Are you looking to reduce backpack weight to the absolute minimum? Then you’ve come to the right place. This ultralight backpacking gear list has the lightest possible gear that still makes practical sense. If used properly, a five pound ultralight pack will keep you just as safe, warm and dry as heavier, more traditional gear. In fact, the core of this list can be used with great success on most three season trips around the world. Welcome to the freedom of super ultralight backpacking.
Benefits of a 5 lb pack
When it comes to hiking, few things are more freeing than an ultralight backpack. Carrying only five pounds of gear puts so much extra spring in your step (compared to a traditional pack) that it mimics the effects of being in phenomenally good shape. However you prefer to adventure in the backcountry, you will have more energy to do it with an ultralight pack. Many opt to hike farther or faster. But others with all the time and/or energy they save with their ultralight pack, may want to pursue photography, side trips, birding, journaling, sketching, or even an afternoon nap. Hike your own hike!
The 5 lb paradigm shift
It’s a significant paradigm shift to get a complete backpacking kit down to 5 lbs. As such, you need to be open to trying new types of gear and new ways of doing things. Canister stoves, framed backpacks, and conventional tents are likely out. Instead, you’ll pack an alcohol stove, sub-1-lb frameless backpack, a down quilt, and either a pyramid shelter, hammock, or tarp. This system may also force you to rethink your approach to luxury gear, food, hydration, and campsite selection. But I promise it’s worthwhile. Learn more about using the 5 lb system in this companion post, Technique and Philosophy for Practical Ultralight Backpacking.
Want to reduce weight, but stick to traditional gear? Try my 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist for lightweight/ultralight versions of traditional tents, packs, sleeping bags and stoves.
FUN – Being cold, wet, hungry or getting a crappy night’s sleep sucks. I want no part of it! My first priority is to enjoy myself and appreciate the terrain I’m walking through. Hiking at my own comfortable/efficient pace and watching the ever changing landscape unfold is my favorite way to fully appreciate the beauty of the backcountry.
PRACTICAL – This gear is selected to be practical. As such, there are no compromises to keeping you warm, dry and getting a good night’s sleep. And it avoids “ridiculous light” gear that requires too much fiddling and wastes time, or breaks when you look at it cross-eyed.
OPTIONS – Hike your own hike! Knowing that people are different, I’ve included a number of great choices for most of the major categories. I’ve indicated my top picks with a checkmark. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best choices for everyone. Some of my choices, like a frameless backpack may require compromises people are unwilling to make. And some of my picks, while great long term values, are initially expensive. As such, I’ve included gear that is less “extreme,” and one or two budget options for expensive gear. That being said, this is an ultralight gear list. So if you find that you are having to make too many hard choices you will want to look at 9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist.
PRICE – While some ultralight gear is less expensive, e.g. a tarp or pyramid shelter vs. a tent… other gear, like a high-quality down quilt or sleeping bag is going to be more expensive. Again for most categories of gear I will include one or two lower cost options.
AVAILABILITY – A few of my choices are from cottage vendors who generally don’t stock gear on-the-shelf (all are established with good reputations!). They usually deliver in 4-8 weeks but it can be longer during high hiking season. As such, plan ahead and order in time to get your gear at least a few weeks before trip start. Again I have tried to include alternative gear available on-the-shelf, from well known retailers like REI or Amazon.
Weight Summary – 5 Pound Practical Ultralight Backpacking Gear List
|Gear Category Breakdown (for weights)||Lbs|
|Backpack, Stuff Sacks, etc.||0.7|
|Shelter: Tarp, Pyrmaid Shelter, or Hammock||0.7|
|Sleeping: Down Quilt, Sleep Pad, etc.||1.8|
|Cooking Gear: Stove, Pot, Water Storage & Treatment, etc.||0.8|
|Clothing in Pack (Rain jacket, warm jacket, gloves, etc.)||1.0|
|“Essential” Gear: Maps, SOS dev., 1st aid, headlamp, knife, sunscreen, etc.||0.6|
|BASE PACK WEIGHT (BPW)||5.6|
|Food for – 3 day trip: see Best Backpacking Food and Sample Backpacking Food List||4.2|
|Fuel: 1 fl oz alcohol x 2 (dinners + breakfasts) = 2 fl oz||0.1|
|Water: Amount carried depends on availability. See Best Hydration Drink When Thirsty||–|
|Total of Consumables||4.3|
|TRAIL PACK WEIGHT (BPW + consumables)||10.9|
|Clothing Worn and Items Carried (not in pack)||3.9|
|Camera Gear see: Best Backpacking Cameras 2018|
The Category Details for 5 Pound Ultralight Backpacking Gear List
Backpack (10 to 14 oz)
Tips: You’ll likely need a frameless pack of ~40L capacity. Not a big problem since your total pack weight with food, fuel and water is likely to be 10 to 15 pounds. Dyneema fiber packs have the advantage of being nearly waterproof. When combined with Dyneema fiber stuff sacks you won’t need a rain cover. Finally, more parks are requiring hard-sided bear canisters. I have included a section at the end of this post listing the lightest bear-canister-compatible packs as well as bear canisters.
Note: Excellent general purpose lightweight packs like Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 2400, the ULAOhm 2.0 Pack, and the Osprey Exos 48 Pack, are overkill for the light loads of practical ultralight backpacking. In addition, at ~2 pounds for these packs you won’t make the 5 pound weight.
For more reading:
- Recommended Lightweight Backpacks (look at the end for the lighter packs)
- The lightest bear-canister compatible packs and bear canisters.
For budget backpackers: The 11 oz Gossamer Gear Murmer 36 Hyperlight Pack is likely your best inexpensive option. Alternatively you can sew your own rucksack for around 8 oz (and I have used such a pack effectively for 7 day trips even with a bear canister!)
|Pack 11.0 oz | Mountain Laurel Designs Burn in Dyneema (11 oz), Silnylon version is less $ (13 oz) | 38L, light, durable, good pockets, Dyneema almost waterproof. Some may prefer the larger volume of the 48L Prophet or 58L Exodus Packs|
|Pack alt. | Gossamer Gear Murmer 36 (11 oz) | Another good choice and a good value|
|Stuff sacks 1.0 oz | For sleeping bag, clothes, etc. | Dyneema fabric: keep gear organized, clean, & dry|
|Food storage opt. | A loksak OP Sak 12.5″ x 20″ (1.0) | Control food scent – attract less animal attention. Note: In areas that have special bear requirements you must also use an approved storage method or container.|
|Bear food storage (opt) | Ursack Bear Bag (7.6 oz) | The very lightest and the first choice for food storage in areas that have special bear food container requirements. But only if the Ursack is approved in your park! So check the reg’s. Otherwise checkout the bear canister section below.|
|0.7 lb | TOTAL|
Shelter: Tarp, Pyramid Shelter or Hammock (~12 oz per person)
Tip: To get near a 5 lb base-weight, forget about a conventional tent. Instead, choose from one of the pyramid shelters, tarps or hammocks below. The good news is that Pyramid shelters (and tarps) work! Alison and I used only pyramid shelters for our Alaska and Patagonia trips, and in some dreadfully harsh conditions. For the east coast and other areas with trees, a hammock is our preferred shelter.
For budget backpackers: An 8-12 oz Silnylon tarp, like the Mountain Laurel Design Grace Tarp is one of your best inexpensive options. The MLD Grace Duo tarp in SilNylon comes out to be 6 oz and $80 per person. I’ve used this setup all over the country, at high altitudes and in extreme conditions.
For more reading see:
- Recommended Tents, Tarps, and other Shelters
- 7 Reasons Why Hammock Camping is Fantastic — How To Get Started
Why no tents?
The short answer is they are too heavy to make the 5 lb weight. For solo camping they are much too heavy. But when shared between two people they are closer to making target weight but still no cigar. Here are the details:
- If you are solo camping, one of the lightest solo “tents” is the non-conventional Zpacks Solplex Tent. It’s around 20 oz with 8 solid Y stakes. And the lightest conventional tents are 27 to 28 ounces [a Big Agnes UL1 tent, or the TarpTent Notch]. This is about two to three times the target weight of ~12 ounces for a shelter. In addition, the small volume of solo tents make them very prone to condensation.
- If you are sharing a tent, things are somewhat better. One of the lightest 2-person “tents” is the non-conventional Zpacks Duplex Tent. It’s around 25 oz with 8 solid Y stakes. And the lightest conventional 2-person tents are 31 to 38 ounces [a Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent , or BA Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent]. Shared between two people that’s 16 to 19 oz per person, above the ~12 oz target for a shelter.
|Shelters: Tarps, Pyramid Shelters and Hammocks|
|1-person shelter options|
|Pyramid Shelt. | Mtn. Laurel Des. Solomid XL (12 oz) | | A great choice for solo backpacking, especially in harsh conditions. Total wt 12 oz in Dyneema, 17 oz in Silnylon.|
|Tarp 8 oz | MLD Grace Duo Tarp Dyneema | MLD tarp in SilNylon 12 oz but only $140!|
|Tarp 8 oz | HMG flat or shaped tarp | Another solid Dyneema tarp made in the US.|
|Stakes 4 oz | 6 MSR Groundhog Y-stakes .5oz ea | 3 | Hold better than skewer stakes. Can pound into hard ground with a rock. Red easier to find!|
|Guylines 1 oz | 3mm MSR Reflective Utility Cord 2.4mm reflect cord (8×4-ft lines) | 1 | 2 to 3mm – all work well – diameter your preference.|
|Shared 2-person shelter options (tarps above also qualify!)|
|Pyramid Shelt. | HMG Ultamid (17 oz) | great shelter for two. 1/2 lb/person shared.|
|Pyramid Shelt. | MLD Duomid XL Dyneema (16oz) | no pole between sleepers! 1/2 lb/person shared.|
|Hammock | Dutchware 11 ft Netless Hammock (7oz) or Hammock w bugnet | 9 oz with kevlar suspension. Netless hammock $42! Hammocks best for East Coast & other wooded areas.|
|Hammock Tarp | Hammock Dyneema Hex Tarp (5 oz) | 11′ Dyneema fabric.|
|0.7 Lb/person shared|
Sleeping Gear and Tent/Shelter (best high Western Mountains & other treeless areas)
Tip: Buy a sleeping bag or quilt rated for the average low temperature you expect. Then if you encounter unexpectedly cold temperatures (well below average) you can wear your warm down jacket and possibly other clothing in combination with the quilt or sleeping bag to increase warmth. This saves weight and money buy not overbuying your quilt or bag.
I recommend down quilts and sleeping bags. They are warmer, lighter and a better long term value than synthetics. You have to be extremely negligent to get a down bag wet enough that it isn’t warm. Note: Down quilts are cheaper, lighter, and have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than traditional sleeping bags. As such, they’ve become a staple in ultralight and lightweight backpacking kits.
For budget backpackers: The standout value is the $139 Hammock Gear Burrow Econ 30 ºF down quilt. It’s one-half the cost and half a pound lighter than a comparable down sleeping bag.
For more reading see: 2020 Buyers Guide to Lightweight Backpacking Quilts
|For more sleeping bag options see link: Recommended Sleeping Bags & Quilts|
|Sleeping Quilt 15 | Hammock Gear Burrow +30 °F | Lighter and less $ than a down bag. Mine is a slightly trimmed version of “regular.”|
|Sleeping Quilt (value) | Hammock Gear Burrow ECON +30 °F (18.5) | Great Value only $148!|
|Sleeping Bag ~+32F | Marmot Phase 30 (22 oz) or Western Mountaineering SummerLite Sleeping Bag (19 oz)
| Marmot Phase (+30 ° F) available at REI. WM Summerlite (+32° F) is very light, highest qual, long loft retention.
|Sleep Bag (warm) | Feathered Friends Merlin UL 30 (23 oz) | For those that sleep cold. Closer to a +20° F sleeping bag with 12 oz of 900+ fill power down!|
|Sleeping Pad (light) 7.0 | Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad trimmed to 20×36″ | Pro: light, warm, durable & low cost. But not as comfortable or compact as a NeoAir pad.|
|Sleeping Pad (comfort) | Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X-lite “Women’s” (12 oz) | Perfect size for most. Warm. Super comfortable! The best pad for both Men and Women.|
|Bivy | MLD Superlight Bivy 6.5 | The ultimate in speed and efficiency. Will cowboy camp under stars most nights. Setup or take down in seconds. Small footprint = more campsite options.|
|Ground cloth | Gossamer Gear Polycryo M (1.6) | Light and surprisingly durable. Not needed with a bivy or shelters with a floor|
|1.8 Lb Total|
Sleeping Gear for Hammocks (best for East Coast and other wooded areas)
More reading see: 7 Reasons Why Hammock Camping is Fantastic | How To Get Started
|Sleep Gear Hammock|
|Top quilt | Hammock Gear Burrow Quilt +30 or value Econ Burrow | 13.0 | Trimmed down version of “regular size.” Note: hammock quilts can be narrower than ground quilts.|
|Bottom Quilt | Hammock Gear “Phincubator” +30 or value Econ Under Quilt as low as $99 for down! | 14.0 | 60″ long (between a Phoenix and Incubator quilt). No need for pad under feet.|
|1.7 Lb TOTAL|
Stoves and Cooking Gear
Tip: To make weight you’ll likely need an alcohol stove system. While easy to use and fast to boil, the highly popular canister stove, the Jetboil MiniMo Cook System, is ¾ pounds heavier than an alcohol stove cook-set. (21 oz vs. the 7.5 oz for the alcohol cook-set with fuel for 3 days shown above.)
For budget backpackers:
- Canister stove – for $12 – $24 you can get a decent stove (Etekcity canister stove) and pot (Stanco Pot) on Amazon. Total weight is around 15 oz with a 110g fuel canister.
- Alcohol stove – for $34 you can pair the Stanco Pot with an alcohol stove like the Kojin and a potstand/windscreen for about 6.5 oz. And there are any number of light alcohol stoves, do-it-yourself or purchased, that you can pair with a light aluminum or titanium pot.
For more reading see: Best Backpacking Stove Systems
|Stoves and Cooking Gear|
|Cookset (alcohol) 5.4 oz | Trail Designs Toaks 900ml Pot, Sidewinder Ti-Tri + Kojin stove | Lightest, most practical cook-set on the market. Kojin stove stores unburned fuel.|
|Fuel container 1.2 oz | Twin Neck Fuel Bottle | Best fuel bottle out there. Stores and measures. Tight seal!|
|Cookset canister | MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit (13.4 oz stove, pot, canister) | Excellent canister stove kit at a good price and weight.|
|Cookset (budget $24) | Etekcity canister stove (3.4) and Stanco Pot (4.7) | Great value for a canister stove and pot. Or use a 0.9 L Evernew Ti Pot (3.8 oz)|
|Ignition 0.2 | Standard (not micro) BIC lighter | Larger is easier to use with cold hands.|
|Mug | Snow Peak Ti Single 450 Cup (2.4) | Eat breakfast & have coffee at same time.|
|Bowl/Mug (alt) 0.9 oz | Ziplock 16 fl-oz bowl | Pers fave: “mug” and/or bowl. Cheap & Light!|
|Utensil 0.3 oz | Plastic spoon with big shovel | spoon handle cut to fit in pot|
|0.5 Lb TOTAL|
Water Storage and Treatment
Tip: Drinking at the source keeps you hydrated and saves weight! That is, use the Sawyer filter to drink your fill from the springs, streams or lakes you pass. That way, hydrated and full up on water you won’t need to carry more than a prudent amount between sources. This will likely save you many pounds of pack weight vs. a person that is carrying 2 or 3 liters of water.
Budget backpacker: While there is nothing expensive on this list, Aqua Mira is one of the most effective and cheapest ways to treat water. In 20 minutes it pretty much gets everything including viruses (the exception is hard shell organisms like crypto that take 4 hours.). The two bottle pack can last a long time. Repackage into smaller bottles to save weight.
For more reading see: Best Backpacking Hydration – Drink When Thirsty
|Water Storage and Treatment|
|Purification 3.7 oz | Sawyer Squeeze Plus filter | To drink on the spot – greatly reduces water carried. Squeeze has higher flow rate and less clogging than the Micro. See Best Backpacking Hydration – Drink When Thirsty|
|Bottles 1.0 oz | Sawyer 32 oz Squeeze Pouch | Way lighter than a Nalgene. Note: Platypus Bottle cap threads are not compatible with Sawyer Squeeze.|
|Purification 0.5 oz | Chlorine Dioxide tablets | Extremely light and effective. A little pricy. (I usually bring a few for “backup”)|
|Purification | Aquamira Water Treatment (1.0) | Economical. Fast and effective. (Repackage into smaller bottles.)|
|0.3 Lb TOTAL|
Clothing in Pack – down jacket, rain jacket, hat and gloves, etc.
Tip: A down jacket and rain jacket keep you warm and dry! As such, they are super important and not a place to skimp. Get a good down jacket or vest in the range of 8 to 12 ounces, and a rain jacket in the same weight range. As noted in the sleeping bags and quilts section, your down jacket and sleeping bag should be viewed as an integrated set. In summary, you won’t regret buying warm, lightweight quality gear.
For budget backpackers: For down jackets look at the 32 DEGREES Heat Mens Down Jacket With Hood or their Down Vests and REI’s store brand jackets can be a good deal, especially on one of their frequent sales.
The REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket is an easy choice for a 9 oz rain jacket for $90 and can go on sale for $45! You can also look at the 5.7 oz Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite 2 Jacket for as low as $15 for the complete rain suit (jacket & pants) or the more breathable but more expensive O2 Original Hooded Jacket.
For more reading see:
|Clothing in Pack – down jacket, rain jacket, hat and gloves, etc.|
|RainJacket 6.3 | Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket 2020 | Best value in an ~6 oz ultralight rain jacket. New 2020 fabric 5x more abrasion resistant!|
|Rain Pants | Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants 2020 (6.7) | Light. Good features. Not insanely expensive.New 2020 fabric 5x more abrasion resistant!|
|Rainpants (alt) | Rain chaps or rain kilt (2.0 oz) | For trips with low probability of rain, or warm rain|
|Down vest 5.0 | Arc’teryx down vest – REI | or 5 oz Western Mountaineering Flash Vest.|
|Down vest (budget) | 32 Degrees Men’s Packable Ultra Light Down Vest | Similar to Patagonia but available for between $50 to $80 at Amazon.|
|Warm jacket | Western Mountaineering Flash Down Jacket (or Flash XR) (11) | Water-resistant shell and 850+ FP down.|
|Wm jacket (alt) | Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket (hooded) | Stuffed with 900 fill power down! Warmth Important for rest stops and in camp.|
|Warm hat | Thick fleece hat (around 2.0 oz) | Great for hiking in the cold and for a quilt w/o hood.|
|Warm hat 1.2 | OR Option Balaclava | Neck coverage. bug resist. Great for quilt w/o hood.|
|Liner gloves | DuraGlove ET Charcoal Wool (2.5) (2.5) | Waterproof Breathable “Rubber” Shell!|
|Camp gloves 2.0 | Glacier Glove fingerless fleece | Dexterity camp chores – climbing in cold weather.|
|Rain Mitts (alt) | MLD eVENT Rain Mitts (1.2) | Great for cold, windy, and/or wet|
|Spare socks 1.8 | SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Mini or Darn Tough 1/4 UL sock | Will bring to wash & switch between pairs|
|1.0 Lb TOTAL|
Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)
Tip: Bring no more clothing than you can wear at one time. Think of all your clothing (both what you wear most of the day and what’s stowed in your pack) as an integrated and well thought out system. As such there are no “backup clothes.” [Yes, with care you can keep your clothes dry. If you do get them wet you can dry them out. And you can wash them during a trip.]
If I am operating in colder daytime temps, then I will wear my “mid-layer,” like a light fleece or the newer Patagonia Nano-Air or Outdoor Research Ascendant Insulated Hoodie, most of the day. As such, its weight is included here with “clothing worn.”
For budget backpackers: Much of this gear is not expensive to begin with. And much of your usual hiking clothes, or even your everyday clothes may fit the bill. E.g. many nylon long-sleeved shirts work fine. Finally, some particularly good budget items like the $45 Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Trekking Poles are listed below.
For more reading see:
|Clothing Worn and Items Carried (stuff not in pack)|
|Shirt 7.3 | RailRiders Adventure Top (Use Code RRAAB21 to get 10% off your first RailRiders order) or Sahara shirts like these at REI | Pers fave. For hot and/or brushy (not a baselayer)|
|Shirt (alt) | REI 1/2-Zip Active Shirt (6.5) REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip (8) | Tech Shirt is versatile, light, 50 SPF, nice collar, zipper neck. Wool top is both a shirt & baselayer for cooler weather|
|Midlayer (opt) | Patagonia R1 Pullover or Hoodie (8oz) | For colder weather trips. Active mid-layer/windshirt (when taken, worn most of time). Can also use lower cost 100 wt fleece if you can find one.|
|Pants | RailRiders X-Treme Adventure (16) (Use Code RRAAB21 to get 10% off your first RailRiders order)| Pers fave. Very durable, no velcro on pockets!|
|Pants (alt) 14 | REI Sahara convertible pants | Ex Officio and many others make similar pants|
|Underwear 2.0 | ExOfficio Give-N-Go Briefs M’s or Patagonia briefs Women’s | Dry fast, will rinse/wash most days|
|Bra | Patagonia Active spots bra | Alison’s favorite|
|Shoes 18 | Altra Lone Peaks (21) Altra Superior Trail-Running (18) | Light. Huge toe room. Comfortable! Superiors lighter. Lone Peaks more protective sole.|
|Shoes (alt) | Brooks Cascadia (25 oz) | Very popular trail shoe for LW backpackers|
|Socks 1.8 | DeFeet Wooleators or SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Mini | Wolleators are pers fave. Light, thin, warm, simple, durable|
|Headwear 2.5 | Outdoor Research Sun Runner Hat | Removable sun cape. Adaptable to most situations|
|Watch | Suunto Core with positive display | compass, altimeter, multifunction timepiece. No GPS (2.2 oz)|
|Watch (budget) 1.2 | $35 basic solar wrist watch | A personal favorite. Does exactly what it needs to do.|
|Sunglasses | Rx and non-Rx (polarized) | 1.0 | http://www.zennioptical.com/ for cheap Rx options|
|Glasses 1.0 | Zenni clear Rx glasses | Great glasses! for $20 or so. But 2-3 week delivery|
|Camera | Panasonic Lumix LX10 (11 oz) | Balance of wt, size, image quality. Less $ than Sony RX100|
|Camera (alt) | Sony RX100 or Sony a6000 | See Serious Lightweight Backpacking Cameras|
|GPS and Comm 7.5 | Smartphone (iPhone or Android) | Primary GPS & map source (not leaving in car!)|
|Poles bargain | $45 Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Trekking Poles | Pers fave. 1/3 price but equal to the best poles. (15.2 oz)|
|Trek Poles | REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles (16 oz)
BD Carbon Alpine (18 oz) | Stiff, light, travel-friendly, won’t break off-trail/rough terrain (readily available)
|TrekPoles light 8.0 | Gossamer Gear LT4/5 Trek. Poles | Good for trail hiking. Not for mountaineering/talus|
|3.9 Lb TOTAL|
“Essential” Gear – 1st aid, headlamps, knives, SOS devices, etc.
Tip: It’s easy to load up on these small items without realizing it. A number of small weights quickly add up. As such, chose, weigh and include these items with care. Remember to buy things in small sizes and/or repackage them into smaller containers.
For more reading see:
|“Essential” Gear – 1st aid, headlamps, knives, SOS devices, etc.|
|MAPS 1.0 | Custom Maps in ZipLock | Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos|
|Charging | Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh Battery (6.0) or EasyAcc 6000mAh 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) or new inReach Mini (3.5) | 2-way com. big deal! visible GPS coord’s, & trip tracking+SOS. solo hikers should consider one…|
|SOS/Track (alt) | SPOT Gen3 (4.8) or new SPOT X 2-Way (7 oz) | Disadvantages Gen3: only 1-way com, no vis. GPS coord. Spot X seems to correct most of these.|
|Optics | ROXANT 7×18 monocular (2.0) | Light: scouting/route finding, decent, inexpensive|
|Pen/pencil 0.2 | Fisher Space Pen Stowaway | To mark up maps, take notes about trip|
|Toothbrush 0.4 | GUM 411 Classic Toothbrush | Full head. minimal handle (but not cut in 1/2)|
|Toothpaste 0.7 | Travel size 1/2 full|
|Toilet paper 1.0 | Whatever is on the roll at home | TP only for polish, use found materials first|
|Soap/sanitizer 0.5 | Dr. Bronners | Dr. Bronner’s – repackaged into small bottle|
|Sunscreen 0.5 | small plastic tube about 1/2 full | for face & hands: most of body covered—large hat|
|Lip balm 0.2 | High SPF water resistant types | Minimal wt for dedicated lip balm|
|First Aid Kit 3.0 | Meds, wound/injury, foot care | See detailed list at bottom|
|Headnet | Sea to Summit Head Net (1.2) | Mosquito netting – don’t take on most trips|
|Insect repellant | Sawyer Picaridin lotion 14 hrs! and/or Pocketable Picaridin 0.5 oz spray | Lyme Zika protection: Picaradin Lotion most effective & long lasting. Unlike DEET it has no odor & won’t melt plastic.|
|Compass 1.6 | Suunto M-3D Compass (1.6) | Lightest compass with declination adjustment|
|Knife 1.2 | Gerber L.S.T. Drop Point | Can cut bread and salami – very light for 2.6″ blade|
|Scissors | Wescott blunt tip school scissors (0.9) | More useful than knife – OK for plane carryon|
|Knife (alt) | Spyderco Ladybug Knife (0.6) | 2″ blade – one of the lightest functional knives|
|Light | Petzl Ultralight Headlamp (2.5 oz) general purpose, camp use | Black Diamond Spot (3.2 oz) if hiking dawn/dusk or dark. | $15 Energizer Vision HD (3.0 oz) | Value $15 Energizer @Amazon, Target, or Walmart|
|Light (alt) 1.2 | Fenix E12 Flashlight w spare battery | 1.2 | Best mini light available, attach to hat brim with clip|
|Repair 0.2 | Tenacious patch, duct tape, glue Also see details of my minimal repair kit | Also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal|
|Finance/ID 0.2 | ID, CCs, and cash in snack ZipLock | More secure on me than left in car|
|0.6 Lb TOTAL|
First Aid Kit (detail)
Tip: I prefer to assemble my own 3 oz First Aid Kit (detailed list) as I can do a better job for less weight than pre-packaged ones. But you can also buy a pre-packaged First Kid Kit like one of these. A small first aid guide/booklet (often included in kits) is a good idea.
Note: Most of the injuries I have treated have been scrapes and cuts (abrasions and lacerations) and all I had to do was stop the bleeding (direct pressure, always) and clean it up and dress the wound. I rarely get blisters since I train in the same shoes and socks that I backpack in. Even so, I carry Leukotape Tape and tincture of benzoin to treat hot spots and mild/early blisters.
For more reading see:
|First Aid Kit (detail)|
|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.|
|3.0 Ounces TOTAL (but included in Essential Gear)|
Bear Canisters and Ultralight Packs that work with them
More and more parks are requiring hard-sided bear canisters. These are some of the lightest options to meet this requirement
If you want to hike the John Muir Trail, you’ll need a bear canister and a pack that can hold it. No, you won’t make 5 pounds, but with the options below you have one the very lightest setups possible. You’ll likely save 3 to 6 pounds vs. a conventional pack and bear canister combination.
Tip: Pack the right food and you can get a few more days out of a smaller bear canister like the Bearvault BV-450 above. Not only will you have less food weight (for the same amount of calories), but the smaller canister will leave more room in your pack for gear. What’s not to like?
For budget backpackers: The Bearvault BV-450 and BV500 hit the sweet spot for weight, cost and availability.
For more reading see: Best Backpacking Food | simple and nutritious
|Backpacks that work with a Bear Canister|
|Pack 15 oz | MLD Exodus | Frameless pack capable of carrying a bear canister. Non-padded back panel may not be acceptable for some hikers. But when packed properly it works!|
|Pack opt 2 | Zpacks Arc Blast (21 oz) | One of the very lightest framed packs that will carry a bear canister. Tensioned back panel keeps canister from bumping your back. Probably the lightest pack acceptable to most hikers.|
|Pack opt 3 | ULAOhm 2.0 Pack (32 oz) | or larger ULA Circuit. Both are great do-it-all packs that will work for most trips. Good price. Durable, fits most bear canisters|
|Pack opt 4 | Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 3400 (31 oz) | Light, super durable, (waterproof, seam sealed bag), great frame/carrying capacity, good pockets. Note: the slightly smaller diameter Bear Vaults fit better in HMG packs than the Wild-Ideas.|
|Bear food storage | Ursack Bear Bag (7.6 oz) | The very lightest and the first choice for a bear storage container. But only if the Ursack is approved in your park! So check the reg’s.|
|Bear canister 28 oz Wild Ideas Scout | or larger Wild-Ideas Weekender (31) | Wild-Ideas is lighter but pricy. Bear Vault below is a better value. I can get ~5 days from a Scout and ~7-8 days from a Weekender|
|Bear canister alt | Bear Vault BV450 (33) Bear Vault BV500 (41) | Bear Vault is a much better value but is somewhat heavier than Wild-Ideas canisters. I can get ~5 days from a BV450 and ~7-8 days from a BV500 canister|
|2.6 pounds TOTAL|
This post contains affilate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a small portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.
© Alan Dixon and AdventureAlan.com, 2000-2023 | All Rights Reserved
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Brief excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alan Dixon and AdventureAlan.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Disclaimer: Posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products I review. Unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, reviews express my own independent opinion.
Share this entry