Over a decade of refinement, obsession, and testing has gone into the creation of this ultralight backpacking gear list. A sub 10-pound backpacking base weight, 3-season capable, durable, efficient, full-featured, and smile enhancing UL gear list. Comfortable in temperatures down to 20℉, with generous safety, survival, and first aid essentials.
The following UL backpacking gear list contains the author's* personal selections currently used for the 2021 season. *Male, 5 ft 9 in, 160 lbs/ 175 cm, 72.5 kg.
Clothing and gear that is worn or carried separate from your backpack. Typically, this is your core hiking clothing, shoes, watch, and trekking poles.
The items in this section aren't included your Backpacking Base Weight, and should only include the primary items you actually wear and carry outside your backpack. Resist the temptation to "hide" gear, for example your mobile phone shouldn't be included in this section.
|Shirt||Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail SS Shirt, S19 Men's M||$39.00||4.45oz|
|Shorts||Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts, Men's M||$69.00||3.50oz|
|Socks||Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks, Size L||$22.00||2.60oz|
|Shoes||Hoka One One Torrent Shoes, Men's 9.5||$120.00||18.00oz|
|Accessories||Hat, Buff head wear, cotton bandanna, Oakley Turbine sunglasses, Suunto Core watch||$455.00||7.00oz|
|Trekking Poles||Zpacks Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles||$99.00||13.40oz|
Base Pack: Backpack
Number one of the "Big Three", your backpack will need to fit everything not included above in the Worn/Carried section.
|Base Pack: Backpack||Item||Cost||Weight|
|Backpack||Internal Frame, Hipbelt w/Pockets: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Junction, Color White, Size M||$355.00||32.00oz|
|Alternate||Frameless: Pa'lante Packs V2 Backpack, S18 Black 37L Size 19", non-hipbelt version||$245.00||15.70oz|
|Optional||Pack Liner: Zpacks NyloPro Odor Barrier Bags, Extra Large, 20"x36"||$6.00||1.00oz|
|Total Base Pack: Backpack||$355.00||32.00oz|
Base Pack: Shelter
Number two of the "Big Three", a bivy, tarp, or tent are common shelter options, along with stakes, guylines, and optionally a groundsheet.
|Base Pack: Shelter||Item||Cost||Weight|
|Shelter||Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp w/ Doors, S20 DCF6||$299.00||4.75oz|
|Alternate||Fully Enclosed w/Bathtub Floor: Zpacks Plexamid Tent, DCF6||$549.99||15.30oz|
|Guylines||Braided polyester dyneema core 2mm reflective 1x75", 2x54", 5x32", 1mm accessory 1x96"||$0.00||1.15oz|
|Stakes||Easton Nano Spike 2x8", MSR GroundHog 4x7.5", Ti Shepherd Hook 4x6", MLD DCF Tent Stake bag Size L||$38.49||3.75oz|
|Groundsheet||Window Shrink Film 44x84"||$2.25||1.50oz|
|Alternate||Gossamer Gear Polycryo (Tent Footprint) Ground Cloths, Size M 40x96"||$6.00||1.60oz|
|Total Base Pack: Shelter||$339.74||11.15oz|
Base Pack: Sleeping
Number three of the "Big Three", is your sleeping bag or quilt, and is accompanied by a sleeping pad, and optionally a pillow.
|Base Pack: Sleeping||Item||Cost||Weight|
|Sleeping Bag||Feathered Friends Tanager 20 CFL, S20 68" 12.6oz 950+ down fill||$369.00||18.60oz|
|Alternate||Quilt w/Sewn Footbox: Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt, 20℉, 7D shell, 13.83oz 950 down fill||$410.00||19.25oz|
|Sleeping Pad||NEMO Switchback, Size Regular* (two panels removed), S20||$49.95||12.60oz|
|Alternate||Inflatable Pad: Thermarest NeoAir XLite, Size Women's R||$174.95||12.00oz|
|Pillow||Big Sky DreamSleeper UltraLight Pillow||$24.95||1.55oz|
|Total Base Pack: Sleeping||$443.90||32.75oz|
Base Pack: Clothing
Clothing items not normally worn/carried such as rain gear, sleepwear, and puffy insulation layers.
|Base Pack: Clothing||Item||Cost||Weight|
|Top, Shell||Arc'teryx Zeta FL Rain Jacket, S19 Men's M||$325.00||7.35oz|
|Top, Base||Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight Zip Neck, S19 Men's M||$99.00||6.50oz|
|Top, Insulation||Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket, F18 Men's M||$249.00||8.15oz|
|Bottom, Shell||Montbell Versalite Rain Pants, S19 Men's M||$139.00||3.20oz|
|Bottom, Base||Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms, S19 Men's M||$59.00||5.90oz|
|Bottom, Insulation||Base layer bottoms are sufficient for average 3-season conditions||$0.00||0.00oz|
|Head||Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net, Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie, Enlightened Equipment Hooligan Hat||$120.00||3.45oz|
|Hands, Feet||Darn Tough Socks (spare), PossumDown Sleep Socks, PossumDown Gloves, Zpacks Vertice Rain Mitts||$115.00||6.25oz|
|Stuff Sack||Use backpack pack liner (multi-use)||$0.00||0.00oz|
|Alternate||DCF: Zpacks Medium Stuff Sack||$20.00||0.25oz|
|Total Base Pack: Clothing||$1,106.00||40.80oz|
Base Pack: Gear
Gear items not normally worn/carried such as your cookset, first aid kit (FAK), and electronics.
|Base Pack: Gear||Item||Cost||Weight|
|Essentials||Nitecore NU25 headlamp, Victorinox knife, micro carabiner, mini butane lighter, pen cartridge, ear plugs, needles, safety pins, water filter gasket, inflatable pad patch, tenacious tape, gaffer's tape 2"x6', small storage case||$55.00||4.00oz|
|Survival||SOL Fire Lite Kit with Tinder-Quik x6, water purification tablets x6||$11.00||0.35oz|
|First Aid||Triple antibiotic, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, loperamide, aspirin, steri-strips, bandage tape, tweezers, small storage case||$10.00||1.65oz|
|Hygiene||All items unscented: Chapstick, mineral sunscreen 15mL, picaridin insect repellent (pump spray, not lotion) 15mL, benzalkonium hand sanitizer 15mL, Wheaton 15mL Dropper Bottle x3 (for repackaging), soap sheets, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, ultra-slim nail clipper, Deuce #1 trowel||$36.00||4.00oz|
|Electronics||Aukey PB-Y13 10000mAh USB-C Power Bank, USB-C/Micro cables, adapters, wall charger, wired audio earbuds, Android phone (excl. from cost)||$30.00||14.00oz|
|Stuff Sack||Hyperlite Mountain Gear DCF8 Drawstring Stuff Sack Small (8x10, contains all of the above)||$24.00||0.28oz|
|Satellite||Garmin inReach Mini satellite messenger||$349.99||3.40oz|
|H20 Storage||CNOC Vetco 2L Water Container S19, Smart Water 1L bottle||$19.95||4.00oz|
|H20 Treatment||Sawyer Squeeze Micro with Smart Water sport cap||$27.95||2.00oz|
|Food Prep||650ml Ti Mug, Soto Amicus without igniter stove, Ti long handle polished bowl spoon, Zpacks Mini Stuff Sack, cozy, rag||$90.00||6.25oz|
|Food Storage||Two-handle grocery store plastic bag (thicker type)||$0.00||0.90oz|
|Alternate||DCF Roll-Top w/Flat Bottom: LiteAF Flat Bottom Food Bag, 11L Size S||$21.95||1.20oz|
|Alternate||Bear Bag ~5-Day Supply: Ursack Major Bear Bag||$89.95||7.60oz|
|Alternate||Bear Canister ~3-Day Supply: Lighter1 Lil' Sami Bear Canister||$99.95||28.00oz|
|Alternate||Bear Canister ~7-Day Supply: BearVault BV500 Food Container||$79.95||40.00oz|
|Total Base Pack: Gear||$653.89||40.83oz|
Food, water, fuel, and some toiletries are consumable items not included in Worn/Carried or Base Pack weight calculations.
|H20||1L (typical carry)||$0.00||35.20oz|
|Food||20oz / day x 4 days (typical resupply)||$50.00||80.00oz|
|Fuel||1x3.9oz (110g) MSR IsoPro fuel canister||$4.95||7.40oz|
Here's where your hard work in selecting the best clothing and gear become reflected in the total weight of your Base Pack and Full Skin Out (FSO) or Complete weight.
|Total Base Pack||$2,898.53||9.85lb|
With today's technology and gear options that's the weight of a typical "ultralight" kit. A focus on lightweight items with a nod to durability. In the classic lightweight backpacking bible Beyond Backpacking , Ray Jardine configured an 8.5 pound base pack that he considered thru hike worthy. However, Ray hiked with a partner and they split up gear and each carried only a partial kit. For example, Jenny might carry the shelter kit, while Ray would carry the sleeping kit. If you were to weigh up Ray's pack fully allocated, it would likely land in the 10-pound range.
What about SUL?
I've gone SUL (super ultralight, 5-pound base pack weight) on countless trips in extreme conditions which was fun and challenging. I've personally found that carrying a 5-pound vs. a 10-pound base pack is not significantly different. However, the difference (net gains) in long term durability, functional range, comfort, less mental stress, and ease of use were massive. A more robust, though heavier gear list, resulted in a much better outdoor experience - for me. YMMV!
How is a Thru Hike Gear List Different?
On a thru hike one needs to account for things like town stops, recharging electronics via 110v/220v power outlets, resupplying consumables regularly, traveling through the full gamut of climate zones, and generally living on trail day-to-day. On a casual weekend trip, you can probably leave your cell phone wall charger behind, carry enough consumables to last the whole trip, and pack for weather conditions specific to your route. Thru hikers on the other hand tend to adopt a more "life on the trail" approach, and carrying a full jar of peanut butter, large pizza, or brick (if you get pranked) into the backcountry is not uncommon! In short, a thru hike kit is like having a sustainable "house" on your back, that is ready for the challenges a long hike presents.
Plug and Play
Many of the items in this list can be switched out for your preferred type, and not adversely effect the 10-pound threshold. Think of this list as a template, and as long as you plug-in items with similar function and weight, the end result will be a list customized for your needs that maintains a happy balance between weight and experience, while keeping you safe - so long as you fill up the space between your ears with the right knowledge, skills, and experience.
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