Adventure Alan's Lightweight & Ultralight Backpacking Gear Lists
2009 Lightweight Backpacking Gear List
2008 Lightweight Backpacking Gear List
2008 Super Ultralight and Extreme Ultralight Backpacking Gear Lists
- 2.4 lb XUL: My Extreme Ultralight (XUL) GearList Text discussion and PDF. (Fall in the Appalachians). Under 2.5 pounds base pack weight and under 5 pounds FSO-BW with wind rain, and temps to near freezing.
- 4.7 lb SUL: My current Super Ultralight (SUL) Sierra GearList Text discussion and PDF. (Contains good rationales for equipment choices.) I am quite safe and comfortable with this equipment even with substantial rain and temperatures below freezing.
- 4.2 lb: Olympics Mountains 2008 Trip report and PDF Gear List. Worked well for sleeping in spring snow conditions and allowed for glacier travel and climbing a significant portion of Mount Olympus. Also dealt well with moderate to high bug pressure.
Other Ultralight Gear Lists
Backpacking Food Lists
Ultralight Gear Sources
At under 5 pounds for my current base pack weight (technically Super Ultralight - SUL) I'm on the lower end of ultralight backpacking. My equipment list is intended work for me in the
conditions as described at the end of this page. It should not be relied upon in extreme
environmental conditions, especially by those unfamiliar with ultralight backpacking techniques.
What Makes My List Work?
- Mostly, I take everything that the usual backpacker takes, just
a lighter version of it. Forget things like a 2 pound Gore Tex Jacket or a 3
pound sleeping bag. Sometimes my lighter equipment is every bit as good as heavier
equipment. Sometimes my lighter equipment has some performance limitations and
is less durable than heavier equipment. In this case, I believe that the reduction
in weight exceeds the limitations of the lighter equipment. With care and proper
use the equipment works fine. Manufacturers over-design
- I take little or no duplicate or backup equipment. E.g. all of
the clothes, sleep system and shelter I take when used together, should keep
me just warm and safe enough for the lowest anticipated temperatures and worst
weather. Don't pack for winter in Alaska if you're going to be on the AT in the summer!
- I don't take stuff I don't need. This includes camp shoes, rain
pants (may take rain chaps or a poncho), hiking shorts, books, multi-tools, knives over an
ounce, most stuff sacks, towels, bathing suit, deodorant, etc.
- I don't take more of anything than I need. E.g. I don't take
an 8 oz tube of sunscreen or 6 oz tube toothpaste when I only need an ounce or less. (1 oz of sunscreen is more than enough for two people over a week.) This stuff can really add up of you
The Big Three — Pack, Shelter, and Sleep System — Save 10 to 12 Pounds
- Pack — Under one pound, no hip belt. At the weights I carry I don't
need, or even want, a hip belt. My pack may not be not as "bombproof" as a standard
5+ pound pack. It can't be indiscriminately bashed or dragged around. With proper care
it will survive bushwhacking and class 3 and 4 travel on granite in the High Sierras with no problems.
- Sleep System — Around 1.2 pounds, a hood-less 800 fill power down bag with short zipper, a 3.5 oz foam ground pad, and a one ounce plastic ground sheet. My down vest increases the warmth of this bag on very cold nights (to around +25 deg F).
- Shelter 1 (shared) — Around 4 oz per person, spinnaker cloth tarp. Needs some care pitching to provide proper protection from wind and rain. Less durable than a thicker nylon tarp. Treat carefully. No bug
protection (use a head net).
- Shelter 2 (solo) — Under 4 oz, Cuben fiber tarp. The large size/coverage of this tarp allows me to not use a bivy sack (save weight) and still protect my down sleeping bag from precip. The Cuben fabric, uses a Mylar film and fiber sandwich. It is quite strong in tension but does not deal well the punctures or abrasion -- treat carefully. Again, no bug
A Brief List of Other Notable Weight Savings
- 5-7 oz UL rain jacket, 1.5 oz rain chaps (or none), or a silnylon poncho - save 2 to 2.5 pounds over Gore Tex jacket pants.
- 5-6 oz UL down or synthetic vest — save up to 2 pounds over a fleece jacket.
- I bring no camp shoes — Save up to 2 pounds over running shoes or Tevas (Tevas are not light!)
- I hike in light (10 oz) Trail Running Shoes — save 1.5 to 3 pounds over
heavy hiking boots. At the weights I'm carrying, running shoes are not a problem even for days of hiking on talus or occasional snow, even canyoneering. In almost 10 years I have yet to sprain and ankle or bruise a foot.
- Skip heavy cases and stuff sacks - Use a few silnylon stuff sacs (or spinnaker/Cuben fiber) and zip-loc baggies. Get rid of all unnecessary packaging.
- Small LED lights weigh almost
nothing - save 0.5 lb. over standard flashlights and headlamps
- Chemical, water treatment tablets or drops. Chlorine dioxide based these are safe and effective (Aquamira & Katadyn). Less than one ounce for two people on a usual trip. Skip that bulky and heavy water filter!
- When I solo, I either don’t take a stove or I take a 2.3 ounce (stove and cook pot) alcohol cookset from Trail Designs (Caldera Cone system). When sharing with a partner, our alcohol cookset (stove and pot) is in the range of 5 ounces.
- A few one ounce Platypus reservoirs can save a pound over traditional hard sided water bottles (e.g. Nalgene).
You should not attempt to emulate mine, or any other ultralight
equipment list, unless you are an experienced backpacker and have a good idea
of what you’re doing. Not having the right equipment, and/or unfamiliarity with
ultralight backpacking techniques, could result in serious problems, injury,
or even death. Work up to lighter equipment a bit at a time with judicious
testing on short outings. Take plenty of backup equipment until you have confidence
that your ultralight equipment will keep you warm and safe. This takes time.
Don’t rush it.
My ultralight lists (7.6 lb UL and 4.7 lb SUL) are limited to:
- Early to late Summer trips to Western Mountains -- Sierras or Rockies
(slightly longer season for Northeastern US)
- Night time temperatures not much below freezing
- Trail hiking and cross country routes not to exceed class 4 (no rope or climbing gear)
- Might be a bit iffy at some windy, exposed, high altitude camp sites
- Is a bit optimistic about snowfall, although I can suffer through it, if
- Doesn’t handle heavy insect pressure well
I have a second list, with slightly more gear (6 to 8 lb) that is for: (Not currently posted)
- Early spring/late fall trips to Western Mountains -- Sierras or Rockies
- Night time temperatures in the range of +10 to +20 F
- Limited to trail hiking and cross country not to exceed class 4 (no rope or climbing gear)
- Deals much better with a snow