Ultralight Backpacking Gear List


Dear fellow backpacker,

I’m on the sunset side of 60, but even when I was in my teens and twenties I had fun reducing the weight of my pack.

When I was young, strong, and full of energy I still couldn’t understand carrying a heavy pack. Backpacking is infinitely more enjoyable when you’re carrying a light load and getting closer to nature. Hiking should be closer to walking than hauling.

So, for over 50 years I’ve been working on ways to lighten my pack — without sacrificing comfort.

I get lots of people that say things like "I have knee problems and need to get my pack down to 35 pounds." Ouch!! Why not get under 20 pounds so you can float along and really have fun!

Much of a heavy pack comes from the overkill of carrying winter items. If your biggest weather threat is a summer shower, backpacking should be simple. For starters, most people use a sleeping bag that makes them sweat in summer. It’s easier to use one of the Western Mountaineering bags — then if you go on a trip that’s going to be a little cooler, just add a silk liner. It’s just 4.7 ounces, and the liner keeps you another 9 ½ degrees warmer.

Once you commit to a light pack, you can save a lot of weight on the pack itself. Many packs weigh 7 pounds or more. And the manufacturers have the nerve to say how "comfortable" they are. Your knees and ankles know the total weight you’re carrying.

Notice how these products are as comfortable to use as heavier ones, and in most cases more convenient because they’re small and simple.

People have asked me for a specific list of how I can get my pack weight down to 15 pounds, and less. Here it is -- including clothing and food. You can modify it with a tent instead of a bivy sack and so on. Put the pencil to it. It works!

Add up your heaviest items, the pack, sleeping bag, bivy, pad, rain gear, stove, and fuel and you’re still under 4 pounds — the weight of many packs alone! Choose a full size pack and a tent instead of a bivy, and you’re still under 6 pounds. Then see how light your total can be, including food and water.

Your 3-day pack can be only 6 lbs. 6 oz. plus 27.5 oz. for food for a total of 8 lbs. 1.5 oz. plus extra clothing. No smoke. No mirrors. These are the real weights of each item and the real total. You can switch to a full tent and still be less than 11 pounds. Add water and you're still less than 13 pounds.

Here's a convenient Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet so you can compare gear. Special thanks to Chuck Lowe for providing the spreadsheet.

Have fun,

Steve Green


3-Day Ultralight Backpacking Gear List



19.0 oz. or 21.0 oz.

Six Moon Designs Flight 30 (1,900-2,200 cubic inches)


28.2 oz.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider (3,000 cubic inches)


19.0 oz. or 21.0 oz.

Granite Gear Virga (3,300 or 3,450 cubic inches)


34.0 oz.

Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 (3,660 cubic inches)


25.0 oz.

Klymit Motion 35 (2,135 to 2,196 cubic inches)

Sleeping bag

16 oz.

Western Mountaineering HighLite 6'


6.6 oz.

Equinox Ultralite Bivy Cover


15.1 oz.

Lightweight Equinox tarp (using 6 titanium stakes)


24.0 oz.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (Pole +1.8oz. & stakes)


24.0 oz.

Six Moon Designs Trekker (2 poles 1.8oz. each + stakes)


11.0 - 14.0 oz

Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape/Shelter w/ stakes and pole


13.0 oz

Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp


16.0 oz

Six Moon Designs Deschutes Plus Tarp


41 oz.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo (Pole +1.8oz & stakes)


16.0 oz.

Six Moon Designs Skyscape X


9.5 oz.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Tarp


29.5 oz.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II

Sleeping pad

9.1 oz.

Klymit X-Lite 41"


10.0 oz

Klymit X Frame 72"


12.5 oz.

Klymit Inertia Ozone

Rain gear

9.9 oz.

Rainshield Rain Wear (large)


22.9 oz.

Red Ledge Jacket & Pants


1.9 oz.

White Box Stove w/ windscreen


1.9 oz.

Snowpeak titanium - Very quick and convenient


7.0 oz.

White Box Stove: 2/3 oz. boils 2 cups 6 oz. and 1 oz. container


7.0 oz.

Snowpeak 70% butane/30% propane cartridge

Kettle, cup

4.6 oz.

Titanium .9 Liter kettle, 4.6 oz. Plastic cup sold separately is .8 oz.


.2 oz

I take the spoon only, shortened for weight & to fit in cook kit


.6 oz

Gerber ultralight knife - Super strong for its size

Water bottle*

1.4 oz.

* 32 oz./1 liter soda or water bottle


.7 oz

Using about 1/4 of the towel on the web site


.8 oz

Use this mirror for grooming & as an emergency signal device

First aid kit

1.0 oz.

Add your items to our first aid kit & place in a lighter ziplock bag


.5 oz

The weight is for 2 Pulsar II's, so you even have a backup


.3 oz

Sun Minicomp II


.5 oz

2 book matches & a few water/windproof in 2x3" ziplock bag

Emergency Blanket

1.8 oz.

This emergency blanket is very light for the peace of mind it offers


.2 oz

This whistle weighs about 1/2 regular plastic size & 1/6 metal size

Insect repellent

.4 oz

Sawyer Ultra 30 in 1/4 oz. container

Biodegradable soap

.4 oz

Campsuds in 1/4 oz. container

Sun screen

1.2 oz.

Sawyer Stay-Put SPF 30 Sunblock in 1/4 oz. container

Lip protection*

.3 oz

Your favorite with SPF protection

Water purif. tablets

.6 oz

50 Potable Aqua tablets in the 1-dram bottle

Toilet paper

1.0 oz.

100% biodegradable toilet paper comes in rolls of 140 sheets and is only 1 oz. per roll. But don't try to go too light on this one!


.4 oz

25 feet of very lightweight nylon cord for general use

Garbage bag*

.4 oz

Large re-sealable bag (10 1/2x12") found in all supermarkets

Short-sleeve shirt

4.9 oz.

Short Sleeve Shirt. Only The Lightest Performance Shirt


2.0 oz.

Wigwam Mid Hiker™ (large size)

Running shorts

4.8 oz.

Lightweight polyester shorts pack small, dry fast


2.5 oz.

Use lightweight Terramar briefs or silk boxers


1.5 oz.

Trim if desired - Don't cut legends, side trails, etc...

Pencil, paper*

.2 oz

Small pencil & paper for emergency messages and notes


.8 oz

Choose from our selection of Sunbelt Polarized Sunglasses; ziplock bag is lightest protection


.2 oz

Pick one with small brush area, cut handle in half


.6 oz

Small sample, half empty. Or use powder or baking soda


.1 oz

Smaller than average, and cut in half

Car Key*

.2 oz

Take just the one you need; tie small bright cord to it; drill and file much of the weight out

Cash & ID*

.3 oz

I always carry some cash, 1 credit card, and drivers license

Rubber bands/pins*

.4 oz

Rubber bands, safety pins, tape, needle & thread


The clothing items above are your extras. Of course, you can reduce overall carrying weight by wearing lightweight clothes to begin with, too.

Food* for 3 days

The following weights are achieved by removing packaging from the MountainHouse freeze dry products and placing them in sandwich-size ziplock bags.



Breakfasts (3)

4.1 oz. x3 = 12.3 oz.

Mountain House granola with blueberries & milk

Lunches (3)

2 envelopes = 4.7 oz.

* Lipton dry soup mix, rated at 6 total servings

Dinners (3)

3.5 oz. x3 = 10.5 oz.

Mountain House entrees. (Add 6 oz. for double servings)


Total food weight = 27.5 oz.

Optional Items


Water filter

.6 oz.

Aquamira Frontier Emergency Filter


2.0 oz.

Sawyer Mini Filter


5.3 oz.

The Timberline filter is very fast and light


5.9 oz.

20 oz. Aquamira Bottle Filter


11.0 oz.

Katadyn Hiker (Formerly Pur) Water Filter


1.0 oz.

Polypropylene gloves are warm, light & compact

Hat, cap, or visor

1 oz
1.2 oz.

Maxit Z-Beanie
Pileus Hat



Several brands make very light models


.3 oz

Arrid makes a cream that can go in a small, plastic container

Dental floss*

.1 oz

Put some in a 2x3" zip seal bag

Scouring pad*

.1 oz

Cut about 1/3 from the ones you find in the supermarket

Fire starter*

.5 oz

Wind & waterproof matches & stove should be enough....

Hiking Poles

9 oz.

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles (120cm)


7.0 oz.

ShedRain Travel Umbrella


3.7 oz.

Liberty Mountain Ankle Gaiter

Mosquito Head Net

.6 oz

This Mosquito Head Net is great protection if bugs are thick

Reading glasses*

.5 oz

I take the tiny folding kind



Not optional, but their weight adds to the total

Reading Material*


Some folks like to take some light reading


Total weight before food and water: 7 lbs. 7.3 oz. ; with food 9 lbs. 2.8 oz.

There you have it. A checklist of where you can make the most weight savings to lighten up and have more fun. Happy camping!

This chart is figured for solo camping. When hiking as a pair, you can make some other small weight savings.


Here’s a sample of the gear I’d be wearing:




2.0 oz.

Wigwam Mid Hiker™ (Same as list above)


19.0 oz.

New Balance Trail running

Silk T-shirt*

2.5 oz.

Featherweight Silk Shirts

Long-sleeve shirt

8.5 oz.

RailRiders, Roll-up tabs convert it quickly to short-sleeve


10.3 oz.

RailRiders, Adventure Khakis


2.5 oz.

Use lightweight Terramar briefs or silk boxers


* These are the only items not found on our website