Ultralight backpacking is a popular type of backpacking that focuses on only carrying what is absolutely necessary for your trip without including any excess weight. A key point here is to take only lightweight gear but without compromising on safety and quality. You should opt for ultralight backpacking when you are planning to climb mountains or go on a long hike. You might find it difficult to get ultralight gear to pack. We have put together this guide that contains a great starting point for selecting ultralight gear for your next backpacking experience.
To get started let’s look at the definitions of the different type of backpacking:
- Regular Backpack
This is the type of backpacking you should do when going on a short trip. You can pack whatever you want without worrying too much about the weight. A regular backpack weighs about 30 to 35 lbs.
- Lightweight Backpack
If you want to go on a hike without carrying a lot of weight, you can opt for lightweight backpacking. It consists of important accessories that are helpful for your trip. A lightweight backpack weighs about 20 to 25 lbs. on average.
- Ultralight Backpack
Finally, the ultralight backpacking, which consists of absolute necessities. Here, you want to pack only that is important for survival on a long trip or a long hike i.e. food, cooking utensils, sleeping gear, rain protection gear, etc. Each and every ounce counts when you are doing ultralight backpacking. An ultralight backpack weighs about 10 to 15 lbs. on average.
Advantages of ultralight backpacking:
- Increases comfort and reduces the risks of injury due to carrying heavyweight
- Less energy consumption
- Makes it easy for you to manage your accessories
- Won’t hurt your back, knees, shoulders, and ankles
- Cheaper than traditional backpacking
Disadvantages of ultralight backpacking:
- You can’t take much with you (only essentials)
- You might even want to compromise on quality for some gear
- You might face problems sleeping because lightweight sleeping bags or pads can be less comfy than heavy ones
- You might have to deal with extreme conditions/situations as you will have less gear on you
Ultralight backpacking can be difficult and less comfortable than heavy backpacking for beginner backpackers. But as long as you can manage sleeping well in harsh conditions and don’t mind simple cooking, you will feel comfortable and relaxed while carrying an ultralight backpack rather than a heavy one.
Here is the list of best ultralight backpacking gear that you can pack in your backpack and make your backpacking trip full of comfort:
One of the heaviest items in your backpack will be a tent, which is extremely important if you are planning to go on hiking or camping and staying there for some days and not staying in a hostel, etc.
Weight: 3 lbs.
This 2-person lightweight tent by Paria Outdoor Products has a minimum weight of 2 lbs. 15oz. with a footprint, poles, and rainfly. The maximum weight of a full set-up tent is about 3 lbs. 15oz. It is an excellent choice for two people and even best for one person as he/she will have more room to relax. The 3,000mm silicon/PU waterproofing makes it great against rainstorms and wet surfaces. It has a 20D ripstop PU fly, 40D ripstop floor and footprint, and many features that a high-end tent has, but all these at a fraction of the price.
You are also backed up a by a limited lifetime warranty with this tent.
You should always look for a lightweight and comfortable backpack that is easy on your shoulders because a heavy one might look sturdy, but it won’t be a good choice when it comes to ultralight backpacking.
Weight: 2.6 lbs.
The Osprey Exox 48 is an ultralight backpack made with nylon and has a 6065 aluminum alloy Exos peripheral frame that will provide you with excellent load-carrying support. Regardless of its lightweight, it can pack a number of things because of the space it has. Its sewn-in hip-belt is equipped with seamless layered mesh-covered foam that makes it much easier to carry for an extended period of time.
The straps and buckle, both are lightweight but still sturdy enough to provide comfort and good balance.
Weight: 2.2 lbs.
This backpack by Gohyo is an excellent and lightweight choice for campers, hikers, mountaineers, and trekkers. It has a capacity of 60 liters and plenty of pockets to fit all your accessories easily. The padded adjustable shoulder straps and mesh ventilation make sure that you have a comfortable on-foot journey.
The backpack comes with a rain cover that will provide you with additional protection against rainstorms. It also includes a 3year satisfaction warranty in case you face any fault.
Weight: 4.8 oz.
If you didn’t get a rain cover with your backpack or already have a lightweight backpack but want to protect it and the things inside, then this ultralight rain cover by Osprey is a great choice. It comes in 3 sizes; you can get one according to your backpack’s size. It also has a cinching attachment that enables you to fully wrap it around your backpack.
If you are planning to go far, you need accessories like a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and maybe a pillow to get some rest.
Here are the recommended ultralight accessories that will help you sleep peacefully:
Weight: 16.4 oz.
Sea to Summit is one of the best brands when we talk about ultralight sleeping bags. This sleeping bag’s fill weight is only 280g and it can be compressed to 2.9L, providing you more room in the backpack to pack some more stuff.
Its shell is made of 10D UL nylon and treated with DWR to provide additional protection against wet floor and rain. It is rated as a 2.5season sleeping bag.
Weight: 16 oz.
If you want to sleep without hurting your back on the hard floor then you must invest in a good sleeping pad like this one by Outdoorsman Lab. This 2inch thick sleeping bag consists of a number of individuals, but interconnected, air cells that will adjust according to your body shape and provide great comfort and support.
It can be packed down small, which means it won’t take up any extra space in your backpack and will be comfortable on your shoulders. It can be inflated easily in just 10 to 15 breaths. It is also weatherproof and made with sturdy material to last long.
Weight: 17 oz.
This is another ultralight sleeping pad by Ryno Tuff that weighs only 17oz. When inflated, the pad gets 75 inches long and 24 inches wide. It also packs up small to only 4 inches in diameter and 15 inches in height. Its individual interconnected air cells can get as thick as 1-1/2 inches to provide support to your body, especially your back.
It is made with 20D nylon and has a TPU coating that makes it tough and durable. You will also get a comfortable camping pillow with the pad.
4. Cooking Utensils
If you prefer cooking your own food instead of eating packed one then you should take lightweight cooking utensils with you including:
Weight: 12 oz.
The MiniMo by Jetboil is an excellent choice for all the backpackers who want to boil water or simmer soup/pasta dish, out in the middle of nowhere. It also has a built-in push-button igniter so you don’t need to carry a lighter or matchsticks to ignite it. Traditional stoves can weigh too much for ultralight backpacking that is why this 12oz. stove by Jetboil is a great choice to consider.
For more convenience, it has a lower spoon angle that enables you to eat right from the cup. If you want to carry a spare fuel canister for the Jetboil stove, you can consider taking the Jetboil Jetpower 4-Season Fuel Blend with you.
Weight: 0.7 oz.
As we know that in ultralight backpacking each and every ounce counts, so why carry a spoon and a fork separately when you can get them both in a single piece? The Spork by Light My Fire is a combination of spoon and a fork, made with 100% titanium for more durability.
You can eat your noodles with the fork-side and drink its soup with the spoon-side. It doesn’t have a metallic taste like cheap spoons and forks. The middle of the Spork is textured for anti-slip grip.
5. Eating and Drinking
Weight: less than 10 oz.
Your water bottle won’t remain full for a long time; you will need to refill it from a waterfall or a lake near your camp. The water from such sources is contaminated, which can be easily filtered through a filter such as this one by Cosupa. It is equipped with an ultrafiltration membrane that can remove up to 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria.
Operating it is extremely easy, all you have to do is put one end of the pipe in the water source and the other end in the water container then pump the handle up and down to filter the water. With the Cosupa Microfilter, you will be drinking 100% safe and bacteria-free water.
Weight: 9.6 oz.
If you want a combination of a water purification system and a water bottle then this filtration water bottle by SGODDE is a perfect choice. It has a sturdy water bottle with a filter straw that can filter up to 396 gallons of water (maximum filtration capacity). All this weighs 0.6lb only, making it a perfect gear to pack in your backpack.
6. Rain Gear
Weight: 6.4 oz.
The Helium II jacket will protect you from the downpour and prevent your clothes from getting wet. It is made with 2.5-layer Pertex Shield that is a breathable and durable material. It is ultralight and can be compressed to the size of a granola bar.
The jacket also has an adjustable hood for better protection against rain. You can also get the Outdoor Research Men’s Helium Pants separately. These pants are also breathable and waterproof. You should get this pair if you are planning to backpack in a rainy weather/season.
Weight: 7.5 oz.
Mountain Hardwear designed this ultralight hooded down jacket that provides good protection against the downpour. This 100% nylon jacket has everything that you are looking for in a comfortable and warm ultralight rain gear. It has two front pockets to put things at hand and you can pack it into its own pocket as well for easy storage. It does have a high price tag but it is without any doubt, the best investment for frequent backcountry travelers.
Weight: 7.5 oz.
This well-crafted and high-quality 100% nylon jacket by Montane is extremely lightweight and easy to carry. It can be packed down to the size of a tennis ball. There is one chest zipper pocket to keep your things in, wrist and waist cinch straps, and an adjustable hood for more protection against wind and downpour. If you want a breathable, stylish, and ultralight jacket with a good fit then you should get it without having any second thought.
Backpacking is fun until your shoulders and your back starts hurting because of excessive backpack weight. If you are backpacking not too far and most of your journey will be on wheels then a regular backpack weight won’t be a problem for you but when it comes to backpacking to locations far away, you should opt for ultralight backpacking gear to make your backpacking experience wonderful.
All the things mentioned on the list above are extremely important if you want to enjoy the whole trip. You can also opt for the recommended ultralight gear that won’t be a burden on your shoulders and will help in making your journey remarkable. Happy Backpacking!