8.2 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 2024 Optimal Setup

Gray Zpacks brand backpack leaned up against a rock covered in Lichen
My 8.2 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List for 2024

I’ve spent several years and thousands of miles on the trail earning my stripes as a backpacker, and I’m here to share my 2024 ultralight backpacking gear list with you.

Because the gear you bring along can decide the fate of your backpacking trip. Believe me, I’ve overpacked and returned home a broken man enough times to know that lugging around a heavy pack full of unnecessary stuff is no way to live life.

So, take a peek inside my backpack as you work on fine-tuning yours. Hopefully, my insight can help you head out into the wilderness lighter on your feet, less prone to injuries, and more comfortable than you would be with a traditional (i.e. inefficient) setup.

Ultralight Backpacking FAQs

Before we dive into my gear list, I’ll do my best to answer some commonly asked questions in regards to ultralight backpacking. If you have any further questions, have some feedback about my list, or would like to know more about my gear, leave a comment at the end of the post.

What is ultralight backpacking?

Ultralight backpacking is the minimalist practice of packing as light as possible while still remaining safe and comfortable in the wild. The 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 stuff 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 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 make it easier to calculate how much weight 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 weight classifications?

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

  • Super Ultralight Backpacking: Sub 5 pound base weight
  • Ultralight Backpacking: 5-10 pound base weight
  • Lightweight Backpacking: 10-20 pound base weight
  • Traditional Backpacking: 30-50 pound base weight
  • ‘You’ve Lost Your Mind’ Backpacking: 50+ pound 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 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, since it’ll 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, etc.) for the sake of cutting their base 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 the spendy endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

If you include my iPhone and AirPods, my current setup rings in around $4,200 brand new. 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, in my eyes.

It’s possible to put together an ultralight backpacking for a fraction of what I spent, however. To save money, you simply need 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.

Why should I trust your advice?

I’ve hiked and backpacked for thousands of miles all over the world putting hundred of pieces of gear to the test. I have significant experience with each piece of gear on this list and confidently stand behind every recommendation I make.

I pore over new backpacking gear constantly, searching for ways to fine-tune my setup to make my experience on the trail more enjoyable than the last. Nobody is asking me to do this; I nerd out over gear because I value my experience on the trail, crave efficiency, and love working with numbers.

The goal here is to help you calibrate your gear list by sharing what works best for me, plain and simple.

Backpack, Shelter & Sleep System

Man wearing camo top and black shorts setting up an ultralight backpacking tent
Setting up camp along the Herman Gulch Trail

Backpack

Tent

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad

Pillowcase

Tent Stakes

Grey Zpacks ultralight backpacking pack

Backpack: Zpacks Nero 38 DCF

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

Weight: 10.9 oz | 308 grams

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Zpacks plex solo UL backpacking shelter for thru hiking

Tent: Zpacks Plex Solo

I downsized from the Zpacks Duplex to the one-person Plex Solo ultralight tent before 2023 season. By doing so, I shaved seven ounces off of my base weight and only have to carry one trekking pole. This is the lightest fully enclosed tent around, though I don’t recommend it to anyone six feet or taller.

Weight: 13.9 oz | 395 grams

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Feathered Friends Flicker UL sleeping quilt

Sleeping Bag: Feathered Friends Flicker UL

Sure, there are lighter 20-degree quilts out there, but none 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’ve never experienced, and are well worth the extra few ounces.

Weight: 25.2 oz | 714 grams

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite lightweight sleeping pad for camping

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite

The three-season NeoAirXlite is a staple among backpackers, and has cemented itself as the go-to pad in the ultralight community. If you want to go a few ounces lighter, consider the Therm-a-Rest Uberlite; just be ready to sacrifice significant insulation and durability if you do.

Weight: 12.2 oz | 346 grams

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

Stuff Sack/Pillowcase: Zpacks

I’m a finicky sleeper and require 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 to transform it into an ultra-comfortable pillow that secures to my sleeping pad.

Weight: 1.4 oz | 40 grams

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Carbon fiber tent stakes for backpacking and camping

Tent Stakes: Zpacks Carbon Fiber

These ultralight carbon fiber tent stakes are about as lightweight as they come 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, try these ones instead.

Weight: 1.7 oz | 48 grams (8 stakes)

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

Carried Clothing

Man squinting and wearing a black down jacket with a glacial lake in the background
Backpacking in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia

Down Jacket

Rain Jacket

Wind Pants

Long Underwear

Gloves

Headwear

Montbell down parka compressed in its stuff sack

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

READ MY REVIEW

Montbell rain jacket in its stuff sack

Rain Jacket: Montbell Versalite

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

Weight: 6.3 oz | 179 grams

READ MY REVIEW

Pair of black ultralight wind pants folded up

Wind Pants: Enlightened Equipment Copperfield

Hiking in shorts can get chilly. This crazy light pair of wind pants helps stifle morale-zapping gusts and layers well with my thermal bottoms to keep my legs warm when the temperature drops. 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

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Grey thermal undies for hiking in cool to cold weather

Long Underwear: Patagonia Capilene

If there are lighter and more durable thermal bottoms on the market, I can’t find them. The Capilenes are super soft, wick moisture away when I start sweating, and don’t hold onto the funky B.O. that comes along with backpacking. I’ve worn these for four-plus seasons and they’re still going strong

Weight: 5.8 oz | 164 grams

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Pair of camo KUIU strongfleece 220 lightweight hiking gloves

Gloves: KUIU StrongFleece 220

I’m 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 2024 base weight, and keep my precious fingers warm in otherwise uncomfortable temperatures.

Weight: 1.3 oz | 37 grams

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Camo KUIU brand Merino wool neck gaiter

Headwear: KUIU Ultra Merino 145

My odor-blocking 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

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Total Carried Clothing Weight
24.6 oz | 1.54 lb | 697 grams

Cooking System & Food Storage

Boiling water with a one-ounce stove

Stove

Pot

Spork

Food Storage Bag

Lighter

One ounce ultralight titanium backpacking stove

Stove: BRS-3000T

In my newbie days, I carried the Jetboil Flash for before wising up and switching to the insanely light BRS-3000T. By doing so, 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

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TOAKS 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 travel as well.

Weight: 2.7 oz | 76 grams

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Long-handle titanium spork for dehydrated meals

Spork: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long

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

Weight: .39 oz | 11 grams

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Bear bag for hiking and backpacking food

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 (kind of) 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

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White mini BIC lighter for hiking and backpacking stoves

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 during a potential emergency situation. A lighter could be a literal lifesaver, and is essential for any backpacker’s ultralight gear list.

Weight: .39 oz | 11 grams

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

Water Filtration & Storage

Man wearing a red hoodie dipping a water pouch into a small waterfall
Gathering water along the Colorado Trail

Water Filter

Coupling Adapter

Dirty Water Reservoir

Clean Water Container

Sawyer squeeze water filter for backcountry purification

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, and not worth the slightly lower base weight. Read More >>

Weight: 3.5 oz | 99 grams

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Blue coupling adapter for Sawyer Squeeze

Filter/Bottle Coupling Adapter: Sawyer

This simple little gizmo makes life much easier when filtering water on the trail. It allows me to connect my Sawyer Squeeze to my water pouch/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

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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 much 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

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Blue Saywer brand water pouch for ul adventures

Clean Water Pouch: Sawyer

I go back and forth between using a one-liter Smartwater bottle and the pouches that came with the Sawyer Squeeze filter.  The heavier Smartwater bottle is more durable, so I bring it along on thru-hikes. I bring the lighter Sawyer water pouches on shorter trips since they don’t last as long.

Weight: .8 oz | 23 grams

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Total Water Filtration and Storage Weight
7.1 oz | .44 lb | 201 grams

Electronics & Technology

Red and black Garmin inReach GPS device for backcountry survival
Staying in touch in the backcountry is easy

Cell Phone

Battery Bank

Wall Adapter

USB Cables

Headphones

GPS Unit

Flashlight/Headlamp

Grey iPhone 13 Pro for backcountry navigation

Cell Phone: iPhone 14 Pro

The iPhone 14 Pro is the best smartphone on the market, on and off the trail. It has a fast processor, 512 GB of storage, takes great photos, and has excellent battery life. My phone is my go-to navigation tool over physical maps on multi-day hikes.

Weight: 7.2 oz | 204 grams

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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

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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 charge my cell and battery bank on a thru hike, 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 an hour or two.

Weight: 1.9 oz | 54 grams

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Black and white USB cables for charging iPhones and devices in the wilderness

USB Cables: Cable Creation 6″

To charge my smartphone, battery bank, headphones, and headlamp, I carry two six-inch USB cables (one with a lightning connector and one USB-C). 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

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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. After some though, I hesitantly upgraded to the Apple AirPods Pros, from my old Panasonics. They’re entirely worth the extra money and weight.

Weight: 2.0 oz | 57 grams

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Red handheld GPS beacon for outdoor survival and emergencies

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

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Ultralight headlamp for backpacking and hiking at night

Headlamp: Nitecore NU25

I love my super compact USB-rechargeable Nitecore NU25 headlamp. It has great battery life, rocks loads of different brightness levels, has a reading lamp setting, lasts forever on a single charge, and is highly durable and weather resistant. Need I say more?

Weight: 1.1 oz | 31 grams

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Total Electronics Weight
21.7 oz | 1.36 lb | 615 grams

Miscellaneous Items

Ditty bag with compass, headlamp, GPS device, notecards, and other odds and ends
If you don’t have an UltraLite Sacks ditty bag, you’re doing it wrong

Ditty Bag

Sit Pad

Trowel

Compass/Thermometer

Scissors

Mini-Towel

Pen & Paper

Black ULTRA fabric ditty bag for odds 'n' ends

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

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Bright blue ultralight sit pad for hiking and backpacking

Sit Pad: Zpacks

This lightweight sit pad is 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

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Red aluminum backpacking trowel for burying waste in the wilderness

Trowel: The Deuce #2 by The Tent Lab

Nobody wants to step #2 on their backpacking trip, and Leave No Trace principles require that hikers dispose of their waste properly. This light-as-a-feather trowel helps me dig catholes in the wilderness to bury my poo while leaving the surroundings virtually undisturbed.

Weight: .45 oz | 13 grams

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Compass/thermometer/whistle combo gadget

Compass/Thermometer: Coghlan’s Four Function

A compass, thermometer, magnifying glass, and whistle for under an ounce? That’s a no-brainer. I haven’t used the whistle or magnifying glass 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 temperature every morning.

Weight: .81 oz | 23 grams

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Pink mini scissors for hiking gear repairs

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 nearly an ounce off in the process. These scissors are sharp, durable, and minimalist.

Weight: .18 oz | 5 grams

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Blue and white ul 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

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Pen and paper for taking notes on hikes

Pen & Paper

I love to take notes during my backpacking adventures, especially at night 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: .05 oz | 1 grams

Total Miscellaneous Items Weight
3.7 oz | .23 lb | 105 grams

First-Aid Kit & Toiletries

Antiseptic, Band-Aids, blister pads, Tenacious Taps, Leukotape, contact case, and a toothbrush laid out across a mossy rock
My no-frills backpacking toiletries and first-aid kit

Duct Tape

Sewing Kit

Toothbrush

Contact Case

Flossers

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

Total Base Weight
131.0 oz | 8.18 lb | 3.71 kg

Worn/Carried Items

Man looking at his GPS watch while hiking in southwest Colorado
It’s (almost) 5:00 somewhere…

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

Shoes

Hoodie

Shorts

Watch

Socks

Trekking Pole(s)

Hat

Sunglasses

Xero TerraFlex II black trail running shoes

Trail Running Shoes: Xero TerraFlex II

I’ve only worn the Xero TerraFlex II trail runners on a couple of short backpacking trips, 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

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Ultralightweight microfleece hoodie in a camo design

Hoodie: KUIU Peloton 97

KUIU’s Peloton 97 weighs a meager five ounces, which is oh-so-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

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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 far 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

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Black Garmin brand GPS watch

Watch: Garmin Instinct

Maybe it’s a bit of a luxury, but the Garmin Instinct’s usefulness on the trail makes it a no-brainer for my 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

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Black and grey breathable backpacking socks

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 2024.

Weight: 2.1 oz | 58 grams

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Carbon fiber trekking pole for hiking and backpacking against a mossy tree

Trekking Pole: Zpacks Carbon Fiber

This lightweight carbon fiber trekking pole is essential to my gear list. It distributes weight away from my injury-prone knees as I navigate steep terrain and 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

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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. This hat fits well, is quite breathable, and ventilates well when I start sweating. I love trying out new hats, though, so we’ll see how long this sticks around.

Weight: 2.6 oz | 74 grams

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Cheap pair of budget sunglasses for outdoors

Sunglasses: Knockaround Fast Lanes

I’m too clumsy and forgetful with sunglasses to hold onto a pair for longer than a season, so I’m going with the stylish and affordable Knockaround Fast Lanes. (The sunglasses pictured above aren’t the Fast Lanes, since I accidentally packed this pair on my most recent backpacking trip. Oops.)

Weight: .85 oz | 24 grams

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

Consumables

Dehydrated backpacking meals, protein bars, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, and other food laid across a carpet
Meal prepping for thru-hiking is fun

Food

Water

Fuel Canister

Tooth Powder

Contact Solution

Sunscreen

Hand Sanitizer

Blister Prevention Cream

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 ounces when full and 3.3 ounces when empty.

Food for a day on the trail (about 3,000 calories for me) weighs about 24 oz (1.5 pounds | 680 grams), and I usually 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 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 don’t overload myself if opportunities to purify are abundant.

Noel’s Ultralight Backpacking Gear Table

ItemProductWeightMSRP
The Big Four
BackpackZpacks Nero 38 DCF10.9 oz$249
TentZpacks Plex Solo13.9 oz$599
Sleeping BagFeathered Friends Flicker UL25.2 oz$529
Sleeping PadTherm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite12.2 oz$210
PillowcaseZpacks1.4 oz$50
Tent StakesZpacks Carbon Fiber1.7 oz$34
Carried Clothing
Down JacketMontbell Plasma 10008.8 oz$479
Rain JacketMontbell Versalite6.3 oz$249
Wind PantsEnlightened Equipment Copperfield1.5 oz$80
Long UnderwearPatagonia Capilene5.8 oz$79
GlovesKUIU StrongFleece 2201.3 oz$49
HeadwearKUIU Ultra Merino 145.9 oz$39
Cooking System
StoveBRS-3000T.88 oz$18
PotTOAKS Titanium 450 ml2.7 oz$20
SporkSea to Summit Alpha Light.39 oz$25
Food StorageUltraLite Sacks Bear Bag2.4 oz$39
LighterBIC Mini.39 oz$2
Water Filtration
Water FilterSawyer Squeeze3.5 oz$38
Coupling AdapterSawyer.3 oz$3
Dirty Water ReservoirCNOC Outdoors Vecto 2L2.5 oz$21
Clean Water ContainerSawyer 1L Pouch.8 oz$4
Electronics & Tech
Cell PhoneiPhone 14 Pro7.2 oz$899
Battery BankNitecore NB100005.3 oz$60
Wall AdapterVOLTME REVO DUO 301.9 oz$20
USB CablesCable Creation.70 oz$10
HeadphonesApple AirPods Pro2.0 oz$250
GPS UnitGarmin inReach Mini3.5 oz$350
HeadlampNitecore NU251.1 oz$37
Miscellaneous Items
Ditty BagUltraLite Sacks.67 oz$19
Sit PadFolding Foam Mat1.0 oz$6
TrowelThe Deuce #2.45 oz$15
Compass/ThermometerCoghlan’s Four Function.81 oz$6
ScissorsTacony Super Shears.18 oz$15
Mini TowelPackTowl Ultralite (Face-Size).56 oz$18
Pen & PaperBic pen + 3" x 5" notecards.05 oz
First-Aid Kit & ToiletriesToothbrush, band-aids, contacts, etc.1.8 oz
Base Weight Items Total(Includes iPhone + AirPods Cost)8.18 lb$4,301
Worn/Carried Items
Trail Running ShoesXero TerraFlex II20.6 oz$110
HoodieKUIU Peloton 975.0 oz$99
ShortsPatagonia Nine Trails6.4 oz$79
WatchGarmin Instinct1.8 oz$300
SocksDarn Tough Light Hiker2.1 oz$24
Trekking PoleZpacks Carbon Fiber7.2 oz$60
HatKUIU2.6 oz$30
SunglassesKnockaround Fast Lanes.85 oz$35
Worn/Carried Items Total2.88 lb$737

Tips & Tricks for UL Backpacking

Man walking down a mountain trail while ul hiking in Colorado
Tips & Tricks for UL 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 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 tweaks 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? Will I still be safe an comfortable with this lighter gear?”

If you’re stuck, join LighterPack, submit your packing list, and visit the Ultralight subreddit for a proper shakedown. There, you’ll find a community of experienced ultralight backpackers will happily nitpick your gear and tell you where you can trim some 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 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 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.

Subscribe to a Few UL 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 John Zahorian and Jupiter Hikes. Watch a few of their videos if you ever need inspiration for your next trip.

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, absolutely.

Going ultralight will keep you lighter on your feet, minimize injuries, and reward you with the comfort and focus to enjoy your surroundings more than you would with a bloated backpacking setup.

Every item you pack should serve its purpose as efficiently as possible. Valuable space inside your pack and precious energy no longer need to be wasted by hauling around a bunch of heavy and unnecessary stuff.

There aren’t any valid arguments against bringing suitable, well-made ultralight backpacking gear on your next trip, so give it a try. What’s there to lose?

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Last Updated on January 11, 2024

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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.

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