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Best Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

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There is a saying: “He who would travel happily must travel light.”

This is a saying that becomes more convenient when planning a backpacking trip: you can only bring part of your wardrobe, only the essentials. You need lightweight backpacking gear to keep you smiling after a long day of traveling.

Technology and innovation advance every year, and backpacking gear is no exception. All the essentials you require have been designed to be so compact and efficient that they fit into a single backpack. There’s no need for two or three separate bags!

Deciding what to pack and choose can be the most challenging part. I’ve created this list of the lightweight backpacking gear I used during long trips. Here, you will find items from the backpack to the small accessories.

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lightweight backpacking gear for travel

Backpack, tent, and sleeping system

Lightweight Backpack – Granite Gear Blaze 60L

Weight: 3.0 lbs | 1.36 kg.
It weighs only 3.0 pounds yet comfortably supports up to 50 pounds. It’s designed for practicality and comfort, with features like a stretchy mesh pocket, a removable lid that doubles as a chest pack, and a hydration sleeve. Made from durable 100D Robic High-tenacity nylon, it’s both lightweight and robust.

Lightweight tent – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL

Weight: 3.0 lbs | 1.36 kg.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL is a lightweight (3 lb for a 2-person option) and durable tent known for its spacious design and quality. It features vertical sidewalls, easy setup with the TipLok Tent Buckle, and ultralight nylon construction. It is one of the best options for ultralight backpacking gear. 

Lightweight sleeping bag – Sea to Summit Spark Ultralight

Weight: 1lb 7.5oz | 665 g.
The ultralight sleeping bag is highly packable, weighing 1.6 pounds (for the 18-degree option) for the long size, but comes at a premium price. Notable features include a full-length draft tube and 360° down collar, though its thin 10D shell requires care.

Lightweight mattress – Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite

Weight: 12.5 oz | 354 g.
It’s an ultralight 3-season sleeping pad known for its superior warmth-to-weight ratio. Weighing only 12.5 ounces, it’s 3 inches thick with a high R-value of 4.5. The updated NXT version is quieter and inflates rapidly with its WingLock valve. 

Carried clothing

Down jacket – Jack Wolfskin Men’s DNA Tundra Hoody

Weight: 14.5 oz | 410 g.
Weighing 14.5 oz, this lightweight backpacking gear is filled with 700-fill power RDS-certified duck down and features windproof STORMLOCK fabrics. Crafted from recycled polyester and 100% PFC-free.

Waterproof jacket – Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket

Weight: 6.3 oz | 180 g.
The Outdoor Research Helium is an ultralight jacket offering water and wind protection with its 2.5-layer Pertex Shield build. Its compact design stows in a reversible chest pocket, making it ideal for weight-conscious activities.

Waterproof pants – Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants

Weight: 5.6 oz | 160 g.
Ultralight rain pants at 6.5 ounces, offering waterproof protection with durable Pertex Shield DiamondFuse fabric. While they excel in weight and durability, they lack side pockets and can be tricky to pull on over boots. It is ideal for backpackers who value compactness and weight savings.

Hiking long pants – Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant

Weight: 8.8 oz | 250 g.
It is a lightweight and breathable outdoor pant made of ripstop nylon. With UPF 50 sun protection and a convertible design, they easily transition from pants to shorts. They’re affordable and ideal for casual hiking but could be tight around the quads. The built-in belt and moisture management add to their appeal.

Beanie – MERIWOOL Unisex Merino Wool Cuff Beanie

The MERIWOOL beanie, made from 100% Merino wool, offers warmth and dryness for various activities. Its ability to wick moisture and resist odors guarantees comfort across varying temperatures.

Fleece jacket – Mountain Hardwear AirMesh Hoody

Weight: 4.06 oz | 115 g.
It’s an ultralight fleece made with Octa yarn, known for its breathability and warmth-to-weight efficiency. It boasts a zipper-free design with a three-piece hood and thumb loops, making it an ideal mid-layer for backpacking.

Worn clothes

Hiking shirt – Icebreaker Merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve Tee

Weight: 3.88 oz | 110 g.
It’s crafted from 100% Merino wool, ensuring optimal odor control and temperature regulation. Ideal for extended trips, this tee remains fresh for days, though it may feel less soft than synthetic options.

Hiking shorts – Outdoor Research Ferrosi UPF 50+

Weight: 5 oz | 140 g.
Crafted from recycled materials, nylon, and spandex, these shorts offer UPF 50+ sun protection and water resistance. They’re lightweight, ideal for hiking and daily wear, and feature a stretchy design for mobility.

Hiking boots – Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-tex Hiking Boots

Weight: 15 oz | 425 g.
A top-rated hiking boot for 2023, this footwear combines trail-running agility with technical hiking stability. Weighing under 2 lbs, it offers waterproofing, exceptional traction, and instant comfort. While breathable and protective, it might run narrow for some. Its lightweight nature trades off some underfoot protection, but it remains durable and supportive compared to other ultralight options.

Underwear – Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers

Weight: 2.47 oz | 70 g.
These boxers are ideal for diverse activities, crafted from 83% Merino wool, 12% nylon, and 5% Lycra. They offer breathability, moisture-wicking, and softness. Enhanced with flatlock seams and a contoured pouch, they combine comfort with durability and stretch.

Socks – Darn Tough Vermont Micro Crew Light Cushion

Weight: 2.4 oz | 70 g.
These socks are comfortable and durable, constructed from 61% merino wool, 36% nylon, and 3% spandex. They provide optimal padding and breathability for outdoor activities.

Hat – Columbia Bora Booney

Weight: 2.8 oz | 80 g.
This UV-protective hat, made from 100% nylon, offers UPF 50 shielding and superior moisture-wicking with Omni-Wick technology. Its design includes ample mesh venting for breathability and an adjustable drawcord for a snug fit. While not the pinnacle of style, its functionality and affordability make it a top choice for hikers.

Trekking poles – MSR DynaLock Ascent Foldable Carbon

Weight: 17 oz | 480 g.
Ultralight trekking poles are made of Kevlar-reinforced carbon fiber. They’re compact, adjustable up to 20 cm, and suitable for all seasons and terrains. While expensive, they offer comfort and versatility with an EVA foam grip and include winter and summer baskets.

Sunglasses –  Julbo Explorer 2.0

Weight: 2.24 oz | 60 g.
They ensure optimal ventilation, a wide field of vision, and an adjustable fit. Made with eco-friendly Rilsan, they’re lightweight and durable but unsuitable for driving.

Cooking System, Food Storage, and water

Backpacking stove – Jetboil Flash with cooking systems

Weight: 13.1 oz | 370 g.
Designed for solo backpackers, this 13.1 oz. stove boasts a rapid 3-minute boil time per liter. It features an integrated design with a push-button igniter and a heat-indicating sleeve.

Dining set – Light My Fire Camping Mess Kit

Weight: 14.1 oz | 400 g.
This all-in-one backpacking cutlery set is ideal for outdoor and daily use. It is made from sustainable bio-based plastics and includes stackable containers, a foldable cup, and lunchbox cutlery.

Food Storage bag – RATSACK Bags for Food Backpacking

Weight: 0.32 oz | 10 g.
The Ratsack is a lightweight, rodent-resistant bag crafted from stainless steel mesh, ideal for safeguarding food during outdoor trips. While it’s not bear-proof, it effectively deters smaller mammals.

Water bottle – LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle

Weight: 7.8 oz | 220 g.
This durable, BPA-free water filter bottle efficiently removes 99.999999% of bacteria, parasites, and microplastics while enhancing taste. It has a 22 oz (650 ml) capacity, a straw mouthpiece for easy sipping, and a carabiner for backpack attachment. 


Mobile – iPhone 14 Pro

Weight: 7.27 oz | 206 g.
Emergency calls, GPS, maps, internet, entertainment, camera, thousands of features all in one. A mobile is a no-brainer lightweight backpacking gear that should be on the packing list.

Camera – Sony Alpha a7 IV

Weight: 23.25 oz | 659 g.
That should be on your backpacking gear list if you’re a travel photographer like me. Its performance makes it one of the best cameras for backpacking. Packing a camera with Sony a7iv lenses might add extra weight, but it’s worth it when you want to capture visual memories of your adventures.

Action camera – GoPro 12

Weight: 5.4 oz | 154 g.
This would be ideal for adventure seekers who want to share clips with friends or fans or keep them for themselves. GoPro remains the best option for an action camera.

Headlamp – Black Diamond Equipment Spot 400-R

Weight: 2.6 oz | 73 g.
A 2.6 oz rechargeable headlamp with a 400-lumen output reaching 328 ft (100 m). Features include red night vision, dimming, and strobe modes. It’s waterproof (IP67) with PowerTap for quick brightness adjustments.

Power bank / solar charger- Anker PowerCore Solar 20000

Weight: 16.48 oz | 467 g.
A durable 20,000 mAh solar charger with USB-A and USB-C ports. Features a built-in flashlight and trickle-charging for low-power devices. Check out other solar power banks for backpacking.

First-Aid Kit & Toiletries

Toothbrush – Philips One by Sonicare Battery Toothbrush

Weight: 3.53 oz | 100 g.
A compact electric toothbrush with micro-vibrations and soft nylon bristles. It is powered by a AAA battery with a 90-minute lifespan and a two-minute timer. Replace brush heads every three months.

First-aid kit – Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7

Weight: 6.4 oz | 180 g.
A lightweight 8 oz. first aid kit perfect for backpackers. Contains essentials like Moleskin and duct tape. It is weather-resistant but only fully waterproof with an inner bag. Ideal for outdoor activities in a high-visibility bag.

Towel – Rainleaf Microfiber Towel

Weight: 4.2 oz | 120 g.
An affordable, fast-drying microfiber towel with antibacterial coating. Suitable for diverse activities, it’s absorbent and comes in various sizes and colors. Features a hang loop and waterproof bag.

Trowel – TheTentLab Deuce Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel

Weight: 0.6 oz | 17 g.
A durable, ultra-lightweight (0.6 oz) aluminum trowel, ideal for wild camping. Features a dual-end design for efficient digging in various soils and a lanyard hole for attachment. Its vibrant color ensures visibility.

Additional items

Knife – CIVIVI Praxis Flipper Pocket Knife

Weight: 4.42 oz | 125 g.
A durable folding knife with a sharp 0.12” blade and ergonomic G-10 handle. Features a smooth opening and a discreet deep-carry pocket clip. Ideal for outdoor activities and daily use.

Seat Pad – Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Cushion Insulated Sitting Pad

Weight: 2.1 oz | 60 g.
It is a lightweight, durable, and puncture-proof closed-cell foam cushion. Weighing 2.1 ounces, it offers insulation and comfort on rough terrains. Its accordion design ensures easy packing, making it ideal for hiking and outdoor events.

Ditty Bag – Wise Owl Outfitters Waterproof Dry Bag

Weight: 7 oz | 200 g.
Made from 190D diamond ripstop polyester, it ensures your essential backpacking gear stays dry in all conditions. Available in three sizes (5L, 10L, 20L), its roll-top design with a D-ring offers a secure seal. It’s a budget-friendly choice for gear protection like electronics and documents.

Lightweight Backpacking Gear List Summary

Lightweight backpacking emphasizes minimizing pack weight without sacrificing essential items or safety. In this list, I’ve mentioned some lightweight options I have used. The primary elements to focus on are the core four: a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and mattress. Additionally, attention should be given to clothing, as these are often the heaviest items in a backpack. Here’s a lightweight backpacking gear list that should be beneficial and inspire ideas for your upcoming adventure.

Lightweight Backpacking FAQs

What is traditional vs. lightweight backpacking?

Traditional Backpacking: This approach typically involves carrying packs that weigh 30 pounds (13.6 kg) or more, excluding food and water. The gear is often more durable and can be heavier, owing to traditional tents and sturdy cooking systems. It’s suitable for backpackers who primarily travel between areas using transportation and only cover short distances on foot with their backpacks.
Lightweight Backpacking: The goal is to minimize the base weight, typically targeting under 20 pounds (9 kg). Gear is crafted from lighter materials, with multi-use items being preferred. The philosophy centers on efficiency, carrying only the essentials, and valuing comfort during hiking over comfort at the campsite. This approach is ideal for those trekking long distances on foot, such as during multi-day hikes.

What is the base weight in backpacking?

In backpacking, “base weight” refers to the total weight of all gear in a pack, excluding consumables like food, water, and fuel. It includes the backpack’s weight, shelter, sleeping gear, packed clothing, and other non-consumable items. Also, worn clothes are excluded from the base weight. Reducing base weight is crucial for long-distance or lightweight backpackers to enhance comfort and lessen body strain.

What are the core items in a lightweight backpacking gear list?

In lightweight backpacking, the core items prioritize essential functions while minimizing weight. A lightweight backpack, typically 40-60 liters, stores gear. For shelter, backpackers often use single-wall tents, tarps, or bivy sacks made of materials like silnylon. Sleeping gear includes versatile quilts, lighter than traditional sleeping bags, and inflatable or closed-cell foam sleeping pads. 

Can I still be comfortable with lightweight gear?

Indeed, modern lightweight backpacking gear is designed with weight savings and user comfort. For example, ultralight sleeping pads can offer cushioning comparable to their heavier versions, and lightweight tents are engineered to ensure ample space and protection. The key is choosing gear tailored to your preferences and the expected conditions, allowing you to balance reduced weight and comfort during outdoor adventures.

Is lightweight backpacking more expensive?

While some ultralight gear, made from advanced materials like Dyneema, can be pricier, many cost-effective, lightweight options are available. The “less is more” philosophy of lightweight backpacking can also mean carrying fewer items, which might offset some costs. It’s always a good idea to research and compare, as affordable alternatives often exist without significant compromises on quality.

How do I transition from traditional to lightweight backpacking?

To shift from traditional to lightweight backpacking, start by weighing and assessing your current gear. Focus on replacing the heaviest items, especially the “big three”: backpack, shelter, and sleeping system. Embrace a minimalist mindset, prioritizing essential needs and opting for multi-functional gear. Engaging with lightweight backpacking communities can offer valuable insights and recommendations, helping you balance weight savings and comfort.

Is lightweight backpacking safe?

Yes, lightweight backpacking is safe with proper preparation. While the aim is to cut weight, essential safety gear, such as a reliable shelter, appropriate clothing, a first aid kit, water purification, and navigation tools, should never be compromised. Thoroughly researching your destination’s conditions and challenges ensures you’re equipped for the journey, making lightweight backpacking as safe as its traditional counterpart.

Can I practice lightweight backpacking in any weather?

Yes, lightweight backpacking can be adapted to various weather conditions. The key is choosing gear tailored to the specific environment you’ll encounter. Whether it’s ultralight tents for four-season use, insulating pads for cold climates, or waterproof clothing for rain, there’s lightweight gear designed for diverse conditions.

Further reading


lightweight backpacking gear
backpacking gear for travel

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