Lightweight Backpacking Resources

(Updated March 2017)

 

Magazine

Backpacking Light www.backpackinglight.com is a subscription-based online magazine providing technical content, test reports, product reviews, research reviews, state of the market reports, and the Internet's most active forums about lightweight backpacking. Get your free 30 day subscription at: www.backpackinglight.com/freetrial Subscription is $24.99/yr, $109.99 lifetime.

 

Lightweight Backpacking Forums

Backpacking Light: Forums – www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/index.html

The Backcountry Forum – www.backpacking.net/bbs.html

Thru-Hiker – thru-hiker.com/x/index.php/forums

 

Lightweight Backpacking Home Pages (a great place to glean useful information)

Southwest Ultralight Backpacking – swultralight.home.bresnan.net

Onestep’s Ultralight Backpacking Resource – www.members.tripod.com/onestep4me/index.htm

Great Lakes Lightweight Backpacking – halbertri.tripod.com

Backpacking Lightweight – www.backpacking.net/index.html

Section Hiker – sectionhiker.com

Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador websites – go to gossamergear.com and then click on “Tribal” and then “Trail Ambassadors”

 

Books

Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Insights Into Hiking and Backpacking – by Justin Lichter. Trail Tested has everything you need to know about hiking and backpacking! Justin Lichter, a.k.a. Trauma, has learned countless tips, skills, and know-how in over 35,000 miles of hiking. Justin Lichter Publishing, 2012, $19.99. ISBN-13: 978-0984855001

 

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide, second edition – by Andrew Skurka, a supreme long distance hiker. Andrew has a very practical approach to hiking with lightweight gear, and shares a lot of his wisdom learned from thousands of miles on the trail. National Geographic books, 2017, $19.95. ISBN-978-1-4262-1784-5

 

The Backpacker’s Handbook, 4th Edition – Chris Townsend delivers an in-depth look at all backpacking styles, from ultralight to long-distance hiking. Covers planning, techniques, and gear. Ragged Mountain Press, 2011, $13.07. ISBN-13: 978-0071754897

 

Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips – by Mike Clelland. Short, to the point, and humorously illustrated by famed outdoor illustrator Mike Clelland, this book presents everything hikers and backpackers need to be safe, comfortable, and well-fed while carrying a very small and lightweight pack. Falcon Guides, 2011, $10.17. ISBN-13: 978-0071754897

 

Smarter Backpacking – Author Jorgen Johansson aims to make better hikers through use of ultralight hiking techniques. NUI Publishing, 2010, $14. ISBN-13: 978-9197905503

 

Lighten Up! A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking – by Don Ladigin and Mike Clelland. Falcon Guides, 2005, $9.91. ISBN-13: 978-0762737345

 

Lightweight Backpacking and Camping – Edited by Ryan Jordan, founder of Backpacking Light Magazine. Beartooth Mountain Press, 2005, $24.99. ISBN-10: 0974818828

The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail – Author Ryel Kestenbaum shows how ultralight backpacking offers a safe and comfortable alternative to traditional backpacking methods. Ragged Mountain Press, 2001, $12.62. ISBN-13: 978-0071368285

 

Help With Making Gear Decisions

We recommend taking your time and thoroughly researching your lightweight gear options before making any purchases. Jan’s Jaunts and Jabberings is an excellent resource to take you through the gear decision process, from where you want to be on the lightweight scale, to stepping you through the gear categories. She also has some good advice on food selection and planning.

 

Recommended Gear

Listed below are our current gear recommendations for lightweight and ultralight backpacking. It’s important to evaluate the options in each gear category and make your own decision on what’s right for you.

 

LW Single Wall Tents

Bear Paw Wilderness DesignsDiamond Solo and many others

Big AgnesScout UL2

Big Sky InternationalMirage 1P, Mirage 2P

Black DiamondMega Light

Hyperlite Mountain GearUltaMid 2

GoLiteShangra-La 3

Gossamer Gear – The One (available soon)

Mountain Laurel DesignsSoloMid, DuoMid, SpeedMid, SuperMid

MountainsmithMountain Shelter LT

MSREssential series

Nemo Equipment – Meta 1P and Meta2P, Hornet 2P

Sierra Designs – Flashlight UL1, High Route

Six Moon DesignsLunar Solo, Lunar Duo, Skyscape, Haven

TarptentContrail, Notch, Moment, Rainbow, Double Rainbow, Sublite, StratoSpire1, StratoSpire2

ZPacksHexamid series, Duplex, Triplex

 

LW Double Wall Tents

Big AgnesCopper Spur series, Seedhouse SL series, Fly Creek Series

Big Sky InternationalEvolution 1P, Evolution 2P, Soul, Soul UL

Hyperlite Mountain GearEcho I and Echo II

LightHeartSolo and Duo (hybrid)

Mountain HardwearSuperMega UL1 and UL2

MontBellThunder Dome 2

Nemo EquipmentObi 1P, Obi 2P, Obi 3P

REIQuarter Dome T1, Quarter Dome T2, Quarter Dome T3, Dash 2

TarptentScarp 1, Scarp 2

Terra NovaLaser UL 1, Laser Competition 1, Laser Competition 2

VaudePower Lizard SUL

 

LW Packs

Elemental HorizonsKalais, Aquilo, Aduro SL

Gossamer GearMurmur, Kumo, Gorilla, Silverback, Mariposa

Granite GearNimbus Meridian, Escape 60, Leopard A.C. 58, Blaze A.C. 60, Crown V.C.60, Meridian Vapor, Vapor Flash (many available in women’s versions)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear2400 Windrider, 2400 Southwest

KlymitMotion 35, Motion 60 (Spring 14)

Mountain Laurel DesignsProphet, Exodus

MountainsmithHaze 50

OspreyAtmos series, Exos series, Hornet 46

REI – Flash series

Rodney’s Packs

Six Moon Designs – Flight 30 and 40

ULA EquipmentAirX, Ohm 2/0, Catalyst, Circuit, CDT

ZPacksArc Blast, Arc Zip, Arc Haul, Arc Haul Zip

 

Sleeping Pads

Gossamer GearNightLight, Air Beam Sleepers

Klymit – X Frame series

Therm-a-RestNeoAir series, ProLite series, Z Lite Sol & Original Z Lite

Nemo EquipmentZor series

 

Groundsheet

Gossamer GearPolycyro Groundsheet medium, large

Into The WindKite Tyvek (type 1443R soft Tyvek)

ZPacksCuben Fiber Groundsheet

 

LW Sleeping Bags

Feathered FriendsMerlin UL 30

Katabatic GearQuilts (all their bags are quilts)

MarmotPlasma 30, Phase 20 and 30

MontbellUL Spiral Down Hugger #3, UL SS Down Hugger #3, Spiral Down Hugger 900 #2

Mountain HardwearPhantom 32, Mtn Speed 32

NunatakAlpinist

PHDMinim 400

Terra NovaLaser 600

ValandreMirage

Western MountaineeringAlpinlite, Megalite, Summerlite

ZPacksVery LW hoodless bags, range of sizes

 

Alcohol and Esbit Stoves

Gossamer Gear –GVP ultralight stove system

Trail DesignsCaldera Cone System

Lite TrailTitanium Solid Fuel Cook System

 

Canister Stoves

JetboilZip, Mighty Mo

MSRPocket Rocket, MicroRocket

OlicampIonMicro, Kinetic Ultra Titanium

PrimusExpress

Snow Peak – GigaPower, LiteMax

Soto Windmaster

 

Cook Pots

EvernewTi Ware Ultra Light Titanium Pot 0.9L & 1.3 L, Ti Ware Nonstick Titanium Pot 0.9 L & 1.3 L

MSRTitan 2 Potset, Titan Kettle

Snow Peak – Cookware

Stanco – Grease Strainer

Toaks Outdoor – Titanium Cookware

 

Water Containers

EvernewFlasks

Generic Plastic soda bottles

NalgeneWide Mouthed Cantene 32 oz, Wide Mouthed Cantene 48 oz, Nalgene Cantene 96 ounce

Platypusvarious flasks

SawyerLW flasks

 

Water Treatment

AquamiraFrontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter

Aquamira2 part Chlorine Dioxide Water Treatment or Water Purifier Tablets

KatadynBeFree

Potable AquaIodine tabs and Taste Neutalizer

SawyerMini, Squeeze Filter System, other LW systems

SteripenFreedom

 

LW Rainwear

Berghaus – Vapourlight Hyper Smock (Spring 2014)

Frogg ToggsFrogg Toggs UL Jacket (not the pant), DriDucks Rainsuit

Marmot – Essence Jacket and Pant

MontaneMinimus Smock and Pants

Montbell  – Versalite Jacket and Pants

Mountain HardwearQuasar Pullover, Blazar Pullover

Mountain Laurel DesignsPonchos, eVent Rain Mitts, Rain Chaps

Outdoor ResearchHelium2

O2 Rainwear – Original Hooded Jacket

RabPulse Pull-on

Sierra DesignsCloud AirShell and Cloud Pant

The North FaceFuse Jacket

ULA EquipmentRain Kilt

ZPacksCuben Fiber/eVent Rain Jacket, Cuben Rain Pants, Rain Mitts, Rain Kilt

 

Fabric and Fasteners

Bearpaw Wilderness Designs – silnylon, ripstop nylon, cuben fiber, bug netting, fasteners

Into The WindKite Tyvek (type 1443R soft Tyvek)

LightHeart GearSil-Nylon

Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics – everything

Quest Outfitters – everything, kits

Thru-hiker – Silnylon, many other fabrics and kits (site seems down Feb 2014)

ZPacksCuben Fiber, Pertex Quantum, Tyvek, fasteners

 

 LW Insulated Jackets

Berghaus – Ramche Hyper down Jacket

Brooks RangeAlpini Mountain Anorak

CruxPico, Nano, HaloTop, Halo Jacket

Eddie BauerDownlight Jacket, Microtherm Down Shirt

Feathered FriendsHyperion Jacket

MarmotQuasar Down Jacket

MontbellAlpine Light Down Jacket, Ex Light Down Jacket, Plasma 1000 Jacket, Mirage Parka, Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Jacket and Vest, down pants

Mountain HardwearGhost Whisperer Jacket

NunatakSkaha Down Sweater

PatagoniaDown Sweater, UL Down Jacket

PHDMinimus Down Jacket, Minimus Down Pullover, Ultra Down Pullover

RabMicrolight Jacket, Continuum Jacket

Western MountaineeringHooded Flash Jacket, Flight Jacket, down pants

 

LW Wind Shirts/Pants

MontaneSlipstream Jacket, Slipstream Smock

MontBellTachyon Anorak, Tachyon Jacket, Dynamo Pant

Mountain HardwearGhost Whisperer Anorak

Patagonia – Airshed Pullover

 

Ultralight Gaiters

Outdoor Research – Sparkplug

MontbellStretch Short Spats

Mountain HardwearScree Gaiter

Dirty Girl Gaiters – Many designs

 

Other Clothing

AmazonTyvek Booties

Grease Monkey – Gorilla Grip Gloves, 1 oz/pr (for hand protection)

Heat Holders – Thermal socks

IbexStretch Merino Glove Liner

Outdoor ResearchWind Warrior Hat, Peruvian Hat

PossumDown – Gloves, socks

RabMeCo 165 Glove

REISilk long johns

Watson’sMicrofleece Top and Bottom

 

Lighting

Black DiamondSpot, Ion

PetzlE+Lite

PhotonMicrolight, Freedom Micro, ReX Rechargable

 

Trekking Poles

Black DiamondUltra Distance Trekking Pole

Gossamer GearLT3C fixed lengthLT4 & LT4S adjustable length

Ruta LocuraYana Fixed length poles, Yana adjustable 2 piece Poles, Yana adjustable 3 piece poles

 

Pack Liners

Gossamer Gear

Grocery stores – Oven bags, trash compactor bags

 

 

Seam Sealing, Fabric Repair

McNettSil-Net, Sil-Fix, SeamGrip, FreeSole, Tenaceous Tape

 

LW on a budget

Backpacking for Cheap – cheap alternatives, where to buy for less

Cheap Ultralight Gear List – cheap alternatives

The Frugal Backpacker – The $300 Gear Challenge

 

Gear Deals

Backpacking Light Magazine – Click on “Community”, then “Gear Deals” or “Gear Swap”

 

Sources of Lightweight and Ultralight Gear

Listed below are manufactures of LW and UL backpacking gear. No one manufacturer has the “best” gear in every category, so you need to pick and choose. Some items are available locally, but many are specialty items that are only available online.

 

AntiGravityGear – stoves, cookware, tents, accessories

Backcountry.com – Stoic rainwear and sleeping bags

Bear Paw Wilderness Designs – tents/tarps, mesh inserts, tent poles, fabric, stakes, accessories

Berghaus – rainwear, down jackets

Big Agnes – tents, sleeping bags, down jackets, trekking poles, sleeping pads, accessories

Big Sky International – tents, accessories

Black Diamond – collapsible poles, headlamps

Black Rock Gear – down hat, mitts, vest, balaclava

Borah Gear – tarps, shelter, bivies, down pants and vest, stuff sacks

Brooks-Range – down jackets, tents

Cascade Designs – sleeping pads, water flasks, stakes, stoves, cookware, accessories

Crux – down jackets and sleeping bags

Elemental Horizons – packs

Enlightened Equipment – quilts

Equinox Ltd – packs, rainwear

Etowah Gear – shelters, rainwear, accessories

Evernew – titanium cookware, stoves, water flasks

Flat Cat Gear – cooking system

Frogg Toggs/DriDucks – rainwear

Goosefeet Gear – down socks, down vest, pillow, down pants

Gossamer Gear – shelters, packs, trekking poles, sleeping pads, accessories

Granite Gear – packs, accessories

Hennessy Hammock – hammocks

Hikelight – offers a full range of LW gear

Hyperlite Mountain Gear – shelters, packs, accessories

Integral Designs – tents, mesh tents, shelters, tarps, accessories

Jacks R Better – quilts, hammocks, accessories

Jetboil – stoves

Katabatic Gear – quilts

Klymit – sleeping pads, pillow, packs

Lawson Equipment – accessories

Lightheart Gear – tents

Marmot – sleeping bags, down jackets, rainwear

Montane – windshirts, rainwear

Montbell – down jackets, sleeping bags, gaiters, rainwear, accessories

Mountain Hardware – down jackets, windshirt, sleeping bags, rainwear

Mountain Laurel Designs – shelters, packs, accessories

Nemo Equipment – tents, pads, sleeping bags

Nunatak – custom sleeping bags, down jackets, and booties

Osprey – packs

Outdoor Research – gaiters, caps, gloves

Oware – fabrics, shelters, rainwear, accessories

Photon Microlight – pinch lights

PossumDown – gloves, socks

Prolite Gear – online LW gear retailer

Rab – sleeping bags, down jackets, baselayers, accessories

O2 Rainwear – rainwear

REI – silk long johns, tents, packs

Sawyer – squeeze filter, mini filter

Sea to Summit – sleeping bags, shelters, accessories

Seirus – hats, socks, gloves

Sierra Designs – rainwear, quilt, down jackets

Simblissity – gaiters, accessories, net tent

Six Moon Designs – shelters, packs

Soto – excellent stoves

Stephenson’s Warmlite – tents, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, vapor barrier clothing

Steripen – UV water treatment

Tarptent – single wall tents

Terra Nova – tents, sleeping bags, packs, accessories

Thru-Hiker – gear kits, fabrics, down

Toaks Outdoor – titanium stoves, cookware, accessories

Trail Designs – cooking systems, cookware, accessories

Trangia – aluminum stoves and cooking systems

Ultralight Adventure Equipment – packs, sleeping bag, rainwear, accessories

Vargo Outdoors – Titanium stoves, cookwear, pack, accessories

Watson’s – fleece baselayers

Western Mountaineering – sleeping bags, down jackets, down pants, down booties

Yama Mountain Gear – shelters, stuff sacks

ZPacks – shelters, packs, rainwear, sleeping bags, fabric, accessories

   

Potential Weight Savings Compared to conventional gear (base weight = 30#)

Gear

Going LW (pounds saved)

Going UL (pounds saved)

Shelter

2.0

4.0

Groundsheet

0.5

0.75

Sleeping Bag

1.5

2.5

Sleeping Pad

1.0

1.5

Stove

1.0

1.25

Cooking Gear

0.5

0.75

Water Treatment and Containers

0.5

1.0

Rainwear

0.5

1.0

Clothing

1.0

2.0

Stuff Sacks

0.1

0.2

Misc. Items

0.2

0.4

Pack

3.0

5.0

 

Visit our website! https://sites.google.com/site/southwestultralightbackpacking/home

Visit our blog! http://ultralightinsights.blogspot.com/

 

Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl can be reached through their website or at swultralight@bresnan.net

Tom Galbraith can be reached at tgalbraith@frontier.net

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