Backpacking in the Tropics? Here Are 4 Must-Haves to Bring Along

Backpacking is a great travel option for people who want a blend of nature, adventure, and a friendly budget. In Australia, backpackers have returned in full force, to the benefit of local farmers who are more than happy about the boost to the rural workforce. Since reopening its international borders, Australia has seen an increase in working holiday visa holders, which has helped fill the estimated 172,000 worker shortfall in the food supply chain.

Aside from international backpackers looking to explore the natural landscapes of Australia, you may want to visit nearby countries like Asia and beyond. Of course, backpackers need to be prepared accordingly. This is especially true if you’re headed for tropical destinations like the islands of Raja Ampat. In our previous post on Indonesia’s archipelago, we highlighted the unique charms and pristine environment of one of the world’s largest eco-marine parks. Backpacking throughout tropical backgrounds, however, can be disorienting if you aren’t used to the climate and terrain. Below, we’ll look at four must-haves for tropical backpacking:


First, investing in a good backpack for backpacking is crucial. You’ll need a sturdy bag that can withstand tropical weather and safely hold most of your possessions. Getting a from an established brand is a good idea. The backpacks from renowned outdoor brand Oakley are designed for vigorous outdoor occasions, including hiking in the wilderness. For example, the Enduro 3.0 Big Backpack boasts a rugged exterior with water-repellent coating. The bag also has padded pockets and an internal organisational panel to keep your gear organised and secure. When looking for backpacks, try looking for a breathable mesh on the back to ensure all-day comfort while trekking in the tropics.

Water shoes

Backpackers will also want to pack a good pair of water shoes, a type of footwear typically used for activities where the feet are likely to get wet, such as walking on tropical terrain. These are usually made of mesh and have a stiff sole, making them durable against possible cuts and abrasions when walking in wet, rocky environments. Water shoes like the Keen Drift Creek H2 are versatile and work well for moderate-length day hikes to more advanced river crossings and camping. Like all good water shoes, the Drift Creek H2 provides excellent drainage and low height, offering stability and balance for uneven surfaces. As with other shoes, you’ll want to ensure you go with what’s comfortable on top of providing protection, so try on a new pair before purchasing them.


Another backpacking essential is a good bottle of sunscreen. Even in tropical weather, you’ll want ample protection from harmful sunlight. Correctly applying sunscreen can be effective in preventing or reducing adverse effects including erythema, skin ageing, and skin cancer. However, be wary of the ingredients in your sunscreen, as some sunscreen ingredients may cause irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. While sunscreen-induced dermatitis generally doesn’t have long-term consequences, you definitely don’t want it happening while backpacking in the tropics. You’ll also want to look into water-resistant — or very water-resistant — qualities to keep you waterproof in rain or wet terrains. It’s difficult to recommend specific sunscreen products because everyone can react differently to them. Conducting a skin test is best to see which suits your skin the most.

Rain jacket

Finally, you’ll want a solid raincoat or rain jacket to navigate the tropics safely. A rain jacket will help keep you dry and warm. Good rain jackets are made of fully waterproof fabric to keep water from passing through. Some models will have sealed seams, with a hood designed to protect your face and hair from rain. You should also look for breathable fabric, helping your sweat from all the backpacking evaporate without problems. This is important as trekking unfamiliar terrains can be physically demanding, and hiking in a tropical climate while drenched in sweat will be uncomfortable. Brands like Patagonia offer great value for their Torrentshell 3L jackets, as their designs feature three-layered construction for durability and comfort — while keeping everything sleek.