Backpacking Tents

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

43 oz | $550

If you want the best overall freestanding backpacking tent that money can buy, choose the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2. Compared to similar freestanding models, it’s taller, lighter, better ventilated, and more livable. This is the backpacking tent we’d want to hang out in on a rainy day because the innovative awning system adds ventilation, and the near-vertical sidewalls and fully lofted ceiling provide excellent headroom for sitting up. The Copper Spur is sturdy, lightweight, and fully featured. This tent does it all and does it all extremely well. Read more in our full-length Big Agnes Copper Spur Review.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Tent

35 oz | $450

At only 2.2 pounds and with one of the best area-to-weight ratios, the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 is the lightest option available among traditional backpacking tents. And priced at $450, it’s a really great blend of performance, value, features, and headroom. In addition to overall lightweight materials, the Tiger Wall UL2 utilizes a semi-freestanding design to reduce weight, so you’ll need to stake out the corners. This is an excellent lightweight tent and great option to save weight without going overly minimalist.

REI Flash Air 2 Tent

REI Co-op Flash Air 2

38.5 oz | $399

Updated for 2023, the 2-person REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent builds off the success of their first ultralight design that we loved for its great value proposition. Improvements include larger vestibules, more headroom, increased durability, and the use of recycled materials. On the flip side, the Flash Air 2 is now half a pound heavier and $100 dollars more expensive than it’s predecessor, so it’s not quite ultralight nor is it a screaming deal. Nonetheless, it’s a really solid trekking pole shelter from our beloved Co-op.

REI Flash 2 Tent

45.2 oz | $399

The REI Co-op Flash 2 Tent is a lightweight, freestanding two-person backpacking tent at a fair price point. It is the sibling to the Flash Air 2 Tent, but different in that it is set up with dedicate tent poles instead of trekking poles and notable for the scooped rain fly and high bathtub floor and sidewalls. This tent is a great entry point  into lightweight backpacking. Learn more in our full-length REI Flash 2 Tent Review.

REI Half Dome SL 2+ Tent

63 oz | $329

The REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ is a best-seller for a reason; it just works. No matter where and how you choose to camp in the back or front-country, this large backpacking tent will keep you comfortably protected. Its vertical walls, spacious interior, and expansive vestibules make for great livability, and an excellent crossover into car camping. Backed by REI’s warranty.

REI Trailmade 2 Tent

REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent

68 oz | $179

The REI Co-op Trailmade 2 Tent is a proven backpacking design from a reputable outfitter for under $200. What a bargain! At just over 4 lbs, it’s a bit on the heavy side, but still lighter than most tents in its price range. And with two doors and vestibules, it far outcompetes most tents under $200. The cross pole design is trustworthy and super user friendly. We wish it had a spreader bar at the top for more headroom, but it’s only a small sacrifice for such great and cheap backpacking gear.

Backpacking Packs

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55

32 oz | $379 

This is one of our all-time favorite backpacks, and the model we’ve used most over the past decade. Constructed with ultralight, waterproof, and tough-as-nails Dyneema fabric, the HMG Southwest 55 delivers the best overall performance. We laud it also for a surprisingly comfortable carry, unfathomable durability, and massive external pockets. It is simply unequaled.

Osprey Exos Pro 55 & Eja Pro 55 Backpack

Osprey Exos Pro 55 & Eja Pro 55

33 oz | $290

New and exciting for 2023, the Osprey M’s Exos Pro 55 & W’s Eja Pro 55 ultralight backpacks are slimmed down versions of their forebears.  They are the best ultralight backpacks from a mainstream outdoor brand, with the comfiest and most high tech frames in their weight class. This is a big upgrade in weight savings from Osprey for a small increase in price. And if you liked the original, you’re sure to love the pro models! Read more in our full-length Osprey Exos Pro 55 Review.

REI Flash 55 Backpack

REI Co-op Flash 55

45 oz | $199

REI Co-op Flash 55 is a well-rounded lightweight backpack that delivers excellent performance at an impressive value. From our perspective, it is the singular best backpack one can purchase for under $200. For a 45 oz backpack, there’s lots of modular pockets and features, plus the fit is adjustable. Almost everyone finds this backpack to be comfortable, and we love the distinct yellow colorway.

REI Trailmade 60 Backpack

REI Co-op Trailmade 60LBackpack

54 oz | $149

The REI Co-op Trailmade 60 Pack is a voluminous, adjustable, reasonably lightweight, backpacking pack that accommodates all body types. It’s made with durable, 100% recycled nylon, and is sure to last longer and outperform comparably cheap backpacking gear from knock off brands on Amazon. This is a beginner friendly backpack, and it even has adjustment instructions printed onto its lid. What a great value!

Sleeping Bags

REI Magma 15 Sleeping Bag

28 oz | $399

REI has been steadily expanding the Co-op brand’s ultralight offering, and the Magma 15 is their crown jewel. On stats and price, it is our pick for best value sleeping bag currently available, only outperformed by an elite few of significantly more expensive models. The Pertex shell and 850 fill power goose down are absolutely premium and fully ultralight, and its design is a time-tested and backpacker approved mummy.

Sea to Summit Spark Ultralight 18 Sleeping Bag

24 oz | $509

Sea to Summit Spark 18 is the best sleeping bag currently sold at REI because it delivers the highest warmth-to-weight ratio. We love how the baffles switch from horizontal to vertical to reduce cold spots, and we applaud their mixture of ultralight 10d/7d fabrics. This is a truly excellent and exceptionally well-made actually ultralight sleeping bag.

Sea to Summit Flame Ultralight 15 Sleeping Bag

31 oz | $589

Sea to Summit Flame 15 is the best women’s specific sleeping bag at REI. It’s designed to help cold sleepers while minimizing weight and bulk, which it excels at. This sleeping bag is so preposterously warm that we feel it would be more aptly named Flame Ultralight 0, as it’s basically a winter bag masquerading as a three-season bag. Like its sibling the Spark 18, we love the mixed baffling and use of ultralight 7d/10d fabric. Flame 15’s warmth-to-weight ratio is as high as you could possible hope for in a sleeping bag. That said, it’s a bit too warm for true summer use, so you might also consider the Flame 35.

Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 Sleeping Bag

37 oz | $285

The Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass 15 is our favorite mid-tier backpacking sleeping bags, and a great pick up for under $300. This one will reliable keep campers warm, even when temps drop below freezing, and with 30 denier nylon, it’s basically indestructible. That makes it an excellent backpacking sleeping bag for hikers with dogs or kids.

Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag

42 oz | $165

If you have no more than $200 to spend on a backpacking sleeping bag, grab the Kelty Cosmic 20. The materials and down fill power are middling, but it will keep you comfortably warm down to freezing. And it does so without entirely taking over your backpack or breaking the bank. Kelty is famous for making some of the best cheap backpacking gear, and this sleeping bag is no exception.

Ultralight Quilts

Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt 20

Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt 20

19.0 oz | $460

Weighing only 19 oz, Therm-a-Rest Vesper is likely the best ultralight quilt REI has ever sold. With 900 fill power hydrophobic goose down and 10d fabric, this one is seriously ultralight and keeps campers comfortably warm down to freezing. The boxed baffle construction helps prevent cold spots and it has a neck snap, cinching, and sleeping pad attachment points to prevent drafts. Stay cozy and carry less weight with this ultralight quilt!

Sea To Summit Ember Ultralight Quilt 25

25.6 oz | $469

Sea to Summit Ember Ultralight Quilt 25 is a great all-around backpacking quilt from a major outdoor brand that is well-made and widely available. We love that it’s overfilled with 17.6 oz of 850 fill power dry down, and built in a classic minimalist style chassis without bells and whistles. Along with Therm-a-Rest Vesper, it is one of the two best ultralight sleep systems sold at REI.

Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt 20

26 oz | $310

The Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt is an excellent value for a solid backpacking quilt from a mainstream outdoor brand stocked by mainstream outdoor gear distributors like REI and Backcountry. It uses economical-yet-effective 650 fill power down to minimize weight and price. Constructed with durable, 20D fabric, it’s also more durable than some of the lighter options. Corus is a killer value!

REI Magma Trail Quilt 30

REI Co-op Magma Trail Quilt 30

19 oz | $329

The Magma Trail Quilt 30 is another example of good quality ultralight basics from the Co-op. Weighing only 19 ounces, it is significantly lighter than the average sleeping bag, and $329 is a very fair price for that level of performance. However, we model this quilt’s actual comfort rating to be about 40, which makes it less insulated than average. But hey, this is perfectly legit ultralight quilt for summertime use.

Sleeping Pads

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad

13 oz | $210

Building on excellence, the new for 2023 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT (shop now) delivers a higher R-Value (4.5 vs 4.2), an extra half inch of thickness (3″ vs 2.5″), and a quieter and less crinkly user-experience. The stats show this is the highest performance sleeping pad on the market. Until proven otherwise, the NXT is now our go-to sleeping pad. Consider saving an ounce by switching to the short, 66 oz length! Read more in our full-length Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Review.

Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated Sleeping Pad

19 oz | $150

Big Agnes Rapid SL Insulated Sleeping Pad is the warmest, thickest, comfiest pad in the mid-tier price range that is also under 20 oz. It is 3.5″ thick with an R-value of 4.2, similar in performance to the best of the best, only six ounces heavier and $60 less expensive.

Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad

16.9 | $159

If you just want a good lightweight sleeping pad for backpacking at a reasonable price, the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is our recommendation for best value. Notably, in the $150 price range, you have to choose between low weight and high comfort. You don’t get both at once like with the premium models costing >$200. This model prioritizes value, then weight minimization, then comfort.

NEMO Switchback Sleeping Pad

14.5 oz | $55

If you’re in the market for a backpacking sleeping pad that is highly affordable and highly durable, we recommend the NEMO Switchback Sleeping Pad Within the closed-cell foam family, it offers the best blend of thickness, weight, and R-Value.

REI Backpacking Equipment: Stoves & Cookwear

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

2.9 oz | $85

The MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe improves on the baseline Pocket Rocket II by adding pressure regulation, a built-in ignitor, and a dash of wind resistance. And it boils a liter of water in just 3.5 minutes on full blast. Crank it back to medium output for slightly better fuel efficiency. This is our top pick for a standalone stove unit.


Soto WindMaster Stove

3.1 oz | $65

If you haven’t heard of the Soto WindMaster, think of it like a better version of the baseline MSR Pocket Rocket II, or a more economical version of the PRII Deluxe. In our opinion, the Windmaster beats baseline Pocket Rocket series by being more fuel efficient, wind resistant, and has a pressure regulator, but is otherwise quite similar to Pocket Rocket II Deluxe but $20 cheaper. This stove masters the wind thanks to its cupped burner and the way it holds a pot very low to the flame. Combined, these elements prevent heat from blowing away or the flame from blowing out. The  pressure regulator and built-in ignitor are huge add-ons that really set it apart from the pack. Great stove!

TOAKS Titanium 900ml Pot

3.7 oz | $45 MSRP

The TOAKS 900ml titanium pot is easy-to-clean, ultralight, and reasonably affordable. Choose between the wider 130 mm pot which weighs 3.7 oz, or the taller 115 mm pot which weighs 4 oz. The wider pot is easier to use, clean, and balances better on stoves. Downside is that it feels a little bit flimsy. The narrow pot is slightly heavier and feels more sturdy, but is harder to clean/eat out of and more top heavy.

TOAKS Titanium 450ml Mug

2.7 oz | $20

Built with sturdy, ultralight titanium, the TOAKS Titanium Single Wall 450 is our go-to camp mug. It holds 15 oz, is a great value, and may just last forever. Pro tip – ditch the orange mesh bag – you don’t need it.

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long

Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long

0.4 oz | $12

Specifically designed for freeze dried bags but perfect for all backountry food ingestion, the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long is 8.5″ in length and weighs only .4 oz. Constructed with tough and durable aircraft grade aluminum alloy, it is the perfect ultralight eating utensil.

Rain Gear

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

6.3 oz | $170/$180

Weighing just over six ounces, the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is incredible ultralight backpacking gear at an incredible price. The minimalist design is fully waterproof and breathable and features include a chest pocket, hand pockets on the W’s version, and hood and hem cinching. Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse fabric is incredibly durable for how thin and light it is. Learn more in our full-length OR Helium Rain Jacket review.

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L

14.1 oz | $179

We love when sustainable gear made with recycled materials performs as well as unconstrained designs, and the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket leads the pack for rainwear. But not only is it eco-friendly, it’s also a fully featured 3L rain jacket, making it one of the most affordable of it’s kind. We love the pit zips, and the tricot backed membrane is waterproof and comfortable to wear. Learn more in our full-length Patagonia TorrentShell 3L Review.

Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell

8.9 oz | $140

If you want a cost-efficient, legitimately lightweight, hiking rain jacket, grab the Black Diamond Treeline Rain Shell. We love the old school-but-effective-back-yoke vents and the fact that it weighs less than nine ounces. It’s constructed with a 2.5L BD.dry fabric. It’s effective, even if it ain’t fancy.

REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket

11.4 oz | $100

The REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket is the best hard shell we know of for only $100, and has been one of the most popular pieces of cheap backpacking gear for ages. The 2.5L HydroWall membrane checks all of the basic boxes for waterproofness and breathability. And we can’t stress enough how nice it is to have pit zips. But you also get an adjustable hood, hem/cuff cinches, and of course the REI warranty. What’s more, Rainier is super sustainable and ethically manufactured. You get Fair Trade Certified, bluesign approved, use of recycled nylons, and nonfluorinated DWR.

Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Pants

8.3 oz | $130

Stretchy hiking rain pants are trending among outdoor gear brands, and the Black Diamond Stormline Stretch were the lightest weight models we could find in this niche at 8.3 oz. These are great for walking in, but would have benefitted from a slightly baggier cut. Not recommended for those with thick thighs.

REI Trailmade Rain Pants

7.7 oz | $70

A basic pair of 2.5L, lightweight rain duds. What’s not to like? The REI Co-op Trailmade Rain Pants design features ankle zips, an elastic drawcord waistband, and a zippered back pocket. They’re available in a very wide array of sizes for all body types. Good all around cheap backpacking gear, perfect for hikers on a budget.

Puffy & Fleece Jackets

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Down Jacket

8.8 oz | $360

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket is the best selling ultralight down jacket of all time, now in its second edition and made with 100% recycled fabric. It achieves its low, low weight by combining 10d Pertex Quantum Ripstop and 800 fill power down. It is an effective and easy choice for a great down jacket.

REI 650 Down Jacket

10.9 oz | $129

It’s really difficult to find a down jacket from a reputable outdoor brand for this price. Yet the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket is still lighter than average. Sure, it uses low fill power down, has no hood, and isn’t exactly the warmest puffer, but it certainly gets the job done without breaking the bank. Plus, it’s 100% recycled.

The North Face FutureFleece Hoodie

7.3 oz | $160

The North Face FutureFleece Hoodie is a lightweight, all-purpose mid-layer with excellent breathability and a high warmth-to-weight ratio. This is thanks to its Octa hollow-core yarn and grid fleece design. The interior surface alternates between voluminous loop clusters that insulate, and channels of empty space to encourage breathability. Read more in our full-length FutureFleece Review.

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece

10.2 oz | $119

Patagonia R1 Air is the warmest, coziest, and comfiest of the lightweight fleece family and is a nice, nearly strict upgrade to the original R1. Its zigzagging knit pattern is designed to boost breathability in a similar way to how grid fleece functions. We like how the zigzag valleys create less empty space than square grid fleece. This boosts breathability significantly with only a minimal hit to its insulative ability. Read more in our full-length Patagonia R1 Air Review.

REI Trailmade Fleece Jacket

12.7 oz | $60

The REI Co-op Trailmade Fleece Jacket is a cozy, affordable, all-purpose midweight fleece jacket, and an excellent piece of cheap backpacking gear. It has hand pockets and spandex at hem and cuff. This is ol’ trusty microfleece, the fuzzy good stuff. But now it’s made with 100% postconsumer recycled polyester.

REI Swiftland Half-Zip Pullover

7.5 | $90

REI Co-op Swiftland Half-Zip Pullover is a classic, name brand Polartec Power Grid fleece that does it all for less than a hundred bucks. The exterior is flat faced, the interior is gridded. The fabric is stretchy, breathable, comfortable, cozy, and soft. You will want to wear this fleece everywhere. See field shots and read more in our full-length REI Swiftland Pullover Review.

Shirts & Pants

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

5.2 oz | $75

For a majority of three season hiking, we recommend the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie. This sun hoody is incredibly light, stretchy, comfortable, breathable, airy, quick drying, moisture wicking, and rated to UPF 15-20 (depending on color). This shirt does it all, and is perfect compliment to an ultralight backpacking gear kit. Pack a sun hoody and you’ll find that you will save weight carrying less sunscreen and also get less sun burns. We’ve worn this shirt around the world and are always impressed. What’s more, it’s built with eco-friendly recycled polyester!

REI Sahara Shade Hoodie

7.5 oz | $50

For extreme sun exposure, we prefer a hiking shirt rated to UPF 50, and that’s where the REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie comes into play. This is what we would choose for activities like climbing a Cascade volcano in spring, backpacking through high altitude plateaus in the San Juans of Colorado, traversing a glacier in the Alps, or hiking in the Altiplano Desert of South America.

REI Sahara Pattern Long-Sleeve Shirt

6.6 oz | $65

For mosquito defense and bushwhacking, we prefer the dense, durable, woven nylon construction of the REI Co-op Sahara Pattern Long Sleeve Shirt. Treat it with permethrin insect repellent and you’re good to go! It’s not stretchy and less comfy than a knit sunshirt, but you’re buying this one because its made of tougher stuff. Or maybe you just love plaid.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

10.7 oz | $99

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants are a lightweight, stretchy, comfortable, and weather-resistant pair of all-purpose hiking pants. Highly recommended! The stretch woven ripstop nylon is tough, and now made with 46% recycled materials. We’ve worn these to great success all over the world. The only downside is that they have just one cargo pocket and it’s small.

Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants

14 oz | $99

The Women’s KUHL Freeflex Roll-Up Pants offer spandex-free stretch, which doesn’t sag or bag. But more importantly, they have much sought-after dual cargo pockets on the thighs for handy storage of knickknacks like lip balm or a small tube of sunscreen. As the namesake implies, they have mid-calf snaps for converting into a capri. A functional and flattering Design from KUHL.


Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

15.2 oz | $109

There’s so much to like about the Men’s KUHL Renegade Convertible Pants. You want the best cargo pockets in the biz? Check. The most durable pants fabric for bushwhacking and scrambling? Check. Zip off lower legs to convert to shorts? Check. Add in a dash of stretch and a comfortable, roomy fit and these Renegades make for some of the best hiking pants imaginable. Our only knock is that they’re a bit heavier than average, but it’s not a huge deal since you wear them rather than carry them.

REI Trailmade Pants


The REI Trailmade Pants are a crowd-pleaser at a fair price.  They have durability, stretch, pockets, recycled materials, and average of 4.5/5 stars on hundreds of user reviews, beating out most other pants, even significantly more expensive models. There is nothing fancy, it’s just a tried-and-true design done well in a flattering fit. Happy hiking!

Shoes & Socks

HOKA Speedgoat 5

10.3 oz | $155

Our staff pick trail runner! The HOKA Speedgoat 5 is technical, cushioned, very sturdy, and very very grippy, even on challenging terrain. This shoe is great for hiking long days thanks for the comfortable cushion and wide toe box. The average overall width of shoe keeps feet from sloshing about on sloped terrain and provides accurate, stable footfalls. Perfect for everything from casual day hiking to super ultralight fastpacking, and everything in between. Read more in our full-length HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review.

Altra Lone Peak 7

Altra Lone Peak 7

11 oz | $150

As the most popular hiking shoe on the PCT, you just know Altra Lone Peak 7 is comfortable and long lasting. Famous for its wide toe box and zero drop, the Lone Peak series allows one’s toe’s to spread out and naturally expand over the course of day, which improves balance and prevents discomfort due to swelling. We’ve hiked thousands of miles in Altra’s, this trail runner is an absolute classic.

HOKA Challenger 7

HOKA Challenger 7

8.9 oz | $145

A true Goldilocks, HOKA Challenger 7 is the best all-around hiking shoe for use on trail. It’s lightweight, well-cushioned-but-not-too-cushioned, and just the right balance of traction to energy return. We love this shoe best for crushing long mileage days without sore feet. Read more in our comprehensive HOKA Challenger 7 Review.

Saucony Peregrine 13

9 oz | $140

Updated for 2023, we’re excited to test out the new Saucony Peregrine 13. This trail runner builds on a legacy of excellence, and appears to be a great all-around model, a perfect jack of all trades trail runner for hiking. It features incredible grippy 5mm lugs and rockplate. It’s moderately cushioned and has a moderate 4mm drop, our preferred sweet spot. Learn more in our full-length Saucony Peregrine 13 Review.

Smartwool Performance Run Ankle Socks

Smartwool Performance Run Ankle Socks

1.6 oz | $21

When it comes to a comfortable and secure fit, nobody beats Smartwool Performance Socks. Because we do all of our hiking in trail running shoes, running socks are a better choice than thicker hiking socks designed to be worn with boots. The thinner fabric reduces foot sweat, and thus also reduces blisters caused by maceration. When choosing between models, we recommend ones with light to no cushioning. Apply your personal preferences when choosing ankle height.

REI Backpacking Equipment Accessories

Coast FL1R Micro Headlamp

1.7 oz | $35

The Coast FL1R Micro Headlamp is an excellent ultralight illuminator with good battery life and plenty of lumens for nighttime chores. It has all of the features you’d expect – locking, white/red light modes, water resistance, and directional adjustments. This is a great all around headlamp and pushes back against the Petzl and Black Diamond market dominance.

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration

3.6 oz | $41

Faster and more efficient than pumping or waiting for chemical treatments, the Sawyer Squeeze System offers on-the-go hydration at a good flow. This product is long-lasting, affordable, reliable, cleanable, and very user-friendly. We also like the sawyer water bags for compressibility and having on hand so you can camel up at the last water source before dry camping at a viewpoint. This is ultralight backpacking gear. The filter itself weighs only 3 oz, and the 3.6 oz listed total also include a .6 oz 1L bag.

Aquamira Water Treatment

Aquamira Water Treatment (Repackaged)

1.0 oz | $15

For maximum weight savings, we recommend Aquamira Water Treatment, even over the Sawyer Squeeze System. However, that benefit is lost if you carry full dropper bottles off the shelf. For super ultralight fastpacking endeavors, we recommend decanting into smaller, lighter weight droppers, or using the bottles it came with but only at ~25% capacity (enough for 7.5 gallons). This system has been proven on the trail for decades and kills 99% of bacteria, virus, and cysts in the water.

REI Sahara Path Hat

REI Co-op Sahara Path Hat

2.5 oz | $50

Based on the popular Tilley sun hats, REI’s Sahara Path Hat offers even more ventilation and at half the price . This safari hat looks great and is rated to UPF 50. The brim is stiff enough to hold its shape and floats in water. The hat is quick drying and wicks sweat off of your brow. A great buy for $50.

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

2.5 oz | $30

A simple UPF 50 sun cap gets the job done best. The Outdoor Research Swift Cap is comprised of a lightweight, breathable mesh, with a 3-panel nylon layer on the crown to block the harshest UV. It also has a moisture wicking sweat band and adjustable at the back. We’ve worn this one all around the world.

REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles

13.6 oz | $149

The REI Flash Carbon Trekking Poles are nearly everything we’d hope for in a $150 pair of trekking poles, and a great do-it-all pick. They have burly, well-built flip locks and weigh less than seven ounces per pole for an easy and accurate swing. Our only knock is that they did not extend the foam handle lower down the pole for grip adjustability.

Zoleo Satellite Communicator Review

5.3 oz | $200

The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is the champ for ease of messaging and value. It’s the least expensive unit, and the only one that comes with a dedicated phone number. Of course you get S.O.S. and custom two way communication typed out by bluetoothing to your phone. Though it lacks a screen, there is a dedicated on-device button to send check-in/location tracking messages. Audible beeps and light flashes indicate operational status. Read more in our satellite communicator guide.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Bag

2.6 oz | $40

For waterproof gear storage at a great price, we recommend the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Bag. The largest model weighs only 2.6 oz and holds 35L, enough for a sleeping bag, puffy jacket, and camp clothes with room to spare.

Arcade Belts

Arcade Belts

2.5 oz | $32

Arcade Belts could be a big upgrade for hikers. It’s made of polyester webbing that is soft to the touch and stretchy, so it doesn’t dig into your skin or bite, even when you have it pulled taught. Adjusting this belt is straightforward, the clasp is very secure, it holds tightness, and does an excellent job of keeping pants up. Highly recommended if you’re still using something old, heavy, leather, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Tifosi Swank Sunglasses

Tifosi Swank Sunglasses

1.0 oz | $30

Backpacking is hard on shades. They tend to get scratched, lost, crushed, or otherwise damaged. That’s why we recommend a basic, functional, and more economical option like the Tifosi Swank Sunglasses. They look great and you can replace them without breaking the bank. But you may never have to as they polycarbonate lenses are shatterproof, 20x more impact resistant than glass, and provide 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. The frames are similarly durable.

Kahtoola MICROspikes

Kahtoola MICROspikes

11 oz | $75

Often copied but never equaled, the Kahtoola MICROspikes are the go-to option for walking on steep snowy and icy terrain. They have incredible traction, last forever, and are the preferred option of PCT thru hikers in the Sierra Nevada mountains during high snow years.

C.A.M.P. Corsa Ice Axe

C.A.M.P. Corsa Ice Axe

7.1 oz | $120

For periodically ascending steep-but-non-technical snowy passes and peaks, the ultralight C.AM.P. Corsa Ice Axe is all you need. It serves the primary purposes of self arrest and acting as balance point, while also saving more pack weight than any other ice axe when stowed. We think it’s the best ice axe for hiking and backpacking.

Suunto M-3D Compass

Suunto M-3 D Leader Compass

1.6 oz | $65

The Suunto M-3D is a simple and durable lightweight compass with all of the essential features, including declination adjustment. Should always carry along with paper maps as a backup to GPS.

Insect & Bear Deterrents

Sea To Summit Mosquito Head Net

Sea To Summit Mosquito Head Net

1.0 oz | $15 MSRP

Weighing only one oz and totally bug-proof, you barely notice the Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net. Yet in early summer, it might be the hardest working piece of ultralight backpacking gear you carry. It’s comfy see through, and outperforms bug repellent sprays and lotions. We like the version treated with InsectShield permethrin to further ward off mosquitos. This is a must-bring in June and July in the mountains.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

0.5 oz | $10

The efficacy of DEET without harsh chemicals. Sawyer Picardin Insect Repellent is our go-to skin protection against mosquitos and ticks. We prefer the lotion to the spray-on, which lasts 8-14 hours. And you don’t need to carry much, since you’re only applying once or twice per day. Buy the 4 oz container and decant half an ounce into an empty hand sanitizer bottle. That’s more than enough for an entire hiking season.

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent


Bug season? Treat your clothes with Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent before you head into the backcountry! Bugs hate the presence of permethrin and are their immune systems are harmed by it. This easy-to-apply protection is safe to use, lasts for many washes, and makes you an unappetizing target for mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other nasties. Treat all outerlayer garments.

Ursack Major Bear Sack

Ursack Major Bear Sack 10L

7.6 oz | $90

Unless a canister is strictly required by land management, we always prefer the Ursack Major Bear Sack, now made with ballistic grade Spectra. It’s lightweight, comfy to carry, and does actually protect your food in the overwhelming majority of bear encounters. We recommend pairing it with the Loksak Opsac bag as a smell-proof, waterproof, liner system. When full, it holds about 4-5 day worth of food.

Bearvault BV500 Bear Canister

Bearvault BV500 Journey Bear Canister

40 oz | $95

When bears are present and canisters are required, we recommend the Bearvault BV500 Bear Canister for the best blend of volume, protection, and value. We prefer bear bags whenever possible, but this is our go-to when that’s not an option.

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent

11 oz | $48

Much like first aid, bear spray is one piece of gear you never want to have to use. Counter Assault Bear Deterrent has been the gold standard in scaring off curious ursine for decades now, and we trust this product. The lock mechanism is very secure.


REI Backpacking Equipment Conclusion

Thank you for reading! We hope you’ve found what you’re looking for in this backpacking equipment list. We’ve had positive experiences with  everything here, and we’re sure you will too! If you want to see more categories highlighted or something else featured, drop us a note in the comments. Happy hiking!

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