lightweight backpacking gear

9 Pound Full Comfort Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

Nine pounds of backpacking gear is all a hiker needs to be safe and warm. Or simply put, this list has better backpacking gear. For over a decade it’s been tested, refined, and updated to reflect only the best and most current backpacking gear now available in 2019. So, if you want to reduce pack weight without reducing comfort, look no further! The hiking gear in this guide is suitable for all 3-season conditions on trips around the world, from Alaska, to Patagonia, to Utah.

Below you’ll find one or more of our favorite options for every single type of item a backpacker must carry. Green check marks indicate our go-to option(s). Look for ultralight cottage industry favorites, as well as excellent and reasonably priced gear from mainstream retailers like these $36 Carbon Fiber Trekking poles from Amazon.

Want to go even lighter? See our 5 Pound Practical Lightweight Backpacking Gear Checklist.

Weight Summary

2.1 lb – Backpack & Accessories
0.9 lb – Tent
1.7 lb – Sleeping
0.9 lb – Cooking & Hydration
1.9 lb – Clothing in Pack
1.9  lb – Other Essentials

9.4 Pounds Total (includes iPhone, Satellite Messenger, & USB Battery)

best backpacking gear - Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Pack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pack

31 oz | 58 L

Staff Pick: The HMG 2400 & 3400 Southwest Packs are a Staff Favorite and a Backpacker Magazine award winner for “Best UltraLight Pack.” HMG makes very light, functional and extremely durable packs that are virtually waterproof — no need for a rain cover!  HMG packs have stiff frames that comfortably support even heavy loads.  It’s slim profile gives great balance for scrambling or difficult trail. HMG packs are made with Dyneema Composite Fabric Fiber (formerly Cuben) which is light, waterproof and extremely durable. We prefer the 3400 Southwest Pack for it’s larger volume while weighing just a few oz more than the 2400.

Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus DCF 55L Pack

17 oz | 57 L

For those with a dialed UL kit | The award winning Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus DCF 55L Pack is the lightest pack in our arsenal with the best volume/weight ratio. A such, it’s an excellent choice for UL backpackers looking to reduce weight with the best frameless pack money can buy. Yes, frameless packs don’t transfer weight to the hips as a framed pack but with some intelligent packing you can carry an amazing amount. Guiding in Rocky Mountain Park last summer, Alan carried a rigid Wild Ideas Scout bear canister with 5 days of food & guide’s gear in his Exodus DCF Backpack, saving himself around 3 to 4 pounds versus a standard pack/canister setup.

hiking gear - Osprey Exos 48 and 58 Pack

Osprey Exos 48 and 58

43 oz | 58 L

Value/Features Pack | A less expensive pack, a thru-hiker’s choice and a darling of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. But a pack suitable for all hikers, beginners and experts alike, looking to cut a bit of weight without sacrificing comfort or features. The Osprey Exos 48 and 58 Pack (Men’s) and Osprey Eja 48 and 58 Pack (Women’s) are top sellers for a reason: the Osprey name and their signature ventilated frame. With the Osprey name comes quality, fair pricing, a good warranty, & many happy hikers.

More Great Backpack Choices: For more Great Backpacks, and Budget Backpacks checkout our Guide to the Best Backpacks for Backpacking and Hiking.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sacks & Pods

2.5 oz

DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric) stuff sacks are almost waterproof. If you have a DCF Pack (like the HMG SW 3400 above) and use these stuff sacks you won’t need a rain cover or pack liner. Less expensive option is Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sacks. TIP | Not everything needs to be in a stuff sack. Some items are better off loose to fill in voids in the pack.


Skip the Rain Cover

2.5 oz

Pack covers don’t really keep your backpacking gear dry, are heavy, and add cost. They are a hassle to take on and off and flap in the wind. Instead line your pack with two Gossamer Gear Pack Liners or a less expensive and readily available trash compactor bag. For more info see PRO TIP | Skip the Rain Cover.

Ultralight Backpacking Gear

Ursack Bear Bag

7.6 oz

The very lightest if allowed! The Ursack Bear Bag is the lightest and the first choice for to protect your food from bears. But only if the Ursack is approved in your park! So check the reg’s. We can get ~6 days in a Ursack Major and ~8-9 days in a Ursack Major XL.

If a rigid bear can is required | The BearVault BV450 and BearVault BV500 (33 oz / 41 oz) Food Containers hit the sweet spot for weight, cost and availability. We can get ~5 days in a BV450 and ~7-8 days in a BV500 canister.

More Bear Food Protection: Bear canisters are becoming part of trail life as more parks require them each year. For more important info see PRO TIP | Bear Canister 101.

Tents & Accessories

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent

1.8 lbs | 32.5 ft2

Top Overall Tent | At a scant 1.8 pounds the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dirigo 2 Tent is a serious contender for the title of “strongest, lightest and most storm-worthy backpacking tent” on the market. Compared to most ultralight 2-person backpacking tents, the Dirigo 2 is about a pound or 30% lighter while providing 10 to 15% more floor area, and a more generous 45″ peak height. But while it’s larger and lighter,  it’s also stronger and more durable than most tents — up to serious wind-loading and storms. High tech Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) contributes to the Dirigo 2’s strength and weight. But expensive DCF, and the techniques to work with it also contribute to the tent’s high cost.

Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid XL & Duomid XL

 0.8 lb | 1.3 lbs | 65 ft2

Top Tent – Low Bug Pressure | The Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid XL Pyramid Tent (or Solomid XL) in Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) is a marvel of engineering. Like all pyramid shelters, it’s lighter, and much larger and stronger than any traditional tent or tarp tent. We give a slight nod do the 65 ft2 Duomid XL because it has a less expensive SilNylon vs the HMG Ultamid 2 which only comes in DCF (but in DCF these two tents are close competitors!) Stats aside, we absolutely love its asymmetrical pitch. By keeping the support pole off center, the floor area is divided into two sections; sleeping (70%) and backpacking gear storage (30%). So, unlike other pyramids, couples looking to share a two-person sleeping bag or snuggle will be able to do so without interference from a center pole. And unlike regular pyramid tents, the asymmetrical layout keeps the sleeping area dry even with the door open. The award-winning MLD’s Duomid XL will keep you warm, dry, and protected in any environment you choose to camp. Budget Pyramid Tent: Make sure to check out the $265 MLD DuoMid in SilNylon.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Tent

2.6 lbs | 38 ft2

The Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 Tent combines the best of the heavier and fully featured Copper Spur Series tents, with the lighter and lower cost of the Fly Creek Series. But to save weight and cost, it is semi-free standing like the Fly Creek tents. That is, the two rear corners need to be staked out. We prefer the Tiger Wall UL3 Tent for it’s huge interior volume and livability for two people vs. the smaller Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 TentFor a lower cost tent checkout the REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent a good value in a lightweight freestanding backpacking tent with lot’s of vertical room or some of our Budget Backpacking Tents & Shelters.

More Great Tent Choices: For more great tents, budget tents and Pro Tips checkout our Guide to 2019 Best Backpacking Tents | Lightweight & Ultralight.

Tent Footprint

3.5 oz | 0 oz if you don’t take one

If your tent floor is 30D or better (e.g. the HMG Dirigo 2) then you can likely skip a footprint or Polycro sheet altogether. On the other hand, many of the lighter tents 20D or even 15D floors. In this case, you should consider protecting it. But skip the Manufacturer’s Footprint which is heavy and expensive. Instead, use a 2 to 3.5 oz Polycro Footprint to protect the floor of very light tent floors (less than 30D). We recommend putting a $9 Gossamer Gear Polycro Footprint or MLD UL FOOTPRINT under it. This multilayer, cross-linked polyolefin film weighs less than 4 oz and is much stronger and more durable than the typical painters plastic sheet you’d get at a hardware store. [Get a large size and cut it to fit your tent.]

Upgrade Your Tent Stakes

12 g / stake

The light stakes that came with your tent are OK but you can do better. Good stakes make tent pitching faster and more secure. For pitching in rocky ground and other difficult areas we prefer these inexpensive but bomber TNH ‘Y’ Tent-Stakes. They have only a single notch at the head making them extremely resistant to bending and damage when pounding in with a rock. And they have a pre-attached cord to make them easier to pull out — the cord is reflective to keep you from tripping on them during the night. Finally, ‘Y’ stakes have greater holding power than most stakes so they’ll hold your tent more securely. You can get similar ‘Y’ stakes, MSR Ground Hogs at REI.

Sleeping Bags & Sleeping Pads

Hammock Gear Premium Burrow Quilt +30

15 oz

A Staff Favorite, the $247 Hammock Gear Premium Burrow Quilt is 1/2 the cost of top end sleeping bag and weighs less. The HG Premium Burrow Quilt is a perfect combination of value, weight and performance! It is highly customizable with different sizes, fabric colors and weights, as well as the type and amount of down fill. You can get a Zipper Footbox which allows it to be spread flat. Or a sewn foot box is fully enclosed/fully insulated, and thus allows no cold spots (my choice). There is an optional Sleeping Pad Attachment Kit. For those on a budget: The standout value is the $148, 19 oz Hammock Gear Economy Burrow 30 ºF down quilt. That’s less cost than most synthetic sleeping bags and it is 1/2 the weight

Note: Quilts have a better warmth to weight ratio and cost less than sleeping bags. For the details of why this is so see our 2019 Buyers Guide to Lightweight Backpacking Quilts

REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30

19 oz

New for 2019 | Off the shelf and ready to go! | | REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30. We are super stoked to see REI offer a quilt version of the award winning Magma series bags! Pair this with the “Women’s” version of the XLite, (yes it fits men fine — all the men we know use it) and you will be toasty warm at night. And no wonder since it’s stuffed with 11 ounces of Water-resistant 850-fill-power goose down. What’s not to like!

Tip | Extend the range of a +30 sleeping bag or quilt | The vast majority of the time +30 sleeping bag is just great and it saves money and weight vs. a +20 bag. But if you do encounter rare, unexpectedly cold temperatures you can wear your warm down jacket (which you’ll have with you anyway in cool weather) and possibly other clothing to extend the temperature range of your bag or quilt. Alison and I and many backpackers we know have been doing this for years. More reading: see Guide to Lightweight Down Jackets and Pants for Backpacking

REI Co-op Magma 30 Sleeping Bag

19 oz

Top Pick for a Traditional Sleeping Bag | New for 2019 is a lighter and less expensive version of 2017 Backpacker Editors’ Choice. The REI Co-op Magma 30 Sleeping Bag M’s & W’s is a better all-around three season choice for most campers than the +15 version. The REI Co-op Magma 30 just a bit over a pound but filled with 8.5 oz of 850-fill-power goose down! That will keep most sleepers warm but still not weigh a ton! If you do sleep cold: check out the original, award winning REI Co-op Magma 15 Sleeping Bag. It will either keep colder sleepers happy in peak 3 season camping, or take most folks into colder shoulder (3+ season) camping of early spring or late fall.

More Great Sleeping Bags Choices: For more great Sleeping Gear, and Budget Sleeping Bags & Quilts checkout our 2019 Buyers Guide to Lightweight Backpacking Quilts & Sleeping Bags

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – Women’s

12 oz

The best all-around sleeping pad! This is the “Women’s” version of the XLite, but it’s the right size for most backpackers. All the men we know use it — for tall men, as long as the end of the pad hits mid-calf you should be fine (Alan’s 6’5″ hiking partner uses one!). Best of all, at 12 oz and with an R-value of 3.9, it’s warmer and lighter than the “Men’s” version. Super warm and super comfortable we find its closer to a 3+ season pad and have happily used it to well below freezing!  As such, we find that it works well even into the colder shoulder seasons of late fall and early spring, so you can skip the weight and cost of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad

8.8 oz

Great lightweight option for +35F and above. | At only 1/2 pound for a size regular (72″ long) there’s been a lot of buzz about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad. First, we’re stoked there’s a 25″ version of this pad. Some folks find that a 20″ pad is not quite wide enough. That is there’s room for you and one arm but not both. At 12 oz in a 25″ width the Size Large solves that problem without a weight penalty. Those with wider shoulders rejoice. Second, with an R 2.0 we find this pad warm and comfortable to around freezing. For temps colder than freezing we recommend the M’s XLite (R 3.2) or our preferred W’s XLite (R 3.9).

Stove, Cookware & Hydration, Water Purification

Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri + Toaks 900ml Pot Cooking System

5.5 oz

Staff pick best backpacking stove! To our mind Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri Cooking System is the most practical cooking system on the market. It’s exceptionally light — about 1/3 the weight of a JetBoil. It’s very stable, wind resistant, and fuel efficient. The Toaks 900 ml titanium pot works well for both solo and 2-person use. Can easily get cheap alcohol fuel almost everywhere in the world. Take only the fuel you need, no canister disposal in waste. The wide pot easy to cook in and easy to clean. Ti cone has option to burn wood. TD Kojin Alcohol Stove stores unburned fuel so no need to minutely measure fuel. Downside is a longer boil time vs. the JetBoil.

Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System

14 oz

The best Jetboil Stove! The award winning Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System gives you all of Jetboil’s new technologies: A proprietary regulator and enhanced regulator diaphragm for consistent performance down to 20°F. And their redesigned valve gives you better simmer control. Finally, we’re huge fans of the wider pot. It’s easier to eat out of and clean and has a more fuel effect shape to boot. Compared to the Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri, the Jetboil is easier to use for most folks, and boils water faster.

Liberty Mountain Twin Neck Fuel Bottle (8-Ounce)

1.4 oz

The best alcohol fuel storage! Easy dual chamber measurement with pour spout. No measuring cups needed, no spilling and fuel waste. Durable thick plastic is stronger than thin water bottles. Total capacity of ~9 oz is enough for Alison and I for around 5 days. Solo, I can get a week of cooking with the bottle and the TD Ti-Tri Cooking System.

TOAKS Titanium 450ml Cup (15 fl oz)

2.7 oz

A great deal for $20! A caffeinated backpacker is a happy backpacker! Enjoy your morning coffee with minimal weight penalty in this durable, lightweight, attractive titanium mug. A backpacker can never have too much titanium… or coffee.

Ziplock 16 fl-oz “Camp Bowl/Mug”

0.9 oz

Only $2, a personal favorite and far lighter than “backpacking” bowls. These Ziploc Twist ‘N Loc Containers (16 fl-oz) are surprisingly durable and useful. We use them both for bowls for dinner and breakfast cereal and when traveling light they also double as our coffee and hot chocolate “mugs.” We usually leave the lids at home.

TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon - Best Hiking Gear

TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon

0.7 oz

Titanium is a backpacker’s best friend! Digging the last morsels out of the bottom of a bag of freeze dried food is challenging with most utensils. Enter a 8.6,” long-handled titanium spoon. It can easily reach those faraway corners, providing you all the needed calories to keep you hiking. It’s light at only 20 g (0.7 oz), and won’t put holes in freezer bags like a spork.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System - Best Backpacking and Hiking Gear

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System

3.0 oz

The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System with Sawyer Squeezable Pouches for water bottles is our go-to hydration system. With the Squeeze, you can just fill up the bladder, and drink normally. Carrying heavy filters or waiting for chemical water treatments is more tiring, time consuming, and frustrating and regular pumps are slow, heavy and prone to clogging. Its 0.1 micron filter removes all the nasties and yuckies that occur in water in North America. It saves weight by allowing you to carry less water, and drink when you reach a stream. Finally the Sawyer Squeeze has lifetime warranty and almost unlimited capacity to treat water (assuming you back-flush when necessary). Water storage: we each carry a Sawyer 32 oz Squeezable Pouch (1 oz) for use during the day and a Sawyer 64 oz Squeezable Pouch (1.5 oz) For collecting treating water in camp. Camp treatment: For fast, efficent water purification in camp we use Water Treatment Tablets: We can treat 3 or more liters of water in less than a minute. And it’s ready to drink 20-30 minutes later.

Clothes Carried in Pack

PRO TIP – Use Your Clothes Better | Read Top Mistakes Using the Layering System | How to Stay Warmer and Drier. The layering system sounds attractive in theory. But as practiced by most hikers it is seriously flawed. It can be heavy, and expensive. And not used properly it could even make you colder more…

Lightweight Rain Jacket for Hiking and Backpacking

Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket

6.4 oz

The Outdoor Research Helium II is a great value for an exceptionally light and functional rain jacket (most in this weight range are $200 to $300+). While it weighs far less than most other rain jackets it still has a good feature set — drawcord adjustable hood, elastic adjustable cuffs, a waterproof interior pocket, and a chest pocket that can stow the entire jacket.

Note: Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants are equally light and a good value. Both have trim fit so anyone looking to layer insulation under them should likely size up.

More Great Rainwear Choices: For more great for Rain Jackets and Pants see our Best Lightweight Rain Jackets for Hiking and Backpacking

White Sierra Baz Az 1/4 Zip Fleece Shirt - Best Backpacking Gear

White Sierra Baz Az 1/4 Zip Fleece Shirt

8 oz

The White Sierra Baz Az 1/4 Zip is an amazing deal on a fantastic layer! A 100 wt fleece shirt is our go to favorite mid-layer — goes on every trip from Alaska, tho the Sierras and Patagonia! Sadly it appears that 100 wt fleece shirts like this are a becoming scarce so it’s best to buy one now. Note: that there is also a good inventory of the similar (and excellent) The North Face Men’s TKA 100 Glacier Quarter Zip on Amazon. These lightweight, inexpensive fleece shirts shed the wind reasonably well. As such, you may never need pull out your wind jacket.

MyTrail Co 850 Fill HL Down Jacket - Best Backpacking Gear

MyTrail Co 850 Fill HL Down Jacket

9 oz | 11 oz hooded

MyTrail Co 850 Fill HL Hooded Down Jacket is one of the best values in a super warm, fully featured ultralight down jacket. At 11 oz it’s exceptionally light and very warm with a generous 4.6 oz of 850-fill-power down. But best of all, it costs significantly less than jackets of similar warmth. The similar non-hooded MyTrail Co 850 Fill HL Down Jacket is only 9 ounces and costs less (altho we greatly prefer the hooded version). From a major retailer checkout Patagonia Down Sweaters (again we prefer the hooded ones).

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket - Best Backpacking Gear

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

11 oz

For those on a budget the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket is a great value. While it weighs a bit more vs. an 850 fill power down jacket, it also half the price. Otherwise it has a same features and functionality of the more expensive down jackets.

More Great Down Jacket Choices: For more great for Down Jackets and Pants see our Guide to Lightweight Down Jackets and Pants for Backpacking

DeFeet Duragloves - Best Ultralight Hiking Gear

DeFeet Duragloves

2.5 oz

DeFeet Duragloves | These are our favorite gloves. Light, warm, grippy and durable enough to be worn all day. They also have good dexterity — we can operate our cameras with them. They can be worn by themselves or make great liner gloves for use with rain mitts or a warmer outer-glove/warm mitt. Best of all, their bright color makes them easier to find and you are far less likely to forget them by the side of the trail. For more dexterity: we also like Glacier Glove fingerless fleece for their exceptional dexterity at camp chores, like cooking breafast in cold weather.

OR Option Balaclava - Best Backpacking Gear

OR Option Balaclava

1.8 oz

A for a warm “hat” we prefer the Outdoor Research Option Balaclava. It’s a good balance of weight to warmth. Balaclavas are warmer than a hat because they insulate your lower face and neck. This is also great for bug protection. Also, a balaclava is a great combo to use with a quilt on cold nights.

Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks - Best Hiking Gear

Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks

1.8 oz

You always need a dry pair of sleep socks for camp! These are Smartwool’s smartest socks. Light and durable! Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks have a nice fit which they retain well even when wet and moving fast. They have good underfoot cushion only where you need it — on the ball and heel of the foot. Wool helps with foot stench.

Clothing Worn on the Trail

Best Lyme and Zika Prevention for Hiking - Best Backpacking Gear

Protect Yourself from Lyme Disease & Zika

2019 is forecast to be the worst year for tick/Lyme disease. But don’t let fear of Lyme or Zika keep you off the trail! This article has tips on the clothing, gear, repellents, and techniques that will maximize your Lyme and Zika Prevention as well as other tick/insect diseases when hiking or backpacking. Read more at our Best Lyme and Zika Prevention for Hiking…

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles - Best Hiking Gear

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

16 oz

At at on $36 these are 1/2 to 1/3 the price of many comparable trekking poles. The Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles give up nothing in features and performance. We’ve used them in many countries all over the world. They have cork handles and flick locks like the much more expensive Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles, but cost 1/3 as much! That’s bang for the buck!

RailRiders Mojave Sun Shirt - Best Ultralight Backpacking Gear

RailRiders Mojave Sun Shirt

7 oz

Best all-round shirt | We are super excited that the legendary ultralight classic “Eco-Mesh Shirt” shirt of the 2000s is back! It’s reincarnation is the RailRiders Mojave Sun Shirt. This shirt is extremely light and tough and it won’t snag on brush like knit fabric shirts. I has great sun protection with UPF 50+ fabric. And to keep you cool it has built in ventilation, long ¾ length zippered front and a neat cuff system to keep you even cooler. For a more traditional shirt: RailRiders Versatac Light ShirtFor insect protection: RailRiders Journeyman Shirt with Insect Shield.

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer - Best Hiking Gear

REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Base Layer

8 oz

Shirt option for cooler weather | When daytime temps are cool our favorite shirt is the REI Co-op Merino Midweight Half-Zip Shirt. In this chilly weather we use it our “hiking shirt” and baselayer. This saves weight and and the complications taking on and off your baselayer.  The half-zip regulates temperature and the long sleeves and full neck are good for sun protection. Wool is warm when wet, does a good job of wicking moisture away from your skin and is naturally antimicrobial so it dramatically reduces stench. Finally soft merino wool does not itch. We also like the similar Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Quarter-Zip [Note: .]

RailRiders X-Treme Adventure Pant - Best Backpacking Gear

RailRiders X-Treme Adventure Pant

16 oz

Our pants are are always the first of our gear to rip and tear. And if we don’t wear long pants we get sunburned legs and get cuts and abrasions. That’s why we like the RailRiders X-Treme Adventure Pants with their lightweight, tough, quick-drying nylon fabric, and rugged, super abrasion-resistant fabric reinforcements on the butt and knees and inside cuff. They have 7 great pockets (5 zippered) that don’t bulge and snag like other cargo pants. And the hip pockets are huge and deep so nothing falls out. For insect protection: RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pant with Insect Shield (only 10 oz)

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap - Best Backpacking Gear

Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap

2.5 oz

A hat that does everything well! The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is convertible between a lightweight running hat and a more serious expedition hat by allowing a neck shade to be attached to the hat. The neck shade can block sun and protect from bugs. It comes in light colors to better help deal with solar radiation, but other colors are available if you don’t like the bright white. This this is one of the most functional hats I’ve ever put on our heads. And it works great to control the brim on your rain jacket.

Altra Lone Peak Trail-Running Shoes - Best Backpacking Gear

Altra Lone Peak Trail-Running Shoes

19 oz

Altra Lone Peak Trail-Running Shoes are Alison’s and my favorite backpacking and hiking shoes. These are the most comfortable shoe after a 30+ mile day on the trail. One key is the massive toe room that is so kind to trail-swollen feet at the end of the day. They are light and have a zero drop heel for a more natural stride. These come in both Men’s and Women’s models.

Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks - Best Hiking Gear

Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks

1.8 oz

These are Smartwool’s smartest socks. Light and durable! Smartwool PhD Run Elite Low Cut Socks have a nice fit which they retain well even when wet and moving fast. They have good underfoot cushion only where you need it — on the ball and heel of the foot. Wool helps with foot stench.

Other Essential Gear

More About Essential Hiking Gear | Our 13 Essentials for the Modern Hiker | A Realistic “10 Essentials” Is definitely worth a read. This article lists a more realistic 13 Essentials that will better keep the modern hiker safe more…

best hiking gear - Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator

Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator

3.5 oz

Critical Gear for Every Trip | Staying safe in the backcountry has never been so easy or so small and light! The Garmin inReach Mini allows text-messaging-like simplicity of communication even when far from cell service. This differentiates it from the more limited check-in or alert abilities of the SPOT devices. It also adds a layer of safety, and connectivity that used to cost much more! New Mini is really small and light, 3.5 oz vs. 6.9 oz of the the older inReach units. And it’s so small it can easily fit in a pocket. In summary, the The inReach is an indispensable backcountry safty and emergency communication tool for keeping loved ones updated, and for receiving weather and other important updates from the front country.

Fenix LD02 EDC Flashlight / Headlamp

0.8 oz

This nifty flashlight clips to your hat brim making a “headlamp.” Weighing just 0.8 oz, Fenix LD02 EDC Flashlight is amazingly bright for its size and weight. It puts out 100 lumens on high power and runs 15 hours on low power. A backup battery weighs only .25 oz. So for only one ounce (flashlight + spare battery) you have 30 hours of light.

Optional Headlamp for serious night hiking 3.0 oz | Use the Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp if you need to seriously night hike. On high it puts out 325 lumens for 4 hours, and on medium 160 lumens for 8 hours — enough to hike out at night in an emergency on challenging trails. But it’s mild mannered enough to use in camp at 6 lumens, where it will last for 200 hours.

Gaia GPS Smartphone App - Best Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Gaia GPS Smartphone App

0 oz

NAVIGATION $20 $16 with Adventure Alan discount | Gaia GPS is hands down the best navigational too for the backcountry. Use your smartphone for navigation AND get 20% off! through my site. Using this app on my phone has completely supplanted standalone GPS units for me. Gaia GPS is the standard backcountry GPS navigation tool for iOS (Apple smartphones), and after a new release this year, it is fully capable on Android smartphones as well. Gaia allows loading of GPS data, tracking, and map loading for offline use with many different layers available (similar to Caltopo).

Use Your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS: For essential reading on using a backcountry GPS see: How to use your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS

Paper Map & Compass - Best Backpacking Gear

Paper Map & Compass

1.6 oz

Yup, as nice and handy has a GPS unit is electronics are not infallible. As such, you still need to have paper map and compass. The Suunto M-3D Compass Our pick for a backcountry compass. This is a simple, and durable compass with all the essential features including declination adjustment (which isn’t on most compasses). It doesn’t weigh much, but it could get you out of a pinch if you find yourself in a whiteout, or unsure of your bearings with a dead phone/GPS. A good compass is indispensable, and this one will last you a long time.

Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh – USB Battery - Best Hiking Gear

“Extra Batteries” | Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh – USB Battery

6 oz

Keeping your backcountry electronics alive keeps you safe. The Jackery Bolt 6000 mAh – USB Battery is perfectly sized to charge most large cell phones twice! And there is no need to carry any cables. The Jackery Bolt comes with two built in cables, 1) a Lightning cable for Apple products, and 2) a micro-USB cable for everything else. What’s more, this battery charges products faster than most competition with a 2.7A combined output. And is one of the lighter USB batteries around, making it perfect for most backpackers for up to a week in the wild! For more capacity: Anker PowerCore 10000 battery

hiking gear - Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

1.2 oz

Weighing just over an ounce, the Gerber L.S.T. Drop Point Knife Knife is lightweight, but exceptionally functional with a full 2″ long blade. While there are lighter knives, if you’re going to carry a knife into the woods, you may as well be able to cut bread, salami and cheese with it! This knife gets the job done in a lightweight, no-frills, locking folding frame.

Blunt Tip Scissors

0.7 oz

Alternate “knife” tool | Westcott Classic Kids Scissors, Blunt Tip, 5 Inch are airplane carry on friendly, and lighter and more useful than a knife. Great for first aid, cutting bandages, opening food packaging, cutting cord, etc.

Essential Backpacking Gear (continued)

  • SMARTPHONE 7.0 oz | With GPS App & connectivity to inReach, in a heavy duty Ziplock
  • MAPS 1.0 oz | 11X17 Custom Maps in Ziploc Mapped with CalTopo and printed at Kinkos
  • PEN & PAPER 1.0 | Fisher Space Pen & and a few sheets waterproof paper
  • TEETH 1.0 | GUM 411 Classic Toothbrush, Toothpaste Travel size 1/2 full
  • TP + SANITIZER 1.0 | 1/2 oz sanitizer, TP only for polish, use found materials first
  • POTTY TROWEL 0.6 | TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel is the lightest most useful
  • SUNSCREEN 0.5 | Small tube 1/2 full. Face and hands only, using clothing for most sun protection
  • INSECT REPELLENT 1.0 | Sawyer Picaridin lotion last 14 hrs! Also Pocketable Picaridin 0.5 oz spray
  • FIRE STARTER 1.0 | Bic Lighter, matches & small fire stick
  • REPAIR KIT 1.0 | Tenacious patchduct tapeglue (also consider NeoAir patch kit, and Aquaseal)
  • FIRST AID KIT 3.0 | See detailed list below

First Aid Kit

  • Pain, fever inflammation | Naprosyn (Aleve), Ibuprofen, or Tylenol (fever) In ziplock pill bag available at pharmacies | 0.4 oz
  • Foot/blister | Gauze + Leukotape Tape For taping over blisters, or pre-blister areas | 0.3 oz
  • Foot/blister | Tincture of benzoin in micro-bottle. For getting tape or Bandaids to REALLY stick! | 0.2 oz
  • Wound care | Bandaids + gel blister covers Assorted sizes – your preference | 0.5 oz
  • Wound care | Antibact. packets + wound wipes. Wound cleansing, infection prevention | 0.4 oz
  • 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. All in tablet/pill form | 0.4 oz
  • Rx meds | Personal Dr’s Rx meds | 0.4 oz
  • Pain serious | Dr’s Rx Painkiller. For serious injury, tooth abscess, etc. | 0.2 oz
  • 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.

Disclaimer

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the 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 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.

141 replies
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Tom and apologies for the late reply. I’ve been guiding Alaska’s Brooks Range for the last two weeks and will soon head back in to Alaskan mountains for another two weeks. First, don’t let the images fool you. Believe it or not, the gear here is almost identical the old “table format version.” Only changes are that I reduced the number of duplicate/optional items (e.g. I no longer list 6 optional packs, but rather refer people to my pack guide), and that I have updated some items to the most current gear (e.g. the HMG Dirigo Tent). Otherwise it’s essentially the same list. And you could make the argument that the image and additional text about the gear in this format does provide significant benefit not in the old table format.

      But I am with you. As an engineer I find the table format more understandable and useful. But I am in the minority. Most people in this phone based browsing day and age find the picture/text, picture/text format more understandable and accessible. (I am constantly stunned by people who express dislike for spreadsheets, and it seems to grow more each year.)

      The problem is that way more than 50% browsing is done by smartphones, and tables look horrible on a small screen. As such, tables on the Web are extremely undesirable and going the way of the Dodo. As such the current (new) format for this gear list is in keeping with the expectations of modern Web viewing public. Honestly, I held out two years longer than I should have to make this conversion.

      I am toying with the idea of having the old “table stye” version at the end of this post. There are a few downsides tho. 1) It would make the the page longer load, which in turn affects my web rainking. 2) It is significantly more effort since I have to update gear/information in two places. 3) I am fairly sure that most folks will scroll right past the link text at the beginning of the post that would jump them to the table list at the end. Thus most folks will remain unaware of the table list at the end.

      Anyway wishing you a great year of trekking. Best, -alan

      Reply
  1. Caroline Koenig
    Caroline Koenig says:

    Hi Alan,
    I have been using your site for almost 3 years and I have gone from a 32 lb pack for one night to a 19 lb pack for 3 nights. I still have wine (one night) a chair (thermarest sleeve: 230g) worth every gram -I love this chair! I bring a light book and a monocular…I have learned SO MUCH form your site. My longest distance single day hike has been 24km, last year I hiked 360km and camped solo 10 nights (separate trips) THANK YOU!
    BUT…now with your site modifications (very nice) I can no longer find your great gear lists. Maybe they are hiding somewhere? Under the 9 lb list I see only photos of many items but not the detailed list. Please let me know if those great lists are somewhere I have not yet looked. Thanks a million. Caroline (of Canada)

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Caroline, so glad that you’ve found the site useful. And congrats on getting your pack weight so low. Nice work! My pleasure to have been some small part of it.

      First, don’t let the images fool you. Believe it or not, the gear here is almost identical the old “table format version.” Only changes are that I reduced the number of duplicate/optional items (e.g. I no longer list 6 optional packs, but rather refer people to my pack guide), and that I have updated some items to the most current gear (e.g. the HMG Dirigo Tent). Otherwise it’s essentially the same list. And you could make the argument that the image and additional text about the gear in this format does provide significant benefit not in the old table format.

      But I am with you. As an engineer I find the table format more understandable and useful. But I am in the minority. Most people find the picture/text, picture/text format more understandable and accessable. (I am constantly stunned by people who express dislike for spreadsheets)

      The problem is that way more than 50% browsing is done by smartphones, and tables look horrible on a small screen. As such, tables on the Web are extremely undesirable and going the way of the Dodo. As such the current (new) format for this gear list is in keeping with the expectations of modern Web viewing public. Honestly, I held out two years longer than I should have to make this conversion.

      I am toying with the idea of having the old “table stye” version at the end of this post. There are a few downsides tho. 1) It would make the the page longer load, which in turn affects my web rainking. 2) It is significantly more effort since I have to update gear/information in two places. 3) I am fairly sure that most folks will scroll right past the link text at the beginning of the post that would jump them to the table list at the end. Thus most folks will remain unaware of the table list at the end.

      Anyway wishing you a great year of trekking. Best, -alan

      Reply
      • Caroline
        Caroline says:

        Alan,
        Thank you for your detailed thoughtful reply…as an engineering technologist : ) …the spreadsheet does (did) all the organizing for me. I have many of my own but your old one broke out all the gear by sections and gave me a TREMENDOUS head start WITH LINKS. In fact, I think I may have copied it into mine and I compared all my weights to yours. Is there any way I could access your updated list through Google forms…such a great head start for the novice and, with your new gear updates, for the person like me trying to continually lighten!

        Thank you for your consideration of this request.

        Reply
  2. Bret
    Bret says:

    Great list. No rain pants or kilt?

    I like pot+canister stove, Black Diamond Ion headlamp, power-stretch gloves, full brim hat, poly base layer (more comfy). Lands End has lightweight fleece in TALL to ensure overlap with top of pants.

    Reply
  3. Jimothy
    Jimothy says:

    Heads up: Your link to the Dirigo tent goes to REI’s page for the Tiger Wall tent instead of HMG’s site.

    Reply
  4. Mark Owen
    Mark Owen says:

    You recommend the Osprey Exos but it comes out as 2 lb 10 oz on their site. I have been looking at the Osprey Levity 45 and it weighs 1 lb 12 oz. What is your opinion on the Levity?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Mark. Actually, I have the Levity and in many ways I like it better than the Exos. Obviously the weight is more attractive. But also in its favor: it has fewer “frivolous” features, the pockets and bottom of the pack are all solid and durable fabric vs. the mesh combo on the Exos, as is the top of the lid. As such the only exposed areas of lighter SilNylon are the upper top of the pack above the pockets and the sides of the top lid. These are not usually high wear areas. As such with some care and not overstuffing and abusing the main pocket with sharp items, it might last quite a while. Definitely requires more user care an awareness than the Exos, but you save a ton of weight in exchange. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
      • Mark
        Mark says:

        Thanks for the quick reply. I’m pretty sure I’ll go with this levity. Anything else in that weight range I should look at? FYI: this is my first real backpack. Have only done one overnighter in my life many years ago.

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Mark, I would definitely look at the ULA Ohm 2.0. It is not that much more weight. Has more volume, and is a much more rugged pack — and a better overall pack for more types of trips. It would be my (and Alisons) 2nd choice after the Hyperlite Mountain Gear SW 3400. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan & alison

          Reply
  5. Joe
    Joe says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks so much for all these great tips- I’m slowly working my way towards the ultralight life! You’ve mentioned a few times that you wash your clothes most days- how do you go about drying them as you don’t bring spares? And how does that work when it is cold/wet?

    Thanks,

    Joe

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Joe, we usually wash midday during lunch. We try to be beside a stream or lake. We wash our clothes and usually wear a windbreaker, rain jacket, pants for modesty/sun protection while they dry in the sun — or if in a remote area away from trails nothing at all. Once it’s time to leave, we put our clothes back on, usually still damp. But the dry the rest of the way pretty quickly while we hike. In camp in the evening we may wash underwear, socks and bras and hang them up overnight. Same deal. They may not be all the way dry in the morning. We just put them on damp and start hiking. Hope this helps. Wishing you a great year of hiking. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    I realize your lists are catering to the ultralight oz counters but geez, these costs are very expensive, imo.
    Me, i’m a bargain shopper – not cheap mind you but frugal. I don’t have the lightest gear but I can guarantee that what I have purchased is 1/4 to 1/6 the cost of the prices you have links to and still good quality, lightweight, and affordable.
    I remember backpacking back in the mid ’70’s with my Dad and I know that the gear I use today is lighter and stronger than what I carried back then so, I’ll gladly save my cash as a trade-off for some extra pounds or ounces.
    for example – Monoprice trekking poles – 8oz each – $19.99
    Coleman Exponent Dakota 1 tent – 3lb 3 oz – $29
    Marmot Nanowave 55 sleeping bag – 1.6 oz – $40
    etc….

    Great thoughts and ideas in your blog but I don’t think everything has to be super expensive to have a successful backpacking experience.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Jim, if you read this gear list carefully there is almost always a light and excellent item in most gear categories on this gear list. As such, you can still get close to a 9 lb base weight and still save a bunch of money. E.g. the hammock gear Econ Burrow +30 degree down quilt, the Cascade Mountain Tech carbon trekking poles for $35. And if you look into the Gear Guides linked to the list, e.g. our tent guide, you find items like the Kelty Salida 2 person tent for just a bit over $100. Again very little compromise in weight and performance but a drastic cut in cost. As such, I think that if you go carefully through this gear list it works well for those watching expenditures, while not cutting corners on weight or performance. Wishin you a great year of hiking. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Oh, and we’ll need to checkout the Monoprice Trekking Poles!

      Reply
  7. Randy Clark
    Randy Clark says:

    Hi Alan,
    I am getting ready for a thru hike of the Superior Hiking Trail the last week of August into September. I just bought my first pair of Altra Lone Peak 4’s. Have been wearing boots, Moabs and Asolo all of my life. Thought I would need the ankle protection. But the shoes are great, light airy and just feel good. Been wearing them to get use to them and doing stretching to get my legs use to the 0 drop. Want other things would you recommend to be doing to get comfortable with them? Planning on food and water about 20 to 23 lbs total weight to carry. Your thoughts?
    Thank you
    Randy

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Randy, good on you for moving to trail runners. And Lone Peaks are Alison’s and my favorites. First, there is nothing to substantiate the claim that boots give you more ankle support. In fact, it is your ankle strength that gives you support. As such I would get as much time in them with some weight on, up and down hill and on uneven trail. Gradually increasing distance and terrain difficulty to strengthen your feet and ankles. This is exactly what Alison and I do. For more see Quick and Efficient Training for Backpacking and Hiking. Hope this helps and wishing you a great hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  8. James Badham
    James Badham says:

    Hey Alan,
    Great info as I move toward a UL kit. Question about quilts. You say that in warm weather you don’t take any sleeping top or bottoms. I carry silk tops and bottoms (8 oz total) to keep my bag clean. Without them and using a quilt, I’d be sleeping skin to inflatable sleeping pad, which doesn’t sound very appealing. Thoughts on this? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi James, good Q. Alison and I sleep in our trail clothes overnight, long sleeve shirt and long pants (less underwear and bra and hiking socks which we leave hanging overnight to dry and air out). So there is no sticking to the pad for us. That being said, we do try and wash ourselves and our clothes once per day — usually near a stream or lake at lunch (but otherwise as opportunity presents). A such, our clothes and our bodies are usually fairly clean when we go to bed. But to be clear we do not bring sleeping clothes or backup clothes so save ourselves about 2 to 3 pounds in extra clothing vs. most hikers. AND our sleeping quilts are clean and smell fine. Hope this helps,

      Reply
  9. Lombard
    Lombard says:

    Allen,
    Do you have any information or opinion on the superior wilderness design packs as compared to the ones you have listed in the 2 pound class?
    Regards
    SL

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Lombard,
      I have never seen or used one of their packs. There are a lot of small shops, and even just folks making UL gear out there. I am trying to stick with great gear from cottage manufactures that have been around for a while and have a good track record and reputation. And at first blush, I am not seeing a compelling reason why Superior Wilderness Designs packs have any significant advantage over HMG or MLD packs. For instance their X-Pac fabric is not one of my favorite fabrics and I would prefer DCF or plain Dyneema Gridstop fabric over that. All that being said, I would not deter you from buying one. They are probably nice. Wishing you a great year of hiking, Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
    • Rud
      Rud says:

      Lombard – the SWD packs are indeed nice. I have a ULA CIrcuit and a SWD Long Haul 40 and I prefer the SWD. Here are a few compelling reasons to get one:

      1. It’s a custom shop and they’ll do anything you want. I had them put a half depth lycra mesh pocked inside a solid front pocket. It makes finding small things like aquamira super easy. Colors and fabric can also be customized.

      2. X-pac is cheaper than DCF and stiffer than Dyneema X, so it stays upright and is easy to pack.

      3. They are really nice looking packs and different from most of the ones you see out there.

      4. I am at the upper edge of the medium size in ULA but right in the middle for SWD. For that reason the pack is more comfortable (for me).

      I would probably stick with the ULA CIrcuit if I were carrying a bear can, because it’s a little more padded.

      You can get discounts through Garage Grown Gear on the custom packs. Good luck! There are so many good options these days.

      Reply
  10. Heather Seibel
    Heather Seibel says:

    Thanks for the recommendation of the rei rain jacket as a budget alternative. My daughter and I both wore this during a rainy backpacking trip recently and we stayed nice and dry plus warm with our fleece underlayer.

    Reply
  11. Randy Clark
    Randy Clark says:

    Hi Alan,
    I am getting ready to do a thru hike on the Superior Hiking Trail late August into September. I am older guy and have worn TNF zip off hiking pants for years w/ a MH long sleeve shirt w/ a MH t-shirt. Worn this in our beloved Grand Canyon and on the AT. Thinking of doing something different, your thoughts on Nike type tights and Nike shorts? Trying to be ultralight overall as possible, my big 3 weighs 5 lbs hoping to be around 18-20 w/ 5-6 days of food and “drinking when thirsty”. I wear bike tights shorts to ride my bike so use to the tights, I would wear tights when hiking when needed when not needed just shorts. Can’t wait to go and making up some of your food recipes.
    Thank you Alan for your time,
    Randy

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Randy, a good Q. I would still go with the nylon pants that you’ve used or the REI Sahara equivalent, etc. These are going to me more wind resistant, less grabby and more durable thru brush, and faster drying (lycra absorbs a bunch of water), and likely more durable overall. Tights are good on the bike because they don’t flap (less wind drag) and they don’t billow out into things like chainrings. But those are not factors on the trail. And finally it has to be really cold like below freezing before I want a pair of tights under my nylon pants. In fact, Alison and I were trekking on the Patagonian Southern Ice Field in January (2nd largest non-Polar ice field in the world) and never wore tights under our nylon pants. In summary, I think convertible nylon pants are the most utilitarian and efficient bottom layer. And that is what matters most. As the saying goes “the lightest gear that does the job [well].” Wishing you a great trek. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  12. Phil
    Phil says:

    HI Alan,
    Love your site. It’s been a revelation and I’ve cut over 13 pounds from my base weight. Did some of Roper’s HR last summer and anxious to get out on the SSHR. Anyway, Hammock Gear recommends the “wide” quilt for ground dwellers. I’m moderately slender (5’11”, 163). My current bag is 62″ girth. Do you think the wide quilt is necessary? What do you use? Thanks for everything,
    Phil

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Phil, good Q. I am 5’8″ and 160 lb. I generally use a quilt that is less than 50″ wide. Although, I am quite used to sleeping in quilts, keeping them above me, and controlling drafts. My best guess is that unless you are a very restless sleeper, you would be fine with the standard 50″ inch width. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
    • Phil
      Phil says:

      Thanks Alan,
      I think I will have plenty of “drape” with 50″ I think I would be swimming in 55″. Thanks again, I am eager to get out with my lighter pack. So far I love the SW 3400 I purchased. Simple and comfortable.
      Best to both of you,
      Phil

      Reply
  13. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Alan,
    Quick question on the first aid kit. Do you carry twelve individually wrapped 4×4 sterile gauze pads? Or am I misunderstanding what you mean by: “(12) 4×4″ gauze pads…”

    Thanks,
    Jeff.

    Reply
  14. Tony
    Tony says:

    Hi Allen,
    I love your site and constantly come back to look for tips. You have helped me get my base weight to 11 pounds, and dropping!
    I had a question about the Patagonia R1 pullover. I can’t seem to find one that is 7 ounces like you have listed in your 9 pound full comfort chart? Is yours an older model? The listed weight on REI’s web site is 11.9. I’m looking to trade it out for another piece of clothing that is also 11 ounces, so I want to try and find something lighter. I do see the other “off brand” lightweight fleeces that are around 7 ounces. Thanks for all your great research and advice. I tell all my “heavy” hiking friends about your site all the time. Someday they may get it.

    tony

    Best Use
    Running
    Fabric
    93% recycled polyester/7% spandex
    Fleece Weight
    Light
    Back Length
    Hip-length
    Back Length (in.)
    Unavailable
    Gender
    Men’s
    Weight
    11.9 ounces
    Sustainability
    Contains recycled materials, Contains materials that meet the bluesign® criteria

    Reply
  15. ben smith
    ben smith says:

    Alan, thank you so much for all the information you provide at this site. Fantastic. Ive had a lifelong dream of hiking the AT and, God willing, next spring Im headed to Springer. Im needing to regear a bit and keep weight to a minimum. With regard to tents, can a single wall model keep you dry? I will no doubt be facing all kinds of temperature extremes and plenty of wind and rain. Ive always used tents with a fly but would be willing to go to a single if someone with experience could advise. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Ben,
      and apologies for the delayed reply, we were out on a 350 mile trip. Yes, with some caveats a single walled shelter like a SoloMid XL or even a tarp will keep you dry. We recently our used MLD Pyramid Shelter (DouMid XL) in torrential rain and high winds in Patagonia. In fact MLD Pyramid Shelters have been uses in very wet climates all over the world like Alaska, and New Zealand. The caveats are:

      1. In humid conditions, the inside walls of a single walled shelter will condense and you need to be careful not to brush against them or have your down bag contact them for long periods of time. A larger volume shelter, e.g. the larger SoloMid XL vs the standard Solomid and a pitching it with a decent gap along the bottom edge of the shelter will go a long ways to minimizing condensation issues.
      2. Campsite location matters. Unless you get a bathtub floor with the your shelter, you’ll need to select a site that does not have water running through it, or worse pooling up. This is not hard to. But since you are only on a groundsheet, you do need remain aware of potential water runnoff and drainage when you select a campsite.
      3. Camping in the woods (almost all AT locations) will minimize the effects of windblown rain which is a help for all sorts of shelters, tents or single-walled shelters. But beware impacted tent sites that are usually dished from long use (may not be apparent looking at them) and their dirt hard-compacted so that they don’t drain well. Thus, the can end up being shallow bowls of water in large rain events! Note: this is also and issue for tents as well as most bathtub floors that are not new can leak as well if they were ever fully waterproof to begin with.

      If you wanted a single person shelter for the AT, I would likely suggest either the MLD SoloMid XL or one of the TarpTent models, possibly the Notch or even the Double Rainbow. Hope this helps and wishing you a great AT hike. Warmest, -alan & alison

      Reply
  16. Bryan G
    Bryan G says:

    I have a question, For your pack recommendations you list the HMG 2400 but most of the other packs listed have much larger volumes. For example, the MLD Burn or Prophet is similar in volume to the HMG 2400. Why suggest the Exodus? Is there a secret volume measurement that I am missing?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Bryan. If you follow most of the gear suggestions on this list 2400 should be more than sufficient to store all your gear (unless you need to use a bear canister*). That being said, for most people who are not super experienced ultralight backpackers, I would recommend the HMG 3400 Southwest pack. The only difference between the 2400 and 3400 is a taller extension collar. So for Just 2 oz more than the 2400 you get a lot more flexible in pack capacity in the 3400. In fact, my current pack is a HMG 3400 Southwest with the new larger hip belt pocket (altho the top extension collar is rolled all the way down most of the time). I do this partially because when I guide I sometimes need take gear from a struggling client. In this case the expanded extensions collar is most welcome. Hope this helps, -alan

      *While I can fit a bear canister into and HMG 2400 or a ULA Ohm 2.0 most will likely not be able to do so. I would suggest upgrading to an HMG3400 or a ULA Circuit to accommodate the extra volume that a bear canister entails.

      Reply
  17. Rud Platt
    Rud Platt says:

    Agreed that it’s highly individualized. I used to use a stuff-sack pillow, but once I lightened my load I realized I didn’t have anything to put in the stuff sack anymore, especially on a cold night. At that point, I added an inflatable pillow and haven’t looked back. I also recently switched to a large Neo Air (ultralight heresy! ) because my arms always fell off of 20-inch pads and introduced a draft. So now I’m up above 11 pounds, but super comfy!

    Reply
  18. Rud Platt
    Rud Platt says:

    Great list, Alan! I would argue that for true 3-season full comfort most people would also want a pillow (+2 oz) and a 20 degree wide quilt (+7 over yours). But of course that would take the list over 10 pounds.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Rud, thanks for the comment. I guess that depends on the individual. There are many things that you can use for a pillow. Most often it is my fleece layer in a stuff-sack. As to the quilt, again it depends. I just got back from the Wallowas in E Oregon. It snowed on us and went down into the mid 20s at night. I got by with a 15 oz quilt and a 6 oz uberlite down jacket and just thin nylon pants. Was just fine, not even a bit cold. That would definitely still be within the 9 lb range. But those that run colder might want both a warmer bag and/or jacket. Wishing you a great year of trekking. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  19. Hunter Hall
    Hunter Hall says:

    Hey Alan,

    I picked up the CMT carbon poles for $45 AND the BD Alpine Carbon Corks for $125 (sale).

    Which would you keep? I’m going on one of the trips with yourself and Skurka later this fall and there will be lots of off trail.

    I appreciate any thoughts… Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Jake
    Jake says:

    Excellent information thanks! If I have bad BO even after bathing what would you recommend. I’ve read about alcohol and cotton balls and antibacterial wipes, but haven’t tried either.
    Thanks,
    Jake

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Jake, good Q. We wash crotch and pits once a day with Dr. Bronner’s. Practicing good LNT of course. We also try and wash shirts midday concentrating on the armpit area with a bit of Dr. Bronner’s. That keeps smell down to normal, “smell like a human” levels, which is about the most one can hope for. So, I would suggest you try this first.

      After that, you could bring a small travel size, unscented solid deodorant. Possibly even repackaging jsut the solids into small container. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
      • Tom Rayl
        Tom Rayl says:

        Look up “Thai deodorant stone” on Amazon or some such. Essentially a block of some kind of salt (NOT table salt!). Probably cut size down. Wet stone & wipe pits (& crotch). No odor and absolutely KILLS any BO. Hard solid and lasts forever.

        Reply
  21. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hey Alan,

    Thanks for all the really useful information. Would you mind to give me the exact dimensions of your top and under quilt mentioned in the hammock section above?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Mark. Been a while since I orders so not sure the exact dimensions but I am 5’8″ and 160 lb so usually get by in most sleeping gear with specs a bit below regular. Per the post, the under quilt is a Phincubator (length between a Phoenix and Incubator) at 60″ long, guessing I likely took a few inches off the width as well. At these dim’s it works fine for me. But when it’s cold you need to make sure the UQ is correctly positioned. For the Burrow I likely took ~2″ of the length and width of a regular dim’ one. I am a fairly quiet sleeper and good at keeping my quilt in position. Hope this helps. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  22. Gio
    Gio says:

    Hi Alan,
    really like your website; tons of useful information from gear list to food recipes. All very informative and based on experience! i was hoping you could give me some advice as far as quilts are concerned: i am hiking the JMT in September and was wondering if i should go with a 30 degree or 20 degree quilt from Hammock Gear?
    best,
    Gio

    Reply
  23. Scott
    Scott says:

    Alan,
    I was bummed that REI discontinued their 1/4 zip fleece that you previously had on your lists. At 7 oz, that was a perfect backpacking item that I never leave behind

    Have you found anything comparable?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
  24. Russ
    Russ says:

    Hi Alan, I’m curious why you state that the fuel canisters are not recyclable, I recycle my empties all the time? Thanks for the great list.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Yup Russ, that’s a bit dated. There are recycling tools as well as devices to transfer fuel from near spent canisters to another canister. There are few cautions, caveats and downsides tho. That being said, that comment on canisters will need revisions to bring it up to date. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  25. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Alan, I have a question about the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It is part of your standard kit, but I see many other gear lists posted where soap is specifically excluded. One person even stated that camp soap is the number one item left behind in hiker boxes on long trails. Can you cover what you are using it for? (wow, that sounds silly). What I mean is, are you using it for: hands only before prepping food? After bio-breaks because purell isn’t enough? Washing cookware? Critical area personal hygiene (nether regions to prevent chafe)? General personal hygiene like face, body, hair? Washing clothes?

    Thank you for all the work you put into these pages. I was lucky enough to find your site as I was just getting into backpacking. I am (hopefully) acquiring the right gear the first time without risk of having to buy it again later.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Jeff. Dr. Bronner’s soap is mostly is mostly for pit, and crotch (face?) washing and general cleanliness and personal hygiene. The soap is biodegradable and used sparingly. This is done well away from any water source using a cooking pot to transfer water from steams and/or lakes. It is true that quite a few thru hikers don’t wash or use soap, and they smell and look it. But smell and grunginess aside, in my experience not washing can lead to skin infections, boils, rashes, “monkey-butt” and other less than optimal health issues — some quite uncomfortable and/or debilitating. Personal washing in key areas goes a long way to prevent this. The soap can alos be used to wash pit, crotch and underwear areas of clothing when the stench becomes too much. Again they are washed in our cooking pot away from water sources. As to cookware, we wash it by hand with plain water away from streams and do not use soap. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
  26. Cas
    Cas says:

    Hi Alan. So I am learning how to downsize my pack and gear, but I have a question regarding clothing with your list. Are you just wearing one set of clothes with layers you can add or do you take another set (pants, shirt, undergarment)?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Sorry Cas, this comment seems to have slipped under the radar while I was in the backcountry. Apologies!

      A: Just one set of clothes as listed, only extras are hiking socks. Per the quote “never take more clothes than you can wear at one time.” Alison and I do wash clothes midday most days. All the best, -alan

      Reply
  27. Heather Seibel
    Heather Seibel says:

    Hi Alan, thanks for such a great site! I’m just getting into overnight back packing. I had a question about the sawyer filter. How do you determine a spot is ok to filter from? I’ll be hiking in the Uintas and know there are lakes and rivers in the areas I’ll be, but nervous about filtering my water!! A fellow hiker is bringing a gallon to start with but that seems like a lot to carry.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Heather, good Q. Really the deal with filtering is to find clear water with not a lot silt suspended in it. That way your are far less likely to clog the filter. Lake water is almost always good. And stream water is usually good if its running clear to the eye. It is especially good if you collect it from slower pools along the shore where any sediment/silt has settled out. This is also a good way to filter water from a stream or river that has some sediment.

      As to water amounts, water sources are frequent in the Unitas and filtering opportunities should abound. For more on Hydration see “The Best Hydration – Drink When Thirsty.” Have a great hike. The Unitas are lovely! Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  28. Mary Bond
    Mary Bond says:

    The closest thing I have to a trail name is “Not a Hiker”….. But on the CT last summer, I met a couple who told me about your site. Tons of info!! Thanks!! I wish I had gotten some contact info from them, as they were most encouraging and willing to share ideas on my first big hike. Near as I can remember their names were Jim and Ann. Spent a lovely afternoon out of the rain in the yurt near Lake City. As we hopscotched on the trail with them over the next few days, was always great to see their faces!!

    Reply
  29. Guus
    Guus says:

    Hi Alan,

    I’m really getting tempted to aim for the Supermid (finances allowing) than combine it with one of their ultralight Bivy’s and perhaps later on get the bug net for when more than one will use the ‘Mid.and weight could be spread over 2 or more backpacks. Still, the Trailstar looks very tempting … mmmhhh .. :D

    Reply
    • Guus
      Guus says:

      Just wondering Alan, do you have any experience with MSR’s Twin Sisters (no, but you do the neighbours twin sisters? :))
      How would it compare to the ‘Mids?

      Reply
  30. Guus
    Guus says:

    Hi Alan,

    Thank you for the great source of information!

    There are 2 things I’d like to ask you if you do not mind.
    -The Trailstar. How does it hold up vs the pyramid tents? It seems like it should do the same as it is practically the same tent. Yet it seems, reading reviews, that it is somewhat flimsy. I honestly like the look of the tent and really considering dropping a tent, seeing the MSR Hubba Hubba (or 1 person) makes that a hard choice at the moment.
    Got the Leki Sherpa XL poles, so stability or height should hopefully not be an issue. :)

    -Do you have an international store for the StarLyte burner? Or something similar? Like the idea of the burner but somewhat doubt I can get them to ship internationally, but again can not seem to find any other source for such burners.

    Keep on walkin!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Guss, glad you find the site helpful. As to the trailstar vs mid no absolute right A here. Depends on the person’s likes, the weather, and the size of their pocketbook. For me: I either carry a tarp (like the Grace Duo) if the Wx is generally going to be good and I am camping with good tree cover. And I take a mid when I expecting serious Wx and/or high wind and/or I am camping in unprotected areas. The advantage of the mid is ton’s more room in bad Wx. More living area, more place for gear and more room to dry (or semi-dry) gear. Life is just a heck of a lot more pleasant if you are stuck in it for a while. If I had pick just one shelter for two people with would be a Doumid XL or Supermid [Can’t remember the last time I used a real tent]. In fact Alison and I are taking a supermid to Iceland for the next 8 days.

      As to the stove, if you google DIY sites my guess is that you could make your own Zelph-like stove. All it is an Al can with some fire-resistant filler material. [and it actually works better without any metal grid over it.]

      Have a great year hiking. Warmest, -alan

      Reply
  31. Jay Kerr
    Jay Kerr says:

    Hi Alan,

    Considering that I used to carry 80-pound loads while skiing into the Alaska Range on mountaineering trips, my current 16.7-pound base weight is not to shabby. I’m 68 this year, and each summer I do an 8 – 10 day trip with my daughter and other broke-down old climbing partners. This summer we’re doing an off-trail circumnavigation of the Mt. Darwin massif in SEKI.

    My current gear list includes a SilNylon Duomid as a solo shelter, with an MLD Superlight bivi for bug protection and cowboy camping, a EE Revelation 20° quilt, and a ULA Catalyst pack. I’m struggling to get more weight off, and am even going stoveless this year to save so weight. I’ll keep tweeking, and hope to get at least another couple of pounds off. You site is my inspiration to keep shedding the ounces.

    The last time I skied into the Alaska Range I carried a 70 pound load on my back, and pulled a 40-pound sled-load over a 125 mile approach. I can live with a 16-pound base weight, but would love to see sub-10. Thanks for the awesome resource!

    Jay Kerr

    Reply
  32. Conner
    Conner says:

    I’m not sure this is the best spot for this, but I have to ask as I am in the market and have browsed through most of the comments and your recommended gear. I am sure you have been asked this somewhere, so I apologize if this has already been asked. Have you tried out any zpacks tents or tarps? I just ask as I have been seriously considering the duplex based on my want of a fully enclosed tent with a bit of extra room, (northwoods of WI, lots of bugs) and some prior experience with a solo plus (a bit of a pain to set up properly, though all around ok). Thank you for your time.

    Best,

    Conner

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Nothing really wrong with the Z-packs Duplex. Plenty of people love and use them. And the extra room of a 2p shelter for one person is a good idea.

      > a bit of a pain to set up properly
      Yup, you nailed the downside. For me, the many guylines that need to be staked out for a Duplex is 1) time consuming and 2) could be an issue in rocky soil that doesn’t take stakes well. Something like a TarpTent is a lot faster and less fussy to pitch. Or even a 4 stakes and you are done pyramid shelter. But if you are not pressed for time and are willing to deal with the Duplex, it is roomy, very light and bug-proof. Best, -alan

      Reply
  33. Mark
    Mark says:

    Alan, thanks for your thorough commitment to backpacking light. Regarding the clothes you wear and the clothes you pack, you don’t mention that you carry a spare baselayer shirt in the pack. Do you typically carry a spare baselayer shirt (and hiking pants, for that matter) for longer trips? For an 8-day trip in Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch (southeastern Utah) in late April, I’m wondering about how many spare clothes to carry. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Love Grand Gulch Mark. Done like 4-5 trips in there over the years. No I do not carry a spare baselayer bottom or top on almost any trip–only if I am doing something super wet and cold like packrafting in in Alaska. Definitely not for Grand Gulch. I would likely just take Nylon Pants and shirt with a smooth surface you you can easily slide through brush and get full sun protection. Something like the rail riders pants an shirt would be perfect. Columbia and ExOfficio ones are fine too.

      Have a great trip! Best, -alan

      Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Great job on cutting weight! Rather than cutting more, I would suggest you focus on conditioning for your trip, planning it well, and then enjoying the Sierras once you are there. All are like better use of you energy. Have a great trip! Best –a

      Reply
      • Dwayne
        Dwayne says:

        I have permits for South lake to onion Valley in August and North lake to South lake in septemer. I am already increasing my activity level. I am hiking and bicycling. I like bicycling as well as hiking. Thinking about a bike touring trip also. I think an ultralight biking tour would be amazing. Thinking about San Francisco to LA..

        Reply
        • Alan Dixon
          Alan Dixon says:

          Sounds like a great season Dwane. UL bikepacking would be a great way to extend your fun. Have a great year outdoors. Best, -a

          Reply
  34. Dwayne
    Dwayne says:

    My base weight is 10 pounds. That includes a bv450 bear can which weighs 2 pounds. Without the bear can I would be at 8 pounds, but I am not willing to go without a bear can in the Sierras. The one place where I could be lighter is my 29 Oz quilt but I like the extra warmth. This is about as low as Iow as I am comfortable with. My pack was 16 pounds last 3 day trip. My pack used to 35 be pounds. It is amazing how nice it is to carry less that half the wieght.

    Reply
  35. Shuping
    Shuping says:

    I have not brought a bear canister yet. the sack would be my choice for I have no room in my backpack. but many parks require bear canister. what is your suggestion based on your experience? thanks

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      My suggestion is that you adhere to the letter for the reg’s in the areas you plan on backpacking–no wiggle room. As such, e.g. for much of the Sierras you’ll have to carry a bear canister like the Bear Vault BV500 or Wild-Ideas Weekender. And the rangers will check! Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
  36. Shuping
    Shuping says:

    how to you keep your battery or power bank charged up in back country? I bought a solar charger. it weights 1.2 lb. it I bring a large capacity power bank, it is going to be heavy. should it be solar charge or spare power bank? I’m a newbie want to learn more. In addition, looks like 1.3 lb (“Essential” Gear (smaller items not included in above) is not part of the 15 lb total weight. did I read this correctly?
    I can’t seem to get the weight of my pack reduced. I came to your site after reading Andrew’s blog.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      I don’t carry a charger into the backcountry. My iPhone plus a spare battery is enough to get me through at least 10 days hiking. As you point out, solar chargers are heavy and not weight efficient for shorter trips. And as long as you have a battery/phone re-charge opportunity every 7 to 10 days they likely aren’t necessary. You can see more here on my Best Lightweight Backpacking Electronics Gear.

      As to Essential Gear, it is included in the 9 pound base weight, BPW. What is not included is consumables. BASE pack weight is the commonly used measure of pack weight as trips vary in length and people eat different amounts of food, carry different amounts of water, and use different amounts of fuel. Not including those makes it possible to compare pack weights. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
  37. Eric
    Eric says:

    Long time reader and follower of your methods and gear. I have a suggested addition of the 0.7 oz GSI Essential Travel Spoon (http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/search.jsp?s=u&q=GSI+spoon). It has a silicone rubber mouth so one doesn’t need to worry about melting it, but it also won’t burn your mouth with hot food! Most importantly and revolutionary to us was its ability to squeegee out the food from cups, bags, and pouches easily. Washing dishes has never been so easy. We got one to try at MEC before a weeklong trip in Banff and immediately bought three more (for the whole family) after getting out of the woods as we literally passed it around for use during meal times it was so superior to the other spoons (titanium and DQ Blizzard) we had. Thanks for the information!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Looks like a great spoon Eric. I’ll need to get one and try it out. Getting the pot clean would be most excellent–no food wasted and easy clean up.

      And I had to laugh, as I was literally holding a DQ Blizzard spoon in my hand as I read your post. Life is indeed strange. All the best, -a

      Reply
  38. Julia
    Julia says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’m new to backpacking and I’m trying to figure out what gear I need to buy without going broke. I really appreciate people taking the time to spell all this out for newbies lunge me. :)

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Sandy, an excellent question. A brief response for now but more in a bit. First, take less with you. That’s free. So only bring the gear, food and water that you actually need. That can save a ton of weight for zero cost (or actually a savings on purchased food and gear). See Quick ways to reduce backpack weight. Second, if you are willing to think out of the box a bit there are less expensive options for a “sleeping bag,” backpack, and “tent.” You can get a down quilt for 1/2 the cost of a down bag. It’s lighter and works better than a sleeping bag in my opinion. See Recommended Sleeping Bags & Quilts. As for a backpack the ULA packs are an excellent value for a light pack or you could go with a slightly heavier but less expensive Osprey Pack. See Recommended Lightweight Backpacks. And if you are willing to sleep under a tarp, there are huge cost and weight savings to be had with (in order of cost and weight savings) a Silnyon tarp, Silnyon Pyramid, and TarpTent. See Recommended Tents, Tarps and other Shelters. And finally, while trying not to pay for more than you need, it makes sense to buy good quality gear that is “light enough.” Otherwise, in a year or two you’ll just end up re-buying lighter and better designed gear. Hope this helps, and have a great trip this spring. Best, -a

      Reply
  39. TylerO
    TylerO says:

    Wow you have really done your homework. When ever I go out and about I have a big clunky pack with stuff thats probably way too heavy. I’ll keep these lists in mind when cycling in new gear. Thank you.

    Reply
  40. Jacob
    Jacob says:

    Hi Alan, thanks for the list! What is your opinion on the difference between a mid like the MLD duomid with inner tent vs the Zpacks Duplex for 2 people? Here are my objectives:

    1. Single shelter system for 3.5 seasons
    2. Enclosed bug protection
    3. Fit 2 people (both under 5’10”) comfortably
    4. Under 2 lbs total

    My environment is primarily the Sierras, although I would like it to be functional in any US climate, such as the AT.

    My main tent I’m considering is the Zpacks Duplex, but not sure how it performs in 30+ MPH winds and in/on the snow. OTOH the duomid seems like it would be cramped for 2 people.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Both are good shelters Jacob. And no right answer.

      The ZP has a more complicated setup with more lines to stakeout–could be more problematic in a rocky area. And you can’t take the bug-netting and floor out. The DuoMid [XL version] solves the room problem for two. But it is heavier than the ZP when you add the inner nest (mosquito netting and floor). My wife and I use our Duomid XL about 98% without an inner nest, so for us it is lighter and easier to setup than the ZP. OTOH if you would use the floor and netting most of the time the ZP is likely the better option.

      As to wind resistance, the MLDs have legendary stability in tough environments all over the world. I have used them in some amazing violent storms. I don’t have enough familiarity with the ZP Duplex to say the same. Could be. Could not. I just don’t know. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
      • john xcar smith
        john xcar smith says:

        Jacob and Alan, a Duomid is cramped for two but still doable. The trick is to have lots of discipline in gear useage and no real duplication between two people when possible. As for bug protection, I have a modified CF duomid with a net floor and net door. Total weight right at 20 oz including guylines, and interior hang line. I typically use a poncho when hiking for rain gear, and I also have a CF bathtub floor is I do not want bring a poncho. The only downside is that it is not good on snow now, but that is what my OWARE mids are for.

        Reply
  41. Chris Finley
    Chris Finley says:

    Practical and thoughtful gear list, thanks!
    How often do you leave the tent’s bug net behind?
    The only tip I have to add would be to print Rite in the Rain 11×17 paper and ditch the Ziploc bag to save 1.4oz. I think they are also easier to use without the plastic.

    Reply
  42. Scott Dickson
    Scott Dickson says:

    Alan,
    Great work on the site. Thanks for the motivation! Even though I grew up Boy Scouting and earned the Eagle Scout rank, I had never been on a real backpacking trip – until 10 days ago! A friend and I tackled the Eagle Rock Loop in Arkansas (total hike of 30 miles). I’d been reading, studying and preparing for about 3 months; your website is a major resource. Even with older gear technology, I managed a 15.94 lb base pack weight, with additional 4.2 lb food, 7 oz alcohol fuel, and 1/2 liter water. Very comfortable trip! My big 3 (Gregory Z55 @ 57 oz, Hennessy Hammock Expedition with bug net & fly @ 58 oz, and Lafuma Extreme 800/40degree @ 27 oz) total 8.8 pounds. So now looking forward to replacing each of those items.

    If I read your hammock camping gear list correctly, with the longer “Phincubator” underquilt @ 60″, you are no longer using any kind of sleeping pad in the hammock. I currently have a Thermarest NeoAir Xlite that I have used under me in the hammock the total of 3 nights that I’ve slept in it. I was wondering if (for the time being) that would be sufficient in lieu of an underquilt?

    Regards,
    Scott

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Dang Scott, I thought I had replied to your lovely post but I don’t see it. Realized when I replied just now to another post. Apologies!

      Anyway, under 16 pounds is most excellent using most of your original gear. That means you were very disciplined to bring ONLY what you need. That is by far the hardest part of going light. Good on you!

      Yes, you are correct. With the Phincubator I get by with no pad under my feet. If I lie stretched all the way out my heels are around or just over the end of the underquilt. But in most positions, it is completely under me. If the NeoAir works for you, i.e. you are comfortable and warm enough, then by definition it works :-). In general people are more comfortable with an underquilt, and pads have a tendency to get mis-aligned or even pop out to the side, and they are hard to re-align without getting out of the hammock,

      But since it works for you, I wouldn’t fret too much about it. All the best, -alan

      Reply
      • Scott
        Scott says:

        No problems Alan! I figured you were out on another grand adventure. Meanwhile, we are planning another outing around Thanksgiving – a group of five are going to hike sections 5,6 & 7 of the OT (Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas). This trip will be 45 miles; we are planning for 3 hiking days. Right now, the weather forecast this far out – Rain!

        Since my last post, I have ordered a MLD Exodus in Dyneema (a reduction of 40 oz). I mentioned to Ron your recommendation of his products on your site; he said to tell you thanks. I’ve also obtained a Hennessy Hammock UltraLight Backpacker hammock (a reduction of 17.36 oz). I added a 32 Degree bargain down jacket (addition of 10.02 oz), and then realized that my previous list had my trekking poles included as if I was carrying on my back rather than in my hands (a reduction of 15.50 oz).

        So, for the upcoming OT section hike with these changes, my base pack weight will be 12.00 lbs; 16.61 including consumables.

        Other changes:
        Replaced alcohol stove windscreen made of aluminum foil with a homemade Caldera Cone. Increased fuel efficiency with rolled-top aluminum beer bottle stove. Now need only 3/4 oz to heat 2 cups H2O, instead of 1 oz. Reduces daily fuel need by 1/2 oz, or 1.5 oz for a 3-day trip.
        Lightened homemade first aid kit by 1oz.
        Replaced 1.7 oz knife with 1.09 oz knife
        Replace old heavy stuff sack used for bear hang bag with a lighter sack (reduction 3 oz)
        Will leave the Crocs at home

        Again, thanks for the motivation in the form of your excellent website and thorough documentation. That, along with Mike McClelland’s Ultralight Backpacking Tips, has been educational and thought-provoking.

        –Scott

        Reply
  43. Charles Minton
    Charles Minton says:

    An excellent list that I have used to update a lot of my equipment. A few things seem off however. My Sawyer filter dried out weighs 3.8 oz and I suspect more when it is used. Also I find it slows down quickly so I would not go out without bringing the back flush syringe. The Mtn Hardware Balacava weighs 2.4oz. I find it interesting that cord for hanging or other bear protection equipment is not included in the weights.
    All in all, though, very helpful!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Hi Charles and thanks for your comments. As to the weights, there are variations between years, lots and even individual items. Weights are for my equipment on my reasonably accurate scales. I have had great luck using the Sawyer at various sources without needing to back-flush (and I would know since I drink the whole 1 liter directly at the source). Any slowness or clogging would be readily noticeable. Again, there are variations in use, water sources, and the technique used to collect water that would likely account for this. I am very careful to get the most undisturbed and sediment free water I can collect, which includes not disturbing bottom sediments while collecting water. As to the bear related items, since local reg’s, personal preferences, and techniques for (food protection/hanging, and/or personal bear protection like bear spray) vary so greatly I have not gone into detail down to the level that you are alluding to. That is a bit out of the scope of a simple gear list and would likely require it’s own separate article/post.

      Reply
  44. Leisure McCorkle
    Leisure McCorkle says:

    Fantastic list. I am a Bike Adventurer myself and use a NX-250 Clark Jungle Hammock (it will hang or you can put it on the ground). I have a solution for the tree situation. Very light, and you can use for a couple things besides a hammock stand when no or only one tree is avail. check out handyhammock.co.uk See you on the road Leisure and Maximus

    Reply
  45. Jim Morrison
    Jim Morrison says:

    I compared my list for my next trip with yours. I’m heavy on my sleeping bag (NF high-tail-it 3 season 15 degrees, 32 ounces) also my shelter in REI Camp 9 Tarp, 23 ounces. My thermorest (scout-48″) is 15 ounces. My backpack is REI Flash 50 with the sheet and stay removed: 30 ounces. Somehow lately it all adds up to about 16 pounds. However the last and next trip are up high with no water available so I take 2 L in the Platypus’s = about 4 pounds! Fun to see your list and compare. We do camp up high (Olympic and Cascade Mountains) so I think my heavier sleeping bag may be necessary. And I wonder if anyone has checked the rate of $ per ounce saved! And will someone please invent dehydrated water.
    Jim

    Reply
  46. Derek Walker
    Derek Walker says:

    Hi Alan,

    Just curious, do you carry both the DeLorme inReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator and one of the SAT phones? Is the SAT phone more for vocal communication while the Delorme is more focused on GPS location, even though it is also a 2 way communicator? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Good Q Derek. I usually bring just the DeLorme inReach SE. It is easily the best value in a Satellite communications device. And will do all you need (and more) for most lower-risk, on-trail trips.

      I would only carry a Sat Phone on bigger, badder trips like getting dropped in the middle of Alaska by bush plane, or a serious technical Alpine climb. And in those cases, I would likely carry the inReach SE as well to do trip-tracking so my Emergency Contact can monitor the trip. Hope this helps, -alan

      Reply
      • Terence Johnson
        Terence Johnson says:

        A suggestion for those cracks:

        I’m a surgeon and I don’t use very many skin products (sunscreen, lotions, balms, etc.) I just don’t like the feel of most of this stuff on my skin. Of course, I do use a liquid sunscreen in the areas I “have to” cover, and lip balm “when” I must. More pertinently, I wear flip flops through most of the year living in San Diego and my feet get really dry. So I may give Bonnie’s a try, but…

        About a year ago, I tried one of the best things for the cracks in my feet – unrefined 100% shea butter (a man was selling his brand, I assume any brand would do, labeled as http://www.karique.com at the Del Mar Fair and I thought, “Why not?”). Very helpful stuff! Really does not bother me on my skin at all. It was still difficult, however, to completely get rid of the old cracks. I tried pedicures, where they used callus remover, but I couldn’t keep that up. I tried a porous stone, and good old fashioned muscle, at home, but I couldn’t keep that up.

        Then one day at at a well known bed, bath store I saw one of those electric rotating foot sanders. This particular one was a wet/dry one, so can bring in the shower. I bought the rough and smooth, dry only, refills to use outside the shower as well to really smooth things. In two days, cracks gone! And I mean completely. A little shea butter to keep them soft. I just use the thing 1-2x per week. Lots more snuggling now too as a bonus. No financial interest in this, but since it really changed things for me, when I go backpacking ;), I thought it would be useful to mention it. If you start out with no cracks, you are more likely to keep them that way, so then just bring a little tiny bit of shea. Might not save you while doing the entire PCT, but should be good for 3-7 days. The 4 oz jar I bought has lasted over a year for me and my wife and there’s still a quarter jar left. Been using on dry areas of my hands in the winter too. In case you are interested, again – no financial interest here, the brand of the sander is Amopé, Pedi perfect, wet dry, rechargeable. My wife had a smaller, less powerful but similar one, which she’s since ditched. Again, I’m sure there are various brands out there, or you could just use some wet/dry sandpaper I suppose. But seriously, this thing is effortless.

        All the best you Alan! I refer so many people to your awesome lists. Would be very cool someday if you could do what the BSA High Adventure Altitude Leadership Training folks did and also list really low budget alternatives. They gave me an 11-pound list for about $190 total. Though this included thrift store, Army surplus purchases, some lucky finds and some home surgery on clothing and item (gotta get out that sewing machine), it could really help those on a budget get started.

        Thanks you so very much for your amazing site! I wish you continued success, joy, and an outstanding life.

        Terry

        Reply
        • Talia Ferri
          Talia Ferri says:

          Another option is to seal the cracks with Krazy Glue. I’m a doctor, too; this is a non–toxic solution I suggest to patients. As the cracks heal, they push out the glue. This is recommended for orchestral string players whose fingers crack in the winter–haven’t recommended it for large cracks in feet, but may be worth a try.

          Reply
          • Alan Dixon
            Alan Dixon says:

            Yup Talia, Krazy Glue works great for cracking feet or hands. It’s even on this gear list :-) Best, -alan

  47. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    Thanks Alan for all of the great information. I have been backpacking “older school” for years and am looking forward to many more by shedding 15-20 pounds. That outcome will have me skipping along soooo happy out there! Your information succinctly organizes conclusions I had already arrived at, confirms those I was leaning toward, zero’s in on those yet to be pondered and surprised me with a couple of “who wudda thought’s”. HUGE time saver. Now I can fast-forward to supporting the outdoor gear economy : )

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Thanks for the kind words Sylvia! May you have a lighter step in your hikes this year. All the best, -alan

      Reply
  48. Steve Elder
    Steve Elder says:

    Just wanted to say THANKS for your great site, Alan. I’m just getting back into backpacking after many many years away… riding my mountain bike. I’m driven by a new-found passion for Tenkara fly fishing and a realization that there is so much wilderness here in Colorado I’d like to see while I still can! Your site has been primary in giving me a jumpstart on carrying as lightly as possible for safety and comfort.

    Reply
  49. Scott
    Scott says:

    Planning a weekend in the smokies this summer at higher elevation. Are you familiar with the campsites near clingman’s dome? The AT runs right by it. The weather sites say the higher elevation can be 10-20 degrees cooler that the lower areas, like Gatlinsburg. So I’m thinking about going out in July or August. Have you had any experience in the smokies in July or August?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Scott, It’s been many, many years since I camped around Clingman’s dome. It was in March and it was completely frozen and cold as all get out. But guessing that it might still be hot in July and August. As to when… the Smokies are the most visited National Park so July and August are going to be high season and the most crowded. My best guess is that the ideal times to go would be before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. Moderate daytime temps, and nice crisp Wx at night for sleeping. And fewer crowds than high summer! Hope you have a great trip, -alan

      Reply
      • Scott
        Scott says:

        Ok. I may have to rethink July or August. I’ve been reading several weather sites and they all say even in July and August that the highs are in the 60’s and lows in the 50’s at clingman’s dome. Are the campsites nearby all at lower elevation? I’m going to pickup a map, and hopefully it will have both the campsites and the elevations. We normally take a guy trip in September to the red river gorge in Kentucky, but we are wanting to try something different.

        Reply
  50. J Har
    J Har says:

    Love this guide! Gearing up for my first multi-night backpacking trip in Yosemite and this will be a huge help. Do you have recommendations on food? Certainly that must add a lot of weight, yes?

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      > Do you have recommendations on food?
      I do. See these two posts on my site. My food page usually ranks #1 or #2 on google for backpacking food
      Best Backpacking Food – simple and nutritious – veggie and omnivore friendly
      and Backpacking Food List – Simple and Nutritious for 7 days which can easily be scaled down to fewer days.

      And yes, you can save weight on food and get better nutrioin at the same time:
      “How much food should I take?

      You can probably save more weight on food than almost anything!

      • My nutritious food weighs about 30% less than a typical backpacker’s food.
      • This could save me as much 5 pounds or more of food on a trip (my 11 pounds of food for a 7-day trip vs. a typical backpacker’s 16 pounds).
        How many pounds of food per day?
      • The short answer is around 1.5 pounds per day for 2-5 day, shorter mileage trips. The majority of the clients I guide for trips up to 5 days seem to get by fine on around 1.5 pounds per day.

      The slightly longer answer is 1.4 to 1.7 pounds per day for most backpackers covering 10 miles a day or less on trails is for trips up to a week long.

      Reply
  51. Conner
    Conner says:

    Alan,

    It’s been great to look through your lists, very helpful. I was just curious because I am in the market, how do you feel about the petzl e lite vs. the bd ion? I will have my phone as a backup light and never do any night hiking. I am in the process of dialing in my gear for section 2 of the AT and I leave in early June. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Depends on what you want your lamp for. The Petzl is only up to camp chores. It is not a headlamp that I would chose to hike with. But it is smaller and lighter, so if all you need it for is camp use then it’s probably fine. I sometimes end up hiking before first light in the morning or into darkness at night (my choice to make more miles–not an emergency situation). The Ion has a crapload more brilliant beam that is adequate for trail hiking. And the two lithium AAA batteries pack a lot more energy than two wimpy 2032 button cell in the Petzel. My one gripe about the Ion is that it has a wonky switch. I would try one out in the store before buying it. I have used mine for a year and am fine with it, but I have had a few moments of frustration when the switch refused to cooperate for a few min. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  52. Evan Kramer
    Evan Kramer says:

    I’m curious how your NF TKA 100 wt fleece weighs in at 7.9. I can’t be separated from mine, but it weighs 10.35 now. REI has average weight 9.2, but most other sites selling it have weight at 10+.

    I’m thinking that there must be some variations within the TKA 100 wt universe, but I can’t figure out what it is that makes the difference.

    Reply
  53. Scott
    Scott says:

    I’ve picked up the north face O2 tent at about 38 ounces. I replaced the stakes with MSR Carbon stakes. It’s performed really well in rain and has plenty of room inside. Just wondered if you’ve checked it out as a budget alternative to some of the big Agnes tents.

    Reply
    • Alan Dixon
      Alan Dixon says:

      Scott, 38 oz is very good for a two person, double walled tent. $224 is a good price. Also notice that it is not a freestanding tent but more TarpTent like, with single hoop and then staked out for tension. Curious long it takes you to stake it out and set it up? Thanks, -alan

      Reply
      • Scott
        Scott says:

        It sets up real fast. I sometimes re-adjust the stakes at the end of my staking out depending on my site. There are line locks so you can pull the tension to however you like. There are two poles that go in the ends that actually vault up and away from the floor of the tent. It’s nice because most tents lose height at the ends but this one doesn’t. Which is nice for me at 6’2″. I have the tent weight down to 36 ounces now with the carbon stakes.

        Reply

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