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Ultralight Hiking Gear: The Ultimate Ultralight Hiker’s Guide

Ultralight hiking gear
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Lightweight backpacking and hiking involves using ultralight hiking gear to meet your short or long distance trailing requirements. As an Ultralight hiker/ backpacker, you should have a base pack weight of less than twelve pounds. You should stick with a base pack weight that ranges between twelve and twenty pounds, if you are new to lightweight hiking.

The stated figures are subject to individual discretion. As you gain experience on the trail, you will eventually establish a balance between minimalism and comfort. The amount as well as type of gear you pack will certainly change with respect to each trip you make.

The Best Features to Consider

Weight

This is in fact the most important consideration when shopping for lightweight gear. If there is one thing that separates ultralight backpacking from heavier backpacking, it is the weight. As an ultralight hiker, you have to carry the most essentials items that a hiker cannot survive without, which include: clothing, first aid kit, survival kit, sleeping gear, and footwear to mention a few.

Hikers with backpacks

You should know that some lightweight items have performance issues or they may be less durable as compared to heavier items. As much as weight is an important factor, you should not compromise the performance.

Quality

The best gear is defined by its grade of excellence. It is important to comprehensively check and counter check the worth of every gear you buy. Do not just rush to buy a given gear, just because it is lightweight. There are specific features that you must consider when checking the quality.

Backpacker unpacking his sleeping gear

The first one is the material. For instance, when shopping for cold weather outdoor gloves, you should go for merino wool gloves, which are highly breathable and have remarkable wicking and insulating properties.

Cost

Make purchases with respect to your budget. You should not attempt to buy cheap products, such as pants. If you buy cheap cold weather hiking pants, chances are that the shell material may be of low quality. As a result, the pants may fail to protect you from light rain, snow, or cold.

Question mark on the dollar background

However, this does not mean that you have to buy the most expensive gear. It also does not mean that you cannot go hiking, if you cannot afford state-of-the-art gear. Just go for the simplest, lightest items, and not the most costly ones.

8 Best Ultralight Hiking & Backpacking Gear Reviews

Patagonia Alpine Houdini Jacket

Patagonia Alpine Houdini Jacket

Weight: 187g

Height: N/A

Design Features: 1.5 oz 20 denier 100% nylon ripstop shell, durable water repellent finish, waterproof/ breathable membrane

Best Use: Outdoor

Patagonia Alpine Houdini jacket features a highly waterproofwoven shell, fabricated from nylon.

With its membranefully laminated and water repellent hard-wearingfinish,the jacket has the capacity to hold ten thousand millimeter water column. It features an ultralight shell fabric, which is highly breathable and waterproof.

The DWR keeps the outer fabric free from being saturated making room for the breathable barrier to do its job effectively. The full hooded jacket is equipped with an interior storm flap in minimal size and tapes seams throughout the entire attire.

It is incorporated with a cord and hook structure that is simple to use. It also comprises of a hood that you can wear with a helmet. The hood is fitted with single pull adjustment mechanism and a laminated visor for easy rolling and stowing.

The cuffs are elastic on the jacket and require a low effort single pull on the adjustable drawcord hem seal out weather. It comprises of extra storage with its innerleft pocket situated on the chest area. That acts as a self-stuff pouch with streamlined shape.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Research Helium Pants

Outdoor Research Men's Helium Pants

Weight: 5.9 ounces

Inseam: 31 inches regular

Best Features: 30D nylon ripstop shell; waterproof & breathable; fully taped seams; elastic waist w/ drawcord; standard fit; ankle zippers; consents with accessory suspenders; internal and carabiner loops; reflective logo; and laminated construction.

Best Use: Backpacking, Hiking, Camping, & Alpine Climbing

These are among the best men’s pants for the money. Outdoor Research Helium Pants are made of high quality nylon material, which is highly abrasion resistant and waterproof. The ripstop 30D nylon shell is awesome at shedding light rain and snow.

Any water traces on the stretch panels fade away almost instantly, ensuring that you stay dry at all times. The pants’ breathability, water resistance, and lightweight nature make them the perfect choice for three-season climbers, dispatch riders, and backpackers. The tapered design on the lower part of the trousers prevents flapping of extra cloth. This allows you to cycle or climb at ease.

You can conveniently match the pants with accessory suspenders thanks to the low profile tabs and full seam taping. They are extremely lightweight for long distance backpacking and for alpine climbing. You will not feel the added weight on your body as you make your way uphill.

The ankle zippers allow you to effortlessly get in and out of the pants. You can also adjust the ankle zippers when fitting your hiking boots. These are the pants to wear and backpack on a 3-day tour, because you will spend hours trekking through wet bushes, and they will not scratch or wet your legs.

Unlike most outdoor slacks, this pair packs down effectively into a granola bulk. These can be your go to winter or summer gear.

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Outdoor Research Balaclava

Outdoor Research Option Balaclava

Weight: 1.9 ounces

Best Features: Flat seam construction; machine washable; nylon/polypropylene/spandex knit; and thermodynamic.

Best Use: Hiking & Alpine Climbing

You need extra protection from strong wind, snow, and light rain, and there is no better way of achieving this than wearing the Outdoor Research Balaclava.

This cap is close-fitting and covers all the head apart from your upper face. The design is made of a resourceful knit that includes 11% spandex, 25% polypropylene, and 64% nylon.

This combination of three heavy duty materials provides you with a lightweight as well as low bulk ski mask and cold weather head cap. The polypropylene part of the design offers you a close fit, allowing you to wear the balaclava as a neck gaiter or hat. It is highly breathable and has effective wicking abilities.

This ensures that there is no sweat accumulation on your face when the balaclava is on. In addition to good wicking, the cap is fast drying. This simply means that it dries almost immediately after being exposed to humid conditions.

It is available in four sizes, and it is unisex. The sizes include: small, medium, large, and extra-large. This balaclava will save you on different outdoors commute. You can ride your bike to work irrespective of the weather. It keeps your mouth, forehead, and cheeks safeguarded from the cold without fogging your glass.

This is the best performing balaclavayou can buy. It is thin, but certainly effective.

Check the price on Amazon

Defeet ET Dura Glove

Defeet ET Dura Glove

Weight: 8.3 ounces

Best Features: Made in the U.S.; pull-on closure; high quality material; natural warm & odor resistant; thinner; finger grips & rubber palm; touch screen thumb, index finger, and middle finger.

Best Use: Running, cycling, hiking, alpine climbing

DeFeet is well-known for matching style with the best performance. One of their best outdoor wear is the pair of DeFeet E-Touch glove.

These gloves are specifically designed for outdoor adventures, including running, hiking, cycling, and alpine climbing. The gloves design is made of a combination of materials, including 1% silver, 7% Lycra, 12% nylon, 40% Cordura, and 40% merino wool.

The combined materials make the gloves highly abrasion resistant, waterproof, and tear resistant. Merino wool has good insulating and wicking capabilities. The wool keeps your palms dry by removing any moisture. This prevents the formation of blisters. Remarkable breathability ensures that your palms stay drier and warmer.

They are incorporated with electronic touch, a feature that comes in handy when the weather is too cold. The electronic touch capability allows you to use your contemporary mobile devices without necessarily going gloveless. This tech offers you six touch screen digits, which are highly ergonomic.

This allows you to tap your smartphone without actually removing the gloves. DeFeet are amazing cycling and running gloves, because they are generally warm for their thickness and weight. They offer a slim fit, allowing you to easily and effortlessly work your bike’s brakes and levers.

You can conveniently use these gloves as liners when the weather falls under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They also do well as photography gloves.

Check the price on Amazon

Osprey Exos 48 Pack

Osprey Exos 48 Pack

Weight: 2.4 pounds

Height: 6*14*22 inches

Design Features: Internal sleeve for hydration systems,

Best Use: Outdoor

Osprey Exos 48 pack is a superlight backpack constructed fromup to dateelements and equipped with new components.

The pack is durable due to its 100-denier nylon and ripstop nylon fabric. It features removabletop, straps for keys and attachment points.

On the shoulder straps you will finda pocket made of stretch-mesh energy gel and asternum strap,adjustable,with an inbuilt whistle. It has the capacity to accommodate up to 3 liters of hydration due to its sewn-ininternal back-panel sleeve.

It comprises of an aluminum alloy along with an inner cross strut that is suspended. This offers you a great carrying support for your load. Weight transfer has been made easier with its hip belt that consists of anall-in-one layered weave.

It is also covered with foam thus, providing you with exceptional cushioningandcomfort. The hipbelt allows you to get the right fit with its ergonomic, forward-pull clinch closure. Osprey Exos 48 pack features detachable top pocket. It is also fitted with an inner key clip.

All the pockets and clips offer you easy organization of items. Both sides of the front panel on the pack comprise of multiple cord tie-off points which offer quick attachment of additional gear.You can easily stuff items in the stretch woven pockets you will find on front and side,such as a water bottle or a rain jackets.

Energy food is one reach apart from you, as you can store it in the hipbelt pockets. Don’t forget to zip them up after you’ve finished.

Check the price on Amazon

MSR MugMate™ Coffee/Tea Filter

MSR MugMate™ Coffee-Tea Filter

Weight: 98 oz

Height: 2.75 * 3.3 inches

Design Features: nylon frame/stainless steel mesh

Best Use: outdoors and indoors

MSR MugMate is described as a convenient, effective, fuss free, ultra light and easy to use filter.

You only need to fill it with either tea leaves or coffee. Then and there place it in your desired container and add hot water.

Once you have done that go ahead and seal with a cap, and allow steeping to take place.It ensures that you enjoy fresh coffee or else tea all the time. It comprises of recyclable filter fits that allows you to brew up tea or coffee without wasteful and messy filters.

Being reusable makes it environmental-friendly. For effective steeping it consists of two side stubs that effectively and conveniently suspend MugMate in hot water. It weighs 95 oz and can be stored in a Titan cup or any mug or cup due to its low profile.

It is made of 16-micron construction making it durable and less prone to damage. While steeping the lid holds in the heat and also works as a base for configuring a filter as you enjoy your drink. If you wish to enjoy a stronger beverage either coffee or else tea ensures that you steep for long.

MSR MugMate is what you need to solve all your backcountry outings problems, and you get to enjoy your drink. With this you do not have to bring along flyaway and environmentally-unfriendly paper filters in your pack. With all this amazing features MSR MugMate will certainly be your go-to drink accessory.

Check the price on Amazon

Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag

Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz.

Height: 165 cm

Design Features: Continuous baffle, extremelite shell and insulated draft tube

Best Use: Outdoor

Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag is a lightweight and continuous baffle sleeping bag. This sleeping bag is a versatile and a three season bag.

This is because the baffles allow you to regulate the bags temperature by shifting the down from the bottom of the bag to the top to make it warm during cold temperaturesand back again if the temperature is higher during warm temperatures.

It features a full length zipper and an insulated draft tube that offers extra protection from the elements. This feature also increases the bags durability and makes it more versatile.

The bag features a 5 ¼ inch spacing, 10 oz. down fill, weighs 19 ounces, 59 inches/ 38 inch shoulder and foot girth. Tall individuals do not need to worry the bag has plenty of space to curl up, roll around and still remain warm. The bag comprises of some extra space at the footbed which allows you to keep clothes and also keep them warm.

The bags shell fabric should be handled with care to avoid abrading it. Using this lightweight bag is worth the price you can never regret purchasing it. It is hard to believe that such a lightweight bag can have such numerous features. Lightweight backpack fanatic’s dreams have come true with the Western mountaineering Summerlite mummy sleeping bag.

Check the price on Amazon

REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent

REI Camp Dome 2 Person Tent

Weight: 2 lbs. (6 oz)

Height: 40 inches

Design Features: DAC aluminum NSL pole material, freestanding design and nylon fabric

Best Use: Outdoor

The REI Quarter Dome 2 Tent features the new ultra light materials, unique pole design and it is well-ventilated. REI dome 2 is a lightweight tent since it features ripstop 15D nylon that minimizes weight but retains strength.

The tents floor uses lightweight ripstop 30D nylon. It offers enough space with its tension truss structural design. Stake placement and vestibule tensioning is easy due to the tents adjustable stakeout points. The tent’s asymmetrical shape as well as pole angles provide more than enough space for two people.

It features hubbed pole and unique color coding for simple setup. Individuals can control the tents condensation by using its large zippered roof vent. Organizing the interior side of the camping tent is made easier by the tent’s pockets along with the hangs loops.

The doors on both the tent and fly are aligned for easy entry and exit. The tent minimizes nighttime trip hazard with its reflective stake loops and guylines. The REI dome 2 tent consists of a fly option.

With this option in mind, you can choose not to carry the tent, and instead use the fly, which is tremendously lightweight for backpacking. The tent comes in with a stake bag,stuff sack,a pole bag, stakes,and post repair tube.

Check the price on Amazon

In Conclusion

Your first consideration should be weight. However, when shopping for hiking gear, go for the brands that are well-known in providing high quality items. You should avoid buying items that wear short. In other words, do not buy cheap items. The most important considerations to make are weight, quality, and cost.

Nonetheless, you should not skimp on value since you will be relying greatly on your gear. It is a good idea to have at least two items of different hiking gear categories. For instance, you should pack two pants, two jackets, two pairs of gloves, and so on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Deborah Withers

    I have been looking for a pair of gloves. I haven’t seen the DeFeet ET yet, but this seems like a great pair for me. I was wanting slim fit, light, and able to use my phone, but most are only good for one or two things. The pair you showed here seems to incorporate all my needs and be warm enough for most applications. Now I just need the outer lining for super cold climates.

    • Dennis Owens

      It is a great pair as it is very comfortable and durable compared to others. You may try Hestra, as they are made to fit usual gloves that we use. Check out Amazon too for other types of outer linings.

  • Steve Fulton

    My wife and I usually hike together, so we wanted a tent that when split between us would weigh less than 3 lbs each. The Quarter Dome was one that we considered. Our main issue was the space for two people. When we laid in it at REI, we had no room to separate. It also felt a little complicated for such a small tent. Not hard, but could be frustrating after a long day. We lucked out and found the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 for basically the same price, the same weight, and tons more room.

    • Dennis Owens

      I am glad you were able to find the tent for you! When out camping it is indeed important to have a tent that is comfortable for two people. Let me know how’s the durability.

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