Unless you’re traveling by car, don’t bring a pillow. Not only are pillows bulky and useless when wet, they only serve one purpose. You can lay your head on practically any other item you bring; save some space and use your jacket as a pillow.
Whether or not you believe that the purpose of backpacking is to “rough it,” no one needs 20 ounces of shampoo and an additional 20 ounces of conditioner. A travel container can last awhile with some effort—and don’t worry about packing blush and eyeliner—bears aren’t judgmental.
You don’t need eye wash, or half of the other stuff in massive pre-packaged kits and chances are if you run into a real problem you’ll head back. Your emergency kit is there to keep you alive and when you know what you’re doing you don’t need as many tools. Most backpackers swear by duct tape, pain killers and superglue.
Save some space in your pack and in the washing machine—sleep in shorts and a t-shirt that you can also wear during the day.
Nothing says come rob me like an expensive-looking bracelet or ring and there’s nothing more delicate than the necklace your grandma wore when she was your age. A good rule of thumb on any trip: don’t bring something you’re not prepared to lose. Buying local jewelry is a bright idea.
Massive backpacking boots are a lot like the cases of bottled water for sale in every supermarket—excessive. Just because retailers market it doesn’t mean you need it. Regular, quality hiking boots will do the job; your ankles aren’t that fragile.
Again, just because sock liners are for sale doesn’t mean you need them. Investing in great hiking boots and breaking them in properly will prevent blisters.