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. fed

    maybe to take of a couple of ounces you could use free wooden chopsticks as stakes
    and in case 1 or 2 break carry 3 extras considering that they only weigh 2 grams each or less than .1 ounce

  2. Fed

    Hey brett have you Everest tried using chop sticks as pega they only weigh point one oz and aré stromger than u might think

  3. brettm

    chop sticks as pegs! love it. no, i haven’t. i occasionally used sticks i find in the field to help stake out more areas of the tent when i run out of poles. cool idea tho’

  4. brettm

    good idea on the poles also. i’ve mad my eyes on the ones at BPL for a while, but my existing poles are hardly worn, so feel i can’t quite justify it for a few more years…

  5. Anthony Green

    Hey, I regularly look at this site, this gear list mostly, but I also read all the articles. Great stuff.

    When hiking solo, obviously I can’t get down to these weights – I’m at 22lbs with food and water (3 days).

    What I found interesting, was the weight carried when I take the girlfriend. She is 5’1″, and petite, and not exactly built for carrying the same weight as me.

    I take a Gregory Z55, loaded with a Tarptent Contrail (we find it just fine for the two of us), 2 down sleeping bags, stove, my clothing, first aid/ survival kit, camera, penknife, torch, toiletries, and sundries, with two sleeping pads in an ultra-light dry bag strapped to the bottom, and of course all the food and water.

    Sally takes a small 16L Arc’Teryx bag of mine, with her waterproof jacket, fleece, base layers and sundries.

    I’m at 26.5 lbs, she is at 6.5 lbs – added together, this is very comparable to what you both carry between you.

    I find we save weight by not carrying as much water as you do – a litre and a half – but we hike mostly in the Cotswolds, and are never too far from a water source (The Thames). Our sleeping pads are Sally’s – she got them at a music festival, they are 20″ wide, and I cut them down to 52″ long and they weight 85g/ 3oz each!!

    Sadly for my pack weight, I still can’t see myself using anything other than the good old Trangia 27 Duossal – with kettle.

    We just love finishing pitching the tent and making it all homely, changing our shirts, and turning round to see the kettle boiling ready for a cup of tea. And the frying pan produces a wonderful bacon smell each morning!!

    Happy hiking.

  6. brettm

    Hey Anthony,

    Wow – a 3oz sleeping-pad! Is it thick/comfy? You’re quite the gentleman taking 20lbs more than Sally!

    Re: water – yeah – I dial this down a little if we’re near a good water supply. Also once you’re a day or two in – it’s not a big deal to carry a full bag as you’re getting lighter from food-loss.

    Anyway – cheers for the thoughts.

  7. Anthony Green

    I realise I typed Cotswolds, when I meant to type Chilterns in my note above.

    The 3oz mats are surprisingly comfortable, about 8 mm thick, and very good insulators. In fact I sold my Therm-a-rest Prolite as it didn’t offer sufficient additional comfort for the weight. However, we tend to pitch the tarptent on grass – hard/ uneven ground may be more challenging.

    I may knock a pound of my weight with a Clickstand/ Snowpeak 1400 combo with the Trangia burner.


  8. Sean

    Neat site.

    Just wondering how you lite your stove?

    no lighter or matches are listed as gear.

  9. brettm

    sean – good question! i’m missing that part 😉 … i do take a very small bic lighter, but my stove has a piezo which i use most of the time. also have emergency matches in the first aid kit.

    glad you’re paying attention! :)

  10. fed

    hey brett you should really try using the thermarest neo air its just 12.5 ounces for the medium. i carry the medium mainly becouse i just a kid

  11. fed

    if you think you could fit all your stuff into 2500in cubed then you should use the gossamer gear murmer i got mine for only 90 dollers which took me some time to save up, and it only weighs about 7.9 ounces

  12. fed

    hey instead of carrying a heavy really warm bag you could just use a lighter less insulated one and go to sleep with more clothes on

  13. brettm


    thanks for the ideas. yeah, i do have a neoair – haven’t updated my list for a while :) – and i usually take my light summer bag. theresa however likes the winter bag as she likes to be over-warm at night. small price to pay to get her out in the wild :)

    the murmer pack looks awesome too.

    happy trails!

  14. M & D

    We love your lists and ideas – we are about to set off on the GR 20 route in Corsica – France with all lite-gear having followed your gear list and recommendations.

    Quick questions
    How do you both divide up the weight ? Is it done in ratio to body weight or do you just carry a bit more than Teresa?

    Are umbrellas each essential if you have good waterproof clothing? We thought we’d take one to protect stove for cooking .

    Did i understand right that you wind duct tape around your hiking poles rather than take the whole roll?

    We’re not taking mosquito nets as walking at altitude – Is your original gear list for high terrain or low level walking? That would obviously mean slightly differing gear?

    Thanks again and good luck with no. 2 on the way!

    M & D

  15. brettm

    – not fast rule for dividing weight. we generally carry all our own personal items and then divide up the shared stuff. i take the heavies like the tent, stove etc to balance it out.
    – umbrellas are not essential, and i wouldn’t recommend experimenting on a long-trip without backup waterproofs for your first time. takes a bit to learn to love them – but there’s no going back for me.
    – yeah – just a bit of duct tape – i’ve never used a whole roll and only run out of it once (bad blister trip)
    – we use this gear list for mix terrains. sometimes up above tree line, sometimes lower valleys.

  16. Estinadel

    Hi Brett….like others – a terrific site – well done! I grew up in Tacoma so spent alot of time on Mt Rainier up till I was 20; now I’ve been in Oz for 30 years. Just did the WCT in Aug with my bro’s family – GREAT track (we only had 1 day of rain). Look forward to reading your track notes.

    Was real interested in your advice to Fred re purchasing new gear and your priorities. I agree with you….bought TarpTent (not rain tested yet) & GoLite 3 season Quilt – LOVE IT! and splurged (weight-wise) on matt with small down ExPed – love it too.

    Now I need a pack and all my friends have the GoLite Pinnacle. I am tempted by Equinnox ARAS Eagle Pack. Wonder if you (or other hikers) have any thoughts?

    Love your gear list too……. I’ll keep coming back till it’s updated. We’ve all done one too (with fine kitchen scales) – but the pics are great idea.

    Keep up the good work. Esther in Adelaide

  17. fed

    hey Brettmm just came back from a hike, the whole time i did not have an insulating jacket, what i did was use the idea from gossamer gear to get a really light weight dryducks rain jacket super breathable and less than 7oz get one size larger than i needed and then stuffed my sleeping bag inside when it got cold , that kept me very warm and shaved the weight of my jacket and vest from my base weight.

  18. fed

    By brilliant do you mean that you are going to try it out, in case you want a dry ducks rain jacket they sell them at dicks sporting goods and sports authority $20

  19. Bill

    Hey Brett – Great site and thanks for the insperation. I’m and old dawg hiking old school for about 40years. My first 30 miler this year my pack weight was 36-40lbs. After finding your site and discovering the possibilities my PW for my last 3-day 30+ miler was 26-28. I’ve developed a spread sheet and with enough investment I will be sub 20lb with food and water for a 3night 30-40 miler….( I am a solo hiker)

    Now that you have some miles on your golite shoes how are they holding up??

    Have you tried a Alcohol stove yet?

    Thanks again

  20. brettm


    Good luck getting lighter… you’ll love it the more you do it. Yes – I use a Caldera Cone stove (alcohol) (http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/caldera-cone-system) – I need to update my gear-list it’s a 3 or 4 years old… and love it.

    Would not recommend the GoLites… they are cool, but don’t hold up. First pair died on the west-coast trail (~50 miles) and they replaced they saying the fabric was defective. The second pair did better, but were pretty rough after a single 70-mile trip, and more or less died after and additional 30. I wouldn’t trust them beyond they shape they are in now. So I figure 100 miles, tops for the GoLites.

    Happy Trails,

  21. Bill

    Thanks Brett – How does the burner that comes with the Caldera Cone work? I have a Vargo Decagon and it does not work very well. How much Alcohol does it require to boil 2 cups of water and how long does it take?

    What have you switched to for hiking shoes? I finally wore out my old Montrail full leather boots and have been looking for a good light weight hiking shoe.

    Some chanes I’ve made are trading in my old REI XT85 monster pack (5lbs, 3oz) for an REI Flash 50 (2lb, 10oz). I liked the feel of this pack over that of the Golite Jam. I need a hip belt….

    I replaced my old REI solo tent (2lb 10oz) with a Taptent Sublite (1lb 3oz).

    Thanks again for all the great information.

  22. brettm

    i have a few more details on the stove – look at these posts:


    the keg-stove would probably be the way i’d go if i were buying today.

    takes about 20ml of fuel to burn 2-cups at sea-level, so it gets a little better than that in the mountains, although water can be colder sometimes, but even if it runs dry it’s usually hot enough for freeze-dried food or coffee which is all i use it for.

    shoes wise – i keep using these: http://www.brettonstuff.com/index.php/backpacking/salomon-xa-comp-2/ (i think they are up to “version 3″ now), they dry fast and work well, but similar to the GoLites they don’t last that long, with these the tread goes first.

    Tarptent Sublite! Nice tent! that thing looks awesome.

    pack-wise, i’ve switched to the ULA CDT: http://www.ula-equipment.com/cdt.asp. love it, great pack, very well made. more comfy than Jam with hip-belt and much lighter at only 17oz.

    i’d consider a pack-upgrade before a stove-upgrade and maybe look at your sleeping bag next too.

  23. Bill robertson

    Hi Brett – Thanks for the link to the ULA site. The CDT looks like a great light weight pack. As a solo hiker I’m not sure I can get down to their recommended 12 lb or less base weight. If I ever do I’ll look into this pack.

    My big gainers now are the WM Highlight sleeping bag, Montbell EX down jacket, Antigravity Ultra Light rain jacket, thermo Rest neo air pad, and either the Caldera Keg-F or the Evernew Ti DX stove set and 500ml Ti Pot. The weights are about the same but the Caldera keg is less $$$ while the Evernew setup is much more robust.
    I’m a little concerned with the 35° rating of the High Light bag. I awoke to frost and a very chilly morning in late August this year on Methow Pass. I guess with my thermals and socks I would be ok……

    These changes along with leaving my camp shoes at home equate to a 6+lb savings which would put my base weight around 14-15lbs. Total pack weight with food and water would be 20-21lbs for a 3-4 day hike.


  24. brettm

    thanks for the links. that Evernew stove looks cool, had no idea they made them – good for thru hikers where wood-burning might be important in a pinch. yeah, i get cold sometimes in the highlight. however, if i wear thermals, my montbell down jacket and a fleece had i can go pretty cold. if it gets sub-zero, then you can always use some fuel and fill up an empty platypus bag to make a nice hot water bottle. works really well. better than lugging extra sleeping bag weight around that you might not need.

    the CDT would be fine for 20-21lbs, i just did a trip with around 19. they say max-load is 25. i’d ignore the base-weight, kind of irrelevant rating on a pack as consumables-budget (food|water) varies by person.

    you’re rocking if you’re down to 20lbs for a solo kit. nice work.

  25. Joe Harper

    Hello Brett and Theresa,
    Thanks for a cool website! It’s very informative and thorough. I am 78 and your info has helped me tremendously in getting my pack down to a reasonable weight.
    As a computer guru I created a spreadsheet that automatically adds a column of proposed hike gear in lbs. and oz. to give totals for sub-catagories and an overall totall for a specific hike. Another column lists all my owned as well as contemplated gear. Then it is easy to copy and paste to the proposed hike columns to get a proposed hike total.
    I will be glad to share the spreadsheet. If you would be interested, please email me at joeharper007@aol.com
    Thanks again,

  26. Dusty

    I keep hearing about toothpaste and weight. We have used Eco-Dent for years, both home and travel. It’s a powder, comes in a 2 oz plastic bottle, and you get about 200 brushings per bottle. It runs $5 to $8 and comes in cinnamon, mint and a couple other flavors, at most health food stores, online and a few other stores. The bottle is nice, so I usually just take a 1/4 filled bottle, until I find a smaller bottle I like as much.

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