Take a 1 litre Nalgene water bottle or similar to use for purifying the water and carrying it.

Toiletries will be your own choice as everyone has different needs. For example I don’t need much so I take toothpaste, toothbrush, bar of soap, stick deodorant (gets sweaty in South-East-Asia!) and my medications.



So that’s all you will need for your journey to one of the most fun places in the world to travel. Have fun!

Here’s some links to guidebooks to help plan your journey. I have used all of them (different editions) over the 20 plus years I have been visiting South-East-Asia and have been happy with them. If there are other guidebooks you can recommend then let us know in the comments or drop me an email to

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