Best Ultralight Backpacking Gear

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MARMOT PRECIP RAIN JACKET
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Backpacking is truly a wonderful activity to partake in. But, as everyone knows, a lot of prep work goes into it as you need to know exactly what you need to bring. At the same time, you will be forced to carry all your items so it is essential to prioritize smaller and more compact items. In specific, focusing on ultralight backpacking gear because, as mentioned, it really is all about the weight.

Today, we want to dive into this a little bit but instead of providing you with a list of every single essential item you will need, we want to provide you with a detailed guide that will lay the groundwork for some of the gear that you can buy.

Standout Picks

BIG AGNES COPPER SPUR TENT
Unless you are not planning on a backpacking overnight, you will need to account for sleep. And, unless you want to sleep under the stars, you may want to consider buying this lightweight tent.
Amazon Link
ALTRA LONE PEAK 4 TRAIL SHOES
When you think of ultralight backpacking gear, you probably do not think of running shoes. But, the Lone Peak 4s are not your average pair of running shoes as they are optimized for trails.
Amazon Link
MARMOT PRECIP RAIN JACKET
Look, no one wants it to rain (typically) on their backpacking adventure but the reality is you need to account for it and be ready for it. Investing in a high-quality rain jacket might be a good start.
Amazon Link
$89.99
GARMIN GPSMAP 64ST
Gone are the days where you would need to rely on a generic compass and map to find your way back to a specific spot. With the Garmin 64st, that issue becomes non-existent.
Amazon Link
$399.99
REEHUT BACKPACKING STOVE
This stove is not without its flaws but it literally excels with its lightweight nature. Do you sacrifice the build quality a little bit? Sure, but this stove will still deliver the goods for you.
Amazon Link
$11.99
JOY WALKER RAIN COVER
This is another piece of gear that is going to combat the rain. If you do not either have or intend to buy a fully waterproof backpack then you may want a rain cover as a security blanket, so to speak.
Amazon Link
$13.99
ZOMAKE HIKING DAYPACK
It all depends on how much storage space you need but this convenient little daypack can do wonders for the right users. It comes packed with several storage compartments.
Amazon Link
$18.99
THETENTLAB POTTY TROWEL
When you are in the wilderness, there are not going to be public restrooms that you can access. So, you need to account for your “business” in some way and this device can help with that.
Amazon Link
TACT BIVVY
Yes, this is somewhat of a sleeping bag but it is formerly known as a bivvy. This is an ideal piece of gear for emergency situations. However, it is not quite optimized for normal usage.
Amazon Link
$19.97
GRAND TRUNK STARTER HAMMOCK
Right from the get-go, understand that this hammock is not optimized for larger users. It is well-designed for the right people, however, so do be aware of that.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Use

There really are countless choices on the market. But, you need to buy based on your needs.

Coming up with a checklist of all the gear you will need for your backpacking adventure can be a little tricky, quite honestly. The reason for this is you do not want to over pack but you also do not want to forget anything crucial. The bottom line is you need to buy and pack items that you will find useful on your trip. Thankfully, even though you can’t be told exactly what to bring, there are some essential items that will almost be needed for your trip.

For example, how about the backpack itself? Do not overlook this as a piece of gear because that is really what it is. The backpack itself needs to be lightweight, comfortable to wear and spacious enough for all your other items.

Of course, what about some form of shelter? This will typically be via a tent and yes, you can find ultralight tents on the market that will work great for backpacking and hiking.

And, you will probably also want to keep warm during colder nights so consider a lightweight sleeping bag, as well. But, you also need to account for food and directions, right? Possible items of choice to combat these two factors are GPS units, compasses, maps, stoves, fuel, watches, etc. Amazingly enough, though, this is just the start of it as there is plenty of other gear that could be beneficial for you.

Durability

In the wilderness, things are more prone to breaking and accidents and you may want to account for that.

In general, do you really want to spend your hard-earned money on cheap products? Now, there are products out there that can still be worth it even if they are not built tactically, however. When it comes to ultralight backpacking gear, we thought we would focus on two specific layers of durability (fabrics and metal). With literally countless backpacking items, you will see some form of fabrics or metal implemented.

To start, let’s take a look at fabrics. No matter if you are buying a tent, rain jacket, rain cover, footprint, or backpack, they will typically be designed with some blend of fabrics. Two of the most popular, in fact, are nylon and polyester. In general, nylon is stronger but, either way, both are tremendous. Then again, for enhanced strength, you may want to look for ripstop versions of the two materials. Also, you can assess the denier count of any given item you are looking at (as the higher the denier of a fabric, the thicker and more durable it will be).

But, what about metal? Most backpacking gear that features metal will either feature stainless steel or aluminum in some capacity. Now, though stainless steel is generally stronger (and also corrosion-resistant), aluminum is the lighter of the two metals which makes it ideal for this type of gear. Additionally, aluminum is not going to rust (though it can corrode).

Portability

This is really a no-brainer, is it not? Do you really want to carry bulky and heavy gear?

Given this guide is prioritizing ultralight backpacking gear, it was only a matter of time before this section would come up. After all, the terms “ultralight” and “portability” go hand-in-hand with each other. Now, when it comes to picking out items that are portable, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

For starters, it truly is all about the weight. When you go backpacking, the weight of your pack can increase very, very quickly. Even an extra one or two pounds can make all the difference in the world. As such, look for gear that is as light as possible (ideally under one pound though it does depend on what you are looking for).
Of course, the physical size of the items you buy will also play a role. If you need larger items, look for those that can be folded down for storage. And, in general, it may be in your best interest to prioritize more compact and less bulky items. Oh, and it is also never a bad idea to choose gear that either comes with their own storage pouches or that can be stuffed into their own pocket or sack (if this is applicable for the particular item).

Effectiveness

No matter what gear you go with, it needs to be able to perform to your standards.

For the most part, this section is going to be pretty self-explanatory. After all, no matter what you are in the market to buy, you want to ensure that the products you end up buying will be able to perform what they were designed to do efficiently and sufficiently. And, as obvious as this sounds, it really is vital so do not overlook it. In regard to what this entails you to look for, it all comes down to the gear you are buying, quite frankly. Let’s look at a few examples to help clarify this for you.

Okay, so let’s say you want to buy a technology device (such as a GPS unit or even a power bank) for your trip. No matter what that device happens to be, it needs to be built with the functionality that you need. For example, with a power bank, if you need it to charge three devices at the same time but it only has the capability of charging two, what use is it to you? The same could be said about items that are designed to protect you from the rain. If these items are limited in their waterproofness, they may not be able to handle what you need them to.

Features

Multi-functional devices and equipment can be a way to gauge this section, quite frankly.

For the most part, this last section is for you to address any additional features and functionality that a specific piece of gear has.
However, there is actually an interesting manner in which you can look at this. In the modern world, more and more devices are being designed to handle multiple tasks. In essence, we are seeing advancements in technology as said devices are becoming multifunctional in their designs.
But, what does this have to do with backpacking? Well, because it is all about minimizing what you bring, devices and gear that can perform more than one action can essentially allow you to buy two of them while only packing one.

OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING GEAR

1. BIG AGNES COPPER SPUR TENT

Where to buy
Amazon Link
BIG AGNES COPPER SPUR TENT
Amazon Link

Unless you are not planning on a backpacking overnight, you will need to account for sleep. And, unless you want to sleep under the stars, you may want to consider buying this lightweight tent.

Read more

Design

For the record, this is defined as a three-season, free-standing tent. However, it is really optimized for two larger adults or three smaller ones. Additionally, the high-volume hub enhances its overall strength and stability.

Craftsmanship

Both the canopy and floor are made out of proprietary ripstop nylon. In addition to the fully taped seams which provide waterproof protection, very few of you will be complaining about the craftsmanship here.

Portability

As durable as this is, it is even more amazing how lightweight it is. Oh, and the setup process is simple, thanks to the clip system. But, you do need to buy the footprint separately, for the record.

Effectiveness

It was mentioned earlier, but it deserves re-mentioning, this is a three-person tent that works slightly better as a two-person tent. This is because, with average to large adults, space will be a little cramped.

Features

There are interior storage pockets in this nice tent. Besides, this is also designed with two vestibules, two entry doors, and a quick-stash system on one of the doors.

Overall

It is just going to be tough to top this one, ladies and gentlemen. For a tent, this durable, lightweight, and well-designed, how could you possibly go wrong?

Amazon Link

2. ALTRA LONE PEAK 4 TRAIL SHOES

Where to buy
Amazon Link
ALTRA LONE PEAK 4 TRAIL SHOES
Amazon Link

When you think of ultralight backpacking gear, you probably do not think of running shoes. But, the Lone Peak 4s are not your average pair of running shoes as they are optimized for trails.

Read more

Design

Being trail running shoes, these are not only designed to provide you with cushioning and shock absorption but also protection against the terrain you will be backpacking on.

Craftsmanship

In addition to the fact that the breathability has been improved from the previous version of this footwear, the Lone Peak 4s also offers an exceptional combination of durability, traction, and grip.

Portability

Even if you do not plan to wear these for the entire duration of your adventure, they can easily be stowed away in your backpack (though they can’t be folded down or anything, clearly).

Effectiveness

Not only do these encourage more power due to their design but they also offer protection against rocks and other debris that you will encounter. Oh yeah, and the canted lugs also provide superior traction.

Features

Given these are running shoes, there are not too many extra features to speak of. But, a feature that has not been documented yet is the hook-and-loop tab which offers another layer of protection against debris.

Overall

Not too many of you will think of your footwear when you think of ultralight backpacking gear. But, after you have been witnessed to this, you are probably thinking about it now.

Amazon Link

3. MARMOT PRECIP RAIN JACKET

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$89.99
MARMOT PRECIP RAIN JACKET
Amazon Link

Look, no one wants it to rain (typically) on their backpacking adventure but the reality is you need to account for it and be ready for it. Investing in a high-quality rain jacket might be a good start.

Read more

Design

Yep, this is a rain jacket; however, it is a rain jacket that may provide a looser fit than you desire. Still, it does its job of shielding your clothing from the rain.

Craftsmanship

In addition to the fact that this is designed with NanoPro waterproofing technology, it also sports fully taped seams for enhanced waterproofness.

Portability

Even if you do not wear this (which you presumably will not unless it is raining or windy), it can stuff into its pocket, which makes it exceptional for backpacking.

Effectiveness

Overall, like a rain jacket, this excels at protecting you from the rain. However, it is not as breathable as the description makes it out to be.

Features

First off, this is equipped with two side pockets. Additionally, this features an attached hood, Velcro cuffs, and PitZips for enhanced breathability.

Overall

Even if you plan your adventure around the weather, rain can still creep up on you from nowhere. So, to better be prepared for it, why not include a rain jacket on your gear checklist?

Amazon Link
$89.99

4. GARMIN GPSMAP 64ST

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$399.99
GARMIN GPSMAP 64ST
Amazon Link

Gone are the days where you would need to rely on a generic compass and map to find your way back to a specific spot. With the Garmin 64st, that issue becomes non-existent.

Read more

Design

This is a GPS device that is built with Bluetooth technology (and also ANT+), and it can assist you in getting back on the tracks. However, speaking for its software, its menu system is rather clunky and non-intuitive.

Craftsmanship

Overall, the build quality here is reliable. What is nice, though, is it is rated to IPX7 standards of waterproofness. It will handle inclement weather for sure.

Portability

This is bulkier than a typical smartphone, but it will also fit in the palm of your hands. Oh, it also only weighs 8.1 ounces, so that is a huge plus.

Effectiveness

Thanks to the built-in high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver (in addition to the quad helix antenna), this device can provide directional guidance even if you are under heavy cover.

Features

Keep in mind that this can be powered by two different means (traditional AA batteries and the NiMH battery pack). But, the battery life has been criticized by former users. As for the display, it is not flashy but gets the job done. Oh, and this also sports eight gigabytes of internal memory and supports paperless geocaching.

Overall

No, the GPSMAP 64st is not flawless, but it is a GPS device designed by Garmin (so you know you can’t go wrong). But, it performs what it was set out to do very, very well.

Amazon Link
$399.99

5. REEHUT BACKPACKING STOVE

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$11.99
REEHUT BACKPACKING STOVE
Amazon Link

This stove is not without its flaws but it literally excels with its lightweight nature. Do you sacrifice the build quality a little bit? Sure, but this stove will still deliver the goods for you.

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Design

Though this is a stove and a nice buy, it is actually not going to work by itself. However, it is compatible with fuel canisters that sport 7/16 threads (both single butane and butane-propane mixed).

Craftsmanship

Overall, this is crafted with fairly thin metal and it is delicate. With that said, this will withstand corrosion and rust thanks to its aluminum alloy and stainless steel build.

Portability

In addition to the fact that this is lightweight and compact by itself, your purchase also comes with a carrying case for enhanced portability.

Effectiveness

Thanks to the windproof screen that has been implemented (and also the honeycomb shape), this will cook with enhanced oxygen circulation. Also, the flame will not blow out quite as often.

Features

What is quite nice about this gadget is the fact that the flame can be controlled. If you want a light simmer or a blazing heat you can. And, you can mess around with it a little bit.

Overall

For backpacking, this is about as optimized as it is ever going to get. Yet, admittedly, the build quality is sacrificed a bit for the portability (though this is still built with quality metal).

Amazon Link
$11.99

6. JOY WALKER RAIN COVER

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$13.99
JOY WALKER RAIN COVER
Amazon Link

This is another piece of gear that is going to combat the rain. If you do not either have or intend to buy a fully waterproof backpack then you may want a rain cover as a security blanket, so to speak.

Read more

Design

Do note that this is not an actual backpack but just a rain cover for backpacks (it fits 15 to 90-liter packs). With many sizes available, you can buy based on your needs.

Craftsmanship

Being made of three different kinds of fabrics (one of them being 300-denier nylon), this is a special blend and is also extremely well-crafted.

Portability

To carry this around, a velvet pouch is included with your purchase. This is made even easier given the fact that this cover collapses and only weighs 0.17 pounds.

Effectiveness

It is noted that the 5000-millimeter waterproof grade this is rated with is one of the best. However, various users have reported that this cover struggles to perform sufficiently during torrential rainfall.

Features

This is a pretty simple design overall. But, it does come with an upgraded buckle strap system so that is nice.

Overall

Much like with a rain jacket, this is a piece of gear that you hope to never use. But, it is also one that could prove beneficial if you do not own a fully waterproof backpack.

Amazon Link
$13.99

7. ZOMAKE HIKING DAYPACK

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$18.99
ZOMAKE HIKING DAYPACK
Amazon Link

It all depends on how much storage space you need but this convenient little daypack can do wonders for the right users. It comes packed with several storage compartments.

Read more

Design

Look, this may not be large enough for some of you. But, granted you are not going on a weekend or week-long trek, this compact daypack could do wonders for you.

Craftsmanship

Overall, the quality could be better here. With that said, it is made primarily of water-resistant nylon (which will also resist tearing). Then again, a few buyers have noted that this does not repel water well at all.

Portability

This daypack is not bulky, heavy, or cumbersome to wear, let’s just say that. On the contrary, it is ideal for backpacking due to its light stature.

Effectiveness

For the record, this has a capacity of 20 liters. Additionally, equipped are breathable straps that can be adjusted to your liking for enhanced comfort.

Features

Past the main compartment, also designed into this daypack are two side pockets, a front zippered pocket, and an internal zippered pocket.

Overall

Yes, the quality could use improved here. But, for day trips and short backpacking adventures, this could be just what the doctor ordered.

Amazon Link
$18.99

8. THETENTLAB POTTY TROWEL

Where to buy
Amazon Link
THETENTLAB POTTY TROWEL
Amazon Link

When you are in the wilderness, there are not going to be public restrooms that you can access. So, you need to account for your “business” in some way and this device can help with that.

Read more

Design

In short, this is a device that can be used to bury your waste. Look, this is just one of the things that you need to contend with when you decide to go backpacking.

Craftsmanship

Even though this is designed of aerospace-grade aluminum, it is pretty flimsy overall. It is not cheap, but it can also struggle to dig into the harder ground.

Portability

This does come in multiple sizes but no matter which one you end up going with, quite frankly, all of them are optimized for transport and portability.

Effectiveness

Sure, this is probably a bit too flexible, but it is also innovative in its design. You see, it can be used upside down when you need a little more digging power.

Features

In addition to the newly designed handle (which improves your grip), the teeth on this trowel can also be sharpened with the use of rock (and this is extremely convenient and useful).

Overall

No one is going to put this on their Christmas list. But, this is a tool that will make it a lot easier to dispose of your waste when nature does happen to call.

Amazon Link

9. TACT BIVVY

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$19.97
TACT BIVVY
Amazon Link

Yes, this is somewhat of a sleeping bag but it is formerly known as a bivvy. This is an ideal piece of gear for emergency situations. However, it is not quite optimized for normal usage.

Read more

Design

No, this is not a normal sleeping bag and is actually a bivvy. Basically, it is an ultralight polyester film that reflects your body heat back to you. But, it is nearly impossible to get it back inside its sack once you take it out.

Craftsmanship

Few people will question the quality of this bivvy. It is designed to be windproof, waterproof and also resistant to tearing. Not bad, huh?

Portability

As you can see from the photos, the sack this comes in is about the size of your hand. It clocks in at 4.8 ounces in weight and is about as portable as it gets.

Effectiveness

The good news is the HeatEcho material utilized reflects up to 90 percent of the heat generated from your body back to you. The bad news, though, is condensation buildup tends to be an issue.

Features

This is pretty simple in its design and is almost devoid of any extra features, quite honestly.

Overall

For one-off emergency situations, this is going to be great. To offer a bit of variety to you, we thought we would include this one.

Amazon Link
$19.97

10. GRAND TRUNK STARTER HAMMOCK

Where to buy
Amazon Link
GRAND TRUNK STARTER HAMMOCK
Amazon Link

Right from the get-go, understand that this hammock is not optimized for larger users. It is well-designed for the right people, however, so do be aware of that.

Read more

Design

The different colors do happen to come with different hardware components so do be aware of that. All in all, though, this is nothing more than a portable hammock.

Craftsmanship

The green, blue and red versions of this hammock are made of ripstop polyester. Meanwhile, the royal blue and forest green variations are made of 100 percent polyester taffeta.

Portability

Due to the fact that this can pack down into its own stuff sack (that is attached to it), it is as portable as it gets. Oh yeah, it also only weighs 12 ounces so there is that.

Effectiveness

Let’s just say that this can be comfortable and effective for the right users. These “right users” are anyone who is not too heavy or too tall. In other words, this hammock is optimized for smaller people.

Features

Depending on the color you go with, you will either be provided with S hooks or nautical-grade carabiners. Other than that, this hammock is fairly simplistic in its design.

Overall

This could be seen as a controversial selection for this list as it is not going to be ideal for everyone. But, that is just the nature of the game, is it not?

Amazon Link