Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 9 Pound for 2023
Nine pounds of equipment is all a backpacker needs to be safe, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry. This ultralight backpacking gear list has been evolving and improving for over a decade, and we’ve tested it from Alaska to Patagonia, and everywhere in between. If you want to carry less weight while increasing the quality and functionality of your kit, then you’ve come to the right place. Simply put, this is best-in-class gear.
In totality, this ultralight backpacking gear list includes everything you need to carry and wear into the backcountry. This is the set of items we pack to start, and then modify based on trip-specific needs. The 9.3lb base weight counts the backpack and everything carried in it while hiking. It excludes worn, held, and situational items, as well as consumables like food, water, fuel, and sunscreen.
Scroll down to browse featured gear. Or, if you’re packing for a trip and would prefer a complete item-by-item checklist including consumables, jump to the bottom where you’ll find the complete 9 lb ultralight gear list spreadsheet.
Most Popular Ultralight Backpacking Gear
- Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 Sleeping Quilt
- Gossamer Gear Polycryo Tent Footprint
- Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket
- Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles
- Zpacks Duplex Tent
- AnyGear 7075 Aluminum Tent Stakes
- Gerber LST Ultralight Knife
- Zpacks Goose Down Jacket
- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad
Tent, Backpack, Sleep System
18.5 oz | $699 MSRP
We believe the Zpacks Duplex is the best ultralight 2P tent on the market, offering stellar performance and incredible stats. Constructed with Dyneema Composite Fabric, it weighs only 18.5 oz, yet it’s amazingly simple, sturdy, wind-resistant, and easy to set up. While the duplex is designed for two, it’s so light that it is well worth considering as a solo shelter.
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 Challenger 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-frame design for an incredible load transfer from shoulder to hips. The Arc in its namesake refers to the back configuration which keeps the surface off your torso for excellent back aeration while preventing any lumps from jabbing. While we feel it’s perfectly durable enough for typical on-trail hiking, like most ultralight backpacking gear, it’s more delicate than average and should be handled respectfully. Nonetheless, this is another incredible design from Zpacks!
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.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad
11.5/12.5 oz | $210
Building on a legacy of excellence and innovation, the new for 2023 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad 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. They claim it’s significantly quieter than the original, however, we would describe it as merely slightly quieter. Nonetheless, this is a high quality, high performance lightweight backpacking sleeping pad with an excellent warmth-to-weight and comfort-to-weight ratio. Until proven otherwise, the NeoAir XLite NXT is now our go-to sleeping pad. Pro tip – save an ounce by switching to the short, 66 oz length.
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 only a single notched rib at the head making them extremely resistant to bending and damage when pounding in with a rock — and the 3-Latch points allow you to securely attach the cord even if they are not pounded all the way in. They have a pre-attached cord to make them easier to pull out — the cord is reflective to keep you from tripping on them during the night. Finally, ‘Y’ stakes have greater holding power than aluminum v-stakes, titanium shepherd stakes, and round carbon stakes
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.
Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket
6.3 oz | $170/$180
Weighing just over six ounces, the Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket is incredible ultralight backpacking gear at an incredible price. The minimalist design is fully waterproof and breathable and features include a chest pocket, hand pockets on the W’s version, and hood and hem cinching. Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse fabric is incredibly durable for how thin and light it is, so this rain jacket should last you quite a while.
The North Face TKA Pullover
7.6 oz | $59
Old fashioned fuzzy fleece actually delivers a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than more expensive “performance grid fleece,” which sacrifices insulation for extra breathability. While presented as a basic budget option, The North Face’s TKA Glacier fleece line delivers surprisingly good performance at a low price.
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. A great pair of hiking gloves!
Shop REI Co-op Trailmade Beanie
1.5 oz | $15
A lightweight beanie is all you need to keep your head warm for most 3-season backpacking, and the REI Co-op Trailmade Beanie does the job nicely. It’s reversible and made with 60% recycled nylon. Rep the Co-op with pride.
Hydration, Kitchen, Bathroom
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.
Pair of 1L Smartwater Bottles
2.4 oz | $4 MSRP
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.
JetBoil Stash Stove
7.1 oz | $145
The lightest fully integrated stove-pot combo system available! We love Jetboil Stash Stove‘s amazing heat output and fuel efficiency, and how nicely all of the components nest into the pot. This is our go-to stove, and a very smart piece of ultralight backpacking gear. No other stove is this good for backpacking.
Bic Mini Lighter
0.4 oz | $2 MSRP
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 Mug 450ml
2.7 oz | $20 MSRP
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
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
0.6 oz | $25.59
With an impeccably sharp 2” blade and weighing a scant 1.2 oz, this Gerber Knife is great for backcountry food prep and general-purpose cutting, a perfect piece of ultralight backpacking gear.
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
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.
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. It 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.
ZOLEO Satellite Communicator
5.3 oz | $200
The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is the champion when it comes to ease of messaging and value. It has location tracking and sharing. It’s the only unit that friends can send texts to without ever knowing you are communicating via satellite. It’s very nearly as reliable as the inReach Mini 2, but costs $200 less. It has blinking lights and audible alerts to update you on statuses without having to look at your phone. There is a dedicated button to send OK/location tracking messages. While it provides only minimal user operation directly from the unit itself, the app interface on your phone delivers a best-in-class performance.
Gaia GPS App
0 oz | $40 MSRP
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.
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
.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 Cal Topo to print your maps freely. Nat Geo maps are nice, but heavy.
Ultralight Backpacking Gear Storage
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.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll Top Stuff Sack
2.0 oz | $79
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Roll Top Stuff Sack is a classic dry bag made out of Dyneema. The DCF11 fabric is extremely durable, lightweight, long lasting, completely waterproof, and just feels indestructible and high quality. The 25L size L is probably the most universal, but we love the 43L XL, which is . 4oz heavier and big enough to store a 4-season sleeping bag, puffy, and all extra clothes without over compressing. If you’re going to spend that much on one dry bag, you might as well get the one size that fit’s all.
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 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
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.
Zpacks Water Bottle Sleeve
0.6 oz | $29.95
Shoulder mounting is the best water bottle storage method for on the go hydration, and the Zpacks Water Bottle Sleeve is the best tool for the job. We’re still shocked that this trend hasn’t caught on with the general hiking populace. This pouch is designed to fit most backpacks, and will help you quickly satiate your thirst without resorting to a hydration bladder. Don’t let shoulder space go to waste!
First Aid, Repair 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.
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
20.6 oz | $155 MSRP
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
Smartwool Performance Run Ankle Socks
1.6 oz | $21
When it comes to a comfortable and secure fit, nobody beats Smartwool Performance Socks. Because we do all of our hiking in trail running shoes, running socks are a better choice than thicker hiking socks designed to be worn with boots. The thinner fabric reduces foot sweat, and thus also reduces blisters caused by maceration. When choosing between models, we recommend ones with light to no cushioning. Apply your personal preferences when choosing ankle height.
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 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
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!
Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Pants
8.0 oz | $85
Style meets exceptional performance and comfort in this great looking, reasonably priced pair of hiking pants. We appreciate them for their two way stretch, zippered thigh pockets, and breathable quick drying fabric.
Arcade Belts Ranger Belt
2.5 oz | $32
The Arcade Belts Ranger Belt 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.
Timex Expedition Scout Watch
1.2 oz | $60
A basic weather resistant time and date keeping watch is pretty much all you need in the backcountry. The Timex Scout is done well, sold at a good price, and proves ultralight backpacking gear needn’t be fancy. We prefer to rely on our iPhone for most tracking, navigation, and GPS, which means a simple watch is a-okay.
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.
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
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
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.
Situational Ultralight Backpacking Gear
SlingFin Portal 2
2.9 lbs | Price $540
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 clearly designed by engineers, and 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. This is an excellent tent to have at your disposal, and perfect for shoulder season.
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
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.
Anker Powercore 10000 Battery Charger
6.4 oz | $26
Weighing just 6.4 oz, this powerhouse, rechargeable USB battery can charge most phones multiple times — great for use on trips longer than three days. And unlike many “smart” batteries The Anker Powercore 10,000 will detect & charge low drain devices like a fitbit or smart watches.
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, and should last a multiple hiking seasons without weighing you down. While it’s very puncture resistant, we find that it becomes susceptible to lateral tearing as it ages. For solo shelters, cut the width down by 1/3 for a total weight of 2.4 oz
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 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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
Patagonia Quandry Shorts
7.3 oz | $79.00
For all-purpose hiking and outdoor activities, we like the Patagonia Quandry Shorts. They look nice, stretch, breath, and are extremely comfy. And what’s more they’re made with recycled nylon, so it’s a win-win.
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.
Glacier Gloves Islamorada Fingerless Sun Gloves
5.9 oz | $24.99
In very harsh sun, gloves can be preferable to constantly reapplying sunscreen, and burnt hands can be disastrously uncomfortable. The Glacier Gloves Islamorada Fingerless Sun Gloves are our pick for the best overall option thanks to the comfy, breathable, fabric, and accommodating price.
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
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
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 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.
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.
Want to go on a day hike? Check out our 3 Pound Ultralight Day Hiking Gear List
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!
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the these links, a portion of the sale helps support this site at no additional cost to you. I do not receive compensation from the companies whose products are listed. For product reviews: unless otherwise noted, products are purchased with my own funds. I am never under an obligation to write a review about any product. Finally, this post expresses my own independent opinion.
Share this entry