A 9 pound pack is all you need to be safe and warm. So, if you want to lower your pack weight but retain all the convenience and comfort of “traditional” backpacking, look no further than this Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

This Lightweight Backpacking Gear List is suitable for most backpackers on most 3-season trips in the lower 48 and most trips world-wideIn some instances, you may wish to fine-tune this list to your particular trip needs and/or backpacking style by selecting suitable optional or alternate gear in this list. I’ve also tried to list a number or items available from major retailers like REI, e.g. the excellent and reasonably priced Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket at only 6.4 ounces!

Note: feel like going even lighter? See: 5 Pound Practical Lightweight Backpacking Gear List (link) New
The lightest gear that still makes practical sense. Focused on efficiency while staying warm, dry & safe

9 lb Lightweight Backpacking Gear List – Summary with Weights

SECTION TOTALS Lbs
Clothing in Pack (not usually worn) 2.4 Rain jacket, warm jacket, gloves, etc.
Backpack and Gear Packaging 1.9 Backpack, stuff sacks
Sleeping Gear & Tent/Shelter (conventional tent) 2.8 best high Western Mountains & treeless areas
Opt. sleeping Gear & Shelter  – (hammock)  2.8  best East Coast and other wooded areas e.g. AT
Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment 0.8 Stove, pot, cookware, water “bottles” & purification
“Essential” Gear 1.4 Maps, SOS device, first aid kit, headlamp, knife sunscreen and small items not included in above
BASE PACK WEIGHT (BPW)  9.3 BPW = all items in pack = all items above,
less “consumables” (water, food and fuel)
1 Pint of Water 1.0 Average amount of water carried in pack
See: The Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty
Food – for a long weekend – 3 day trip 4.5 3 days x 1.5 lb per day
Fuel 0.2 4 fl-oz alcohol = 3.2 oz wt
Total of Consumables  5.7  Water, food, and fuel
TRAIL PACK WEIGHT (BPW + consumables) 15.0  For a long weekend – 3 day trip
Clothing Worn and Items Carried (not in pack)  4.8 Not included in pack weight: clothing worn on the trail, hat, shoes, trekking poles, stuff in pockets, etc.
Also see: Best Ways to Protect from Lyme & Zika
Camera Equipment Gear List (new page) Details for Serious Light Backpacking Cameras

Detail of Gear List Items

Clothing in Pack (not usually worn)

Clothing Item Oz Comments
Rain Jacket Outdoor Research Helium II (6.4)  6.4 From REI: less expensive than many at this weight
Value
Rain Jacket
REI Co-op Rain Jacket, M’s (9.4)
REI Co-op Rain Jacket, W’s (8.0)
 $70 is a fantastic value in a sub 10 oz rain jacket!
A great basic jacket that gets the job done.
RainJacket (alt) Patagonia Storm Racer  (6.0) Light! Minimal. Amazing it’s 3-layer fabric!
Rain Pants Outdoor Research Helium 6.0 Light. Not insanely expensive
Rainpants (alt) Rain chaps or rain kilt (2.0 oz) For trips with low probability of rain, or warm rain
Mid-layer top Quarter-Zip Fleece Pullover 7.9 For use as a mid-layer (and as a “windshirt”)
Windshell Patagonia Houdini Jacket (3.3) If I don’t bring, will layer rainjacket over my fleece
Warm jacket Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket  (hooded) 10.5 Stuffed with 900 fill power down! Warmth Important for rest stops and in camp.
Warm pants Western Mountain. Flash (6.5)
Montbell Superior Down Pants 8.4
For colder weather. WM pants are lighter
Montbell are a great value in down pants!
For more down jackets and down pants see: Recommended Down Jackets, Pants, and Booties
Warm hat OR Option Balaclava 1.2 Warmer than hat – great for quilt w/o hood!
Liner gloves DuraGlove ET Charcoal Wool (2.5) 2.5 Great liner glove – light, warm, durable!
Camp gloves Glacier Glove fingerless fleece (2.0) Dexterity at camp chores or climbing in cold weather
Rain Mitts ZPacks Challenger Rain Mitts (1.0) 1.0 For intermittent use. Expensive.
Rain Mitts (alt) MLD eVENT Rain Mitts (1.2) For intermittent use.
Rain Mitts (alt) Outdoor Research Revel (3.5) For constant use: waterproof, durable, grip palm
Spare socks DeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini  or
Darn Tough 1/4 UL w cushion
1.8 Will bring to wash & switch between pairs
Sleeping socks DeFeet Woolie Boolie (3.0) No day use; sleeping and dry camp only
Sleeping top Patagonia long sleeve Cap LW (3.5) Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping bot. Patagonia Capilene LW (3.4 oz) Dry/clean for camp. Only bring in very wet climates
Sleeping (alt) Terramar Thermasilk top & bot Inexpensive alternative to expensive base layers
TOTAL 2.4  Lb

Backpack and Gear Packaging

Packing Item Oz Comments
Pack opt 1 Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 2400
 (some may prefer larger 3400)
 28.0 Light, super durable, (waterproof, seam sealed bag), great frame/carrying capacity, good pockets.
 Pack opt 2 ULAOhm 2.0 Pack (32 oz)  Do-it-all pack. Good price. Durable, fits bear canister
Through Hiker Favorite Pack Osprey Exos 48 Pack (40 oz) Good price. Larger pack. Fits bear canister. A staple on the AT and PCT
Value Pack Talon 33 Pack M’s
and Tempest 30 W’s
Excellent value! Lower volume pack. Will work for proficient lightweight or UL backpacker.
Pack Ultralight Mountain Laurel Designs 3500ci EXODUS (16 oz) No frame. Almost all Dyneema. Very little mesh. For shorter trips without bear canister
Pack Ultralight Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 (29)  Big volume, fits bear canister, lots of pockets
Waterproofing for pack 2x Gossamer Gear Pack Liner (1.8) (alternate: a trash compactor bag) (1) liner for sleeping bag and insulating clothes
(1) liner for everything else
Food storage Quart-sized HD freezer bag 0.5 For storing organizing ‘todays’ snack food
Food storage Aloksak OP Sak 12.5″ x 20″ (1.0) control food scent – attract less animal attention
Bear canister Bear Vault BV500 (41) or Wild-Ideas Weekender (31) (when reg’s require) Wild-Ideas is lighter but pricy. Bear Vault is a better value
Bear can alt. Ursack S29 White Bear Bag (8.0) 1st choice: bear storage req’ed AND Ursack approved
Stuff sacks For sleeping bag, clothes, etc. 2.0 Silnylon: keep gear organized, clean, protected
Map sleeve Gallon-sized freezer bag 0.5 Gallon: fewer map folds & shows more map area
Eyewear case padded nylon sleeve + Ziplock bag 0.4 No need for a heavy rigid case. The lightest cheapest sleeve your optometrist gives out is great.
TOTAL 1.9  Lb

Sleeping Gear and Tent/Shelter

Sleep+Shelter Item Oz Comments
Sleeping Bag Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt “+30” 14.9 Pers fave. Great value! (with 2 oz over fill = “+30F”)
Sleeping Bag (alternate) Western Mountaineering SummerLite (19) Conventional +32 F sleeping bag. Light, warm, highest quality, long loft retention
Sleep Bag (alt) Feathered Friends Merlin UL 30 (23 oz) For those that sleep cold. Closer to a +20 F sleeping bag with 12 oz of 900+ FP down!
Sleeping Pad T-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s” 12.1 Perfect size for most. Warm. Super comfortable! The best pad for both Men and Women.
For more shelter options see: Recommended Tents, Tarps, and other Shelters
Tent/Shelter Mountain Laurel Des. Solomid XL [in Silnylon (17 oz)] 14.0 Pers fave. Extremely versatile shelter for low weight. (no bug netting or floor)
Tent/Shelter MLD Solomid InnerNet (11/7.5oz) bug protection/floor (only for when bugs are bad)
Tent (alt) TarpTent ProTrail – 1 pers (26oz)
Full rain & bug protection for one person (has floor)
Tent (alt) TarpTent MoTrail – 2 pers (36oz) Full rain & bug protection for two (has floor)
Tent (alt) Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent  (44 oz for 2 people) REI: One of the lightest freestanding tents
 Tent (alt) REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent  (49 oz for 2 people) REI: Good value in a lightweight free-standing backpacking tent. Lot’s of vertical room.
Tent/Shelter (alternate) MLD Grace Duo Tarp Silnylon (15) Cuben (7.8) Pers fave for many trips: Huge coverage. Low weight. Great ventilation and views.
Bivy MLD Superlight Bivy (7.0) Perfect with tarp. When bringing will cowboy camp under stars most nights
Ground cloth Gossamer Gear Polycryo M (1.6) 1.6 Not needed with a bivy or shelters with a floor
Stakes 8 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea 4.0 Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
Guylines 3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines) 1.0 2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference
TOTAL 2.8  Lb

Optional: Sleeping Gear & Shelter – Hammock (*great for East Coast & wooded areas)

This link jumps to a hammock gear section at the end of the page. In areas with plentiful trees like the East Coast of the US I feel that hammock camping has many advantages. When in the Sierras or other areas with few trees, the opposite is true and I usually camp on the ground using a NeoAir mattress, in a 7 ounce bivy sack, only putting up a tarp when it is actually raining (or sharing a pyramid shelter with my hiking partner). [And I fully realize that some readers will be unconvinced by my enthusiasm for hammock or tarp camping even in areas with lots of good trees. Ground camping is just fine!]

Cooking Gear and Water Storage/Treatment

SeeThe Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty. This debunks the many myths about hydration and dehydration like “If you are thirsty, it’s already too late” and “If your urine is yellow, you are dehydrated.” This article suggests that Drink When Thirsty is the best and healthiest strategy for hydration during exercise.

Cook/Water Item Oz Comments
Bottles Sawyer 64 oz Squeezable Pouch 1.5 For collecting treating water in camp – dry camps
Bottles Sawyer 32 oz Squeezable Pouch 1.0 Use during the day (note: Platypus doesn’t fit Sawyer)
Purification Sawyer filter (3.0) 3.0 To drink on the spot – greatly reduces water cary
Purification Chlorine Dioxide tablets 0.5 For treating 2L bladder in camp
Cookset Trail Designs Toaks 900ml Pot, Sidewinder Ti-Tri, 4fl-oz fuel bottle 5.3 Lightest, most practical cookset on the market.
Zelph StarLyte Burner stores unburned fuel.
Cookset (alt) Jetboil Zip Cooking System, Jetpower 100 Fuel Canister (18.5) EZ to use. Much heavier than the alcohol stove cookset. Not “green” with non-recyclable canisters.
Cookset(cheap) TOAKS 900 ml Ti Pot  or
TOAKS 1.3L Ti Pot
 Light and inexpensive for titanium. Pair these with a canister stove like Olicamp Kinetic Isobutane.
Fuel container  Twin Neck Fuel Bottle (1.2 oz)  The best! Easy measurement! Secure storage.
Ignition Standard (not micro) BIC lighter 0.2 Larger is easier to use with cold hands
Mug Snow Peak Ti Single 450 Cup (2.4)
Fave: MLD 475 Ti mug (1.3oz)
1.3 Eat breakfast & have coffee at same time
Bowl/Mug (alt) Ziplock 14 fl-oz bowl (0.6 oz) Pers fave: “mug” and/or bowl. Cheap, light, available
Mug (alt) Starbucks “$1,” 16 fl-oz cup (1.6oz) Readily available, inexpensive, reasonably durable
Utensil Plastic spoon with big shovel
or TOAKS Ti long-handled spoon
0.3 cut plastic spoon handle cut to fit in pot OR use longhandle spoon to get inside of food pouches
Coffee brew MSR MugMate Coffee Filter (1.0) For using ground coffee (and not Starbuck’s VIA)
TOTAL 0.8  Lb

“Essential” Gear (smaller items not included in above)

Essentials Item Oz Comments
MAPS 11X17 Custom Maps in Ziploc 2.0 Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos
Charging  EasyAcc USB Battery (5.4) Charge iPhone 6s ~3x, iPhone 6s Plus or Samsung Galaxy s6 ~2x (5,500 mAh, actual!)
SOS/Tracker Preferred: inReach SE (6.9) 6.9 2-way communication (a big deal!), visible GPS coordinates, and trip tracking+SOS
SOS/Track (alt) SPOT Gen3 (4.8) Disadvantages: only 1-way com, no vis. GPS coord.
GPS & Comm Iridium 9555 SatPhone (9.7 oz)
or Iridium GO!
Make no mistake: voice communication is still the gold-standard for high risk trips
Optics ROXANT 7×18 monocular (2.0) Light: scouting/route finding, decent, inexpensive
Optics (alt) MINOX BV II 8×25 binoc’s (10.8) Scouting, much better wildlife observation, value
Pen/pencil Fisher Space Pen 0.2 To mark up maps, take notes about trip
Toothbrush GUM 411 Classic Toothbrush 0.4 Full head. minimal handle (but not cut in 1/2)
Toothpaste Travel size 1/2 full 0.7
Toilet paper Whatever is on the roll at home 1.0 TP only for polish, use found materials first
Soap/sanitizer Dr. Bronners 0.5 Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle
Sunscreen small plastic tube about 1/2 full 0.5 for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat
Lip balm Bert’s Bees or similar 0.2 Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm
First Aid Kit Meds, wound/injury, foot care 3.0 See detailed list at bottom
Headnet Sea to Summit Head Net (1.2) Mosquito netting – don’t take on most trips
Insect repell. Repel Pen Pump Insect Repellent
Sawyer Maxi-DEET Spray (0.5)
Convenient size; effective. Sawyer preferred.
Foot care kit Bonnie’s Balm in small balm jar 0.5 In case of wet feet. Never get blisters.
Compass Suunto M-3D Compass (1.6) 1.6 Lightest compass with declination adjustment
Knife/scissors Wescott blunt tip school scissors 0.9 More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon
Knife Gerber L.S.T. Drop Point (1.2 oz) Can cut bread and salami – very light for 2.6″ blade
Knife (alt) Spyderco Ladybug Knife (0.6) 2″ blade – one of the lightest functional knives
Firestarter Bic Mini Lighter + trash 0.2 Energy bar wrappers are great fire starter
Light BD Ion ii headlamp (45g) 1.6 2 AAAs + headband. Bright, efficient dimmable LED
(slide/touch operation a bit wonky, so not for all)
Light (alt) Fenix LD02 w spare battery (1.0) Best mini light available, attach to hat brim with clip
Repair Tenacious patch, duct tape, glue  0.2 Also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal
Finance/ID ID, CCs, and cash in snack Ziplock 0.2 More secure on me than left in car
TOTAL 1.3 Lb

Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)

Worn/Carried Item Oz Comments
Shirt Rail Riders Adventure Top
or shirts like these at REI
7.3 Pers fave. For hot and/or brushy (not a baselayer)
Shirt (alt) Ibex Indie Hoodie 1/4-Zip (8.8) Wool shirt+baselayer: for cooler & less brushy
Pants Rail Riders X-Treme Adventure (16) 16.0 Pers fave. Very durable, no velcro on pockets!
Pants (alt) REI Sahara convertible pants (14) Ex Officio and many others make similar pants
More on clothing for Lyme/Zika: Best Ways to Protect from Lyme & Zika
Skirt or Kilt Purple Rain — Kilt or Skirt For hot/humid weather. Skirt (women), Kilt (men)
Underwear Patagonia briefs Mens
Patagonia briefs Women’s
2.0 Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days
Bra Patagonia Active spots bra Alison’s favorite
Shoes  Altra Superior Trail-Running  18.0  Light. Huge toe room. Super comfortable! (or Lone Peaks)
Shoes (alt) Inov-8 ROCLITE 295 (20oz) Pers fave. Light, sticky rubber, durable, low heel rise
Shoes (alt) Brooks Cascadia (25 oz) Very popular trail shoe for LW backpackers
Shoes (alt) Lightweight trail running shoes Most non-Goretex trail running shoes that fit well
Socks DeFeet Wolleators or
SmartWool PhD Light Mini  or
Darn Tough 1/4 UL w cushion
1.8 Wolleators are pers fave. Light, thin, warm, simple, durable
Gaiters Dirty Girl gaiters (1.2 oz) I rarely find the need for gaiters
Headwear Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat 2.5 Removable sun cape. Adaptable to most situations
Watch Suunto Core with positive display 2.2 compass, altimeter, multifunction timepiece. No GPS
Watch/GPS Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire (3 oz) Accurate trip track: GPS, compass, altimeter, time
Sunglasses Rx and non-Rx (polarized) 1.0 http://www.zennioptical.com/ for cheap Rx options
Glasses Zenni clear Rx glasses (1.0 oz) Great glasses! for $20 or so. But 2-3 week delivery
Camera (alt) Sony RX100 or Sony a6000 or  Sony a6500 See Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras
GPS/Comm Iphone &+ Ziplock ba (7.5) 7.5 Primary GPS & map source (not leaving in car!)
Poles bargain Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon 15.2 Pers fave. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles
Trek Poles REI Carbon Power Lock (16 oz)
BD Carbon Alpine (18 oz)
Stiff, light, travel-friendly, won’t break off-trail/rough terrain (readily available)
TOTAL 4.8  Lb

First Aid Kit (detail)

First Aid Item Oz Comments
Pain, fever inflammation Naprosyn (Aleve), Ibuprofen, or Tylenol (fever) 0.4 In ziplock pill bag available at pharmacies
Foot/blister Gauze + Leukotape Tape 0.3 For taping over blisters, or pre-blister areas
Foot/blister Tincture of benzoin in micro-bottle 0.2 For getting tape or Bandaids to REALLY stick!
Wound care Bandaids + gel blister covers 0.5 Assorted sizes – your preference
Wound care Antibact. packets + wound wipes 0.4 Wound cleansing, infection prevention
Wound care  (12) 4×4″ gauze pads + 1 roll gauze  Use duct tape to hold in place (from above – Repair Items)
OTC meds Benadryl, Sudafed, Nexium, Imodium, caffeine tablets 0.4 All in tablet/pill form
Rx meds Personal Dr’s Rx meds 0.4
Pain serious Dr’s Rx Painkiller 0.2 For serious injury, tooth abscess, etc.
Storage/org Bag Poly 5×8  to hold 1st Aid Kit 0.2  Keep size down. Can only put in what can fit in bag.
TOTAL 3.0  Oz (included in “Essential” Gear)

Sleeping Gear and Shelter – Hammock (*best for East Coast and other wooded areas)

*See: Hammock Camping Part I: Advantages & disadvantages versus ground systems

Sleep+Shelter Item Oz Comments
Hammock Ultralite Backpacker Asym Zip
or Hyperlite Asym Zip
Hennessy most readily available commercial hammock.
Hammock Dutchware 11 ft Netless Hammock
Dutchware Hammock w bugnet 10
8.0 1.0 Hexon single layer fabric, with ridgeline
Top quilt Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt +30 13.0 Trimmed vers. (+40 quilt w 2 oz over fill = +30F)
Bottom quilt Hammock Gear “Phincubator” +30  14.0 60″ ver. of “Phoenix 40” with down overfill to get +30. (no need for pad under feet)
 Tarp Hammock Gear Cuben Fiber Hex  5.0 Light, hammock specific tarp, huge protected area
Hammock Suspension Kevlar tree straps
Whoopie Hook Suspension
 3.0 Kevlar straps, w Amsteel whooppie hook susp. Talk to Dutchware to ensure you get the right stuff
Stakes 4 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea  2.0  Hold better than skewer stakes. Red easier to find!
 Guylines  3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord  2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines)  1.0  2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference
 TOTAL  2.8   Lb