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How To Take A Guitar When Backpacking


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Corella Jahn



Backpacking is a thrilling adventure that allows you to explore new destinations and immerse yourself in different cultures. For musicians, the idea of leaving their instruments behind can be disheartening. However, with some planning and preparation, taking a guitar on your backpacking journey is completely feasible.


Having your guitar with you while traveling not only provides a source of entertainment but also allows you to connect with people through music. Whether you’re strumming a few chords around a campfire or playing for locals in a small village, your guitar can become a cherished companion on your backpacking trip.


But taking a guitar on a backpacking adventure comes with its challenges. You need to consider factors like weight, size, and durability. Additionally, you must ensure that your guitar is protected and well-maintained throughout your journey.


In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about taking a guitar when backpacking. We’ll explore how to choose the right guitar for your trip, ways to protect your instrument, how to pack and carry it, and essential tips for maintaining your guitar on the road. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge and confidence you need to bring your guitar along on your backpacking adventure.


Choosing the Right Guitar for Backpacking

When selecting a guitar to take on your backpacking journey, there are several factors to consider. The right guitar for backpacking should be lightweight, durable, and compact. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect travel companion:

  1. Size and Weight: Opt for a smaller-sized guitar that is easy to carry. There are various travel-sized guitars available on the market, such as parlor guitars or 3/4 size guitars, which offer portability without compromising on sound quality.
  2. Material: Look for guitars made from durable materials like solid wood or carbon fiber. These materials are less prone to damage and can withstand the rigors of backpacking. Additionally, they can handle changes in temperature and humidity better than guitars made from cheaper materials.
  3. Sound: While size and weight are important, make sure the guitar produces a sound that you enjoy. Spend some time playing different guitars and find one that suits your playing style and preference.
  4. Budget: Consider your budget when choosing a travel guitar. While there are high-quality options available, they can be more expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find affordable travel guitar options that still provide decent sound and durability.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might want to consider an acoustic-electric guitar for backpacking. This type of guitar can be plugged into an amplifier or a portable speaker, allowing you to perform in different settings.


Ultimately, the right guitar for backpacking will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Take your time to research and test out different options to find the one that best suits you.


Protecting Your Guitar While Backpacking

When traveling with your guitar, it’s essential to take proper precautions to protect it from potential damage. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your instrument while backpacking:

  1. Use a Protective Case: Invest in a high-quality guitar case that provides adequate padding and support. A hard case is ideal for maximum protection, but a padded gig bag can also work well if you need something lighter and more portable.
  2. Consider a Neck Brace: To provide extra support and prevent neck warping, consider using a neck brace or support pillow inside the case. This will help maintain the proper alignment of the guitar’s neck during transportation.
  3. Loosen the Strings: Before placing your guitar in the case, loosen the strings slightly to relieve tension on the neck. This helps prevent any potential damage that could occur due to changes in temperature and humidity during your journey.
  4. Protect the Headstock: The headstock is vulnerable to damage, so it’s important to take precautions. Use a padded headstock cover or wrap a soft cloth around it to prevent any accidental knocks or impacts.
  5. Avoid Excessive Temperatures: Extreme temperatures can be detrimental to your guitar. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or in a hot car for extended periods. Similarly, avoid exposing your guitar to extreme cold temperatures.
  6. Watch Out for Humidity: Excessive humidity can cause swelling and warping of the guitar’s body and neck. Keep your guitar in a moderate humidity environment and consider using a small instrument humidifier when necessary.
  7. Be Mindful of Transportation: When traveling by plane or bus, carry your guitar with you as hand luggage whenever possible. If you have to check it in, ensure it is packed securely in a hard case and consider loosening the strings to relieve tension during changes in air pressure.

By following these protective measures, you can greatly minimize the risk of damage to your guitar during your backpacking journey. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your valuable instrument.


Packing and Carrying Your Guitar

Proper packing and carrying of your guitar is crucial to ensure its safety and ease of transportation. Here are some guidelines to help you pack and carry your guitar while backpacking:

  1. Securely Fasten the Case: Ensure the guitar case is securely closed and latched before you start traveling. This prevents the guitar from accidentally slipping out or the case from opening during transit.
  2. Use a Guitar Strap: Attach a guitar strap to your instrument, even if you usually play without one. This allows you to comfortably carry the guitar on your shoulder while keeping your hands free for other tasks.
  3. Stow it in a Backpack: If your guitar case has backpack straps or if you have a specifically designed guitar backpack, consider stowing your guitar inside. This allows for easier carrying and frees up your hands for other items.
  4. Make Use of Padding: If space allows, add extra padding around your guitar case for added protection. This can be achieved by using clothes, towels, or bubble wrap. Make sure the padding is secure and doesn’t allow the guitar to shift inside the case.
  5. Be Mindful of Weight Distribution: When attaching your guitar case to your backpack or carrying it separately, ensure that the weight is well-distributed to prevent strain on your back or shoulders. Adjust the straps accordingly for a comfortable fit.
  6. Consider a Travel Guitar Stand: If you anticipate needing to set your guitar down often, investing in a collapsible travel guitar stand can be beneficial. This provides a safe and stable spot for your guitar when not in use.
  7. Handle with Care: It goes without saying, but always handle your guitar with care when packing, unpacking, and carrying it. Avoid dropping or banging it against surfaces and be mindful of tight spaces when maneuvering with your instrument.

Following these packing and carrying tips will help ensure that your guitar is secure and protected while on the move. Remember, a well-packed and properly carried guitar allows for a stress-free and enjoyable backpacking experience.


Taking Care of Your Guitar on the Road

While on your backpacking journey, it’s essential to take proper care of your guitar to keep it in optimal playing condition. Here are some tips to help you maintain your instrument on the road:

  1. Keep it Clean: Regularly wipe down your guitar with a soft cloth to remove dirt, sweat, and oils. This helps prevent buildup and keeps your guitar looking and sounding its best.
  2. Tune Up Frequently: Due to changes in temperature and humidity, your guitar may go out of tune more often than usual. Take the time to tune it up regularly to ensure it sounds its best.
  3. Check for Structural Integrities: Periodically inspect your guitar for any signs of damage or wear, such as cracks, loose braces, or buzzing frets. If you notice any issues, it’s best to have them addressed by a professional guitar technician as soon as possible.
  4. Monitor Humidity Levels: Depending on your travel destination, humidity levels may fluctuate. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity around your guitar. If it falls outside the safe range, consider using a small instrument humidifier or dehumidifier to maintain proper humidity levels.
  5. Avoid Extreme Conditions: While it’s tempting to play your guitar in every setting, it’s important to avoid exposing your instrument to extreme conditions. Avoid playing in direct sunlight, high humidity, or excessive cold temperatures, as this can cause damage to your guitar.
  6. Store it Properly: When not playing your guitar, store it in a safe and secure place. If possible, keep it in its case or gig bag to protect it from dust, moisture, and accidental damage.
  7. Be Mindful of Changing Strings: If you need to change your guitar strings while on the road, take extra care to properly stretch and tune them. Changing strings in different environments can cause them to settle differently, leading to tuning issues.
  8. Stay Prepared: Pack a basic guitar maintenance kit with essential items like spare strings, a string winder, a tuner, and a polishing cloth. This will allow you to make quick repairs and maintain your guitar’s playability.

By following these care tips, you can ensure that your guitar remains in top shape and ready to produce beautiful music throughout your backpacking journey.



Taking a guitar on your backpacking adventure can add a whole new level of joy and fulfillment to your travels. With the right guitar choice, proper protection, careful packing and carrying, and regular maintenance, you can enjoy the company of your beloved instrument throughout your journey.


Remember to choose a guitar that suits the requirements of backpacking – lightweight, durable, and compact. Invest in a high-quality case or gig bag to protect your guitar from bumps and impacts. Loosen the strings, use a neck brace, and take precautions against extreme temperatures and humidity to prevent any damage.


When packing and carrying your guitar, securely fasten the case, use a strap, and distribute weight evenly to ensure comfort during transportation. Consider investing in a travel guitar stand for added convenience on the road.


Take care of your guitar by keeping it clean, tuning it up frequently, and checking for any structural issues. Monitor humidity levels, store it properly when not in use, and be mindful of changing strings in different environments.


In conclusion, with the right preparation and care, bringing your guitar on your backpacking journey can enhance your experience and allow for moments of musical connection with others along the way. So, don’t leave your guitar behind – enjoy the harmonious blend of travel and music!