If you’re looking for a list of what items to bring on your journey through the Australian Outback, you’ve come to the right place. Here you can find a complete list of everything we recommend packing for a trip to The Outback. Regardless of how you’re planning your trip through The Outback, this general packing list is sure to be helpful.
The Ultimate Packing List for the Australian Outback
Below is a pack list for our 12 day trip through Australian Outback – if you’re curious to read more about what we did when we were there – you click here to see our entire Itinerary and Must Do’s for Australia.
Bags & Camping
1. 32L Backpack – While we opted for a guided bus tour through the Outback – our trip included a lot of camping so we used backpacks instead of the typical suitcase. It’s worth mentioning, we usually opt for bags that are carry-on sized because we want to keep our bags with us whenever we get on a plane. You just can’t afford to lose your bag while traveling, and it’s honestly more than enough room if you pack right. I use an ultralight style backpack from Gossamer Gear because it’s light weight and has plenty of room.
2. Daypack – Regardless of how you’re traveling, you always want a daypack. I love my Osprey Daylight because not only is it super light and has room for a camel back, but it also has no internal frame which makes it easy to stuff away in another bag when not in use.
3. Water Bottle/Hydration Reservoir – I prefer to carry my water in a reservoir attached to my day pack for easy access. You’ll want to have at least 1.5L of capacity (2L is better). Whether it’s 1 big bottle or reservoir, or 2 smaller bottles, make sure you have this.
4. Sleeping Bag – We did a bunch of camping so it made more sense to bring our own than to rent them. We traveled in September to avoid the scorching hot days but it can get cold in the Outback at night, so I used a women’s mummy bag rated for 26F (comfort rating) and was plenty warm.
5. Compression Sack – If you’re traveling with a sleeping bag, you’re going to want one of these. Stuff your sleeping bag into a compression sack and you’ll be amazed at how small it can get! I like Sea to Summit’s compression sack because it’s waterproof, durable, and lightweight.
6. Dry Bag/Stuff Sack – These are waterproof stuff bags that not only help organize your gear, but can even help compress your gear down a little as well. You certainly don’t need these, but I use them because it helps keep my pack size down and can double as a pillow at night (stuff your clothes into it, and viola, pillow).
Shoes & Clothing
7. Trail Running/Hiking Shoes – You really don’t need heavy hiking boots. Get something comfortable that works for you. I personally love these Vibram soled shoes from New Balance (Women’s) (Men’s) which are incredibly lightweight, and can pack away easily. I also love these shoes from Merrel (Women’s) (Men’s) because not only are they comfortable and lightweight, but they also double as a water shoe.
8. Sandals/Flip Flops – You’ll want something to wear in the public showers and it’s nice to have something to slip on in order to give your feet a break. It’s also a chance to carry an extra pair of shoes without taking up a lot of room.
9. Merino Wool Socks (4 pair) – I highly recommend merino wool socks for any sort of traveling. They don’t get smelly nearly as fast as cotton but they are just as comfortable. You can usually wear them multiple times without washing and are also great at moisture wicking. Shorter socks (Women’s) (Men’s) vs longer socks (Unisex) are really a matter of preference – I used both.
*Note* Don’t bring white socks to the outback – you’ll thank me for that advice later. The red dirt gets everywhere, and your nice white socks will never be the same again.
10. Long Pants (2 Pair) – I prefer to travel with hiking pants because they look nice when you need them to, but are also made for whatever nature can throw at you. Hiking pants are lightweight, moisture wicking, quick drying, and even water repellent. I absolutely love these pants by Outdoor Research (Women’s) (Men’s) they’re a little more expensive because they’re rock climber’s pants, but incredibly worth it.
11. Shorts (2 Pair) – As we travelled further north, it got warmer and I traded my long pants in for nice lightweight shorts. I use these shorts made by Columbia because they’re lightweight and affordable (Women) (Men’s). Some people prefer traveling with convertible pants instead of bringing extra shorts. While they’re great in theory, I personally can’t bring myself to wear convertibles. If that’s your thing – more power to you!
12. T-Shirts (3) – Just make sure they’re not cotton and you’ll thank me later. Cotton doesn’t wick moisture, it dries slow, gets smelly fast, and is often not great at heat/cold management. Merino wool, or anything that’s a blend will serve you much better.
13. Long Sleeve Shirt (1) – Always nice to have a long sleeve shirt for those colder moments and they double as sun protection. Again, if it’s not cotton, you’re good.
14. Warm Jacket – For any sort of travels – layering is your friend. I always like to carry a lightweight (but warm) jacket. Your best bet is to get a lightweight “puff” jacket – they aren’t waterproof but they pack small and keep you warm. I personally use The North Face’s Thunder Jacket (Women’s) (Men’s). Fleece are also a good option but don’t pack down nearly as well.
15. Waterproof Jacket – I didn’t actually end up using this on our trip – but it’s better to be safe then sorry. I travel with a very lightweight jacket that weighs less than 4oz and packs down tiny (so as far as I’m concerned it’s no biggie to bring). My personal favorite is the Outdoor Research Helium jacket (Men’s) (Women’s).
16. Beanie, Scarf & Gloves – Again, if you’re not traveling in the middle of summer, it can get cold in Southern Australia. I wore the scarf and beanie a ton, the gloves only a few times. The beanie also proved extra useful when we were camping out under the stars in our swags.
17. Pajamas/Thermals – Bring something you’ll feel comfortable sleeping in while camping, and will also keep you warm. I recommend thermals.
18. Swimsuit – Depending on how far you are going, there are plenty of opportunities to swim up near Darwin and Kakadu. And of course, you’ll want these if you plan to spend any time on any of Australia’s famous beaches or coast lines.
19. Underwear – I recommend using travel underwear, my favorite being from Exofficio. They wash (and dry) easily – so you can wash them in the sink and they’ll dry by morning.
20. Hat – Ideally you want a hat that has a full brim (not just a baseball cap) to keep the sun off your neck and face. I personally just used my Buff Headband (Unisex) most of the time.
21. Sunglasses – You definitely don’t want to forget these!
22. Camp Towel – These things are great! Instead of trying to cram in a giant towel, bring a pack towel. They are very moisture absorbent but are super thin, light, and pack down small. I recommend this one by PackTowel. Just make sure to get the larger sizes (XL or so) because they are smaller then you expect.
23. Camera + Memory + Charger – This is an adventure of a lifetime! You definitely want a way to capture all the amazing sights along the way. I personally love my Sony RX 100 ii because it’s a small point and shoot with the power of a DSLR (without the tediousness of carrying one). Whatever you do, make sure you have something. And be certain to bring extra memory – I had 2 64GB sticks with me as well as 3 batteries (and a charger).
24. Flashlight/Headlamp – I prefer headlamps over flashlights – it’s nice to go hands free sometimes. Either way, these come in handy at night time when you’re at the camp sites an you’ll need them to go to/from the bathroom.
25. Sunscreen – You’re in The Outback – don’t forget this!
26. Insect Repellent – Repellent a day keeps the mozzies away.
27. Brush/Hair Ties – If you use these at home, you’ll want them now.
28. Deodorant – You may be roughing it, but you don’t want to smell!
29. Chapstick – It’s hot and dry – your lips will thank you.
30. Toothbrush/Toothpaste – There was not a single day where we didn’t have a chance to brush our teeth.
31. Soap/Shampoo – There are plenty of opportunities to shower, no matter what kind of trip you’re on (camping or not).
32. Basic First Aid – It’s always nice to be prepared. Basic things to cary include aspirin, ibuprofen, bandaids, Neosporin, and moleskin.
33. Fly Net – Flies were not bad in September (we didn’t use the fly nets) but if you go during the summer, you will wish you had one.