Wearing a fastpacking backpack, the best fastpack nashville cutaway

Multi-Day Fastpack Comparison Table

Fastpack Weight (oz) Price ($) Volume (L) Fit Style
Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 12.7 185 36 Pack
Zpacks Nero Ultra 38 14.5 309 38 Pack
Nashville Packs Cutaway 15.2 342 43* Vest
MLD Burn 38 16.5 325 38 Pack
Zpacks Arch Haul 40 19.0 399 40 Pack
OV Skyline Fastpack 20.6 200 26 Vest
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 21.3 180 35* Vest
Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 21.5 190 36 Vest
HMG Waypoint 35 23.5 359 41 Pack
ULA Ultra Photon 26.9 280 35 Pack
Black Diamond Pursuit 30 28.1 180 35* Vest
Six Moon Designs Flight 30 31.0 225 31 Vest

*External Storage estimated when not provided by manufacturer

 Fastpacking Backpacks Optimized For Running

A multi-day fastpack optimized for trail running should have an extremely secure fit, low volume, and light weight. This is achieved with running vest harness-style straps that wrap around the front and sides of your torso, instead of traditional backpack shoulder straps that are straighter and narrower. The ideal model should also be low volume, which improves balance and encourages the compression of gear to prevent bounce and sway. The size sweet spot is 30-35L.

Best Performance Fastpacking Backpack

Nashville Packs Cutaway

Based on our research, Nashville Packs Cutaway with Hybrid Vest Straps is one of, if not the, lightest weight fastpacks with a running vest harness (shop now). What’s more, it’s waterproof and has voluminous external storage thanks to the massive, continuous hybrid-paneled outer pocket and shoulder strap pockets. This is an exceptionally sweet pack and you can read more about it in our Nashville Packs Cutaway review.

  • Weight: 15.3 oz
  • Price: $342
  • Materials: VX07 Soft 3L Laminate
  • Frame: BYO Foam Sit Pad
  • Load Capacity: 25 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 33L
  • External Volume : 10L (estimate)
  • Pros: Large continuous outer pocket. Ultralight. Waterproof. Very customizable. Pocket-covered running vest harness gives very secure fit. Optional hip belt +pockets available. Excellent backcountry performance.
  • Cons: Expensive. Some assembly required. Could use more shoulder padding. Barrel shaped when fully loaded decreaes pocket volume. Strap salad.

Construction & Features

The Cutaway body is a roll top closure pack, shaped like a D, with the flat side against your back. The back panel is just fabric with no frame or structure, so we recommend adding the sit pad attachment kit (which comes in the accessory pack). It forms a pleasant, ridged foam back panel and blocks lumps.

On the front and sides of the pack is a continuous outer pocket made of one static mesh and 2 UltraStretch panels. This pocket can be tightened or loosened with a shock cord. A Y-compression strap connects to the top middle edge of the outer pocket which keeps the middle from sagging and allows you store something light and bulky on top of the pack. We recommend a fleece.

Connected to the body are the Hybrid Vest Straps, which is NP’s name for a running-vest-style-harness adorned in multiple, large mesh pockets. To their core, these straps seem to be made with spacer mesh rather than foam, which is great for breathability, but they’re not the firmest. Each articulated shoulder strap connects to the top of the pack with three lines of adjustable nylon webbing. It feels very secure and customizable thanks to the many sternum strap configurations.

What’s more, this pack is extremely customizable. Three ready to order stock options are available, but there are dozens of other fabrics if you’re down with made-to-order. You can even supply your own fabric! A suggested 3 piece accessory pack with some extra straps/cords is available. You might also want the padded, winged hip belt and its corresponding hip belt pockets.


We reiterate, The Nashville Packs Cutaway is an extremely sweet design for experienced ultralighters. Simply put, it is lighter weight, better fitting, and has more external storage than the competition. Cutaway is the perfect pack for crushing long mileage days, especially if you plan to mix in some trail running on flats.

Best Value Fastpacking Backpack

Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 Fastpack

The Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 takes everything we love about their ultralight packs and adjusts it to meet the needs of multi-day fastpackers by adding running-vest style shoulder straps for a more secure, less bouncy fit. Learn more in our full length Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 Review.

  • Weight: 21.5 oz
  • Price: $190
  • Materials: 70/100D Robic Nylon
  • Frame: Foam Sit Pad
  • Load Capacity: 25 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 28L
  • External Volume : 8L
  • Pros: Ultralight. Excellent & Voluminous rear and shoulder strap storage. Good Value. Complimentary Sit Pad. Secure running vest-style fit.
  • Cons: 70d nylon and stretch mesh are not the most durable. Sweaty back panel. Wide shoulder straps can rub against lower neck. Small hip belt pockets and side pockets.

Construction & Features

The Gossamer Gear Fast Kumo 36 is an incredibly sweet design based on GG’s tried and true ultralight pack formula: fold over closure; zipper pocket lid; large external mesh pockets; compression shock cords on the side, finished off with foam sit pad back panel/frame. And the whole thing weighs in at an incredibly ultralight 21.5 oz in size M/L.

But what differentiates this from most other backpacks, and all of the other packs in Gossamer Gear’s line, is the running-vest style shoulder straps for an extra secure fit. That’s because they’re much wider and thicker and do a better job of holding the pack in place, and higher up the torso, to prevent bouncing and swaying of gear as you run.

The straps are also fully decked out in pockets. They feature two bottle pockets, one zippered pocket, one trash pocket, and a mesh pocket. They are connected by two sternum straps to perfectly customize the torso fit. Frankly, we wish all backpacks, not just fastpacks, had shoulder straps with built-in pockets like these. Our only complaint is that when storing a water bottle, it will bulge and eliminate virtually all space in the ancillary pockets.

On the flipside, the hip belt pockets are much smaller than average, able to store only one snack item each. But on the whole, this hip belt is much comfier than a simple unpadded nylon webbing strap that you see on many other fastpacks.


This is an excellent ultralight fastpacking backpack with a very secure fit, incredible external storage, a user-friendly design, very low weight, and all for a good price. It’s our pack of choice for trips involving a mixture of trail running and hiking.

Top Pick Fastpack

Outdoor Vitals Skyline Fastpack

Thanks to its secure running vest harness and ultralight weight, the Outdoor Vitals Skyline Fastpack is the perfect choice for carrying a minimalist kit on a fair-weather overnight run (Shop Now). Its purpose-built, extra low volume design, sits high on the back and all but completely eliminates bounce and sway while on the move. This pack is fast! Read our full-length Outdoor Vitals Skyline Fastpack Review.

  • Weight: 20.6 oz
  • Price: $200
  • Materials: Robic Ripstop Nylon, UltraStretch Pockets
  • Frame: Aerated Foam Back Panel
  • Load Capacity: 20 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 23L (size S or M), 28L (size L)
  • External Volume : 3L (more if you fully stretch the pockets)
  • Pros: Ultralight. Excellent for running. Secure fit. Good value. No bounce and sway. Lots of exterior storage.
  • Cons: Main body compartment, side pockets, and vest pockets are all slightly too small. Only compatible with complete ultralight kit.

Features & Construction

At its core, the Skyline Fastpack chassis is a Robic Nylon roll-top with a foam back panel, Challenge UltraStretch pockets, and a very nice and secure padded running vest harness. The 23L main compartment (size S/M) is a bit low-volume for our tastes. Gear Tetris is all but guaranteed and good luck fitting a cold-weather camping kit. However, that’s a small price to pay for luxury of completely minimizing bounce and sway while running.

Despite our quibbles with its main compartment size, the pack is drenched in exterior storage which we view very positively overall. This include the full suite of stretch fabric side and front pockets, as well as four pockets per vest strap, a pass-through pocket on the bottom, and Y-strap up top.

If we could change one thing about this pack, it would be increasing the main compartment volume. As-is, the 23L size S/M is really only cut out for a fair weather overnight that does not involve carrying cold-weather gear like a 20 degree bag or puffy jacket. The size L, at 28L (22% larger) is right in the sweet spot. It sounds weird, but this is the only pack that we recommend more strongly specifically to people with a larger torso.


Everything about the Skyline Fastpack was designed for runners and not hikers, summer-not-shoulder-season, overnight-not-extended-outing, and all of that should inform your purchase decision. When properly fitted, it completely minimizes bounce and sway thanks to the extra low volume and secure running vest fit. If your favorite type of adventure is an overnight run with super ultralight minimalist camping gear in fair weather conditions, you will absolutely love this pack.

Top Pick Fastpack

Six Moon Designs Flight 30 Ultra Running Backpack

The Six Moon Designs Flight 30 is a dedicated fastpacking backpack with a full-on running vest harness. It provides fastpackers an incredibly secure and comfortable fit to prevent bounce and sway. Learn more in our full-length Six Moon Designs Flight 30 Review.

  • Weight: 31.0 oz
  • Price: $225
  • Materials: 100D Robic Nylon, UltraStretch
  • Frame: Aerated foam and spacer mesh back panel
  • Load Capacity: 35 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 27L
  • External Volume : 4L
  • Pros: Excellent adjustable harness offers a very secure fit. Great for running. Load lifters. Framed for weight transfer to hips.
  • Cons: Heavy for a fastpack. No rear mesh pocket is a big downside.

Construction & Features

What sets the Six Moon Designs Flight 30 apart from the crowd is its customizable, top of the line, fully builti out vest harness, referred to as the Flight Vest Harness. Let’s dive in.

For starters, these are not your average shoulder straps. This is a true running vest harness with extra wide mesh carrying all the way down to prevent upward bouncing of the pack as you run. And it’s all connected by dual sternum straps for even more security.  The chest straps have six pockets in total. They can store valuables, snacks, accessories, and bottles up to 500ml in size. However if you do carry bottles up front, which we recommend, this can only fit 500 ml size ones, and soft is comfier than hard sided.

What’s more Flight 30 is the only pack in its class with adjustable harness height notches, meaning it truly is a one-size fits most. The Flight Vest Harness works in conjunction with an extra wide and comfy removable hip belt and a pair of large and nicely shaped zippered stash pockets. All said and done, it creates a magnificently secure, and locked-in fit on the wearer’s torso to prevent swaying and bouncing of gear.

We like the “low contact” aerated foam and spacer mesh back panel. It is narrow, only about five inches, which reduces sweat/heat by letting more air in from the sides. It is comfy, and blocks lumps. The pack itself is a simple roll top closure with shock cord compression straps on the top and sides for additional storage. WIt also features two large side pockets for water bottles and an undercarriage pocket for quick access. All of these pockets are made with durable UltraStretch mesh.

One major area for improvement on this pack would be to replace the rear compression shock cord with a large external mesh pocket. It’s far, far handier and more secure than compression straps, and it can also store smaller items that would slip through the compression straps.  Another area for improvement is its weight. We understand that the fully built out running vest harness adds extra material and precious ounces, but something surely could have been done to get this one down from two pounds to one and a half. Just under two pounds is the extreme upper weight limit, but forgivable because of how much we like the fit on this pack.


This is a perfect fastpacking backpack for those who plan run more trail miles than walk. It delivers an excellent, secure and sway-resistant, locked-in fit for a reasonable price with options to upgrade. We just wish it were a bit lighter weight and had a rear mesh pocket.

Top Pick Fastpack

Black Diamond Pursuit 30

The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 Backpack is the most running-vest-feeling of all of the fastpacks. This is thanks to an extremely secure fit provided by a true vest harness and an extra wide hip belt. Detracting from this are a number of oddly designed features with lots of room for improvement. Nonetheless, it is comfortable, functional, and exceptional for running. Read more in our full length Black Diamond Pursuit 30 Review.

  • Weight: 28.1 oz
  • Price: $180
  • Materials: 100% recycled fabric
  • Frame: Aerated Foam back panel with spacer mesh
  • Load Capacity: Unlisted, estimate 20-25 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 30L
  • External Volume: Unlisted, estimate 5L
  • Pros: Extremely secure fit. best-in-class running vest harness. Affordable. Large rear pocket. Breathable back panels
  • Cons: A bit heavy. No hip belt pockets and other pocket oddities. Clamshell open/close. Compression system gets in the way.

Construction & Features

The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 is a unique fastpacking backpack with a lot going for it, but most of all, the superbly secure fit thanks to the uniquely wide hip belt. Of all of the multi-day-compatible fastpacks we’ve reviewed, this is perhaps the closest to an actual running vest and the least like a backpacking pack. This is thanks to the extra extra wide and comfortable hip belt which works in conjunction with the vest-harness and dual sternum straps to deliver a sway-and-bounce-proof ride in the backcountry.

Unfortunately, the pack falls off a bit once we discuss the rest of the features. For packs of this size, we always prefer roll top to clamshell as it increases the lifespan of the pack and prevents gear from falling out when you open it all of the way. We also dislike the volume adjuster system, which runs cords along the side that meet in the center front at an adjuster. However, these cords interfere with the pockets and clamshell and cause more harm than good.

The pack is loaded with pockets, including two zippered pouches (one internal, one external) on the top of the pack, a pair of vest pockets on each shoulder strap, and a large external mesh pocket on the front exterior. This pocket stores tons of gear and has a unique pass through side entry system. However, we found the side storage section wasn’t quite deep enough for 1L Smartwaters, the gold standard in ultralight water bottles. A heretofore unknown pocket exists at the intersection of the hip belt and primary external mesh pocket, but we’re not sure what to put in it or why they didn’t just add normal hip belt pockets.


The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 is a very interesting fastpack design, one we want to like a bit more than we do in practice. We love, love, love the extra secure and comfortable fit thanks to its wide hip belt and true vest-harness with load lifters that pull weight off the shoulders while preventing bounce and sway. Runners will feel at home in this pack. On the flipside, we take issue with a number of features including the use of a clamshell design instead of roll top, shallow side pockets, lack of hip belt pockets, too-small-of-vest-pockets, an irritating compression system. There’s lots to love and not love about this one, but all said and done, it delivers a pleasant ride for storing bountiful gear on an fastpack that involves more running than hiking.

Top Pick Fastpack

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 & FastpackHer 30 2.0

The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 and FastpackHer 30 2.0 are sleek and secure multi-day fastpacking backpacks built like running vests from a trustworthy and beloved ultra running brand.

  • Weight: 21.3 oz
  • Price: $180
  • Materials: 100% polyester
  • Frame: Aerated textured Foam and mesh panel
  • Load Capacity: Unrated
  • Internal Volume: 30L
  • External Volume: Unlisted
  • Pros: Running vest harness offers secure fit. Excellent vest pockets. Ultralight.
  • Cons: Minimalist hip-belt. Unnecessary side zipper. Potential durability issues.

Construction & Features

To get the basics out of the way, the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 and W’s FastpackHer 30 2.0 are a lightweight ~21 oz, roll top pack design covered in mesh pockets attached to a running vest harness. Pretty much exactly what you want for a multi-day fastpacking backpack optimized to run, as the secure, torso-hugging fit reduces the bouncing and swaying of gear.

The Fastpack 30 vest harness pockets are excellent and you can tell they were designed by ultra runners. They can fit two soft water bottles, and an array of bars, balms, sunscreens, and your phone. Very handy, very useful. The mesh rear and side pockets pull inspo from the world of ultralight backpacks, and are perfect for storing bottles and other handy items.

The entire pack is constructed with polyester, which is an interesting choice; maybe they know something we don’t?  The aerated foam back panel with valleys covered by mesh adds breathability, but it’s no sweat reduction miracle. It comes with a removable waistbelt, but it’s nothing more than nylon webbing. This feature does an acceptable job of locking the lower portion of the pack down to prevent bouncing, but isn’t particularly comfortable and doesn’t offer any additional storage pockets.

A design feature we’re not in love with is the full length side entry zipper, as it adds cost, weight, and an additional failure point without much benefit. Hypothetically, this creates easy access to items inside the body compartment. However, you should be packing in such a way that the only items needed from the body compartment are stored at the top of that section and can be easily accessed via the roll top.


This is a good all-around fastpacking backpack from a reputable and trustworthy ultra running brand with excellent pockets and a running vest harness fit. Despites our nitpicks, it still checks all of the boxes and would serve you well as a multi-day fastpacking backpack.

Fastpacks Optimized For Hiking

These are the type of fastpacks used for unsupported FKTs. A multi-day fastpacking backpack optimized for hiking should be super ultralight weight (~1 lb), comfortable, and very easy to use. It does not require an extra secure, running-vest style fit. Rather, it can save weight by deploying ultralight shoulder straps, and can even forgo the hip belt. It also can, and should, be slightly larger in volume than a running-optimized fastpack. Hiking and speed walking does not require as much balance as running, nor does it create much bounce and sway. Therefor, a bit of extra volume is beneficial as it reduces time wasted playing gear Tetris and/or the harmful over-compression of down. The size sweet spot for a hiking optimized fastpack is 35-40L.

Best Super Ultralight Fastpacking Backpack

Zpacks Nero Ultra 38 Backpack

We tested Nero Ultra 38 (shop now) on the Mt. Rainier Wonderland trail, and it immediately became our pick for best super ultralight pack. The frameless design is nothing more than a roll top Challenge Ultra dry bag with shoulder straps, hip belt, and large external pockets. But when it comes down to it, that’s all one really needs.

  • Weight: 13.5 oz*
  • Price: $309*
  • Materials: Challenge Ultra 200 or 100
  • Frame: Frameless, with optional foam sit pad back panel
  • Load Capacity: 20 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 25L
  • External Volume : 13L
  • Pros: Super ultralight. Waterproof. Large external pockets. Sit pad back panel. 
  • Cons: No weight transfer to hips. Minimal load capacity.

*Weight and price measure base model in Jet Black (ULTRA 200) with size medium padded hip belt and foam sit pad.

Construction & Features

This is a frameless, roll top pseudo-dry bag style fastpacking backpack with large external pockets, extra wide, 3/8″ thick EVA foam shoulder straps, and a top compression strap. Add the sit pad foam back panel and you’ll be surprised how comfortably it carries 20 lbs.

We’re particularly keen on the large, 8L center mesh pocket and 2.5L side pockets. These are made with a static mesh that is more durable than stretch mesh but still allows wet gear to breath and dry. Plenty of room for knickknacks and rain gear. A single top strap can hold down a something like a fleece, though a Y-strap would have been preferable.

For how simple it is, there are some nice potential customizations. Choose the Ultra 200 since it’s much more durable for only 0.3 extra oz. Strap on the complimentary foam sit pad (1.0 oz) as a back panel to add structure and lump-protection, and/or add the padded 3 oz hip belt to keep the pack securely fitted while hiking with optional belt pouches. And why not add a 0.6 oz water bottle should pouch while you’re at it?


For those who already have a completely dialed in ultralight kit and want to explore the world of super ultralight gear, the Zpacks Nero Ultra 38 could be their last big upgrade. This frameless pack is a top performer thanks to its waterproof Challenge Ultra fabric, comfy sit pad back panel, and large external pockets. It’s probably even comfier, lighter, and more user-friendly than you think, and we strongly the Nero Ultra 38 to ultralight backpackers.


Top Pick Ultralight Fastpack With Frame For Hiking

Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 40L Backpack

The Zpacks Arc Haul 40 is an astounding design based on the fact that it has a full external frame and still weighs less than 20 oz thanks to Challenge ULTRA fabric. It has the best weight transfer of all sub-20-oz packs.

  • Weight: 19.4 oz
  • Price: $399
  • Materials: Challenge ULTRA 200
  • Frame: External Carbon Fiber Frame, lycra back panel.
  • Load Capacity: 40 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 25L
  • External Volume : 13L
  • Pros: Ultralight. Great external storage. Waterproof fabric. Wide Shoulder Straps. Full-frame weight transfer. Load lifters. Adjustable torso height.
  • Cons: Frame could be more durable. Hip belt pockets sold separately. Expensive.


What stands out the loudest about the Zpacks Arc Haul 40 is the exposed “external” curved carbon fiber air stay frame and taught lycra back panel. This mechanically transfers weight to the hips while also holding the lycra in place that creates an air gap between you and the inside of the pack. Thus reducing sweat/venting heat. Lastly, the frame includes a patented torso height adjustment mechanism.

Another very notable feature is the best-in-class Challenge ULTRA 100 or 200D fabric used in the construction. It’s waterproof, ultralight, and preposterously durable relative to its weight. Since it adds only a fraction of an ounce, we recommend choosing the jet black ULTRA 200 colorway.

Thirdly, we just adore the full size mesh back pocket with slack for extra storage space. Arc Haul 40 also comes with two full size side pockets, and a nice wide hip belt with pockets sold separately. It’s finished off with various external straps on the top, bottom, and upper sides.


The Zpacks Arc Haul 40 has best-in-class weight transfer, waterproof/hyper-durable Challenge ULTRA fabric, and excellent pockets. It is the perfect fastpacking backpack for high mile trips that require heavy food bags.


Top Pick Ultralight Fastpack With Frame For Hiking

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Waypoint 35

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Waypoint 35 is an ultralight fastpack made with waterproof Dyneema and an internal frame for load transfer. The entire package weighs just 23.5 oz and comes with all of the right features. It’s perfect for short backpacking trips or carrying a fully dialed-in UL kit. Shop now.

  • Weight: 23.5 oz
  • Price: $359
  • Materials: Dyneema. DCH 50
  • Frame: Contoured aluminum stay, 1/4″ foam back panel
  • Load Capacity: 40 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 35L
  • External Volume : 6L
  • Pros: Waterproof fabric. Durable. Very ultralight. Widened shoulder straps with built-in pockets.
  • Cons: Expensive. External rear stretch pocket has no slack. No load lifters.

Construction & Features

In most ways, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Waypoint 35 is a slimmed down version of the traditional HMG packs you know and love; most closely related to the Unbound series. It’s made with the same waterproof, ultralight, and hyper-durable Dyneema (DCH 50) fabric. It’s adorned with large side pockets, hip belt pockets, and a stretch mesh front p0cket. It features a D-shaped bottom to stand upright while loading, a roll top closure and a Y-strap top mounting/compression cinch. It even has a large internal stay for added load transfer.

The design deviates from most HMG backpacking packs in three primary ways. First off, it’s smaller; designed to carry a dialed in ultralight kit. The 35L capacity sits somewhere in between a small backpacking pack and a large day pack, and it’s perfect for fully dialed-in ultralight kits, or shorter trips with minimal food. Secondly, its weight class is much lower than average compared to most HMG packs which land in the 30-34oz range.

Third and finally, you get the exciting, new, widened shoulder straps (for increased pressure dispersal) with built-in, front-mounted shoulder strap pockets for storing snacks, small water bottles, electronics, or other handy items.


Ultralight gear afficionados will be thrilled about the Waypoint 35 and Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s return to the cutting edge of ultralight packs after a decade of resting on their Southwest/Windrider laurels. There are very few framed models in the 1.5 pound weight class, let alone with such a great feature set, and we’re excited to give this one a run for its money.

Top Pick Ultralight Fastpack

ULA Equipment ULTRA Photon

The ULA Equipment Ultra Photon is an exceptional, full-size ultralight daypack and/or fastpack, effectively a miniaturized version of their frameless CDT design. Photon has all of the right features, including the full suite of external storage as well as the waterproof durability and weight savings of best-in-class Challenge ULTRA Fabric. What a pack!

  • Weight: 18.9 oz
  • Price: $280
  • Materials: Challenge ULTRA 200/400
  • Back Panel: Foam back panel
  • Main Compartment Volume: 20L
  • External Volume: 15L
  • Pros: Ultralight. Waterproof fabric. Extra durable. Best-in-class materials. Full external pockets suite. Backpacking pack style. Full size removable hip belt w/ pockets. Great user experience.
  • Cons: Expensive. Difficult to access bottom of main roll-top compartment mid-hike.

Construction & Features

The ULTRA Photon is a 35L roll top pack constructed with Challenge ULTRA woven composite waterproof fabric; stronger, lighter and more durable than Dyneema (DCF). High exposure zones like the bottom and side pockets are reinforced with ULTRA 400, while the side walls and top of the chassis get ULTRA 200 for weight savings. ULTRA is the current best-in-class material, and the perfect textile for this pack.

Photon’s roll-top chassis main compartment holds 20L, while the full suite of exterior storage offers an additional 15L. We love daypacks that are sized-down versions of backpacking packs, including all the pockets – and that’s exactly what you get with the Photon. However, we do note that it’s a bit larger than your average daypack, sized both for fastpacking and day hiking. This is a particularly great pack when you need extra gear, or a big puffy in shoulder season. The front Ultra Stretch Mesh pocket is massive and expands to hold even more gear. The side pockets are sized for two 1L bottles each. You also get the top Y-strap, and bottom straps for a sit pad, as well two 1L hip belt pockets if you so choose.

The ULA Equipment ULTRA Photon is a frameless backpack with a foam insert to add structure and block lumps. It features an aerated spacer mesh panel on the lower half of the back, and ULTRA fabric on the top half. Despite the minimalism, it’s comfier than it sounds and will conform nicely to your back.

Last, you get all of the normal ULA trimmings, including exceptionally well-made, comfy, and durable s-curve shoulder straps and the full -n backpacking pack hip belt (optional and not counted in the total 18.9 oz weight). All of the buckles, cords, clasps, cinches, and webbing is top notch; everything about this packs looks and performs high quality!


The ULA Equipment ULTRA Photon is likely the best version of the miniaturized backpacking pack style daypack on the market. With it, you get best-in-class materials, massive external storage capacity, sub 20 oz weight, and renowned thru-hiker grade durability. This is an exceptional pack – get it!

Top Pick Ultralight Fastpack

Mountain Laurel Designs Burn 38L

The Mountain Laurel Designs Burn 38L is perhaps the most well balanced super ultralight pack when it comes to weight (only 16.5 oz), capacity, durability, features, and price. What more, it’s made with best-in-class Challenge ULTRA fabric.

  • Weight: 16.5 oz
  • Price: $325
  • Materials: 200/400 Challenge UltraX
  • Frame: Frameless, line internally with sit pad
  • Load Capacity: 25 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 25L
  • External Volume : 13L
  • Pros: Super ultralight. Great external storage with pleated ULTRA pockets. Waterproof fabric. Very durable. Y Strap Top. Excellent construction.
  • Cons: Frameless. Minimal weight transfer to hips, low load capacity. Hip belt pockets not included. Expensive.


The MLD Burn 38, now in UltraX, is a classic roll top, pseudo-dry bag style fastpacking backpack with basic shoulder/hip belt straps and large external pockets. The entire pack, is constructed with Challenge ULTRA, including the VERY deep rear and side pockets.

Did we mention we love these pockets? They are made with the same waterproof/indestructible Challenge UltraX as the rest of the pack, and are pleated so as to expand when stuff fills them up. This is a desirable pocket construction, because it is more durable and more protective than mesh, without needing to create space via stretch. They are finished with bungee closures and drain ports.

Oh and the shoulder straps? They’re a whopping 3″ wide, which is incredible helpful and comfortable as it disperses pressure. Frameless packs are unable to transfer weight to the hips, so more is felt on the shoulders. However, the fact that you’re packing a super ultralight kit helps compensates for this.

On top of the pack is another excellent feature, the Y strap, which can secure anything from a fleece jacket to a bear canister. We find this feature to be extremely handy, and is a good consolation prize for those who don’t have a pack lid.


Mountain Laurel Designs Burn 38 claims to be the FKT Record Setter, and we believe it. If you want ultralight-frameless, this pack has no major flaws, weighs very little, and is a joy to use.


Top Pick Ultralight Fastpack

Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack

For a super ultralight weight fastpack at a super reasonable price, grab the Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight Backpack.

  • Weight: 12.7 oz
  • Price: $185
  • Materials: 30d/70d Nylon
  • Frame: Frameless, foam sit pad back panel
  • Load Capacity: 20 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 28L
  • External Volume : 8L
  • Pros: Super ultralight. Good external storage. Good value. Surprisingly water resistant.
  • Cons: Frameless. Minimal weight transfer to hips, low load capacity. Delicate.

Construction & Features

Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack is the super ultralight version of Gossamer Gear’s go-to frameless-with-sit-pad-back-panel ultralight pack design. This fastpack combines highly water resistant 70d Robic Nylon with 30d Cordura to achieve massive weight savings.

The result is functional and durable enough, so long as you are careful not to drag it over abrasive surfaces. Used intelligently, it can last for many hundreds, if not thousands, of miles.  Used sloppily, roughly, or incorrectly, and it will not last. If you’re hard on your gear, don’t buy this pack. You know who you are…

Affixed to the roll top pack body are ultralight micromesh external pockets. Like the body materials, this mesh sacrifices ruggedness for weight savings, so be gentle. That said, we love to see the full size rear pocket for storing handy items like a rain jacket, snacks, or a map. Polish off the pocket suite with a pair of complimentary hip belt pockets and you have all the external pockets you need.

The back panel is an external foam sit pad, slotted into mesh holding ports which creates a modular 2-for-1. This style is common in the fastpacking backpack space, and more comfortable than it would appear.


The Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack is a super ultralight fastpack (just 12.5 oz) with great external pockets all for reasonable price. Sure it’s a bit delicate, but that’s par for the course in this elite weight class.


Fastpack Conclusion

We hope that by reading this buyer’s guide, you found the fastpack of your dreams. Adventure Alan & Co has lots of experience fastpacking in hiking style, but we’re only just getting started in exploring the running side of things. As such, this list is subject to change in alignment with our preferences. For now, based on what we know, these are the fastpacks we recommend.