How to Pack for Three Nights in the Jungle

Thinking of backpacking in the rainforest? How do you even begin to think about what to take with you to the rainforest? Here I make it easy for you…

First of all: What you have to consider for any backpacking trip is the weight of your pack. Everything you take you have to carry.

Secondly: You need to take into account where else you are visiting in the country – I doubt you are just staying on Borneo in the rainforest.

And also: The weather plays a big part in life in the rainforest and you have to be prepared for extreme and dramatic changes.

Try to have those things in the back of your mind as you prepare what to take with you on your trip. But right now we are just going to focus on what you need to pack for your stay in the rainforest in Kalimantan.

Here are two posts that you might need to read in addition to this one to help you prepare:

  1. A general and essential guide on to how to pack.
  2. Underestimating the rain in the rainforest? You shouldn’t.

how to pack for the rainforest

Living on a River Boat

Let’s remember that during this stay in the rainforest we are living on a klotok – an Indonesian riverboat. We are not staying in a five star hotel. We are sleeping on the open deck and our meals are eaten on the deck. We have a toilet and a shower – which use river water, meaning that we can only shower where the river is clean. The boat is basic with no electricity or mod-cons.

Learn more about life on a klotok here.

Clothes for the boat

  • We will mostly walk around the boat barefoot as we don’t need shoes on the deck and the bathroom is a wet-room so we don’t need to worry about footwear for the boat.
  • We need to be comfortable during the day when we are going down the river on the boat. Loose-fitting trousers, shorts, t-shirts are your best bet.
  • In the evening and during heavy downpours, the temperature often drops so it’s sensible to have to hand a sweatshirt or scarf – or both so that you can choose.
  • We are sleeping on the open deck of the boat under a mosquito net. You want something loose and comfy to sleep in, but which covers your body. It gets quite cool at night so a towel, jacket or even sleeping bag will come in handy just to throw over you in the middle of the night when you wake up cold. Don’t forget a pair of socks.


Despite your best efforts to stay clean and fresh, you will soon find yourself grimy from the jungle, sweaty from the heat and muddy from the rain. There’s not always the chance to have a shower due to the condition of the river water. Your plans to look and smell good all the time will soon be thrown over board, so you can forget the shampoo and conditioner right now. You need:

  • Antibacterial hand cleaner – the sort that doesn’t need water.
  • Face wipes – or better still, multi-use wipes for cleaning your face and body when there’s no shower.
  • Eye make-up remover – find out why here.
  • Tissues or toilet paper.
  • Deodorant.
  • Aftersun – this is the only body lotion you will need so forget all the other creams.
  • Small pot of vaseline for dry skin / cracked lips.
  • Bar of soap for when you finally have the chance to shower.
  • Quick drying travel / sports towel.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Insect repellent and lots of it.
  • Suncream.

Things to do on the boat

  • Take a book to read at night.
  • Make sure all your electronic devices and their spare batteries are fully charged before you set off on your journey. And switch everything to flight mode / power saving mode.
  • Notebook and pens – that’s PENS, plural.
  • Think about taking a deck of cards or some other small game that can amuse multiple participants.

A few extras to consider for the boat

  • It depends what you like but you might appreciate a little packet of your favourite sweets or mints or biscuits on the boat. Don’t go over the top though; you are going to get plenty of food.
  • Take something that you can give to the crew as small gifts. Things like hand made jewellery from your own country will be appreciated. It’s always good to carry little gifts when backpacking, mostly because people appreciate them and also to use as an ice-breaker.
  • Make sure you have a lock for your backpack. You will be leaving things on the boat when you go trekking and exploring in the jungle. The crew can generally be trusted but you also have to consider that other boat might moor next to yours and other visitors will walk across your boat to get to the jetty.

Activities in the Jungle

During our stay in the rainforest we will, of course, get off this boat and go exploring. We have to consider what sort of activities we will be taking part in so that we can think about what clothes to take.

Two treks that we did were the Camp Leakey trek and the night trek.

Clothes for the Jungle

  • Wear comfortable clothes that you can trek in. Loose-fitting three quarter pants are more practical than denim hot-pants. T-shirts with sleeves or loose-fitting shirts are practical for jungle trekking.
  • Make sure you have good sturdy shoes for trekking. Your feet need to be covered and protected from insects on the ground and from spiky or prickly plants.

The Weather

  • Suncream is a must. High factors; you are on the equator.
  • A hat is a must – make sure you have something light that covers your head.
  • Sun glasses.
  • Rain poncho or fold away waterproof coat for unpredictable heavy downpours.
  • Try to avoid jeans or other heavy material that takes a long time to dry after getting wet in heavy rain.

Your Kit

Obviously when you are taking part in jungle activities you will need to carry some things with you. Bottled water will be supplied for you and so will food if necessary.

  • Small backpack for taking on treks.
  • Camera + waterproof cover for camera.
  • Binoculars.
  • A small Swiss army knife is alway handy to have at hand on a trek.
  • Pen and paper for taking notes (or is that just travel bloggers?).
  • Packet of tissues, wipes and anti-bacterial hand gel.
  • Insect repellent – take it with you even if you’ve already applied it.

Night Walk

It is probable that you will do a night walk in the rainforest and as well as the above there are a few things to have in mind.

  • Long trousers.
  • Socks that you can tuck your long trousers into. Why? Because I’ve seen what lives on the rainforest floor and trust me, you don’t want it crawling or slithering up your leg.
  • A light, long-sleeved top, like a shirt or light sweatshirt.
  • A head torch.

Staying Healthy in the Jungle

If you’ve read already about our fantastic guide, you will remember the horrendous passage about tarantula bites and magic potions. Let’s face it, there are certain things that we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best about in the jungle because we are far away from the towns and villages and there’s no medical help available in the rainforest.

But we can do ourselves a favour and take the following things just to make our lives easier in the jungle if necessary:

  • Plasters / band aids for minor cuts, scratches or blisters.
  • Antiseptic cream.
  • Tweezers.
  • Anti-inflammatory tablets or pain killers.
  • Stomach calming medication in case of diarrhoea.
  • Eye drops in case of irritation.
  • After-bite or similar to treat mosquito bites.

What else do you think you need to pack for a trip in the rainforest? What have I forgotten?

If you’ve got your bags packed and ready to go, let’s continue. Here’s what happened when I arrived in the rainforest

This is just one post of twenty that make up the Rainforest Blog.
Read the rest of it here.
I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaKalimantanRainforesttravel essentials

About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

RSSComments (4)

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  1. Kathryn says:

    Hi Lisa! Thanks for your amazing blog & advice! My hubby & I will be spending our 1st night of 5 on a klotok in a fortnight & I’ve been struggling to know what to pack! Didn’t think of how useful face wipes will be!!!


    • Lisa says:

      Hi Kathryn,
      You are going to have the time of your lives in the rainforest.
      I’m so glad that you found my suggestions about what to pack useful. It always helps when someone can tell you what to expect from their own experience, doesn’t it?
      Thanks so much for the lovely compliments. And don’t forget the insect repellent!
      All the best,

  2. Diana says:

    Fabulous blog! I’m planning a solo journey to the Tanjung Puting National Park. Fantastic tips – thank you so much!! Can’t to read your entire blog! Have you thought about writing a book?!!

    Washington, DC U.S.A.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Diana,
      Thanks so much for your lovely feedback. I’m so glad that you found my info useful. As soon as I can sort out some problems I’m having with the blog I’ll be writing about the rest of the Indonesia trip.
      I hope you have a brilliant time in the jungle! I’m sure you will – just don’t forget the mosquito repellent!
      Have fun!
      Lisa x

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