Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

How do you get 3 days of backpacking gear into a sack that weighs less than ten pounds? Read on, and I'll give you more than you ever wanted to know…

Here is our current gear list for our ultra-light backpacking adventures.

To note a few things:

  • Our system is designed for 2 people, we get weight saving by sharing. A solo kit would be very different.
  • Most items have a review associated, click on the link for more details.
  • The "Pack" column below shows who's pack the item belongs in. B = brett; T = theresa; W = worn
  • The weights listed are my own measurements, not off the label.

Sleep & Carry Gear

This table shows all of the gear we use for carrying or sleeping.
Review Item Description Weight (Oz) Pack
19 T
19 B
30 T
16.9 B
13.1 T
4.7 B
38 B
Total Pack (Brett)4.91 lbs
Total Pack (Theresa)3.88 lbs

Miscellaneous Gear

Random other stuff that is essential on the trail.
Review Item Description Weight (Oz) Pack
0.7 T
5.6 T
5.6 B
1.3 B
0.6 B
4.2 B
0.2 B
0.2 T
0.3 B
1.1 B
2 W
0.3 B
3.2 B
1.4 B
1.4 B
0.6 B
3.2 B
3.3 T
0.3 B
1 B
1 B
0.1 B
0.3 B
0.5 B
0.2 B
1 B
Total Worn0.13 lbs
Total Pack (Brett)1.74 lbs
Total Pack (Theresa)0.61 lbs

Base Pack Weight

Base weight of our packs before adding food or water. This is the constant weight that will never vary.
Review Item Description Weight (Oz) Pack
Brett Base Pack Weight
Base Pack without food or water
152 B
Theresa Base Pack Weight
Base Pack without food or water
122 T
Total Pack (Brett)9.5 lbs
Total Pack (Theresa)7.63 lbs

Final Weight

This table shows our final weights once loaded with Food & Water at the start of the trip.
Review Item Description Weight (Oz) Pack
Brett Base Pack Weight
Base Pack without food or water
152 B
Theresa Base Pack Weight
Base Pack without food or water
122 T
Brett Full Water Weight
Full 60oz Platypus
60 B
Theresa Full Water Weight
Full 60oz Platypus
60 T
Brett Food Budget
Assume 4 lbs for 3 days
64 B
Theresa Food Budget
Assume 4 lbs for 3 days
64 T
Total Pack (Brett)17.25 lbs
Total Pack (Theresa)15.38 lbs

You can also see my old gear list if you want.

81 thoughts on “Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

  1. Sam Warner

    Hello Brett & Theresa,
    I just found your website, very nice. I enjoyed looking! I have been using
    that same fleece hat for some time now, love it to. Sierra Trading post has it on sell for 8.95, great gifts!.In reguard to your TP. Have you tried the blue shop towels. I take one square and cut into quarters. I have found they work much better than toilet paper,and if they get wet they do not fall apart. I have converted alot of fellow hikers over to them. The copper ridge loop is on my list to do thanks to you two. I just did the Spider Gap& Buck Crk Pass loop on the east side of Glacier Pk. and it was great. Thanks for letting us look, Sam

  2. Eric Blumensaadt

    Hi guys,
    Good list and well thought out gear selection. I JUST got into lightweight (not UL) gear this year after turning 63. My “old stuff” like the 7lbs.+ Dana Designs Terraplane & MSR Dragonfly stove are now reserved for winter trips.
    New stuff this year include:
    1. REI UL 60 pack -> 3# 4 oz.
    2. Mt’n. Hardwear Phantom 32 800 fill down bag (W/ sac) -> 1# 8.7 oz.
    3. MSR Wind Pro canister stove -> 10.7 oz. (I like to bake & needed this type stove.)
    Previously I had:
    4. REI Sololite tent & footprint packed wt.) -> 3# 12 oz. (no longer in production)
    5. Thermarest UL full length mat (W/ sac) -> 1# 6.4 oz.
    My Thermarest Ridgerest is lighter but not as comfortable.

    So I’m getting there. Total pack weight W/ food, water in hydration bladder, & side pockets added to pack was 32# for a 7 day trip in the Paria River, UT slot canyon.
    The REI UL 60 max cap. is 40#, not that I want to carry that much.
    As Father Guido Sarducci from SNL would say, “Notta too bad.”

    I like, and may buy, TarpTent’s newest solo tent but the VIrga 2 is OK also. Your Cloudburst 2 is perfect for 2.

  3. Curt

    Good selection of gear mostly. We all differ a bit. I would substitute an alcohol stove & windscreen of alu. roof flashing. Also you might swap toothpaste for a filmcan of baking soda.
    Just my ideas.

  4. brett Post author

    hey curt – tell me more about the stove. i’ve seen several pepsi can stoves that seem ultralight for the stove, but then the liquid fuel (alcohol) seems to add too much weight. i’m wide open to ideas for a lighter kitchen.

  5. brett Post author

    eric – good luck on getting lighter and take your time. i started that way also, getting down to a 30lb pack allowed me to start wearing trail runners, which inspired me to go even lighter. sounds like you’re headed in the right direction!

  6. Doofo

    Two comments.

    (Okay three…)

    First, great site. Thanks for sharing.

    Second, it isn’t healthy to put items into an empty film canister that might be consumed by humans due to the left over chemicals.

    Third, try brushing your teeth with Dr. Bronners. 1 or two drops will do the job nicely. Just don’t get too much!

  7. Frank

    Hey Brett, great work here. You gave me a lot of ideas for my soon to be published UL gear list. I noticed that you don’t put the items worn in the total weight. I actually manually added up all your stuff because I couldn’t figure out how your stuff was so much lighter than mine 😉

    Might want to add Total Pack and then Total Pack + worn since you went through the trouble to weigh all your clothing as well.

  8. brett Post author

    frank – thanks for the feedback. the worn clothing weights are added up under each clothing section using “Total Worn” – you can see my worn weight and theresa’s worn weight individually. i didn’t list the weights in the final summary tables as it felt a little duplicative.

  9. Dave Ward

    Have you considered going cookless? We stock up on super light snack foods…nilla wafers, cheese crackers, jerky etc. Then add a shake made of nesquick, powdered milk and whey protein. Saves a LOT of weight…which is worth it. I used to be the camp gourmet kind of guy. I would dehydrate lasagna and mexican corn pie. Now I just wait for real food when I hit a town or get back. Just a thought.

    I can’t find the golite helios on their site. Is it still made? That would shave 2.5 oz. off of my equinox jacket. Do you like it’s performance?

    Great site

  10. brett Post author

    Hi Dave,

    I haven’t at all considered cookless. I think I’d have a hard time with it – I love the sense of warmth on a cold night of a hot cooked meal, and it’s something to look forward to. I guess I used to think the same way about breakfast and am fine with no-cook breakfasts these days, so the only time we use the stove is at night. Might be worth a shot.

    Golite doesn’t make the helios anymore – my wife has the Ether “wind-shirt” which is water repellent and made out of the same stuff has the Helios. If you were wearing it under a direct down pour, it probably wouldn’t hold up – but combined with the umbrella keeping most of the rain off us, it seems to be working out OK at this point.

    I have yet to have many days of sustained heavy rain with it to really “soak-test”.

    Hope it works out for you.

  11. keith comess

    I keep checking your site hoping to make the financial commitment to trashing my heavy (but still new!) gear for the ultralight material you recommend. I have persistent memories of encountering you on the Copper Mountain Loop last summer when Frances, Saskia and I were totally wasted by our heavy gear and you two were pert and happy with light-weight materials!


  12. Richard


    Enjoyed your site. A lot of good ideas for me to follow up on.

    A couple of things you might think about: My wife and I recently went to a Jacks ‘R Better Mt Rogers Quilt. It weights 2 lbs and replaced my 1lb 6 oz marmot bag and her 2lb REI bag. We both really love it. We’ve been plenty warm to 25’F in our tent so far. The other thing is to consider the lightest Esbit stove and fuel tabs. They weigh a lot less than an stove and cannister for 2-3 day trips. The Esbit system works great for boil and wait dinners. I also recently went from a Golite Speed (1lb 10oz) to a Zpack at 6 oz. Still working on my wife on this one. I also have a tarptent cloudburst – great tent.


  13. Six2


    Love the site! Looking at your gear list, I don’t know where you’ve left off with alcohol stoves, but if fuel efficiency and wind performance are concerns, you may want to give the Trail Designs Caldera Cone a look. I bought one of the first versions to market and used it for a two month hike this past spring and was pretty impressed. It was the last thing that let me make the leap away from my pocket rocket for longer trips. Here’s the site:


    They have a new version that I have yet to check out that burns alcohol, wood, or esbit.

    – Six2

  14. brett Post author

    Six2 – thanks for the feedback. The cone system looks very cool.

    I actually switched to a Firelight 550 – a 2.5 oz version of that pan earlier this year and have loved it so far. It got a little bent on the WCT but popped back into shape OK. I need to take another pass at updating my gear-list. 🙂

    However, I haven’t switched to an alcohol stove yet. Although, I’m getting close to taking the plunge. Snow is falling in the mountains here in Seattle, and my snowboard is waxed and ready to roll – so I probably won’t get back on the trail until the spring 🙂

  15. Ryan

    Very nice site. Love the easy-to-follow layout.

    I noticed you listed a spare headlamp battery, but no headlamp. What do you (and everyone else on the board) use?

    Headed to the JMT in July. Time to get ready 🙂

  16. brett Post author

    Hey Ryan,

    Oh yeah – I need to update that. I did use a black diamond LED headlamp, but switched for the Photon Freedom (which I use with velcro attached to a hat-rim as a make-shift headlamp). I need to update the battery picture & weight. 🙂

    Cheers for pointing it out!

    Have fun on the JMT – I really want to do that trail… someday 🙂

  17. Ryan

    Thanks for the Photon Freedom tip. I noticed that the replacement batteries are only $2 from REI. While they designate them as a hazardous item and wouldn’t send them to me in Hawaii, it’s a good tip for those on the mainland.


  18. Ezmate

    Nice site. I stumbled upon it while reading up on the WCT (my wife & I are heading out in June of this year).

    I find it amazing how similar your pack list is to ours, all the way down to the same lights, sleeping bags, towel, knife, & camera!

    Anyway, I’m a bit concerned about the WCT and trailrunners. Typically, my wife & I do all of our hikes in trail runners & have no problem. Of course, we rarely encounter rain since we do most of our hiking in the mountains.

    Until I read your site, I figured I’d be stuck going back to my old, heavy boots, but now you have me wondering if I can’t just do it with our favorite shoes. How did your trailrunner/gaiter combo hold up to the rain & mud?

    Also, my wife & I usually camp with a tarptent (2 lb. six moon designs, actually), but were worried about how it would hold up to the possibility of monsoon-like rains and strong winds. Our other alternative is our storm-proof REI tent that weighs in at something like 7 lbs…not a pleasant thought when it comes to weight. How’d your Cloudburst hold up? Any issues with it?

  19. brett Post author

    Hey Ezmate,

    Thanks for the feedback. Assuming you have a lot of experience with ultralight – I would totally recommend doing the WCT in trail runners. There was a lot of mud for sure, but if you are willing to tip-toe around the mud-holes and have poles you’ll be fine. The ankle-gaiters we used were very handy on the sand beaches. If you haven’t already – I’d recommend you read our trip report for the WCT as it has many pointers in it about mud/poles/umbrellas etc. The campsites we stayed at were sheltered from pounding wind – so driving rain was the only concern. The tarp tent held up well, but it was hard to pitch on the sand. Feel free to email me at brettm-at-gmail-dot-com if you want to pick my brain on other ideas. I’ve only done the trail once, so am by no means a guru – but my experience was very recent.

    Our actual WCT gear-list is archived here: http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.php/backpacking/how-to-pack-ultralight-for-the-west-coast-trail-in-under-10lbs/

    Good luck – you’ll love it!

  20. Dylan

    Bret, first off let me say that this is one of the best ultralight gear list sites I have found so far. All the links are up to date and the format is very easy to follow. The pictures make it more interesting to read, and the intermittent weigh-ins after each subsection help the reader to get a better idea of what portion of THEIR pack weight should be coming from each section. Thanks for putting this together! One question I have though, when you say “The weights listed are my own measurements, not off the label”, what type of scale do you have, and where did you get it? Do you have any recommendations as to what type would be suitable to weigh things from .1 oz to over 5lbs? Thanks for your reply!

  21. brett Post author

    hey dylan,

    cheers for the feedback. i use a small electronic postage scale. google for “postage scale” and you’ll get a ton of hits.

    have fun lightening your load! 🙂

  22. shawn

    Great website!!

    I found my way here through a google search of the TGO challenge. I’ve been looking at the Challenge for a while now, and am setting plans to get myself to Scotland for the 2009 crossing. Have a lot to do though, being in college and having very little play in my finances. Great gearlist, and overall even better website! Hope to see you in scotland in may, if you’re going, that is!!

    Duluth, mn

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  24. pg

    What a great site, and your update is fabulous too. Sawed off toothbrushes, yes!!! Tell me about the bugs in August on the loop. Our outfitter’s list doesn’t include a mosquito hoody, but with a newbie hiker, I want to be extra prepared.

    Also, if you dip in the lake, should we have a bigger ultrasoft sports towel. Love how you include honest assessments of weight. How many purchases have I made without any indication of weight on the packaging! ugh!

  25. Derek Goffin

    Dear Brett,
    I hope you dont mind but I just looked through your list with the TGO challenge in mind. Scotland might rain horizontally for 3 days continuously. It usually doesnt,
    but you dont seem to have enough waterproofs, waterproof trousers, waterproof over gloves, really waterproof jackets. If you dont take goretex socks your feet may be wet all day.
    Not many people in Scotland carry umbrellas because too often the wind is too strong while it rains. It is so humid that a single skin tarp tent will often run with condensation. Theresa will have to work to keep her down gilet dry. I carry a down gilet but care is needed.
    I dont know your sleeping bag and I dont know how high you are going but the average fill of a challengers bag is 400 grams of top quality down. what we call 800 and I think you call 900.
    I dont expect you will need to carry more than half a litre each of water in Scotland. Some people dont carry any and just dip a cup in a burn as they go.
    You may wish you had more ways of keeping your gear dry than one or even 2 trash bags.
    The rope may be useful for something but large parts of Scotland are bare of trees. If the midge season is early you may both need midge nets (smaller mesh than mosquito).
    We end up carrying about 2 pounds more base weight to you and eat more food per day.

  26. Brad Orr

    Yeah Brett, I’m with you there. I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t go this way. The enjoyment of the walk is better than the talk.


  27. Rob Hunter

    From my own experience and everything I’ve read, I dont’ see how you could get by on so little food. I have always carried 2-3 lbs per day. Did you go hungry?

  28. brett Post author


    Check out the food we took for the WCT detailed here: http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.php/backpacking/food-for-the-west-coast-trail/. A full day – is about 1.4 lbs / person / day for us. We definitley don’t go hungry on that and often have left-over food at the end of a trip.

    The 4lbs for 3 days number I use above might be misleading – as on a typical 3-day trip, I will get breakfast on the road on day-1 and dinner at the trailhead or on the return journey on day 3 – so we don’t pack 3 full days of food.

    I do try and focus on dry-weight foods with nutrition vs. heavy wet foods.

    I recommend you carry as much as you need to keep your energy up and not go hungry. We don’t aim to skimp on food for weight-savings – it’s just we don’t end up eating more than this.

    Thanks for the post!

  29. jon


    Have you suggested using a buff as a scarf and hat depending on the situation, they’re versatile and help out in many situations.

    Just an idea of mine to help you combine two items into one.

  30. Darrell

    Hi Brett,
    I just turned 40 and will be hiking the West Coast Trail this July with 6 of my best friends! I’ve been doing tonnes of web-searching and let me say, your site is THE BEST all round site for the WCT and hiking in general. You’re obviously an enthusist and your passion for the outdoors is contagious! Anyway, I’m at the equipment buying stage and have a few questions. #1 is boots. I suspect your pack when you did the hike was smaller than mine will be (I have a major appetite and I’m 210 lbs, so I figure mine will be around 50lbs). What boot would you recommend? The REI hiker looked good for the money ($165) though it’s not GoreTex. #2. It seems a lot of folks recommend GoreTex gaiters for this hike…what do you say? #3. If I read your notes properly it seems you didn’t use a water purification system for this hike, but just the purification tabs (which seem like a logical choice given their weight, etc). Is this correct? #4. How important is waterproof pant/jacket for this hike? Everything “waterproof” that I’ve ever used didn’t enable me to breath – so while it kept the rain off of me, I sweat from the inside – so was wet anyway. Advice?
    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  31. brett Post author

    hey darrell,

    congrats on your WCT permit and thanks for the kind words.

    as for your gearlist… our WCT gear-list is preserved here: http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.php/backpacking/how-to-pack-ultralight-for-the-west-coast-trail-in-under-10lbs/, but let me comment on your specific questions:

    #1 boots
    i’m not sure what to tell you… i’m not that up on the mainstream hiking boot market. we did the WCT wearing sneakers, but we had very light packs – so were able to do so. with 50lbs, i would certainly want something more sturdy. however, i would STRONGLY recommend you explore every option you can at making your load lighter. it will simply make your experience that much more enjoyable. i would NOT however, recommend making the WCT your first lightweight backpacking experience – but as your trip is in july – you have plenty of time to do practice hikes if you want to explore this. check out backpackinglight.com and other ‘ultralight backpackng’ sites to get some ideas. as for food – factor in moniques and the ferry crossing – cash is ligher than food 😉

    #2 gaiters
    for sure. the beaches would have been miserable without them. however, i think heavy goretex gaiters are overkill. we wore very light (1.6oz) ankle gaiters (see http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.php/backpacking/sand-between-my-toes/) and they performed flawlessly. they were a little worse for wear after the WCT however :). however, all depends on your hiking style. if i were carrying 50lbs and heavy boots, i would probably be trudging thro’ the mud head-on, and these ankle gaiters might not cut it. with sneakers, poles and 20lb packs we were able to navigate around the mud-pits easily unscathed.

    #3 filtration
    the tabs worked perfectly. however, lots of the water on the WCT is yucky brown with tannins, and sometimes has nice floaty bits. if that bothers you, then consider a filter. with a group of 6 – i would try and split a lot of stuff up between you. like take tabs as backup – but carry a few filters for the group. certainly not one each. you should be able to save a ton of weight in a group if you can get others to buy-in to the idea.

    #4. hah.. depends who you ask. we had 2 1/2 days of pissing down rainforest rains. i wore shorts (not waterproof, but treated with TX-direct) and t-shirt and used an umbrella. we stayed bone dry (except for our feet in stream crossings) – and didn’t get sweaty at all. i did wear my waterproof jacket in camp. the umbrella was hard to deal with on the ladders and with poles but we finally got the hang of it. if you haven’t read all 5 days of our trip report – then do so – there are lots of tips embedded in those pages.

    good luck – and have fun out there!

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  33. Hostelio

    I have never meet a traveler who, after five trips, brags, “Every year I pack heavier.” The measure of a good traveler is how light he travels. You can’t travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two.

  34. brettm

    hey glen – welcome. i’m a huge fan of GG stuff. love what you guys are doing pushing the edge of backpacking gear. slept many a night on my GG NightLight torso pad 🙂

  35. Frank Steele

    Wish i could find those Jam packs, have you seen the new ones? They weigh 31 oz now. The Jam2 weighed 26, but now 31 oz? What is go lite thinking?

    Have you seen the GoLite umbrella’s they look nice, even lighter than Mont-Bell.

    You should look at trying the IceBreaker of Ibex Wool thermals too, I gave up my Patagonia stuff awhile ago for the wool, lighter, cooler and warmer all at the same time!

  36. Fred

    Great website and gearlist.

    I am just getting back into hiking (I did not do much before). Last year, a buddy and I hiked 30 miles on the AT. He has a military background and they do not teach them to “go light” and I had never hiked much distance. Needless to say our packs were 41 pounds and while the hike was awesome we are determined to get lighter. Just weighing my gear and making choices based on need, I am down to 28 pounds without replacing any gear.

    I want to get my pack lighter but as you know the ultralight gear is not cheap. If you had to prioritize the 3 big ticket items (Tent, Pack, Sleeping Bag), which would you put first, second, third for replacing. This is what I have (tent: 5 lbs 12 oz; pack: 4 lbs 6 oz; sleeping bag: 3 lbs 5 oz)—My personal thought would be to replace in the order I listed them because of weight—replace the heaviest first.

    Thanks for the advice.

  37. brettm

    hey fred,

    i’d tweak you priority slightly. generally you’re on track – look for the items with the biggest weight savings first. the big-three are the ones you list. i’d try the tent first as you can probably shave off 3lbs if you are willing to experiment with a tarp-tent setup – heck even more if you went with a traditional tarp. the pack i would leave until last – the best ultralight packs really require a very light load, so until you’re down there on the rest of your gear (and factoring for food & water), i’d hold off on that on until after the sleeping bag.

    but you’re on the right track – weighing everything and asking yourself if you can live without it is key. making short overnight trips to ‘test’ how comfortable you are with gear before a long trip is a good idea too.

    good luck getting lighter!

  38. Sam Sockwell

    Hi Brett- Fun to look through your WCT report. We are starting from Renfrew this July 7th. My friend has a 10 degree down bag, quite lightweight But isn’t it too warm? Did Theresa burn up at night with her similar 10 degree bag? Did you need the mosquito face shields? Sam.

  39. fed

    Hey Brett have you tried using baking soda to brush your teeth while on the trail is one third the weight of normal toothpaste or you could try using dehydrated toothpaste then when you are going to brush your teeth just add water

  40. brettm

    fed – interesting ideas… at 0.3 oz – it’s kind of diminishing returns for me, and the savings aren’t worth the experimentation. 🙂

  41. fed

    have you tried an esbit pocket stove with .4 oz tablets half a tablet will bring two cups of water to a boil so you will only use up .2 oz of fuel per meal.

  42. brettm

    fed – yeah – i have played with the esbit stoves. i played with a wing stove, but didn’t love the residue that esbit tabs leave on my pots. i prefer alcohol stoves now – the caldera cone in my primary choice. i should update my gear list 🙂

  43. fed

    insted of carrying those heavy leki poles think about having light trek 4 poles from gossemer gear that weigh less than 5 ounces

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