Tent, Backpack, Sleep System

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

Packed Apparel

Zpacks Goose Down Jacket

Zpacks Goose Down Jacket

6.8 oz | $375

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.

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!

Senchi Designs Alpha 90 Hoodie Pocket

Alpha Direct Hoodie

~5.0 oz | ~$100

A hoodie made with Alpha Direct 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.

Outdoor Research Versaliner Sensor Gloves

2.8 oz | $60

The Outdoor Research Versaliner Sensor Gloves are your quintessential 150 weight fleece liner hiking gloves, only they come with an added bonus – waterproof shells stashed in back-of-hand pockets. You’ll barely notice them until needed, but they add significant warmth by protecting against wind and rain. Technically, the liners are not seam taped, and thus not completely waterproof, but they do a good impression of it in light to moderate rain when other gloves would be soaked through immediately. A versatile pair of hiking gloves!

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.

Hydration, Kitchen, Bathroom

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.

Outdoor Vitals Shoulder Strap Pocket

Outdoor Vitals Shoulder Strap Pocket

0.8 oz | $19

The Outdoor Vitals Shoulder Strap Pocket is our preferred holster for storing a .6L Katadyn BeFree water filter, and the two work in perfect synchronicity for a drink-from-the-source-as-you-go hydration strategy with the least possible amount of effort. This system is particularly ideal for people with inflexible shoulders who cannot reach back into their side pockets.

Pair of 1L Smartwater Bottles

Pair of 1L Smartwater Bottles

2.4 oz | $2 each

Ditch those heavy Nalgenes for a significantly lighter water storage unit. We prefer to use 1L Smartwater bottles. Incredibly durable for a “single use product,” this thru hiker favorite fits the Sawyer filter and can last an entire season of backpacking or longer. Also works for storing on a shoulder holster, and slides in and out of side pockets better than wide bottles.

Frankenstove pocket rocket deluxe stove plus jetboil stash pot

Frankenstove (MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe + Jetboil Stash Pot)

8.0 oz | $230

Frankenstove is our nickname for the combination of MSR PocketRocket Deluxe (our pick for best standalone stove), and the pot from the Jetboil Stash System (the most efficient pot on the market). Combined, these two offer wind resistance, pressure regulation, high BTU output when desired, fuel economy when desired, a pietzo ignitor, and a heat-exchanger ring. It boils faster and more efficiently than any other system. The only downside is that there is currently no way to purchase the Jetboil Stash Pot without also purchasing the stove, which is worse than Pocket Rocket Deluxe. This system is only recommended for boiling water, and not cooking. PRD puts out more heat that Stash’s default stove, and has potential to singe or burn food on the bottom of the Stash pot.


Bic Mini Lighter

0.4 oz | $2

Smaller lighters save weight, and are just as good at lighting stoves. The Bic Mini has been with us for decades and is always reliable.

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.

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

Gerber LST Ultralight Knife

0.6 oz | $26

With an impeccably sharp 2” blade and weighing a scant 1.2 oz, this Gerber Knife is great for basic backcountry food prep and general-purpose cutting; a perfect piece of ultralight backpacking gear.

TheTentLab The Deuce #2 Trowel

TheTentLab The Deuce #2 Trowel

0.6 oz | $20

Ditch that clunky, orange, plastic trowel and upgrade to TheTentLab The Deuce. It’s is the sturdiest sub-one ounce trowel we know of. And at $20, it’s also a great buy and an easy ultralight backpacking gear gift with universal appeal for the hiker in your life.

Zpacks Ultralight Travel Toothbrush

Zpacks Ultralight Travel Toothbrush

0.5 oz | $3

Our friends at Zpacks sell a wide variety of ultralight gear, and we’re glad to find they also stock toothbrushes so you don’t have to visit four pharmacies until you find a sufficiently lightweight travel brush. The Zpacks Ultralight Travel Toothbrush comes with a mini toothpaste tube as well, but without that, the kit with case weighs only half an ounce. It’s a bit finicky to be honest, but still perfectly functional and helps keep weight down.

Navigation, Communication

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Paper Topo Map

Paper Topo Map

.5 oz | Variable

A paper topo map is still important! We prefer printed topographic quadrangles at 1:24.000. Store in a Ziploc bag. High quality prints can be purchased on waterproof paper. You can also use online mapping software like Gaia GPS or CalTopo to print your maps freely. Nat Geo maps are nice, but heavy.

 

Gear Storage

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow

1.7 oz | $59

We love the 9L Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Sack Pillow for dry gear storage and improving quality of sleep. A great 2-for-1 and an ideal piece of ultralight backpacking gear. Constructed with waterproof durable Dyneema, zipper access, and a reversible fleece interior lining for pillow-mode. It gives a lot of utility for 1.7 ounces. The large size fits a puffy better and is comfier to sleep on.

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.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sack

0.7 oz | $49

For storing frequently accessed items like sunscreen, bug head net, or extra socks, we recommend the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Drawstring Stuff Sacks in the 9L size, DCF11. They also make great food bags. These bags are constructed with waterproof, durable, ultralight Dyneema fabric and will outlast multiple generations of cheaper sil-nylon bags.

LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bag 12×20

LOKSAK OPSAK 12×20

0.8 oz | $16 MSRP

Nesting perfectly in an Ursack Major Bear Bag, this giant, ultra-heavy-duty-Ziploc-style bag called LOKSAK OPSAK will keep your food dry when it rains, and prevent smells from escaping when properly closed. A necessary pairing to fully protect your food from the elements and animals. Each bag lasts 1-2 hiking seasons, depending on use.

Zpacks Belt Pouch

Zpacks Belt Pouch

0.8 oz | $29.95

Weighing less than an ounce, the Zpacks Belt Pouch offers an modular 1L storage system to add your hip belt for easy access to snacks and gear. We like how Zpacks hip belt pockets are replaceable, compared to built-in hip belt zipper pouches from other brands that are typically one of the first fail points due to heavy use and overloading. This is one of the hardest working 0.8 oz items in an ultralight backpacking gear kit.

First Aid, Repair Kit

Homemade First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

3 oz | Homemade

The best first aid kits are homemade. Ours typically include a combination of the following: Leukotape, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, benzoin tincture, assorted bandages in different sizes, gel blister cover, 4×4″ gauze pads and gauze roll, neosporin, Benadryl, nitrile gloves, alcohol wipes, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, caffeine pills, heavy duty pain killer, personal prescriptions, nail clippers, safety scissors, tick removal, safety clip. It borrows safety scissors and duct tape from repair kit.

If you’re unable or unwilling to make your own first aid kit, these “ultralight watertight” bundles will do in a pinch.

Homemade Backpacking Repair Kit

Repair Kit

2 oz | Homemade

Our homemade repair kit includes duct tape, Therm-a-Rest glue dot and patch kit, Tenacious Tape, Krazy glue, alcohol wipes, zip ties, safety scissors, needle, and a spare sawyer gasket. Use floss for thread, and safety pins from first aid kit. We find this is all we need to make small fixes to ultralight backpacking gear.

Worn, Held, Pocketed

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.

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.

 

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.

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 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!

Mens 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.

Womens 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.

 

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.

COROS APEX 2 Pro

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.

Apple iPhone 15

iPhone 15 Pro

6.6 oz | $999

We have decades of experience with apple iPhones and find the battery life, app reliability, durability, and cameras to be top notch. For hikers, the titanium casing and emergency satellite network SoS feature are great bonuses. The iPhone 15 Pro series is worth investing in over the base model because it offers a 5x optical telephoto zoom, upgraded from 2x. This is important for capturing wild life, faraway hikers, and plenty of other scenes you’re likely to encounter in the backcountry.

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.

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.

Saxx Quest 2.0 Boxer Briefs

Saxx Quest 2.0

1.8 oz | $32 MSRP

The Saxx Quest 2.0 Boxer Briefs are extremely breathable, quick drying, moisture wicking, and secure. And in their words, the patented BallPark Pouch™ provides friction-free support. This is the comfiest and most secure boxer brief we’ve tried. If you suffer from inner-thigh chafe, opt for the longer inseam version.

Patagonia Barely Bra

Patagonia Barely Bra

1.2 oz | $55.00

The Patagonia Barely Bra is wicking, quick-drying, comfortable, and odor-reducing, all important features for a backcountry undergarment. A meta study of buyers guides for hiking bras and online reviews confirms that this is one of the most widely recommended options.

Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear

Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear

1 oz | $35.00

With hundreds of 5 star reviews and featured in virtually every online buyers guide, we’re happy to endorse the Icebreaker Siren Bikini Underwear. The merino wool blend is comfy and naturally anti bacterial. They’re stretchy, breathable, and designed with low profile seams.

ZipLoc Bag Wallet

Ultralight Wallet

0.3 oz | $.25

For an ultralight, waterproof wallet, simply put your essential cards, keys, and a few bills into a ZipLoc bag. Freezer grade pint size is preferred for its durability and secure closure. Been using the same bag for two years now.

Situational Ultralight Backpacking Gear

SlingFin Portal 2 Tent

SlingFin Portal 2

2.9 lbs | Price $560

If you’re hiking into a storm, we recommend the SlingFin Portal 2. It’s the sturdiest sub-3-pound freestanding backpacking tent we know of, and it’s easily capable of handling extreme three season, and light duty four season conditions such as high winds and snow-loading.

The Portal is more like a slimmed down mountaineering tent than a beefed up backpacking tent.

The heavy duty poles and many tie out points are supplemented by internal guy lines, which prevent structural distortion due to wind shearing.

What’s more, this tent is no slouch when it comes to creature comforts. With generous headroom and a litany of interior pockets, the Slingfin Portal 2 is also very livable.

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.

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

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.

 

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.

Ultralight Backpacking Gear: Situational Apparel

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.

Feathered Friends Helios Down Jacket

Feathered Friends Helios Down Hooded Jacket

18 oz | $469

If you need warmth for shoulder season or winter camping, you need a Parka. The Feathered Friends Helios Down Hooded Jacket is filled with 7.8o z of 900 fill power down, and it’s preposterously cozy. This jacket delivers a warmth-to-weight ratio that far exceeds what you get from a down sweater, or basically anything from a mainstream outdoor brand. Not only is it warm, we love the pocket design on the Helios, and are always excited to throw this one on. It’s go-to for sub-freezing temperatures.

Mens REI Co-op 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..

Womens 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.

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants

5.9 oz | $140.00

In fall and winter, we highly recommend packing insulated camp pants over fleece and merino base layers, and we think the best option for ultralight backpacking gear enthusiasts is the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Pants. They have a seriously excellent warmth-to-weight ratio at 5.9 oz. While we tend to prefer down insulation for jackets, synthetic insulation is a better option for pants due to its water resistance, as they’re more likely to come in contact with snow and wet surfaces at the ankle, seat, and knees. Compared to similar offerings from much larger brands, the Torrid Pants are simply warmer and lighter.

SHOWA Gloves TEMRES 282

SHOWA Gloves TEMRES 282

3.5 oz | $26.95

For sleet and cold rain, we use the SHOWA Gloves TEMRES 282, designed for winter-use in the maritime industry. These gloves are at home in truly nasty weather. and are 100% waterproof and never wet out from the exterior.

As out-of-place as they look in the backcountry, their performance is simply superior to alternatives from traditional outdoor brands, and they’re plenty warm enough. Dexterity and breathability are both lackluster, but functional enough for non-technical use. They run small so size up.

REI Co-op Power Wool Balaclava

REI Co-op Power Wool Balaclava

2.0 oz | $35

If you really want to keep your head warm, don’t skimp on neck coverage. For four season hiking, we prefer the full coverage from headwear like the REI Co-op Power Wool Balaclava which insulates your neck, chin, and cheeks, with cozy blend of wool and Polartec fleece.

Feathered Friends Down Booties

Feathered Friends Down Booties

9.3 oz | $119

We absolutely adore our Feathered Friends Down Booties, the most heralded cold weather camp footwear of all time. When planning for temperatures below freezing, a warm sock won’t cut it, so we always pack down booties, and recommend you do too. This is a modular bootie which includes a down sock, and a weather resistant outer shell with a sole.

Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Quarter Zip

Smartwool All-Season Merino Quarter Zip

6.8 oz | $95

For cool weather hiking, especially in shoulder season, we prefer the Smartwool Classic All-Season Merino Quarter Zip. This is a 150 weight base layer that derives performance benefit from an 88% merino, 12% nylon fabric blend. Specifically, its yarn is created by wrapping merino strands over a recycled nylon core. This keeps the merino next to skin for maximum comfort, while the nylon increases durability and moisture wicking.

Table Format 9 lb ultralight backpacking gear list

Adventure Alan’s 9 Pound Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

Bonus Material

Want to see more recommendations per item? Check out our Staff Picks Guide to the Best Backpacking Gear of 2023.

Want to go even lighter? Check out our 5 Pound Super Ultralight Backpacking Gear List.

Carry your weight comfortably with our guide to the best backpacks for backpacking.

Stay dry with our guide to rain jackets for hiking.

Stay warm with our guide to down jackets and pants for backpacking

Ultralight Gear List Conclusion

As you’ve now read, this is a true ultralight backpacking gear list with a base weight of 9.3 lbs. From dry storage to first aid, we’ve counted every single gram to compile a true guide for those looking to shave pack weight. While fancy, ultralight gear is a factor in this guide, the ethos of minimalism also drives this list. Everything you need to stay warm, dry, comfortable, and safe while backpacking is included here.

If you have any questions about any of the ultralight gear listed (or not listed), let us know in the comments below!