2021 Ultralight Backpacking Gear Recommendations

Navigating on the PCT near Idyllwild, CA.

2021 Ultralight Backpacking Gear Recommendations

Our favorite pieces of ultralight backpacking gear for 2021, hand picked and trail tested. Many of these items are used in our 9 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List 2021.

Nitecore NU25 USB Rechargeable Headlamp

Amazingly light, bright (360 lumens), and compact, yet full featured. Compared to the Black Diamond Spot it feels tiny. Ditch the batteries and recharge via micro USB. DIY hack: swap the headband out for 3/32" shockcord and a cordlock.

Light My Fire Scout Firesteel

Reliance on mini bic butane lighters can lead to cold dinners or worse. Mechanical fire starters like a firesteel won't let you down. Pair with homemade tinder and practice before hitting the trail.

Sawyer Insect Repellent 20% Picaridin

The best natural alternative to DEET insect repellents. Fragrance free, won't harm clothing or gear, and most importantly it works. The liquid spray is preferred over the lotion variant. Active ingredient: Icaridin.

Victorinox Swiss Army Pocket Knife

The classic pocket knife for a reason. Aluminum scales make the Alox model a bit slimmer and lighter, while providing all your favorite features. The scissors and nail file are incredibly useful on trail.

Tinder-Quik Firestarting Tabs

Made from cotton, each firestarting tab is coated in wax for protection from water and burns for 2-3 minutes when lit. Compact and lightweight, these fire starting aids get the job done, even in inclement weather.

HandClens Non-Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

This foaming hand sanitizer kills 99.99% of germs in 15 seconds, helping to stop cold, flu, MRSA, SARS, and other illnesses. It's very gentle on the skin, and doesn't sting on cuts. Active ingredient: Benzalkonium Chloride.

Camouflage Gaffer Tape

Better than duct tape because it uses a different adhesive that is less gooey, breathes better, and is generally more versatile. Use it for gear repairs, first aid bandages, and blister/hot spot prevention.

Aquamira Water Purification Tablets

It pays to have water purification backup in case your filter fails. Filament-based filters like the Sawyer Squeeze no longer function when frozen. To be safe, tuck 4-8 of these tiny tablets away in your First Aid Kit (FAK).

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Patches

These pre-cut rectangles mini-patches with rounded edges are less likely to snag and peel after application. The black and clear variety is handy for sleeping bags and dyneema composite fabric (DCF, cuben fiber).