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Ultralight Backpacking Equipment
The Latest Weights


How much should ultralight backpacking equipment weigh? Here are some guidelines of my own based on the latest gear available. I have an example of each. If you are interested in buying any of the items here, they are all available here from many online suppliers.

Be aware though, that I am choosing examples based on weight and on reviews by others. I have tried few of the things listed here, so I cannot give a personal opinion. This information is being compiled in 2008.

Note: There is a 2011 update here: Lightweight Backpacking Equipment

Ultralight Backpacking Equipment Examples


Ideal Weight: Under three pounds.

Example: GoLite Lite-Speed Pack - At 3000 cubic inches, you can use this for a weekend or longer if you plan and pack well. It weighs just 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Unlike the truly minimalist packs, this has a hip belt and extra features.

Notes: As mentioned, this one. like most packs, has a hip belt, extra pockets and other features that are not always needed. My old GoLite pack doesn't have these, and weighs just 13 ounces.


Ideal Weight: Under 20 ounces.

Example: GoLite Jam 2 Backpack - Women's. At 2600 cubic inches I could use this for overnighters easily. But I'm not sure if the men's version is as light. This one weighs just 19 ounces

Notes: If it is truly for a dayhike, skip the expensive heavy packs. There are packs under a pound you can find at Wal-Mart on sale for $10 or $15. These work fine for a hike.


Ideal Weight: Under three pounds (one or two-person).

Example: Black Diamond Firstlight Tent 2-Person 3-Season - This barely meets my criteria (very few tents can) at 2 pounds, 11 ounces. It has had some excellent reviews.

Notes: I have used many tents, and find that none are as breathable as they claim. For that reason, I am inclined to move towards single-wall tents like the one above (why carry the weight of a fly if there will be condensation anyhow?).

Backpacking Tarp

Ideal Weight: Under two pounds.

Example: GoLite Shangri-La 2 Shelter 2-Person 3-Season - This is actually more of a floor-less tent than a tarp. It weighs 29 ounces, so even with a 2-ounce plastic groundsheet you have a shelter that is under two pounds.

Notes: There are lighter options, but they are hard to find. I don't recall where I bought my own tarp, but it weighs just 16 ounces with all strings, and I have kept dry using in a week of rain with a 2-ounce 4' by 7' groundsheet (an opened oversized garbage bag).

Bivy Sack

Ideal Weight: Under 22 ounces.

Example: Mountain Hardwear Conduit SL Bivy - At 18 ounces, this waterproof bivy fits my criteria. It even fits backpackers up to almost seven feet tall!

Notes: There are relatively few really light bivy sacks. In a dry climate you could use a 4-ounce garbage bag and duct tape one, but if you are hiking in wet areas, and the bivy you like is two pounds (as many are), you might consider moving up to a light tent.

Sleeping Bag - Three Season

Ideal Weight: Under two pounds.

Example: Western Mountaineering MegaLite Sleeping Bag: 30 Degree Down - At 1 pound, 9 ounces for the long model, this easily fits my criteria.

Notes: These are pricey bags, but my old Western Mountaineering bag is going strong after 12 years - and still weighs only 17 ounces (it's a 40-degree bag). There are several good synthetic sleeping bags that weigh just a few ounces over two pounds as well.

Sleeping Bag - Winter

Ideal Weight: Under four pounds.

Example: Western Mountaineering VersaLite Sleeping Bag: 10 Degree Down - This one is just 2 pounds, 2 ounces. Expensive, but about as light as you can get for that temperature rating.

Notes: Sleeping bag weights have come down substantially in the last ten years. You can find many models that are under four pounds and rated below zero. The North Face Tundra, a synthetic fill bag, is even under that weight, and rated to 20 below zero.

Hiking or Running Shoes

Ideal Weight: Under two pounds.

Example: Montrail Streak Trail Running Shoes - These get good reviews and are cheaper than many running/hiking shoes. They are 24 ounces for the pair for a size seven, which means they are still probably under two pounds total for larger feet like my own.

Notes: If you have been to the site before, you know I prefer running shoes to hiking boots, as do many ultralight backpackers.

The "big three" (and those running shoes) are all I cover here. That is where most of your weight savings will come from with your ultralight backpacking equipment. Some pages that discuss other items and options are listed on the page: Ultralight Backpacking Gear.


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