This is an Ultralight Backpacking Gear List that will enable anyone to cut their base weight down to a very lightweight 10lb / 4.5kg or less.
I have hiked almost 8000 miles / 13000km and feel very comfortable with ultralight backpacking gear. I complete most of my hiking and backpacking trips with a base weight of around 13 lb / 6kg, but in very cold weather that weight can increase to around 20lb / 9 kg, especially if I am carrying snowshoes and winter clothing. If you want to carry a base weight of even less, down to 10lb / 4.5kg or less, keep reading.
Ultralight Hiking Gear List
Shelter, Trekking Poles, Backpack & Sleep System
With a total weight of 5 lb / 2.28 kg, the backpack, trekking poles, and sleep system are the heaviest items. But still very ultralight. And can be lighter if you only use one trekking pole to support the one-person tent.
How does it compare to your ultralight backpacking gear list compare?
Weight: 13.9 oz / 395 g
The lightest ultralight tent on the market in 2022 and should be a part of your ultralight backpacking gear list. It is big enough for solo backpackers and durable enough to last a couple of thru-hikes while withstanding bad weather very well. It needs one trekking pole to set up. I currently use the Zpacks Triplex.
2P: Zpacks Duolight
3P: Zpacks Triplex
Read more: Ultralight Backpacking Tents
Some ultralight hikers like to cold soak meals and remove the need for stoves and pots. Only needing a spork and something to rehydrate their meals. I’ve tried this method and quickly realized it is not for me. Having said that, I would encourage everyone to try going ‘stoveless’ at least once to see how well it works for you.
The weight of the cooking setup below comes in at 6.1 oz / 171 grams or 10.6 oz / 299 grams if you add the optional mags and knife that I listed below.
You could consider a bear canister, or bear bag when hiking in bear country to ensure your food storage is not only legal but safe. Otherwise, a stuff sack should be enough.
Cup – Optional
Weight: 2.5 oz / 72 grams
Most ultralight hikers and lightweight backpackers don’t use a cup or mug. For the gram counter, the cooking pot will double as a cup, or maybe even the water bottle. I have used a mug for years as I seem to need a hot coffee in the morning. I currently use the Sea to Summit X-Mug.
Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Cup 450
Review coming soon: Best Backpacking Cups and Mugs
Knife – Optional
Weight: 2 oz / 56 grams
Ultralight hikers may not use a knife, and many seem to find a pair of scissors more useful! I like a small light knife. I have used Multitools, Swiss Army Knives, and many other types over the years. Currently, I like the Gerber Mini Paraframe. I used to use the very small Gerber knife but it doesn’t seem to be available anymore and I lost it!
Review coming soon: Best Backpacking Knives
No need to overthink water bottles, water filters, and how to carry your water. Keep it simple with these two items. Maybe reuse a plastic water bottle too. Around 3.8 oz / 108 grams will be enough for most people. Maybe a little extra weight for backup water treatment like chemical tablets.
Weight: 2.5 oz / 71 grams
The ever-popular Sawyer Squeeze. I used this filter for 1000s of miles of hiking and backpacking. It has a good flow rate, filters the water quite well, and is lightweight. It doesn’t matter what hiking trail you are on, you are sure to find someone carrying one of these. I currently use the Lifestraw Flex Squeeze but prefer the updated Lifestraw Peak and Sawyer Squeeze.
Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets
Read more: Best Backpacking Water Filters
Water Storage / Water Bottle
Weight: 1.3 oz / 37 grams
When you need to carry water, a water bladder is much lighter and more efficient than almost any style of water bottle. And the best of these is the Platypus bladder. And the Sawyer Squeeze will screw only the bottle. I currently use the 2L Platypus Bladder.
Review coming soon: Best Backpacking Water Bottles and Water Storage
Most of these items on the list will be worn while hiking and backpacking so they are not normally added to the overall base weight. There is packed clothing and worn clothing. Packed clothing would usually consist of rain gear and insulation such as a down jacket. And also extras like spare socks and underwear.
Base Layer Bottom
100% Merino base layer with flatlock seams to ensure chafing is reduced. You can hike in these all day if you want. In fact, when it is cold you could use a pair of shorts over the top and not take any hiking pants with you. Due to the delicate nature of the fabric, this is only a good idea on marked trails with no sharp branches to rip the fabric.
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Base Layer Bottoms
Review coming soon: Best Backpacking Base Layer Bottoms
Lightweight, comfortable, and with enough stretch to make walking easy. I’ve used these hiking pants multiple times and like them for hiking and backpacking. They are great in cooler weather and also are a good option for those wanting protection from the sun and elements. I currently use the Kuhl Silencr and Kuhl Deceptr pants.
Kuhl Silencr Pants
Kuhl Deceptr Pants
Read more: Best Hiking Pants
Do they look good and not cost a fortune and protect your eyes from all the harmful rays? If the answer is yes then they will be good enough. If you are tight with money a cheap pair will get you by, especially if you are the type of person who loses everything within hours of buying them.
Julbo Explorer 2.0
Smith Lowdown 2
Read more: Best Hiking Sunglasses
Weight: 5oz / 142 grams (without Pit Zips)
When making the jump to ultralight backpacking you will not need a big heavy three-layer rain jacket. An ultralight rain jacket with the option of pit zips to vent heat like the Enlightened Equipment Visp is perfect. Being so light and thin it also works well as a windbreaker on those cold mornings and can also be worn to bed to assist with insulation (yes, it works).
ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium
Read more: Best Rain Jackets
Weight: 6.7oz / 190g
In many cases, a pair of rain pants will be overkill and not needed but for most those cases are rare. Take rain pants. They work as a good pair of windbreaker pants too. They are not too heavy and can be a lifesaver in cold wet weather. The OR Helium is perfect even though there are much lighter options for those who really want to count the grams. I use the OR Helium and have for many years.
Arc’teryx Beta AR
Read more: Best Rain Pants
If you want to save weight and hike with a little less stress on your feet then consider trail runners. Ultralight hikers love them and as you are not carrying very heavy loads there is less stress on your feet, ankles, and knees. As your feet feel better there is less need for camp shoes, just loosen the shoe laces when at camp.
Gaiters – Optional
Gaiters are considered by many, including myself, to be luxury items. I find them to be very useful in snow and mud but not for general lightweight hiking and backpacking. But many love them for keeping sand and rocks out of their socks and shoes. The Dirty Girl Gaiters are among the most popular.
Altra Trail Gaiters
Read more: Best Gaiters for Backpacking
Winter Hiking Gear
Cameras and Electronics
- Battery Bank
- Camera – Optional
- Headlamps – Optional
- Hiking GPS Watch – Optional
- Emergency PLB or Two Way Satellite Communicator – Optional
First Aid Kit and Misc
- Plastic zip lock bags
- Money / ID / Credit Cards
- Blister pads
- Strapping Tape
- Giardia anti-biotic
- Foot infection anti-biotic
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Safety Pin
- Deet insect repellent
- Lip Balm
- Toilet tissue
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
Total 13oz / 375 grams