8.0 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 2023 Optimal Setup

Ensemble of 7.9-pound ultralight backpacking gear setup laid out across a wood floor
8.0 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List for 2023

I’ve spent years assembling my best ultralight backpacking gear setup for multi-day hikes into the wilderness, and I’d love to share my 2023 list with you.

Because what you bring along backpacking will make or break your trip. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

On an attempted trek of the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland in 2014, a brutal storm put me and my inefficient gear to the test, and things went downhill fast. The humbling experience reinforced what I’d already known: it was time to overhaul my backpacking setup.

Since that fateful trip, it’s been my mission to assemble the best possible ultralight backpacking setup for my personal needs. I’ve counted ounces, scoured over reviews, and slowly pieced together my dream kit. The base weight of my 2023 ultralight backpacking gear list comes in right at eight pounds.

Nowadays, I feel light, mobile, and unstoppable on the trail.

So check out the gear I love, read a few reviews, and use the checklists as you get ready for your next adventure into the backcountry.

Because backpacking is simply better with quality ultralight gear.

Backpack, Shelter & Sleep System

Backpack, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, tent stakes, pillow and tent laid out across a wood floor
Backpack, Shelter & Sleep System



Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad


Tent Stakes

Grey Zpacks Nero 38 DCF backpack for thru-hiking and UL backpacking

Backpack: Zpacks Nero 38 DCF

I switched to the Zpacks Nero 38-liter pack after my 2022 shakedown, and I’m thrilled with it. It’s comfortable, completely waterproof, and can haul four or five days worth of food with ease. For longer food carries, or during winter trips, I’ll continue to use my Arc Blast 55-liter pack.

Weight: 10.9 oz | 308 grams


Zpacks plex solo UL backpacking shelter for thru hiking

Tent: Zpacks Plex Solo

I just downsized from the Zpacks Duplex to the one-person Plex Solo ultralight tent for the 2023 season. By doing so, I shaved seven ounces off of my base weight and now only have to carry one trekking pole. This is the lightest fully enclosed tent around, yet it still offers enough room to stretch out and store my stuff.

Weight: 13.9 oz | 395 grams


Orange full-zip lightweight 20-degree Feathered Friends Flicker UL sleeping quilt

Sleeping Bag: Feathered Friends Flicker UL

Sure, there are slightly lighter 20-degree quilts out there, but none of them have a full-length zipper, adjustable drawstring foot box, draft collar, and 15 ounces of 950-fill goose down. The Flicker UL’s high-end features elevate my sleep system to a level of comfort I’d previously never experienced, and are well worth the extra few ounces.

Weight: 25.2 oz | 714 grams


A yellow Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite ultralight backpacking sleeping pad

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite

I used to sleep on the gigantic Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xtherm MAX, but I switched to the smaller three-season Xlite pad and trimmed 11 ounces off of my base weight. This pad is a commonplace among backpackers and has cemented itself as a staple in the ultralight community.

Weight: 12.2 oz | 346 grams


Zpacks brand stuff sack/pillowcase made of lightweight DCF material and mirco fleece

Stuff Sack/Pillowcase: Zpacks

I’m a finicky sleeper and must have a quality pillow when I’m backpacking. By day, this functions as a waterproof stuff sack to hold my clothing, and when bedtime comes, I stuff my Plasma 1000 down jacket inside and it transforms into a super comfortable pillow that secures to my sleeping pad.

Weight: 1.4 oz | 40 grams


Carbon fiber tent stake for backpacking

Tent Stakes: Zpacks Carbon Fiber

These ultralight carbon fiber tent stakes are as lightweight as it gets and stay anchored in the earth quite well. As you might imagine, these are quite easy to break, and should be used gently; never forcefully pound them into the ground. For more grippy stakes, opt for these ones instead.

Weight: 1.7 oz | 48 grams (8 stakes)


Total Backpack and Sleep System Weight
65.3 oz | 4.08 lb | 1.85 kg

Carried Clothing

Down jacket, rain jacket, thermal top, wind breaker, and gloves laid out across a wood floor
Carried Clothing

Down Jacket

Rain Jacket

Wind Pants

Long Underwear



Down Jacket: Montbell Plasma 1000

In terms of warmth-to-weight, the Plasma 1000 down jacket is second-to-none. By utilizing insanely efficient 1000-fill down as an insulator, Montbell has raised the bar for all premium ultralight down jackets. Gear nerds, rejoice, as it simply doesn’t get better than this.

Weight: 8.8 oz | 250 grams


Rain Jacket: Montbell Versalite

A few years ago, I upgraded my rain gear game and switched from the ultra-popular and affordable Frogg Toggs rain jacket to the Montbell Versalite. While sporting a much higher price tag, the Versalite fits better, breathes better, and is far more durable. It also works quite well as a windbreaker.

Weight: 6.3 oz | 179 grams


Pair of black ultralight wind pants

Wind Pants: Enlightened Equipment Copperfield

Hiking can get chilly in shorts, especially if you’re above tree line. This crazy light pair of wind pants helps stop morale-zapping gusts and layers well with my thermal bottoms to keep my legs warm. They dry very quickly and weigh as much as an empty water bottle. They’re a no-brainer for me.

Weight: 1.5 oz | 43 grams


Grey thermal bottoms for hiking in cool to cold weather

Long Underwear: KUIU Peloton 97

If there are lighter thermal bottoms on the market, I can’t find them. I’ve retired my old Patagonia Capilines and giving these a try for the 2023 season. They’re made from crazy ultralight fleece, and even rock zippers at the bottom of the legs so you can take them on and off while wearing shoes.

Weight: 4.5 oz | 128 grams


KUIU strongfleece 220 lightweight hiking glove

Gloves: KUIU StrongFleece 220

I’m quickly becoming obsessed with KUIU gear. Their innovative materials are on the cutting edge of ultralight tech, and are quite comfortable to boot. These silky soft gloves helped shave nearly an ounce off my 2023 base weight, and should do everything I ask of them in the backcountry.

Weight: 1.3 oz | 37 grams


Grey KUIU brand Merino wool neck gaiter

Headwear: KUIU Ultra Merino 145

My odor-blocking KUIU Merino wool neck gaiter has loads of practical functions on the trail, and will forever be a part of my backpacking kit. I regularly use mine as a headband, beanie, and face-covering during my hikes, and its versatile enough to be worn in many other different ways.

Weight: .9 oz | 43 grams


Total Carried Clothing Weight
23.4 oz | 1.46 lb | 663 grams

Cooking System & Food Storage

Ultralight titanium pot, bear bag,, stove, and spoon laid out across a wood floor
Cooking System & Food Storage

Camping Stove

Cooking Pot


Food Storage Bag


Stove: BRS-3000T

I carried the Jetboil Flash for years before I decided to lighten my load and switch to the insanely light BRS-3000T. I’m glad I did. I shaved nine ounces off my cooking setup weight and can boil water with ease. This little stove is a little erratic, but it gets the job done nonetheless. Read More >>

Weight: .88 oz | 25 grams


Titanium pot for hiking, backpacking, and travel

Pot: TOAKS Titanium 450 ml

Because I moved on from the Jetboil to the BRS-3000T, I needed to pick a camping pot to for all my backpacking food endeavors. The TOAKS 450 ml titanium pot fits the bill and has been as useful and durable as advertised. It’s a great portable mug for traveling as well.

Weight: 2.7 oz | 76 grams


Long-handle titanium spork for hiking and backpacking

Spork: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long

This titanium Sea to Summit spork is feather-light, sturdy, and great at shoveling fresh-cooked backpacking food into your mouth. Its long handle measures about 8.5 inches, making it easy to scoop food from the bottom of freeze-dried meal pouches without dipping your hand into the bag.

Weight: .39 oz | 11 grams


Food Storage: UltraLite Sacks DCF Bear/Food Bag

This waterproof DCF bag (1.9 oz) can hold 7-8 days’ worth of food during multi-day backpacking trips. It helps masks odor from bears, and rodents, and can be used with a rock sack and paracord (.5 oz) to suspend and hang my consumables when hungry creatures are a threat.

Weight: 2.4 oz | 63 grams


Mini big lighter for trekking

Lighter: BIC Mini

I use my BIC Mini lighter to ignite my stove and to burn off any frayed threads on my clothes and gear. It’ll also help me start a fire to keep warm during low-temperature emergency situations. A lighter could be a lifesaver and is essential for any backpacker’s ultralight gear list.

Weight: .39 oz | 11 grams


Total Cooking System Weight
6.8 oz | .43 lb | 192 grams

Water Filtration & Storage

Two water pouches and an ultralight water filter laid out across a wood floor
Water Filtration & Storage

Water Filter

Dirty Water Reservoir

Coupling Adapter

Clean Water Container

Water Filter: Sawyer Squeeze

The Sawyer Squeeze has cemented itself on countless ultralight backpacking gear lists. Why? Because it’s simple, effective, and very lightweight. Word to the wise: Don’t try to save weight by purchasing the Sawyer MINI. It’s maddeningly slow. Read More >>

Weight: 3.5 oz | 99 grams


Dirty water reservoir for backpacking, hiking, and outdoor survival

Dirty Water Reservoir: CNOC Outdoors Vecto 2L

Though it weighs an ounce more than my old Evernew pouch, my new Vecto makes it far easier to collect water along the trail. It’s dual-opening design allows me to easily capture H2O from streams or scoop it up from shallow sources. It’ll also hang from a tree while gravity filters the water for me.

Weight: 2.5 oz | 71 grams


Blue coupling adapter for filtering water

Filter/Bottle Coupling Adapter: Sawyer

This tiny little gizmo makes life much easier when filtering water on the trail. It allows me to connect my Sawyer Squeeze filter to my Smartwater bottle, making the process seamless. When properly connected, my filtering kit can also be hung on a tree for hands-free purification.

Weight: .3 oz | 9 grams


smartwater one liter water bottle

Clean Water Container: Smartwater 1L Bottle

Even though it’s twice the weight, I prefer the one-liter Smartwater bottle over the Sawyer Water Pouches that come with the Squeeze Filter. Why? Because the Smartwater bottle is more durable, easier to slide in and out of my pack, and doesn’t collapse when I’m filtering water.

Weight: 1.5 oz | 43 grams


Total Water Filtration and Storage Weight
7.8 oz | .49 lbs | 221 grams

Electronics & Technology

Headphones, smartphonephone, wall charger, power bank, USB cords, GPS device, and a flashlight laid out across a wood floor
Electronics & Technology

Cell Phone

Battery Bank

Wall Adapter

Charging Cables


GPS Device


Black Apple iPhone smartphone

Cell Phone: iPhone 13 Mini

I recently switched to the iPhone 13 Mini mainly because it’s one of the lightest smartphones on the market. It has a fast processor, 512 GB of storage, takes great photos, and has decent battery life. My phone is my go-to navigation tool over physical maps on multi-day hikes.

Weight: 5.0 oz | 142 grams


Silver carbon fiber 10,000 mAh power bank for hiking and backpacking

Battery Bank: Nitecore NB10000

Since I rely on my phone as my primary form of navigation, a battery bank is essential for my multi-day trips. As far as I know, the Nitecore NB is the lightest 10,000 mAh power bank on the market. It’ll keep my phone, headphones, flashlight, and GPS unit charged for nearly a week.

Weight: 5.3 oz | 150 grams


Black wall adapter with a USB-C and micro-USB input

Wall Adapter: VOLTME REVO DUO 30

Whenever I hit a town and stop into a restaurant or shop to quickly charge my cell phone and battery bank, the VOLTME wall adapter is perfect for the job. It’s equipped with fast charging 30-watt output and can juice up my battery bank and other gadgets in just an hour or two.

Weight: 1.9 oz | 54 grams


USB Cables: Cable Creation 6″

To charge my smartphone, battery bank, headphones, and headlamp, I carry two tiny six-inch USB cables (lightning connector and one micro-USB). Their minuscule length doesn’t allow me to use my phone while it’s charging, but that minor inconvenience is worth the weight savings.

Weight: .70 oz | 20 grams


Pair of Apple AirPods Pro headphones with charging case

Headphones: Apple AirPods Pro

Music, podcasts, and movies are an immense morale boost while hiking or winding down in the tent, so I always backpack with headphones. I recently upgraded to the luxurious Apple AirPods Pros, which weigh more than my old Panasonics and must be recharged. They’re entirely worth it to me.

Weight: 2.0 oz | 57 grams


Red handheld GPS

GPS Unit: Garmin inReach Mini

I used the Garmin inReach Mini for the first time on my thru-hike of the Colorado Trail, and I was thoroughly impressed. I was able to send messages to friends and family no matter where I was, and they could see my exact GPS coordinates every time. It’s great for solo backpackers who want peace of mind.

Weight: 3.5 oz | 99 grams


Mini ultralight USB-rechargeable RovyVon flashlight that can clip to hat brim for use as a headlamp

Flashlight/Headlamp: RovyVon Aurora A5 G3

I recently switched from my Nitecore NU25 headlamp to this teeny tiny USB-rechargeable flashlight. It has great battery life, rocks four different brightness levels, has a reading lamp setting, glows in the dark, and clips to the brim of my hat (all while weighing half an ounce). Need I say more?

Weight: .55 oz | 15 grams


Total Electronics Weight
19.1 oz | 1.19 lb | 541 grams

Miscellaneous Items

Paper, pen, paracord, thermometer, scissors, towel, ditty bag, and mini lighter laid out across a wood floor
Miscellaneous Items

Ditty Bag

Sit Pad



Pocket Knife/Scissors

Mini Towel

Pen and Paper

Ditty Bag: UltraLite Sacks

Organization is key when backpacking, so I use this waterproof ditty bag (regular size) to keep my electronics, accessories, toiletries, and first-aid items in order. It’s the perfect size for my needs, and I keep it at the top of my pack for quick access on the trail. Read More >>

Weight: .67 oz | 19 grams


Bright orange ultralight sit pad for hiking and backpacking

Sit Pad: Folding Foam Mat

This lightweight sit pad is nearly identical to the one included with my Zpacks Nero 38 pack. It works as a comfortable cushion when sitting on the ground, fits inside my pillowcase to add volume, and served as padding for my Arc Blast when its frame snapped mid-hike. Read More >>

Weight: 1.0 oz | 28 grams


Blue aluminum backpacking trowel for burying waste in the wilderness

Trowel: ‘The Deuce #1’ by The Tent Lab

Nobody wants to step in doo-doo on their backpacking trip and Leave No Trace principles require that hikers dispose of their waste properly. This light-as-a-feather backpacking trowel helps me dig holes in the wilderness to bury my poo while leaving the surroundings virtually undisturbed.

Weight: .45 oz | 13 grams


Compass/thermometer combo

Compass/Thermometer: Coghlan’s Four Function

A compass, thermometer, and whistle for under an ounce? That’s a no-brainer. I haven’t used the whistle or compass yet, but they’ll be there for me if I’m ever in a pinch. I hang this outside my tent so I can check the external temperature every morning.

Weight: .81 oz | 23 grams


Micro Scissors: Tacony Super Shears

I used to carry a mini Swiss army knife, but I never used any tools aside from the scissors. So, I swapped it out for this incredibly lightweight and compact pair of micro shears and shaved almost a full ounce in the process. These scissors are sharp, durable, and minimalist.

Weight: .18 oz | 5 grams


Green and yellow ultralight backpacking towel

Mini-Towel: PackTowl Ultralite (Face-Size)

I use my PackTowl Ultralite microfiber towel for wiping down the condensation inside my tent and drying out my cooking pot, but it can serve many other purposes. It can be used as an emergency fire starter, mask, or gauze if the situation calls for it.

Weight: .56 oz | 16 grams


Pen and paper

Pen & Paper

I love to take notes during my backpacking adventures, especially at nighttime inside my warm ultralight tent. Note-taking improves my memory and helps me recover important details when I’m writing my hiking guides weeks or even months after my initial experience.

Weight: .35 oz | 10 grams

Total Miscellaneous Items Weight
4.1 oz | .26 lb | 116 grams

First-Aid Kit & Toiletries

Antiseptic, Band-Aids, blister pads, Tenacious Taps, Leukotape, contact case, and a toothbrush laid out across a wood floor
First-Aid Kit & Toiletries

Duct Tape

Sewing Kit


Contact Case


Total First Aid Kit & Toiletries Weight
1.8 oz | .11 lb | 50 grams

Total Base Weight
128.3 oz | 8.02 lb | 3.64 kg

Worn/Carried Items

Ultralight backpacking gear: trekking pole, sunglasses, watch, shoes, Buff, socks, shorts, hoodie, and hat laid across a wood floor
Worn/Carried Items

Hiking Shoes




Hiking Socks

Trekking Pole



Worn and carried items do not count towards total base weight.

Xero TerraFlex II black trail running shoes

Trail Running Shoes: Xero TerraFlex II

I’ve only worn the Xero TerraFlex II trail runners on one short backpacking trip, but my first impressions are very positive. There was zero break in period and my feet stayed well-ventilated the entire time. I love their wide-toe box, which allows my toes to stretch out and prevents against blisters.

Weight: 20.6 oz | 584 grams


Black sun hoodie for hiking

Hoodie: KUIU Peloton 97

KUIU’s Peloton 97 weighs a meager five ounces, which is unfathomably light for a fleece hoodie. I still wear my Montbell Cool Hoodie on extremely hot and sunny days, but this is my go-to hiking top for all other weather. Its interior material is soft and velvety and breathes exceptionally well.

Weight: 5.0 oz | 142 grams


Black running, hiking and backpacking shorts

Shorts: Patagonia Nine Trails

I used to hike in my prAna Strech Zion pants but came to realize that I’m happier wearing shorts. The Nine Trails are extremely comfortable, water-resistant, have built-in boxer briefs, and sport three separate zippered pockets. What more could you ask for in a pair of hiking shorts? Read More >>

Weight: 6.4 oz | 181 grams


GPS Watch: Garmin Instinct 2

Maybe it’s a bit of an ultralight backpacking luxury, but the Garmin Instinct’s usefulness on the trail makes it a no-brainer for my 2023 gear list. This sturdy and straightforward watch helps me navigate, records my heart rate, tracks altitude and distance traveled, syncs with my phone, and much more.

Weight: 1.8 oz | 52 grams


A black and grey ultralight backpacking sock

Socks: Darn Tough Light Hiker

The Darn Tough Light Hikers are the perfect backpacking sock. They don’t have much cushion, but are still durable, comfortable, and extremely breathable. Not quite your style? Check out our extensive post on the best hiking socks for men and women in 2023.

Weight: 2.1 oz | 58 grams


Carbon fiber trekking pole for hiking and backpacking

Trekking Pole: Zpacks Carbon Fiber

This lightweight carbon fiber trekking pole is absolutely essential to my gear list. It distributes weight away from my injury-prone knees as I navigate steep terrain and also acts as tent pole to keep my Plex Solo standing strong. It’s light as a feather, durable, and tall enough to pitch my tent.

Weight: 7.2 oz | 204 grams


Lightweight KUIU camo hat for hiking and backpacking

Hat: KUIU Air Mesh Flexfit

It was time to get a new hat, so I figured I’d grab one from KUIU that matches the pattern on my hoodie. Though I haven’t put it through the ringer yet, this hat seems quite breathable and should ventilate well when I start sweating. I love trying out new hats, so we’ll see how long this sticks around.

Weight: 2.6 oz | 74 grams


Black pair of polarized Knockaround Fast Lanes sunglasses

Sunglasses: Knockaround Fast Lanes

I’m too clumsy and forgetful with sunglasses to hold onto a pair for longer than a season, so I wear the budget-friendly Knockaround Fast Lanes. They’re stylish, fit my face well, and have polarized lenses. They’re only $28, so if I break or lose them, I won’t be heartbroken.

Weight: .85 oz | 24 grams


Total Worn/Carried Items Weight
46.1 oz | 2.88 lb | 1.31 kg


Sunscreen, soap, blister cream, pills, stove fuel, and tooth powder laid out across a wood floor



Fuel Canister

Tooth Powder

Contact Solution


Rubbing Alcohol

Hand Sanitizer

I’ve accumulated an array of tiny plastic containers over the years to carry my sunscreen, blister prevention cream, bug repellent, Advil, and multivitamins. I carry the bare minimum of what I think I’ll need on a given trip and stash my toiletries and first aid supplies in two separate Ziploc bags.

I use a Jetboil Mini fuel canister with my camping stove to boil water for my dehydrated meals. An empty canister weighs about 7 oz (200 grams) when full and 3.3 oz (94 grams) when empty.

Food for a day on the trail (about 3,000 calories) weighs about 24 oz (1.5 pounds | 680 grams), and I always bring an extra day’s rations in case of emergency. Check out my guide on backpacking food and meal planning or hiking snacks if you want to see exactly how I pack food for a trip.

On average, I carry about a liter of water (35.25 oz | 1 kg) at a time during my backpacking adventures and filter water as I go. If the trail I’m hiking goes long stretches without any freshwater sources, I’ll carry two or more liters at a time. Water is heavy, so I try not to overload myself if opportunities to purify are abundant.

Consumables do not count towards total base weight.

Total Consumables Weight (Five Days of Food + One Liter of Water)
155.0 oz | 9.69 lb | 4.39 kg

Total Worn/Carried Items + Consumables Weight
203.8 oz | 12.73 lb | 5.78 kg

Total Worn/Carried Items + Consumables + Base Weight
330.6 oz | 20.66 lb | 9.37 kg

That’s it. You’ve now taken a peek at every single item on my 2023 ultralight backpacking gear list. I hope this post helps you in one way or another on your multi-day hiking endeavors.

And now, for those of you who aren’t entirely familiar with ultralight backpacking, I’d love to answer a few of your questions

Ultralight Backpacking FAQs

Gray Zpacks brand backpack leaned up against a rock covered in Lichen
Ultralight Backpacking FAQs

What is Ultralight Backpacking?

Ultralight backpacking is the minimalist practice of packing as light as possible while remaining safe and comfortable on the trail. The typical base weight limit for an ultralight setup is 10 pounds or less.

The ultralight mindset can be traced back over a hundred years but has only been widely practiced since the 1990s. Since then, technology has brought upon significantly lighter gear that is easier than ever to get your hands on.

What is Base Weight and What are Consumables?

Base weight is the total combined weight of your pack minus food, fuel, and consumables. Worn clothing and items that will be carried outside of your backpack (like watches, sunglasses, trekking poles, etc.) don’t count towards your base weight.

Think of your base weight items are the things that you’ll carry for the entirety of your hike (your backpack, tent, sleeping bag, extra clothing, etc.) The weight of these items should be more or less fixed for your entire trip.

Consumables are the items that fluctuate in weight during the duration of your trip (like food, water, stove fuel, Advil, sunscreen, etc.) The weight of your consumable items is not fixed and will vary from day to day.

Keeping track of your base weight and consumables separately will give make it easier to calculate how much you can expect to carry on a given trip.

There’s no cut-and-dry list of base weight items vs consumables in the ultralight backpacking community, so don’t fret much about how to classify everything you carry. Base weight is just a number in the end.

Does Backpacking Have a Weight Chart?

There’s no official weight chart for backpacking classifications, so defining them is completely objective. Based on my personal backpacking experiences, here’s my best stab at it:

  • Traditional Backpacking: 30+ lb base weight
  • Lightweight Backpacking: 20 lb base weight
  • Ultralight Backpacking: 10 lb base weight
  • Super Ultralight Backpacking: 5 lb base weight

Is Ultralight Backpacking Dangerous?

It can be, but only if you don’t prepare yourself properly.

Lightweight backpacking gear can perform just as well, if not better, than heavier traditional gear, so there’s no added risk if you pack for your trip appropriately. If anything, a proper ultralight setup is safer than a traditional setup because it will put less strain on your body.

Ultralight backpackers can get in trouble when they leave behind essential items (first-aid supplies, physical maps, weather-specific gear) for the sake of cutting weight. This practice of being “stupid light” is foolish and can put hikers in danger.

Is Ultralight Backpacking Gear Expensive?

For me, ultralight backpacking has been quite pricy, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

My current ultralight backpacking setup is worth around $3,000 brand new, which is no small price to pay. Cost aside, the quality gear in my pack will perform at a high level and likely won’t need to be replaced until many years in the future. That’s money well spent.

It’s possible to put together an ultralight backpacking for a fraction of what I spent, however. You just need to be willing to get a little creative. How, exactly? Seek out second-hand gear, research budget brands, and be willing to sacrifice a little bit of quality to save some money.

Benefits of Going Ultralight

A hiker walks across a snow bank on a trail on a segment of the CDT thru hike in Colorado
Benefits of Ultralight Backpacking

Many backpackers hesitate at buying ultralight gear, believing that lighter supplies will somehow diminish their experience on the trail. Here are some benefits that suggest that quite the opposite is actually true.

Carrying Less Weight Means Fewer Injuries

The heavier your backpack, the more susceptible you become to slips, falls, twists, sprains, and breaks on the trail. Lightening your load will make you more sure-footed and lessen the chance of injuries that can derail your hike in an instant.

You Can Move Faster and More Efficiently with a Lighter Pack

A fine-tuned ultralight backpacking setup will allow you to hike faster and more effectively than if you were to carry a backpack full of heavy, inefficient gear. This faster pace will lead to more daily distance hiked and less energy expended per mile.

Ultralight Backpacking is More Comfortable than Traditional Backpacking

Anyone who has ever carried a heavy, overstuffed backpack knows how agonizing the experience can be. Straps dig into your shoulders, dull pain creeps up your back, and your knees begin to ache with every step.

Too much weight on your back distracts from your hiking experience, plain and simple.

A streamlined ultralight setup will ease the discomfort of traditional backpacking, lessen your aches and pains, and put your mind off of your hurting body and back onto your surroundings.

A Lower Base Weight Means More Space for Consumables

When you make the transition to ultralight, free space will open up inside your backpack. This newfound room will allow you to pack extra food, water, and fuel for the long stretches of trail where you’re unable to resupply for several days at a time.

Tips & Tricks for UL Backpacking

A Zpacks Triplex tent is set up in front of the Cordillera del Paine Mountain Range
Tips & Tricks for Ultralight Backpacking

Over my years of backpacking and converting to an ultralight setup, I’ve learned quite a few valuable lessons along the way. Here are some of the best bits of ultralight backpacking wisdom I can offer you.

Buy a Scale

Every ounce counts in the world of ultralight backpacking, so get your hands on a precision scale and weigh every item that goes into your pack. Analyzing the weight of your existing gear will help guide the way for future changes to your setup.

Scrutinize Everything

To get your base weight as low as possible, you’ll need to take a close look at every single item on your packing list. Compare your current gear meticulously to other items on the market, and always ask yourself, “Can I go lighter?”

But lighter gear doesn’t always mean better gear, however, so be prepared to do thoughtful research and make decisions based on an item’s effectiveness as well as its weight.

Focus on the ‘Big Four’

In most backpacking gear lists, the heaviest items are as follows:

  • Backpack
  • Shelter
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad

By getting your hands on a new ultralight tent, backpack, sleeping bag, and pad, you can trim not only ounces but pounds off of your traditional backpacking setup.

Don’t Bring Duplicates

Packing double of an item when one will do is a no-no in the ultralight backpacking community. Why? Because the UL mantra is about carrying only what you need and nothing else. This means you can leave the extra shirts, pants, underwear, and sandals at home.

Share Gear with Others

Communicate with your hiking partners, share your gear, and distribute the weight between your backpacks whenever possible. Pooling the weight of your ultralight tents, stoves, pots, water filters, knives, etc. is a great way to lower your base weight by sacrificing some comfort and convenience.

Learn How to Dehydrate Meals

Dehydrating your own food for backpacking trips or thru hikes will save you significant money and is a clever way to lower the trail weight of your backpack. By doing so, you’ll cut down on the heavy and bulky packaging that comes with most of the freeze-dried meals you’ll see on the shelves at REI.

You’ll also be able to hand-pick ingredients based on calorie-to-weight ratio and tweak recipes to suit your palate. Once you dial in your recipes, your delicious, affordable, and efficient dinners will be the envy of your fellow trail buddies back at camp.

Research Your Hike Thoroughly Ahead of Time

The trail you hike and the weather you expect to encounter should dictate what gear you pack and what you leave behind. Study your hike’s terrain, check forecasts, determine the distance between water sources, and pack accordingly.

For example, backpacking alone for two days in the world’s driest desert will call for a vastly different gear list than hiking for a week through intense wind and rain in Patagonia.

Let the journey ahead decide what you pack and leave all your other unnecessary gear behind.

Stupid Light, Not Even Once

Ultralight backpacking isn’t a contest, so don’t leave essential items behind just to shave a few ounces off of your base weight. This practice is called being ‘stupid light’ and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Prepare yourself for worst-case scenario weather, bring a complete first aid kit, and pack physical and digital maps when navigating unfamiliar terrain. Cutting corners to trim weight is foolish and can be life-threatening if your hike goes sideways and you’re all alone in the backcountry.

Best Ultralight Backpacking Resources

Screenshots of four different websites: Reddit, LighterPack, Andrew Skurka, and Garage Grown Gear
Best Ultralight Backpacking Resources

Here are some helpful books, websites, and tools that have been invaluable along my journey as an ultralight backpacker. I hope you find them as useful as I do.

Ultralight Subreddit

Reddit.com/r/Ultralight is a helpful forum to discuss ultralight backpacking, gear lists, trip reports, and more. Redditors in this super-involved community are quick to answer questions, share wisdom, and offer advice.


LighterPack is a great place for backpackers to keep track of, analyze, and compare their gear lists. Users can assign weights to each piece of gear in their backpacking setup and the website calculates base weight, carried weight, and consumables in a helpful pie chart.

Garage Grown Gear

Garage Grown Gear is an outlet for dozens of different UL backpacking gear brands, some of which are stalwarts and many of which are up and coming in the industry. It’s a great place to discover innovative new products from companies you may have never heard of otherwise. Be sure to sign up for their email list for 10% off your first purchase.

Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips

Though Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips was published in 2011, it’s full of thoughtful information that is still 100% valid today. The author, Mike Clelland, packs over 150 incredibly useful pointers into the book, all drawn from his lifetime of hiking, camping, and exploring the great outdoors.

Andrew Skurka

Andrew Skurka has been a legend in the ultralight backpacking community for years. Want some proof? Check out his 4,700-mile expedition around Alaska, where he hiked, packrafted, and skied for seven straight months through some of the world’s most remote wilderness.

Ultralight Backpacking YouTube Channels

YouTube is full of great ultralight backpacking enthusiasts who are eager to share adventures, gear recommendations, and tips with the world. My personal favorites are Darwin onthetrail, John Zahorian, and Jupiter Hikes.

Should You Transition to Ultralight Backpacking Gear?

UL backpacker walking along a trail with trekking poles and a gray Zpacks backpack
Should you transition to ultralight backpacking?

In a word, definitely.

Going ultralight is an exercise in freedom and efficiency.

There’s simply no downside in drastically cutting your pack weight, as long as your new set up keeps you safe, happy, and comfortable on the trail.

Trimming weight and minimizing your packing list means that every item you pack should serve its purpose as efficiently as possible. Space and energy will no longer be needlessly wasted on hauling around a bunch of unnecessary stuff.

Less weight on your back means you’ll hike farther, longer, and more comfortably. There are simply no valid arguments against using well-made ultralight backpacking gear, so my advice is to give it a try. Lighten your load; what’s there to lose?

More Hiking & Backpacking Resources

What are some of your favorite pieces of ultralight backpacking gear of 2023 that didn’t make my list? What’s your base weight? Do you have any ultralight packing tips or tricks? What is the lightest backpacking gear list you’ve ever seen? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Last Updated on September 19, 2023

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Noel Krasomil

Hey, I'm Noel Krasomil, the founder of The Packable Life. I pack light and explore the globe searching for awe-inspiring hiking trails, rich cultural experiences, and ways to continue traveling indefinitely.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and end up making a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate links help support this website and keep it 100% ad-free.

85 thoughts on “8.0 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 2023 Optimal Setup”

  1. Hi Noel, just starting to make my own plan for hiking the O. Your website is a great resource!
    How many cans of gas did you take with you for your stove? I don’t see that on the list above.


    • Hey, Sal. So glad you’re going to hike the ‘O’ Circuit! I’m glad you found my article. Makes me so happy to know that it’s helping people like you. To answer your question, I used one regular sized canister of fuel for the entire hike. Had plenty of gas to spare.

  2. Hi Noel, I’m preparing for the O Circuit. Thank you for your blog, it’s an amazing help!

    What do you recommend for camp shoes? I saw some in one of your picture above.

    • Thanks, Clement! I’m glad you’re finding my guide helpful. When I was preparing, I couldn’t find a good guide with all the information I needed in once place, so I decided to make one myself.

      To save weight, I don’t use camp shoes, but if I did, I’d probably use my Chaco Z1 sandals – https://amzn.to/2Kv6Af7 – (very comfortable with socks and can be hiked in if I get tired of my boots) or a really lightweight pair of Crocs water shoes – https://amzn.to/2GOPxUk. I really do LOVE the luxury of camp shoes, but in the spirit of hiking ultralight, I have to leave them behind. I don’t really mind walking around camp barefoot either. In my opinion, it’s a great way to let your feet breathe and feel the earth underneath you.

      Any more questions about the ‘O’ Circuit or any of the gear I bring along? I’m excited for you! It’s really a once in a lifetime type of hike. What month are you going?

      • Great guide, Noel! On the Torres del Paine ‘O’ circuit, you didn’t need camp shoes/sandals to use the cooking shelters or to enter the refugios? You’re allowed to wear your outdoor footwear inside?

  3. Hi Noel, thank you for your advices on camp shoes! I’m gonna try the Chaco Z1 at REI. I really need something like this, for the travel from the US to Chile, and then for the evening at the campground :).

    I’m going to do the O Circuit this November, it will be windy!
    2 more questions regarding your gear list:
    -> For the rain cover, do you recommend it for the O Circuit? I have an Osprey also, and use dry bags in it. I wasn’t planning on buying a rain cover, I’ve read that with the wind it’s not adapted..
    -> For the water filter (I use the MSR filter https://www.rei.com/product/114975/msr-trailshot-pocket-sized-water-filter), I was thinking about taking this off my list… I’ve read multiple time that you find drinking water everywhere on the O Circuit. Did you take yours?

    Thank you again!

    • Great choice! I got mine at REI on clearance ($30!), so be sure to check the clearance section before you buy a new pair. You never know. They’re great sandals to hike in if the weather is nice and you want a break from your boots. The soles are beefy like a pair of hiking boots and they’re extremely comfortable once you break them in. The break-in period was a bit painful for me but completely worth it. Favorite pair of sandals I’ve ever owned.

      Yes, it will probably be windy! That’s what TDP is all about. It’s all part of the fun. I’m excited for you. How many days are you giving yourself to hike the trail?

      I definitely recommend a rain cover. There will be rain at some point along you trek and it’s imperative to cover your pack and keep your belongings dry. I would use double protection (cover + pack liner). The rain, like the wind, is no joke in Torres del Paine. Buy a rain cover with elastic bands that you can pull tight around your bag to prevent it from being removed by the wind. I used the Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover and it worked great.

      You definitely don’t need a water filter along the ‘O’ Circuit, but I brought mine along anyways. Almost all of the water on the trail doesn’t need to be filtered, purified, or treated in any way. I never actually ended up using my filter. That said, it’s nice to have a filter in case you want to clean standing/dirty water along your trek. Either way, you’ll be fine. The water is clean and delicious to drink. Your call.

      Keep the questions coming! I’m glad to help.

      • Hi Noel,

        Thanks again for the advices!

        I’m doing the O Circuit on 8 days/7 nights. I could have done less days but wanted to give me some time to enjoy the trek…

        I just bought my rain cover from Osprey also, thanks!
        I’ve tried the Chaco Z1 at REI, they are heavy… I understand now your comment! Not suitable for this trek. I might just take my Allbirds shoes, lightweight, comfy, will be enough for the travel and as camping shoes..

        • I think 7 nights/8 days is perfect. I felt a little rushed doing my hike in 5 nights/6 days. You’re going to have fun.

          Yes, the Chacos are a bit too heavy. Take something lighter like Allbirds. Report back to me after your hike! I’d love to hear how everything went.

          • Hi Noel,

            I have more questions as I’m getting closer to my trip, please :).

            For the bus to go from Puerto Natales to Torres del paine, and then for the 2nd bus inside the park, do you recommend to book it ahead? I will arrive in Puerto Natales 2 days earlier, mid November, so I was thinking about doing it when I arrive in the city… I’ve booked everything else few months ago (permits + campsites).

            For the campsites on the O Circuit -> do they have like trashcans on some campsites? or did you bring trash bags with you?

            Thank you again!

          • Since you are hiking in the early season, you’ll probably be safe to book your buses when you arrive, but I still would book them beforehand if possible just to ensure that you get the exact bus you want.

            Yes, I believe I do remember occasional trash cans along the way. From what I remember, there are refugios and bathrooms with garbage bins that you should be able to dump some of your trash. I can’t give you many details as to where you can expect to find trash cans, as I kept all my trash with me for the entire trip.

            Sorry for the late reply! I’ve been away from the website for the last week or two.

            Let me know if you have any more questions!

  4. Thanks so much for this site! It’s really useful and I appreciate it. I live in Japan, so Montbell reigns supreme here. I have the Versalite rain jacket, & was thinking of buying their ultralight windbreaker as well, around 50g, but I was wondering if it’s really necessary to have both, since the Versalite blocks wind really well. In your opinion, can it serve as both a rain jacket & windbreaker, or is there a reason why it’s better to carry both of them? Thanks again!

    • JJ,

      Thanks for the feedback! Montbell makes incredible gear and, in my opinion, they reign supreme in down jackets (Plasma 1000) and rain jackets (Versalite). They aren’t revered as much in the US, though they should be.

      As far as your question, I’ve gone over it in my head multiple frequently, and I still don’t have a straight answer! I’ll try my best, though.

      The Versalite is great at blocking wind and could serve you well as a windbreaker/rain jacket combo. So, buying a windbreaker isn’t completely necessary.

      However, I love bringing along my Zpacks windbreaker (2 oz) on backpacking trips because it’s specifically built to handle wind. It’s more breathable and comfortable than the Versalite and packs down into the palm of my hand. Because of this, I can stash it in my hip belt pocket for easy access. I wear it almost every day on the trail. (I love it).

      Because I bring my windbreaker, I put less wear and tear on my Versalite and only need to use it when it’s rainy. By bringing a windbreaker, I’m prolonging the life of my Versalite.

      I’m unfamiliar with Montbell’s 50-gram windbreaker, but I imagine it’s similar to my Zpacks jacket. I’m guessing it’s an incredible piece of gear.

      In my eyes, the windbreaker is well worth the extra two ounces because of comfort, accessibility, and minimizing the use of my Versalite. I think you’d be happy having a windbreaker in your pack, but if you’re really trying to get your base weight down, you can use the Versalite for both purposes.

      I hope this helped!

      • Thanks a lot for the detailed answer! This is really helpful, and nudged me towards buying the wind jacket. I’m going up to the mountains in 2 weeks so I’ll pick it up before then.

        Their UL windbreakers are the EX Light Wind Jacket (45g) & EX Light Wind Parka (56g), the only real difference being “hood or no hood.” Sometimes there’s a difference in the products between Montbell Japan & what they sell in other countries (ex: sadly no pit zips on the Japanese Versalite Jacket, but oh well…) so I’m not sure if the EX Light Winds are available outside Japan. Also the price is usually cheaper here in Japan 😉

        Anyway, thanks again! You made a good case for buying the wind breaker. I hadn’t been able to find an answer like that on any other site, especially one specific to Montbell so I really appreciate it, as well as all the other great info I’ve been able to find on this site

        • You’re very welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, so I love giving my input on the subject to other passionate people.

          If I were you, I’d spring for the extra 10 grams and go for the wind parka with the hood. Wind protection from the neck up is important too!

          Bummer that you don’t have any pit zips on your Versalite, but for what it’s worth, I rarely use mine anyways.

          Cheaper prices on Montbell gear in Japan?! Just another reason I need to visit. Japan is near the top of my list for travel destinations because of its food, culture, and outdoor opportunities. In addition to backpacking, I love skiing and really want to check out some of the world-renowned slopes in over there. And sushi. I have to try the sushi in Japan.

          What brought you to Japan? Where do you live over there? I’m jealous!

          • Thanks for the reply! Yeah, the hood option looks like the way to go. When I go up to the mountains in a few weeks, it’ll be around 3000m & exposed and I want to get some night shots, so definitely cold and windy.

            I couldn’t find the hooded version on the Montbell US site, but the non-hooded version is $89 in the US & $72 here. Montbell gear is usually about 10-15% cheaper here.

            If you’ve never been to Japan, I really recommend it! I live right at the base of the Northern Japanese Alps (Toyama Prefecture), and the view is unbelievable. In 45 minutes I can be in the mountains, and 20 minutes to the sea. Most of the peaks in this area top out at around 3000m. I can’t ski, but the skiing / snowboarding is world-class, especially in Nagano & Hokkaido. And yeah the sushi is so so so good! 😉 I post a lot of mountain/nature/culture pics on instagram, so if you want to take a look, it’s jonathan.jahnke

            I came over here originally 16 years ago to teach & after bouncing back & forth between America & Japan, got married to a woman from this area & moved back permanently 6 years ago. I didn’t really start going up to the mountains seriously until a few years ago, though, so I’m still figuring everything out. This area is similar to the Pacific Northwest in the US, really rainy & can be cold, so it takes a lot of planning.

            Thanks again for the info! If you ever make it over, let me know & I’ll recommend some places, things to do, etc

          • Wow, you’ve really made the Toyama Prefecture sound incredible. It seems to be right up my alley! Once the dust settles and life starts getting back to normal, my girlfriend and I have plans to travel to Japan and will definitely visit your neck of the woods. If/when I’ll reach out to you for some advice.

            An English teacher! That was my guess. My girlfriend teaches English in China and currently lives in Chengdu. I was living with her in Chengdu but visited South America when covid hit and got stuck because China closed their borders as I was getting back to the US and planning my trip back. It’s going to be a while until we can see each other again.

            I’m really grateful you gave me all the great info about where you live in Japan. I’ve always wanted to visit but never known exactly where. I think I know now!

            I skimmed your IG… looks like you take some incredible pictures! Keep it up.

            Take care and thanks again!

  5. Just stumbled on your blog and think it’s great! I’m just getting into backpacking/camping, and I’m really enjoying all of the useful information! ^^

    • I’m glad you’re finding my blog to be a good resource! Backpacking is my passion and my goal is to inspire others to fall in love with it. Feel free to ask my anything about my experience backpacking. I hope you have a great summer full of top-notch adventures! Take care.

  6. Thanks so much for the clearly laid out gear list! Very helpful. I’m trying to get my weight down and seem to be stuck on clothing. Interesting discussion above about having both the Versalite AND windbreaker. Here’s my question: What temperatures would you say your kit is good for – day to night? Thanks!

    • Hey, Rob! Glad you’re finding my gear list helpful. I’m currently hiking the Colorado Trail (hotel day today!) so I’m really putting my gear to the test. My current setup for this trip, in my opinion, can handle overnight temperatures down to 15 degrees. The only difference between my Colorado Trail gear list and this gear list is that I packed the NeoAir Xtherm sleeping pad instead of the Xlite. It is incredibly warm and gives me an extra 10 degrees of comfort at night.

      Thanks for the feedback and the question. Any big backpacking trips on the horizon?

  7. Hey Noel,

    Lots of research on base weight, but your site helped me the most. Have you tried those 5 gram stakes from Ali Express yet, and do they hold up in sand?

    • Hey! Glad you’ve found my website useful so far. I haven’t yet tried the stakes from AliExpress, but I’m going to get them by next summer. I have zero experience using carbon fiber stakes, so I’m curious as to how they’ll work out. The design looks solid, and the stakes are about as light as they come, so I’m very intrigued. I imagine they’re going to be quite delicate and will need to be babied a bit when pushing them into the ground. As far as how they will grip in the sand? I have no idea. I wish I could give you better feedback, but that’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reaching out.

  8. Great post, Noel, and I see you just updated it. I discussed some of your recommendations with tour guides and the general feedback was that you’re spot on. When packrafting, for example, the guide’s only remark was that he prefers Japanese gear for some of the items, but otherwise agrees. I took your advice on various occasions and was very happy with it. 🙂

    • Hey, Stefan! Glad you noticed the updates. Yeah, Japanese gear companies tend to make great gear with incredible attention to detail (like Montbell). How did your packrafting trip go? I forget the specific details of it, but it sounded like quite the adventure last time we chatted about it. Thanks for stopping by. Hope all is well.

  9. As a fellow UL traveler, my problem is “scissors”. I see you carry a teeny tiny yellow plastic one. Mine were the same tiny size in pink (my attempt at making them seem as harmless as possible). Regardless, I’ve had my scissors confiscated regularly at airports all around the world (but not in the US)! Very annoying.

    • That is very annoying! I usually just leave any scissors/knives behind and buy a cheap set on the other end if I’m not checking bags.

      Trekking poles are a tough one too. About a year ago, I was getting ready to fly to South America for a backpacking trip, and TSA told me that I couldn’t carry my trekking poles onto the plane. I could have gone back out of security and checked them, but I didn’t have time. I had to end up leaving my $70 set of poles behind. I should have known better.

  10. Hey Noel, neat post here. I love the ultralight stuff though less of a backpacker and more of a bikepacker/touring cyclist. However was excited to see your list. Anywho curious to know if you have any good recommendations for ultralight non-down/synthetic sleeping bags in the 20˚ region? Really just curious to hear other thoughts. I am in search of a more winter appropriate bag.

    • Hey, glad you liked the post. My initial recommendation for a synthetic ultralight bag would be either the Enlightened Equipment Revelation APEX 20 Degree or the Enlightened Equipment Enigma APEX 20 Degree. The only difference between the two quilts is that the Enigma has a zippered foot box and the Revelation doesn’t. Keep in mind these two bags are quilts and not mummy style bags, just like the Katabatic bag that I have. I don’t have any personal experience with either bag but I’ve been eyeballing the Enigma down bag for quite some time. Lots of UL hikers recommend it as well, and it’s one of the most popular bags in the community. I will say, though, if you’re looking for a true winter bag, a 20-degree bag might not be warm enough, depending on what winter temps you plan on sleeping in. A 20-degree bag will keep you safe in 20-degree weather but you’ll likely still feel pretty darn cold unless you layer up to sleep. I generally recommend a 0-degree or 10-degree bag for winter backpacking, but I live and hike in Colorado at high elevations where it can get very, very cold. Anyhow, I hope my ramblings helped! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  11. Great post. Really reinforced my own ultralight gear choices. Any great overnight and multi day hikes you would recommend for a beginner UL backpacker in Colorado.

  12. Thank you so much been doing ultra light since the days of Golite equip founder. I really like the update you gave and I’m not far off from you. So thank you, and solo is good cause I’m tired of the hassles of others telling me I’m going to die. But I’m a minimalist so this whole way of thinking is for me. And I love it! I’m up here in the Pacific Northwest of Washington doing the Olympic mountains getting ready and in shape for the K section of the PCT. Stevens pass to Rainy Pass, in a go thru fast pack, so I appreciate your gear list. Again thanks, Larryg

    • Glad you enjoyed my post, Larry. Hiking solo is definitely the way to go if you’re a minimalist; you don’t need to carry along the baggage that is other people’s opinions! Have fun training in the Olympic Mountains and along the PCT. Hiking and backpacking season is truly the best time of year! Take care, and keep up the ultralight lifestyle.

  13. Hello Noel, I have a few questions mostly regarding the Katabatic Alsek 22F quilt, I was wondering if you are hot, cold or average sleeper? You also mentioned that it has never failed to keep you warm, so I was wondering what’s the lowest temperature it’s gotten at night while you were still warm.

    • Thanks for reaching out, Matthew. I’d consider myself an ‘average’ sleeper. I’ve taken the bag out into 15-20 degree temperatures and have stayed warm. That said, I was wearing thermal bottoms, a thermal top, thick socks, a beanie, and gloves. I love the bag and can’t recommend it enough!

      • Also, completely off topic but do you know where I can change my profile picture that is displayed on here? I set my profile picture to that many many years ago and can’t help but cringe at it nowadays.

  14. Hi Noel…I think you need to try harder mate as your gear is still a lot heavier than mine, yet it appears you don’t even carry a comfy chair and a table like I do. Even then my base weight is under 7lb. Also, you can get much lighter and more comfortable clothing than your currently using which will free you up even more and they don’t ncessarily cost a lot. For example my ultralight hiking trousers, a pair of Domyos Eco Friendly Fitness Bottoms, from Decathlon, are only about 20g heavier than your shorts, but they provide perfect protection from the Sun, Ticks, Mosquitoes, Nettles, sharp wheat husks, dirt, and they keep my legs cool and comfy when I’m working hard. They are very cheap too at only £13.99 ($17). Your camo hat is mega heavy…I recommend you replace that with a Salomon XA Compact Cap as it’s about 1/3rd the weight. You Salomon trail runners are heavy beasts too…I recommend replacing them with a pair of comfy Sketchers Flex Agoura which are about 100g lighter, and much cheaper. I’m flying to Crete today from the UK with all my ulralight gear and I will be climbing both Pachnes and Mount Ida, the highest peaks on Crete and hopefully wild camping on both summits. Here is what I will be taking: https://lighterpack.com/r/frke29

    • Alf, I don’t think I need to try harder with my setup, as it’s very lightweight, keeps me safe and comfortable, and gets the job done time after time. I don’t really have much use for a small table or the Chair Zero (which I already own and keep in my van), either, but I’m glad you do.

      The reason your base weight seems lighter than mine is because you don’t count your gloves, beanie, headlamp, phone, rainwear, and one of your hoodies towards you base weight. (I do count items like this.) No worries, though. Base weight is just a number anyway… isn’t backpacking all about having a nice time and staying comfortable in the end?

      Nice Lighterpack! It opened my eyes up to some new, super lightweight gear I’d never heard of before. Thanks for sharing it.

      Your upcoming backpacking trips sound great! I hope you stay safe and have a nice time out there; let me know how it goes.

  15. Noel, Thanks for all the info based on your experience. I have been reducing my base weight and essentially follows the same direction you used. I have a couple of comments regarding the different discussions you had with many others. I find that your compass option is not adequate and essentially would be useless without a paper map. To keep weight as low as possible, I use GaiaGPS as an App on my phone (premium membership gives access to local maps worldwide as an overlay and work offline, tested while doing the GR10 and the Via Alpina). With it, I program my route on the computer and copy and paste the area of interest into Word and get 4 maps (4 days) on a single two sided page, which I use with a Suunto compass with declination correction (declination up to 30° in some locations). The weight should be similar to your set up, but more reliable. For temperature, the phone/watch does it. I am aslo a fan of Zpacks (recommend higher volume if you are diligent in not carrying unecessary items). I use a 50 l, which is versatile enough as a day pack as well as 4-5 days backpack (The magic is the roll top). Note also that they sell a bag for air travel, which allows to check your bag (including scissors and poles!…) and use it as a pack liner, hence avoiding the pack cover. I tested the setup while doing the Via Alpina last month and it works great. To complete my gear for air travel, I aslo got a Forclaz 20 l backpack ( very light weight sold by Decathlon for 12 euros!…), which I use as a carry-on to travel with my electronics. The pack fold on itself (3x4x1). For camp shoes, I used a pair of Salomon water shoes, which have a dual purpose (camp and water). They are light weight. For a knife, I use an Opinel N°8, which is light weigh, safe and highly reliable (buy on their website). Note that the first aid/toiletries is a very variable setup, as some of us (older folks) have to carry a supply of medications and using a small waterproof bag for it is the way to go. I include some KT tape in it (preventing blisters), antidiarrhea pills, iodine pills (needed if not carrying a water filter). I also recommend to carry some electrolyte supplement (Nuun), especially in extended trips. Finally, I use as much Merino wool clothing as possible as it is antimicrobial and minimize odors. They are quick drying (overnight) and that is key to reducing weight on long treks by avoiding excessive duplication (2 to 6 weeks experience). Anyway like many of us, I still have to make progress to decrease my base weight and your article is helping!…

    • Hey, Michael! Thanks for commenting. Yeah, I agree the compass on my list isn’t great, and I always travel with offline maps like Maps.me or Gaia. I mostly use the compass combo for its thermometer and it’s whistle. (I’ve never actually used it to navigate.) Thanks for sharing your navigation set up. I’ll look into switching up my compass for the future and doing something similar to you, as it seems more efficient than mine. Good to hear that you love Zpacks, as well. I also own a 55L pack of theirs, but don’t really use it anymore. With my current setup, I could probably fit 10-12 days worth of food inside, so I’m saving it for longer trips with harder resupplies. Thanks for the heads up on the bag for air travel. I recall seeing it a while ago when browsing through their site, but didn’t really stop to check it out. I’ll go look into it. I’ve got to run now and can’t reply to the rest of your comment, but do know that I’ve read it and taken it to heart! Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback and I hope your future backpacking trips are safe and fulfilling. Cheers!

  16. Thank you, I haven’t begun multi-day hikes yet but this article has greatly helped me put together a gear list. It is not exactly the same, as immediately going ultralight is a big investment, but it contains some of the same and should let me upgrade over time.
    One small point, your link to the reddit ultralight community has a typo, and points to reddi.com.

    • I’m glad you find the article useful, James! Thanks for commenting. As long as you stay safe, comfortable, and content on the trail, the weight of your gear doesn’t matter much. Invest in ultralight gear only if you think it’ll enhance your trip. Thanks for pointing out the typo, as well. I just fixed it. Happy hiking!

  17. Hey there,

    Thanks for all the tips. Very helpful.
    I’ve dialed in my tent, sleeping pad, down quilt and backpack pretty well.
    I need to be more mindful of food weight and not bringing extra.
    One area I wanted to ask about was shirts, underwear and socks. Do you just deal with smell of wearing same shirt and underwear and socks each day? Any recommendations? Seems like an area to dial in better.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Mike! Yes, I deal with the smell to a point, but I’ve become pretty good at washing my clothes in bathroom sinks when I hit towns and washing them off (with biodegradable soap) along the trail (away from the water sources!) as I hike. One suggestion would be to use a dry bag as a wash bag, water, and eco-friendly compostable soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s) to wash your clothes every couple of days on the trail. Make sure to do so at least 100 feet away from water sources and you’ll be good to go!

  18. thank you for the information in your blog – i am going to do the O-trek with a group guide since i am new to hiking and camping but i had a question about security of valuables – what did you do with your money and passport? did you keep them on your person at all times? what about if you take a shower? i trust folks, but i also want to get back into the usa at the end of the trip

  19. Great article!
    There is a lot to think about in all of this. My wife and I are setting out to conquer the Appalachian Trail in 2024. We have chosen and found our big 3. We are currently looking at the various possibilities for the pillow. I really like your idea but I wonder what you stuff in the bag when it’s summer temperature? Surely you shouldn’t bring your down coat?

    Thank you!!!

  20. Since I’m new to hiking and camping, I’m planning to undertake the O-trek with a group leader, but I have a concern about the security of valuables: What did you do with your money and passport? Did you carry them with you at all times? What would happen if you took a shower? I trust people, yet at the conclusion of the journey, I also want to return to the United States.

    • I never had any concerns about anyone taking my money and/or passport on the ‘O’ Circuit. I stashed away them inside my backpack (which was inside my tent) when I took showers and never had any issues. Enjoy your trek!

  21. Hey Noel,

    I have come across a couple of your blogs well I have been doing research for a trip to Patagonia. I am going to Patagonia for 2 months with plans to do the O Circuit, the Huemul Circuit, Cerro Castillo, Dientes Circuit, and others. I am curious about what your backpack looked like when you were in Patagonia. More specifically what did you carry for clothes?


    • Thanks for reaching out Jordan! Your itinerary sounds incredible. Definitely come back here to let me know how the Dientes de Navarino Circuit goes… I’ve been eyeballing that one for a while now.

      My backpacking kit was kinda similar to my current ultralight backpacking gear list, but with a number of differences:

      – Used the Osprey Exos 48 backpack instead of the Zpacks Nero 38
      – Used the Zpacks Triplex tent instead of the Plex Solo
      – Used MSR Groundhog tent stakes instead of Zpacks carbon fiber stakes
      – Used the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody down jacket instead of the Montbell Plasma 1000
      – Used rain pants instead of wind pants (forget the specific brand… North Face I think?)
      – Used Patagonia long underwear instead of KUIU
      – Used Sealskinz gloves instead of KUIU
      – Used Buff facewear instead of KUIU
      – Used a 750 ml TOAKS Titanium pot instead of 450 ml
      – Used a Xiaomi cell phone instead of an iPhone
      – Used an Anker power bank instead of a Nitecore
      – Used cheap wired headphones instead of Airpods Pro
      – Didn’t bring a GPS Unit
      – Used a Nitecore NU25 headlamp instead of the RovyVon flashlight
      – Wore a Montbell Cool Hoodie instead of my KUIU Peloton
      – Wore prAna pants instead of my Patagonia shorts
      – Wore a different baseball hat
      – Probably packed some other stuff I’m forgetting at the moment

      Since my hike in 2018, I’ve refined my kit big time. What does your current kit look like?

      • Hey Noel, Thank you for the reply. I will definitely let you know how Dientes Circuit goes.

        For my gear, I am nowhere near that ultralight definition. I am packing more clothes than I would be if I were just doing a local backpacking trek. I will be in Chile/Argentina for 2 months and have a few other plans than just hiking. I’m hoping with some of the circuits I can leave a drop bag of clothes/items I don’t need at the beginning of the hike to lighten my load. In addition, I really only buy gear that is on sale or brands I get with my pro deal as I feel outdoor gear these days is getting so expensive.

        For gear, I have the
        – Durston X-Mid 1p tent. (30oz) Not the lightest by any stretch but the price sure can’t be beaten. $240
        Big Agnes Air core ultra (18oz)
        My sleeping bag is an old Asolo down mummy bag I’ve had for 12 years that weighs in at 25oz.

        How has your rain jacket held up? I have not had much success with lightweight rain jackets. I did a 600km trek in Slovenia with a lightweight rain jacket and I always find while wearing a backpack they don’t hold up and water eventually gets in around the shoulder pads.

        Thanks again

  22. Hi Noel

    I love your page and used it as my “bible” for setting up for hiking last May. Thanks to you I got a ZPacks Duo & Zpacks pack and other light weight gear from your list.

    Now I haven’t read through the other comments so forgive me if this is already covered, but I’ve stuck with my old Jetboil SOL Ti over the BRS3000t because my old Sol ti is so much more efficient on gas usage; that the extra weight of it (160 gms over a 3000t + cup) is easily made up with gas cannister savings. I’ve found the Sol Ti uses 1/3 the gas of the 3000t. Another advantage is the big 800ml pot lets me rehydrate a full meal in the pot rather than in the ziplock packs therefore I can repackage the food into lighter plastic bags.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks for your page – it’s awesome.


    • Hey, Alex! Thanks so much for the nice words. How has the gear I recommended been working out for you? Well, I hope.

      I think you reasoning makes a lot of sense, and I can’t blame you for sticking with your Jetboil over the BRS 3000-T. I’ll admit, the BRS 3000T isn’t the most efficient stove in the world, thought it certainly seems to be one of the lightest. Certainly the fuel savings are worth considering (as well as faster boil times and better reliability in the wind, I imagine) when contemplating a switch from your Jetboil SOL Ti.

      Savvy move sticking with the larger pot and moving your meals into lighter and more packable plastic bags. Good call there. It’s something I might consider in the future! I still have my TOAKS 750 ml pot sitting around and waiting to get thrust back into action, after all.

      Ultimately, you are the steward of your backpacking experience, and I commend you for sticking with the Jetboil, even if it isn’t traditionally the most ultralight option out there. Carry gear that brings value to your experience and helps keep you comfortable along the way. That’s all that matters in the end.

      Cheers, and happy backpacking!

  23. Great read thanks! Please do a follow up review on the KUIU gear (especially the fleece and base layers). They get great reviews from hunters, but I’ve yet to see one from the ultralight community. Thanks again

  24. Nice site and good ideas. My kit really isn’t much heavier but there are entire categories I would eliminate. Electronics are limited to a small mini flashlight. No phones are needed in the areas I hike. Like a walkabout, there’s no need to call or text anyone. I am skilled with a map and compass- Scouting and a former Marine infantry officer, I don’t make stupid decisions hiking.

    Also Montbell gear is pricey and doesn’t fit larger sized hikers, particularly in the shoulders, arms, and chest. My clothing includes a wool T-shirt, a wool Pendleton board shirt, wool hat, wool Scarf, and gloves. I’ll pack light wool trousers, a down vest, and a parka for wind and rain.

    My cooking gear is a spork, Sierra cup, and a small tea pot. Zippo lighter and I alternate between a SVEA stove or an MSR pocket rocket.

    Usually a light spinning Rod and reel- what Colin Fletcher called “an abomination “ and a small collection of lures, bubbles, and flies is lashed to my pack.

    The wearability of the lighter gear seems short. My Vasque Sundowners are over 30 years old and I still wear Lowa Alpspitz boots for support and simple comfort. I rarely use my large Dana Design pack much having returned to a refurbished red Kelty external frame.

    I wear sturdy Carhart carpenter shorts hemmed a few inches from my knees and Darn Tough socks. Over my wool T/shirt I usually wear a blue chambray cotton shirt- long sleeves. It blocks the wind well. A Kelty 10 x 10 tarp is my shelter rigged with nylon cord. I find trekking poles annoying and use natural anchors.

    I think you can spend a lot of money buying the lightest of the light, but my load has only become noticeable if I have to haul water. What’s interesting here is how your list trades out serviceable gear for lighter replacements, albeit more costly. You are honest and forthright, but as a teacher I’m prudent with money and I’ll use most of my gear until it falls apart. ( I watched a quality North Face tent peel its coating after twenty years of monthly trips) .

    On many trips I carry and eat a modified John Muir diet/ French bread, cheese, salami, dried fruit, and hot tea with brown sugar. Sometimes trout cooked on the coals of a small campfire.

    My point in this response is to ensure you don’t let the absence of pricy gear discourage folks to enjoy wilderness and scenic beauty of natural systems. In some places the gear selection is modified. In Alaska, I distrust bear spray and carry a large caliber revolver. Skiing and snowshoeing have other requirements- four season tent, warmer bag, two pads, and a powerful stove and adequate fuel for water creation.

    Thanks for providing your insight in your decision making.

    • Michael,

      Thanks for the super detailed insight into your backpacking kit and explanations for all of your choices. I agree that happy and healthy backpacking is achievable without the most expensive and cutting edge gear. Use what works for you, hike your own hike, and enjoy yourself out on the trail.

      I learned to backpack with a big, heavy pack and still had a wonderful time out there. I’ll admit, I’ve become a bit of a UL freak since then, but I’ve always been happy with the weight I’ve shaved off. Yes, it’s expensive, but I’m kind of a gear nerd, so I don’t mind splurging once in a while.

      I really enjoyed reading through your packing list. Let me know if you’re ever hiking/backpacking in Colorado. I’d be happy to hit the trails with you!

  25. Hey Noel!
    I’m loving your 2023 ultralight gear post! Awesome to see your upgrades and gives me some new gear to look into too.
    I’m still eyeing that Montbell Plasma 1000. That’s likely my next purchase since my previous name brand down jacket didn’t quite keep me warm in colder weather on the AT a couple years ago.
    The only thing that I’d love to see you give a shot is the Katadyn BeFree water filter. 2.3 oz. and had an awesome durable squeeze bag and the flow rate is superb! It’s worked really well for me over the last few years. But yeah, the Sawyer is still going to be a bomb proof option regardless.

    Hope you’ve been well!

    ~Great Legs

    • Great Legs!

      So great to hear from you, and happy to hear my updated gear list gets your stamp of approval. Yeah, the Montbell Plasma 1000 is an incredible jacket. Big price tag, but as good as gets in terms of puffies. Send me an update if/when you buy it!

      I’ve gone back and forth with the Katadyn BeFree filter. Love my Sawyer, and it has a much longer life than the BeFree. However, it takes a lot of patience, especially after you’ve been using it for a while. I’ll probably end up grabbing a BeFree when I get back in the U.S. (Currently in Japan) and let you know what I think. Thanks for the gentle nudge towards it.

      Hope all is well on your end!

  26. Noel, This is really a great list. The fact that this post is a few years old and still going strong shows how solid a list this is. One thing I didn’t see in worn items is a hiking shirt. Are you hiking shirtless?

    • Glad you dig the list. I try my best to keep it current. No, I don’t hike shirtless… usually just wear the hoodie with nothing underneath it. It’s a pretty dang lightweight and breathable garment. KUIU makes some good sh*t. Thanks for stopping by!

  27. I read your blog post on your ultralight backpacking gear list, and I found it very informative and helpful for anyone looking to embark on a lightweight backpacking trip. Your attention to detail and emphasis on keeping things minimalistic is commendable and aligns with the ethos of the ultralight backpacking community.

    In addition to your excellent list, I would like to recommend Hiker Hunger’s Backpacking Gear List as a great resource for anyone looking to build their ultralight backpacking kit. This comprehensive list covers everything from essential gear like tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks to smaller items like water filters, headlamps, and cookware.

    What sets Hiker Hunger’s Backpacking Gear List apart is its attention to detail and commitment to helping people save weight and pack efficiently. Each item on the list has been carefully selected based on its weight, durability, and functionality, ensuring that you only bring what you need and nothing more.

  28. Looks like you still have a long way to go to get as light as me…By base weights is only 7.29lb, and that is including a comfy Helinox Chair Zero and a Cascade Wild ultralight table!

  29. Appreciate finding another gear nerd. Curious why you chose katabatic quilt, when EE and Zpacks both do lighter, similar spec models.

    Couple of suggestions for you.

    Ombraz, best sunglasses, light and bombproof.

    But more importantly check out PHD designs https://www.phdesigns.co.uk
    Best warmth to weight ratio in the world. Also durable, one of their sleeping bags has lasted me over a decade. Eye wateringly expensive, but you get what you pay for. Enjoy.

    • Hey, Alan! Knowing there are lighter brands out there, I’ve stuck with Katabatic Gear for so long because I REALLY love the bag. It has done extremely well for me, and I don’t really see the need to jump into a new $400 bag just to shave a few ounces off of my base weight. That said, if I ever do consider a new bag, I’ll probably go with Zpacks, EE, or Feathered Friends.

      I’ve been hearing a lot about Ombraz; maybe I’ll get my hands on a pair to try out for the rest of the summer.

      I’ll also look into PHD Designs. At first glance, their bags/quilts look fantastic. Thanks for pointing me towards them.

      Happy backpacking!

        • If you’re talking about my sleeping bag, Silas, weight isn’t the only determining factor in my decision. Sleep is very important while backpacking and I happen to be a VERY finicky sleeper in the backcountry. A full-zip back like the Flicker UL is far more comfortable (and easier to fall/stay asleep in) than a traditional backpacking quilt for me, which his why I don’t mind carrying around the extra ounces.

          • Is the Zpacks sleeping bag not as comfortable as the Flicker UL? I mean it is a lot lighter than the one you have but if it isn’t durable or as comfortable then that makes sense. Anyway I am only 12 years old and I LOVE backpacking. Also what about the Zpacks towel? It is the same weight as yours but bigger. Also this list is AMAZING.

  30. I’m planning on doing a some two or three day hikes and I’ve got an Osprey Stratos 34 that I purchased about two years ago that I was planning to use to go to Costa Rica with. However, I’ve got a Therm-a-Rest from the late 90’s that is most definitely not one of the newer lightweight models. I’ve been looking into ultralight gear for a while and have been acquiring some here and there.

    I’ve got issues with my back and I’ve heard that other people also like the Stratos because of the suspension helps distribute the load on the back. I’m still looking to get a tent and sleeping bag in the near future and and have been looking into what is available from Zpacks. I think that even if I go with the Stratos and old Therm-a-Rest, I probably won’t be too heavy.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Christopher! Sounds like you’re on the gradual journey to becoming ultralight! I definitely recommend grabbing a Zpacks sleeping bag and tent to lighten your load. If you’re looking for light AND affordable gear, check out my article on Budget Backpacking Gear. Have fun out there!


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