What to pack for the Australian Outback

Packing for an Outback trip isn’t a ‘chuck a load of clothes in a rucksack and you’ll be fine’ kind of situation. In other words, you need to be prepared. The Outback is vast and remote, and you’ll often drive for hours without seeing another soul, let alone a shop. The weather is also extreme, with hot days and potentially freezing nights (if you travel in winter between May and August).

Outback packing essentials

Here are the top 10 essentials you’ll need for an Outback adventure.

1. Layers

Layered clothing is the go in the Outback. We’re talking leggings or shorts, t-shirts and loose, long-sleeved shirts. Long layers also double up as skin protection from the sun and insect bites. It's important to be able to layer up and down depending on the weather and activities you're doing throughout the day.

2. Jumper and jacket

It’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip below 0°C on clear winter nights or to see ground frost in the morning. If you visit between May and August, bring a thermal base layer, a sweater or fleece, a down jacket and a beanie for early morning starts. You can remove layers once it starts warming up.

3. Walking shoes and sandals

Whether you're exploring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park or hitting the trails in Kakadu National Park, bring a comfy pair of walking shoes that support your feet and ankles and have good sole grip. A decent pair of runners should be fine for easy to moderate walks. f you plan on doing lots of walking or hiking, you’ll thank yourself for bringing a pair of quality, breathable hiking socks.

Sandals or thongs are handy for when you're on the road, hanging out at your accommodation or relaxing by natural swimming holes. Your feet will appreciate the breather after being enclosed in your walking shoes!

4. Reusable water bottle

It’s super important to stay hydrated. Bring a large reusable water bottle (a 1-litre bottle is ideal) to refill throughout the day.

5. Sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Nothing says 'outback' more than an Akubra hat. While an Akubra hat is definitely optional, be sure to bring some type of wide-brimmed hat to protect your head and face from the sun.

The same goes for sunscreen and sunglasses. Bring polarised sunglasses if you can, as they offer better protection against UV rays than regular lenses.

6. Head net

There are flies year-round in the Outback, but they're rife in the summer (November-February) when the weather is hot and humid. Bring a head net... unless you fancy a constant buzzing near your ears, nose and face.

7. Bathing suit

Don't forget your swimmers. There are heaps of gorgeous swimming holes in the Outback, such as Ellery Creek, Ormiston Gorge and Mossman Gorge to name a few. There’s nothing better than jumping into a deep gorge or feeling the cool spray of a waterfall on your skin after a long walk.

8. Quick-dry towel

Regular towels take up too much room in a rucksack and take ages to dry, so pack a quick-dry towel to pat yourself down after a swim.

9. Insect repellent

This one also goes without saying, especially if you spend time by waterholes and gorges or visit during the summer months.

10. Camera

The ochre landscapes, the waterfalls, the wildlife... need we say more? The Outback is full of fantastic photography opportunities. Always have your camera handy (and make sure it's fully charged!).

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