Our favorites, the best of the best backpacking gear

If you’re looking for the best backpacking gear, then you’ve come to the right place. On this list, you’ll find the lightest, smartest, and most innovative hiking products on the market. This is what we take to Alaska, Patagonia, Utah, Appalachia, the Sierra, and everywhere in between.

It’s what we recommend to our closest friends, and it’s what we recommend to you if you want to improve your gear and your backpacking experience. For a complete item-by-item kit, check out our 9 Pound Ultralight Gear List. Happy trails!

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Best Backpacking Gear Table Of Contents

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 55

31 oz | $399

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 55 is HMG’s biggest backpack update in years, building off their original design. It’s still waterproof, incredibly durable, and similar to the Southwest/Windrider in overall performance and composition. However, it offers larger side pockets and a Dyneema stretch mesh rear pocket in addition to a removable hip belt and smaller buckling hardware. We still haven’t decided if we like this more or less than the Southwest, but it’s extremely close and definitely worth considering if you’re shopping for top of the line ultralight backpacks. Read more in our full-length Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound Backpack Review.

Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L Backpack

Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L Backpack

21.9 oz | $399

The magic of the Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L Backpack is that you get a full external frame backpack at a super ultralight weight without any sacrifices other than the price tag. The pack is designed with Challenge Ultra 200 fabric, so it’s waterproof and has a better durability-to-weight ratio than Dyneema or Robic nylon.

We commend the Arc Haul’s old school full-external-arched-frame design for an incredible load transfer from shoulder to hips. While we feel it’s perfectly durable enough for typical on-trail hiking, it’s true ultralight backpacking gear and must be handled respectfully

ULA Equipment ULTRA Circuit

33.8 oz | $380

Thanks to Challenge UltraX fabric, the most popular pack on the PCT, ULA Equipment Ultra Circuit, it is now lighter weight, more water-resistant, and more durable than ever before. It meets or exceeds all of our preposterously high backpack standards in every regard. The ULTRA Circuit has exceptional weight transfer thanks to its workhorse frame comprised of an aluminum stay plus a carbon fiber and plastic U-shaped suspension hoop. The full suite of massive, best-in-class external pockets grants easy access to gear, including the expansive UltraStretch Mesh front crisscrossed with shock cords. Its decked out with all of the right features, including superb load lifters, easy-to-use buckles, dual reverse pull hip belt adjusters, and a Y-strap top. Read more in our extremely positive, full-length ULA Ultra Circuit Review.

Zpacks Offset Duo

19.7 oz | $799

The Zpacks Offset Duo Tent is the best and most spacious 2P Zpacks brand tent to-date, and one of the very best trekking pole supported tents on the entire market. Offset Duo builds on the success of Zpacks’ flagship Duplex design by increasing its length and width, adding vents, zippered storm doors, magnetic roll-ups, a 32″ end strut, and ingeniously offsetting its trekking pole placement towards the head-end to maximize ceiling space directly above where users sit up. Learn more in our full length Zpacks Offset Duo Review.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

43 oz | $530

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.

Ultralight Daypacks

Not technically backpacking gear, but we wanted to share our favorites nonetheless.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22

17.9 oz | $249

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 is an ultralight daypack that is basically a slimmed down version of their Unbound backpacking pack design. This includes its Dyneema construction, roll top closure, and full suite of external Dyneema Hardline side pockets and Dyneema Stretch Mesh rear pocket. We love this design and find it be extremely functional and well-thought out. Read more in our Hyperlite Mountain Gear Elevate 22 Review.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Pack

21.0 | $229

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Daybreak Daypack is a lightweight, burly, fully-featured, waterproof Dyneema pack with a user-friendly clamshell top and impressive craftsmanship. It is our favorite lightweight daypack blurring the line between hiking pack and everyday carry. It performs as well on the trail as it does for travel and around town.

Zpacks Mummy Sleeping Bag 20

Zpacks 20F Mummy Sleeping Bag

23.2 oz | $539

The Zpacks 20F Mummy Sleeping Bag is our pick for the best traditional sleeping bag, and the highest performance sleeping bag money can buy. At only 23.2 oz and over stuffed with 900 fill power RDS hydrophobic goose down. It is very easily the lightest weight hooded sleeping bag on the market, with the highest warmth-to-weight ratio. On colder nights, we love cinching down the hood to stay cozy, and on warmer nights, we love how it can fully unzip and convert into a blanket for better ventilation. The Zpacks Mummy Sleeping Bag 20 raises the industry wide performance bar on how good a mummy bag can be and it is our number one recommendation for anyone who prefers a traditional sleeping bag over a camping quilt. Read more in our full-length Zpacks Mummy Sleeping Bag Review.

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion 20

20 oz | $550

We value warmth-to-weight above all else in an ultralight sleeping bag for backpacking,  which is why we like the Therm-a-rest Hyperion 20. Based on our estimation, it has one of the highest warmth-to-weight ratios of any conventional 20F ultralight sleeping bag from a mainstream outdoor gear brand.

Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20

Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20

18.4 oz | $440 

Quilts are the most effective way to sleep in the backcountry, and the Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 with 950 fill power down and 7d nylon is the single best tool for the job; our pick for best overall quilt. This versatile sleep system offers a stellar warmth-to-weight ratio, cold-spot-preventing U-baffles, A grade materials, and a flawless minimalist design. We strongly recommend this quilt. Truly an excellent piece of ultralight backpacking gear.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 20 Degree Quilt

20.1 oz | $499

Our first sleep system with 1000 fill power down, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 20 Degree Quilt is unmatched when it comes to materials performance. And weighing only 20.1 oz, it has an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio. This is a seriously top of the line sleep system, categorically better than all sleeping bags, and in contention with the best of the best quilts, like Enlightened Equipment Enigma. HMG got nearly everything correct on this one, our only notes would be that we wouldn’t minded one more perpendicular baffle on the footbox and a slightly lower price tag. Will 1000 fp down become industry standard we wonder? Read more in our full length HMG 20 Degree Quilt Review.

Backpacking Gear – 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.

NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad

14.1 oz | $200

Wow, the NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Insulated is a dang impressive sleeping pad and our new preferred model. With an R-Value of 5.4, and weighing only 14.1 oz, it clocks the highest R-Value-to-weight-ratio among 3-season pads, besting the esteemed Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT, despite being an ounce heavier in total. This is achieved with two suspended layers of thermal mirror film – ultralight insulation, but ultra efficient. You also get the industry standard, ultra comfy 3.5″ thick NEMO Spaceframe baffles and overall quiet sleep experience. What’s more, Tensor’s predecessors had been known for durability issues, but this is solved with the increase to 40d ripstop nylon underside, up from 20d. Great work, NEMO!

Jetboil Stash Stove Review

7.1 oz | $150

The lightest fully integrated stove-pot combo system available! We love Jetboil Stash Stove‘s best-in-class fuel efficiency, and how nicely all of the components nest into the pot. This is our go-to all-in-one cook system, and a very smart piece of ultralight backpacking gear. While the stove unit itself is good-not-great, the Stash pot is the single most effective water boiling vessel on the market.

MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe

2.9 oz | $85

The MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe is one of the two best stoves money can buy, and our editor’s choice award winner. It features a cupped head for wind resistance, pressure regulation for use in cold and with near-empty canisters, a built in ignitor, fold out arms with good balance, and high BTU output for quick boil times. Combine PRD with a heat exchanger pot to assemble a SuperStove system.


Benchmade Mini Bugout Grivory best hiking knife

Benchmade 533-04 Mini Bugout Grivory Knife

1.5 oz | $153

The Benchmade Mini Bugout is lightweight and made with extremely high quality CPM-S30V stainless-steel. Yes it’s spendy, but it stays sharper for longer in the backcountry, making quick work of food prep with a 2.8″ blade. The Grivory handle is lightweight and grippy, and has a secure locking mechanism for sure-fire cutting. Also great as an everyday carry.

TOAKS Titanium 900ml Pot

4.0 oz | $45

The TOAKS 900ml titanium pot is ultralight, beloved by users, respectably affordable, and nests small or medium sized canisters. Titanium is stronger than aluminum, but doesn’t conduct heat quite as well. Its fold-out handle handle is space saving and effective. Ditch the orange storage baggie, which has been noted to shed microplastics. You didn’t need it anyway.

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.

TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spoon

TOAKS Titanium Spoon

0.7 oz | $11

It’s hard to imagine any backcountry spoon scoring better user ratings than the TOAKS Titanium. At time of publication it averages 4.7 out of 5 stars on 145 reviews at REI Co-op. The $11 price point is lower than we expect to see relative its ultralight and ultra durable titanium construction. Plus, it features an upward tilted bowl for ease of lifting food out of a meal bag.

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.

 Best Backpacking Gear – Trekking Poles

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Trekking Poles

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

15.6 oz | $65

Sturdy, lightweight, durable, well-built, the CMT Carbon Fiber Collapsible Trekking Poles for $65 are an incredible deal on ultralight backpacking gear. Marginally lighter options from traditional brands go for $150-$250. These aren’t fancy, but we just can’t stress enough how preposterously good of a value proposition Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles are.

Gossamer Gear LT5 Carbon Trekking Poles

Gossamer Gear LT5 Three Piece Carbon Trekking Poles

9.8 oz | $195

Weighing just 9.8 oz, Gossamer Gear LT5 are some of the most effective super ultralight trekking poles on the market. Carbon fiber is the best material for the job, and these feel fast and sturdy with a precise swing. They use as a twist-lock design to save weight. The padded wrist straps are comfy. LT5 are our preferred trekking poles for fastpacking.

Satellite Communicators and Electronics

Garmin inReach Messenger

4.0 oz | $300

Garmin inReach Messenger is the latest contender in the satellite communicator genre, and offers best-in-class battery life, signal receptivity, and nearly all of the most desirable features for just $300 and four ounces. As such, it takes our top slot award, narrowly beating out ZOLEO and inReach Mini 2.

Nitecore NU25 UL 400 Headlamp

1.6 oz | $37

If you don’t have a rechargeable headlamp yet, now is the time to upgrade. The Nitecore NU25 UL 400 Headlamp is our go-to for super ultralight fastpacking endeavors. But it works just as well as for short backpacks and as an emergency light for a day hiking kit. NU25 has a good battery, basic controls including locking, red or white light, different levels of brightness, and can generate up to 400 lumens of light. The two thin straps are marginally less comfortable than a wider one.

Nitecore NB10000 Gen 2

Nitecore NB10000 Gen 2

5.3 oz | $60

The Nitecore NB10000 Gen 2 has the best power-to-weight ratio of any 10k mAh battery we researched, and is also the lightest overall. It delivers at least two full 0-100% phone recharges, can charge two devices at once, and has a built-in USB-C port. The carbon fiber casing is lighter weight and superior to metals in cold weather. And the whole thing is water resistant! A clear best-in-class for its category.


2.0 oz | $450

If you are serious about your outdoor adventuring and training, then the COROS APEX 2 Pro is the right watch for you. Over the past two years we’ve run this watch through the wringer, guiding in Alaska, mountaineering, nordic skiing, ocean kayak racing, trail running, mountain biking, etc. The verdict? This an exceptional performer in the field and our favorite outdoor smartwatch. In particular, its battery life blows the competition away with 200 hours of in-field GPS tracking. As such, it’s a perfect choice for those who play and train hard in the backcountry, especially for multiple days at a time. Read more in our full-length COROS APEX 2 Pro Review.

Gaia GPS App

Gaia GPS App

0 oz | $40

Available on iPhone or Android, Gaia GPS offers a Google Maps-like experience but pinpoints you on topographic maps with trails and routing. No cell service or internet is required, so long as you download the maps in advance. It’s much lighter, more affordable, and user-friendly than dedicated GPS units. Gaia GPS is our primary backcountry navigation tool, backed up by paper maps. And, if you subscribe to your first year of Gaia GPS by clicking the button below, they’ll give you 20% off! Considering that phone apps are weightless, we think this is some pretty great ultralight backpacking gear.

Best Backpacking Gear – Hiking Shoes

HOKA Speedgoat 5

10.3 oz | $155 

Technical, cushioned, very sturdy, and very very grippy, even on challenging terrain. The HOKA Speedgoat 5 is great for hiking long days thanks to the comfortable foam. While still offering a wide toe box, the slightly narrower fit prevents sloshing around on uneven surfaces. The mesh outer is breathable and quick drying. Read more in our full-length HOKA Speedgoat 5 Review.

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.

Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket

6.4 oz | $250

Choose the Enlightened Equipment Visp Rain Jacket because it is the most breathable ultralight rain shell with an unprecedented MVTR rating of 83,000. The three layer Visp weighs just 6.4 ounces in a unisex size medium, has a very layer-accomodating fit, and comes with most of the bells and whistles including pit zips for even more breathability. The only downside is no pockets, but hey, this is Alan’s preferred rain jacket and we know you’ll love it too!

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.

Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket

13.9 oz | $450

If you’re looking for the best hiking rain protection money can buy, the Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket is for you (shop now). This what we would wear for hiking into a torrential downpour, and we would feel safe and comfortable in doing so thanks to the durable 3L design with pitzips. It’s not ultralight, but it sure will keep you dry. Learn more in our full-length Arcteryx Beta LT Jacket Review.

Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants

Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants

3.2 oz | $149

Fully waterproof, preposterously breathable, and only three ounces, the Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants are top tier rain pants for minimizing weight. Vertice has a breathability rating of 56k, that’s more than than triple Gore-Tex, perfect for high intensity movement. True, this isn’t the most durable pair of rain pants, but we find them to be sufficient for on-trail use and are the current best option for an ultralight gear list.

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

6.7 oz | $130

Incredibly light, fully waterproof, great value, and more durable than the competition, thanks for the Pertex DiamondFuse shell fabric. The Helium Rain Pants are our go-to rain pants for hiking and backpacking, and exemplary ultralight backpacking gear.

Best Backpacking Gear – Down Jackets

Zpacks Goose Down Jacket

Zpacks Goose Down Jacket

6.8 oz | $399

The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket blows the hubcaps off competitors like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. In particular, it’s almost two times warmer for the weight. This is because it’s filled with top-tier 950 fill power down (and more of it) vs mid-tier 800 fill. And they didn’t skimp on features either. The Zpacks Goose Down Jacket still has a drawcord hood, two pockets, full front zipper, and drawcord hem to seal out drafts. It isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s still a great performance to value ratio costing only marginally more than Ghost Whisperer. Read more in our full-length Zpacks Goose Down Jacket Review.

Alpha Direct Hoody

Alpha Direct Hoodie

~5.0 oz | ~$100

A hoodie made with Polartec AD fleece is lighter weight, has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio, higher breathable, less water absorption, and a faster dry time than any competing alternative. However, it is also far less durable than average and has zero wind resistance. But they’re basically perfect for fastpacking and super ultralight backpacking. Use it respectfully and pair with a UL windbreaker or breathable rain shell for maximum modularity, versatility, and surprising warmth. Read more in our guide to the Best Alpha Direct Hoodies.

The North Face FutureFleece Hoodie

7.3 oz | $170

The North Face FutureFleece Hoodie is a lightweight, all-purpose mid-layer with exceptional breathability and a high warmth-to-weight ratio. It outperforms every fleece except for Alpha Direct, but still trumps that in terms of durability, wind-resistance, and versatility. Its performance is thanks to Octa hollow-core yarn, same as Mountain Hardwear AirMesh, but in a flat face exterior with grided interior. The inside face alternates between voluminous loop clusters that insulate, and channels of empty space to encourage breathability. Read more in our full-length FutureFleece Review.

Best Backpacking Gear – Windbreakers

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

3.7 oz | $109

Patagonia Houdini is perhaps the most classic ultralight windbreaker of all time, and it’s still the most well-rounded, well-regarded, most trustworthy option today. Features include a single chest pocket/stuff sack, hood cinch, drawcord hem, and half-elastic cuffs. Houdini is now fair trade certified, and made with 100% recycled ripstop nylon. Weighing in at 3.7 oz, it’s right in the sweet spot for ultralight windbreakers.

Zpacks Ventum Wind Shell

1.8 oz | $100

At only 1.8 oz for a M’s medium, the Zpacks Ventum Wind Shell stood out to us as one of the very lightest windbreakers on the market. It’s constructed with 7D Ventum ripstop nylon fabric, which is soft, breathable, and water/wind resistant. And in fact, it’s the same performance fabric they use on their high quality ultralight sleeping bags. The hood, hem, and wrists are elasticized to keep drafts out.

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!

Outdoor Vitals Tern

Outdoor Vitals Tern

5.4 oz | $85

Choose the Outdoor Vitals Tern because it is the lightest garment in the genre, weighing just 5.4 oz for a men’s medium. This is due primarily to the thin/cool/breezy 115 gsm fabric, but also the slimmer fit, meaning there is simply less fabric. The merino-poly-nylon blend decreases dry time, increases durability, helps bump its UPF rating up to 36, the second highest in our guide. This is an excellent merino wool sun hoodie for summer. It’s also very comfortable, good looking 0n-body, soft-yet-textured, and a truly exceptional garment to wear.

Best Backpacking Gear – Hiking Pants

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.

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. There’s no question as to why these pants get rave reviews.


REI Sahara Cargo Shorts

8 oz | $60

Alan’s choice! The REI Co-op Sahara Cargo Shorts are a well-done-but-basic pair of hiking shorts that check all of the boxes without getting too fancy. Made with 96% recycled nylon, they are durable, sustainable, and quick drying. The addition of 4% spandex adds just the right amount of stretch. The men’s version has killer cargo pockets. And compared to similar models, they are priced very competitively..

Kuhl Freeflex Cargo Shorts

8.5 oz | $89

Based on our extensive research, the W’s KUHL Freeflex Cargo Shorts have the best and most plentiful pockets available in a women’s specific cut. What’s more, they’re made with a fabric that’s as durable and stretchy as it is soft and comfortable. The 10″ long inseam is necessary for cargo pockets and provides good thigh coverage.

Patagonia Multi Trails Shorts

4.0 oz | $79 M’s | $69 W’s

We love the wearing the Patagonia Multi Trails Shorts because they offer the best blend of stretch, comfort, breathability, and zippered pocket security. This is a great all-purpose pair of shorts that’s particularly good for hiking, but also great for trail running and athleisure. Pro tip – cut the liners out and use your preferred underwear. Read our full-length Patagonia Multi-Trails Shorts Review.

Paka Performance Socks

1.7 | $24

For the ultimate blend of comfort and functionality, pull on a pair of Paka Performance 3/4 Crew socks, our editor’s choice award winning model for hiking socks. They have all of the right features, and are made with a dreamy blend of alpaca wool, Tencel, recycled nylon, and spandex that keep your feet comfortable, thermo-regulated, dry, blister-free, and less smelly, all day long. We’re even prepared to say that alpaca wool is superior to merino.


Darn Tough Ultralightweight Cushion Socks

1.5 oz | $22

The Darn Tough Ultralightweight Cushion Socks are perhaps the most all-purpose activewear socks in our quiver. This model is perfectly well-rounded for any activity and any temperatures, whether running, hiking, or just hanging around. Light duty underfoot cushioning spans the length of the socks from toe box to lower Achilles, and is comprised of terry loops. Unlike models from Smartwool, there is cushioning in place underneath the arch. This sock is made with a blend of Nylon and Merino. Nylon increases durability and dries quickly, while still offering the comfort, wicking, and anti-bacterial properties of merino. These high tech zonal socks seem to have a section for everything, including “fatigue zapping arch support”, and breathable flex zones in the upper forefoot and ankle. And they come with Darn Tough’s lifetime warranty.

Glacier Gloves Islamorada Fingerless Sun Gloves

2.5 oz | $25

A simple pair of fingerless UPF 50+ sun gloves for use in harsh sun with heavy UV Exposure. The Glacier Glove Islamorada Fingerless Sun Gloves are dexterous, stretchy, breathable, quick drying, and durable thanks to the synthetic leather palms. This is technically a fishing glove, but we prefer it to similar and more expensive sun hiking gloves from traditional outdoor brands. Read more in our full length Glacier Gloves Islamorada review.

Black Diamond Lightweight Screentap Gloves

Black Diamond Screentap Lightweight Gloves

1.4 oz | $35

Minimalist and touchscreen compatible, the Black Diamond Lightweight Screentap Gloves are a basic pair of lightweight fleece liner style gloves at a good price. This unisex style is constructed with Polartec Power Stretch fleece, a premium name-brand fabric. Note, this is a lightweight fleece, and we’ve picked it because it weighs very little, not because it’s the warmest.

Best Backpacking Gear – Hiking Hats

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 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.

REI Co-op Lightweight Logo Beanie

2 oz | $20

The basic-but-functional REI Co-op Lightweight Logo Beanie keeps your head warm and looking good at a great price. We like the wool/acrylic blend and found it comfy and cozy while hiking and while at camp. The doubled back beanie cuff provides extra warmth around the ears, or can be pulled down for a deeper fit.

 Best Backpacking Gear – Accessories

Katadyn BeFree water filter

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter

2.1 oz | $40

Squeeze-based water filters are where it’s at, and Katadyn BeFree has the best flow and the most usable shape. Critically, the .6L size can be front-shoulder-strap mounted, which is the fastest and most efficient option for drinking from water sources as you pass by. It’s lighter and more compact than Sawyer Squeeze and MSR QuickDraw, albeit slightly less durable.

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.

Bogler OutdoorCo Trowel

BoglerCo Ultralight Trowel

.5 oz | $18

BoglerCo makes an exceptional ultralight trowel; superior to our previous top pick, the Deuce #2. BoglerCo’s is longer, lighter, stronger, digs better, and is more comfortable to press down on thanks to its plastic top. The serrated edge easily cuts through small roots. This trowel is miles ahead of the classic orange Coghlan’s design.

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.

AnyGear 7075 Aluminum Tent Stakes

AnyGear 7075 Aluminum Tent Stakes

0.5 oz | $0.66 per stake

The starter stakes that came with your tent are OK. But we prefer these inexpensive & far stronger Y-stakes as they make tent pitching easier and more secure in rocky dirt. The ANYGEAR 7075 Aluminum Stakes have a Y neck and only a single notched rib at the head making them extremely resistant to bending and damage when pounding in with a rock.

Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth

Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth

3.7 oz | $11

For camping on abrasive surfaces, we recommend the Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth. As simple as it is, it’s some of the smartest ultralight backpacking gear. It’s much, much lighter than the sil-nylon version that came with your backpacking tent, and will still protect against puncture and microtears. This is the preferred footprint for ultralight tents. For solo shelters, cut the width down by 1/3 for a total weight of 2.4 oz

Staff Picks Best Backpacking Gear Conclusion

Thank you for trusting us with your next backpacking gear purchase. This is some truly excellent kit, and we know it will serve you well on your next trip! Got a suggestion? Drop us a line in the comments. Happy trails!