To start you off, let’s dive into what equipment packs actually are.
What Are Equipment Packs?
Equipment packs are essentially survival gear that you receive during the character creation phase in DnD 5e. All characters typically have the option of choosing between the Explorers pack and the Dungeoneer’s pack to start with.
There are other packs to choose from of course, but these are the two primary packs that most new characters get to choose from.
Packs contain various tools, gear, and items that are essential for survival, dungeon diving, crafting, and much more.
Some of the items they contain are rations, bedrolls, a hammer, crowbar, and other useful items, such as rope and a tinderbox. Torches are another common item that are contained within most packs.
All of these items can be purchased separately, of course, if you so wished to obtain them that way.
In certain campaigns, you can also buy premade packs from certain merchants as a way to save time from having to buy the individual items.
If you want a more detailed explanation of what’s in the various packs themselves, be sure to visit our equipment packs article for more information.
What’s in the Packs?
The Explorer pack contains the following:
Includes a backpack, a bedroll, a mess kit, a tinderbox, 10 torches, 10 days of rations, and a waterskin. The pack also has 50 feet of hempen rope strapped to the side of it.
The Dungeoneer’s pack contains the following:
Includes a backpack, a crowbar, a hammer, 10 pitons, 10 torches, a tinderbox, 10 days of rations, and a waterskin. The pack also has 50 feet of hempen rope strapped to the side of it.
As you can see, both packs provide both utility items and survival items with the explorer’s pack providing more survival items and the dungeoneer’s pack providing more utility items.
Which Items Are Important?
All of the items in both packs serve a purpose, some more than others of course.
Now depending on your campaign setting and your DM, rations may not play such a key role, but this, of course, is solely dependent on your DM.
Do they keep track of food and survival? If not, then these aren’t super important.
Torches for characters without dark vision or for lighting up certain areas or even objects – very situational.
Like the rations, a waterskin falls under the same category. Does your DM keep track of food/water intake? If not, then this isn’t important.
A tinderbox could prove useful if you wanted to start a fire or perhaps you need to make a makeshift torch maybe. Again very situational.
A mess kit would also fall under the food category, same as the waterskin and rations. A bedroll is a bit more usable.
Most DMs do have players make camp and such if they’re out adventuring, so perhaps a bedroll would help in such a manner, but otherwise it doesn’t do much.
A backpack is very standard and helps you store items. Most DMs in my experience do require you to have some form of storage, so this is a good item to have.
Now the dungeoneer’s pack has a few different items, such as a crowbar, a hammer, pitons, and 50 feet of hempen rope.
The crowbar can be used to open sealed chests or doors. The hammer obviously can be used in a variety of different ways, such as crafting and opening chests or doors along with the crowbar.
I’ve even seen it used as an improvised weapon. Pitons are a steel spike with a hole in the center to which you can attach some of that 50 feet of rope and use it as a climbing device to maneuver your way through a dungeon perhaps.
I’ve even seen it used as an improvised grappling weapon before like Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.
All very situational items, but in my opinion, I’d take the dungeoneer’s pack over the explorer’s pack for the simple reason that the tools contained within the dungeoneer’s pack are more utilitarian than the explorer’s pack items.
This would, however, depend on your DM and campaign setting, of course.
So Which Do I Pick?
If you’re still stuck in between, then weigh your options.
Is your character a cleric of sorts who likes to help others? Perhaps go with the explorer’s pack for the mess kit so you can share your food.
Are you a thieving rogue? Go dungeoneer’s pack for the extra rope and crowbar so you can make breaking into places easier.
It’s a tough call – you need to evaluate your party composition, campaign setting, and DM.
Personally, I’d go dungeoneer’s pack as most DMs don’t force their players to keep track of food all that much.
Some DMs don’t get super picky when it comes to what exactly you sleep on or even eat with when you make camp, which renders the bedroll and mess kit useless in this case.
In saying all this, I have seen DMs who do keep track of food and get into the very fine details when it comes to the survivability of their players, so be sure you know what your DM plans to do before you choose.
Don’t be afraid to ask, especially if you’re a new player and don’t know which pack to pick.
At the end of it all, it is your choice; just make sure to ask your DM questions before you choose as it can help make your choice so much easier.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.