The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: What to Pack for A Summer Backpacking Vacation

My fiance and I are going on an outdoorsy, backpack summer vacation for a month to Vancouver, Canada, and I want to bring the bare minimum of clothes. Suggestions? —Paula

The easiest way to pack for any vacation is to picture the types of activities you'll be doing, and plan accordingly. Choose pieces that do double duty and plan to dress in layers so you'll be prepared for any weather. I'll be heading to Newfoundland later this summer for two weeks with my husband, so this post will be helpful for my own planning purposes, too!

Let's say you're heading out for a hike on a warm day; you'll be following a well-established trail that's pretty flat with ample shade and cool breezes. Reach for a cotton tank, comfy shorts and sturdy sandals. It's always worth investing a bit more for good footwear, especially when you're going to be doing a lot of walking. Pack a lightweight anorak for those inevitable rainy and/or windy days.

Now let's say you're planning a hike on rocky or hilly terrain, maybe some tall grasses and more sun exposure. Reach for long pants to protect your legs (I like cargoes because they breath more than denim, but jeans are also good) and a long-sleeve camp shirt in cotton, which will protect your skin from the sun and bugs while still keeping you cool. A floppy hat and rugged hiking boots are also essential. All these pieces can be mixed-and-matched with the items in the first look, too.

Now for the extras: Depending on what you'll be doing, you may want to pack a bathing suit and some flip flops or other flat sandals that you can wear to the beach or shower areas. If you want to be fancy, pack a jersey maxi dress - you'll feel instantly dressed up and won't have to worry about shaving - whether you're heading to a nicer restaurant or having a romantic picnic.

A small crossbody bag is great for carrying essentials when you want to leave your big backpack behind. And of course, don't forget to pack sunscreen and bug spray. Avon makes some of my favorite combination sunscreen/bug sprays that are waterproof and smell great, too.

With the items above, you should be prepared for pretty much any scenario, from hikes to sightseeing to just kicking back and relaxing.

What would you suggest Paula pack for her vacation? Let her know in the comments!

Love that rain jacket! Even better that it's from Target!
#1 Brooke (Homepage) on 2012-06-19 12:15 (Reply)
The jacket comes in some fun prints, too, like polka-dots. So cute.
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-06-20 09:25 (Reply)
Thanks for posting--just picked up the cargoes and TWO maxi-dresses from Target, and am about to order the combo insect-repellent and SPF for an upcoming trip to Bali!
#2 Tara on 2012-06-19 13:53 (Reply)
This makes me so happy! Also check out Avon's insect repellent towelettes - I love these, you can put on your bug protection in a car or tent without getting it all over the place.

Have fun in Bali!
#2.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-06-20 09:24 (Reply)
Thanks for the tip on the wipes as well. I really love your blog & tweets--I really appreciate the insights on great fashion without a huge price tag, as well as products that have been "test-driven". Thanks for all of your hard work! (So looking forward to Bali! :-))
#2.1.1 Tara on 2012-06-20 11:50 (Reply)
I went to Peru last February, and did a lot of hiking (mountains and rain forest). I was very happy I bought a good pair of hiking boots. They're water proof but breathable (the material is called GoreTex I think).I wore them with wool socks and my feet was very comfortable.

I wouldn't recommend wearing jeans, they'll get soaked if it rains (and they take forever to dry). Most outdoor gear stores sell pants made with fabrics that are water repellant/fast drying. They are also a lot lighter to pack than jeans. Have a good trip!
#3 Deb on 2012-06-19 15:38 (Reply)
Great point re: jeans. I showed my husband this post after I wrote it and that's the first thing he pointed out!

Also, Peru sounds amazing. I'd love to go someday.
#3.1 The Budget Babe on 2012-06-20 13:49 (Reply)
I'm from Vancouver, Canada and I would really recommend something waterproof. The rain is always sudden and sometimes it gets quite cold here (but today is a sunny day!). I hope it's finally summer here, we've been waiting for weeks :-)

Of course, if you want to be a true Vancouverite, most of us just tough it out with a warm hoodie :-)
#4 Lena on 2012-06-20 14:38 (Reply)
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