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Ultralight backpacking gear lists.
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Noah Kirschbaum
(kirschdude) - F

Locale: Iowa
Ultralight backpacking gear lists. on 12/27/2008 14:26:31 MST Print View

I have been looking into ultralight backpacking lately, and it really interests me. I have looked at several websites about gear lists and they ethier show multiple lists that are hard to understand, or they show gear that was sold 10 years ago and is no longer made.

So,I was wondering about all the gear required for ultralight backpacking (a recently updated list preferred), and also where to buy it all. I, being a 13 year old with no skill in sewing, would greatly appreceate that none of the gear has to be made. I dont plan to go anytime soon, the first time I might try this is at philmont in 2010. My budget is around $1000 or under I guess.

I would like a weight of under 15 pounds with everything. I dont require a tent, so whatever is lightest is fine.

I think the world of ultralight backpacking looks like it would be alot of fun to experience. Please post your own replies and/or links to other good websites.


Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: Ultralight backpacking gear lists. on 12/27/2008 15:58:46 MST Print View

some good ideas this is a HUUUGE reply but its a bunch of stuff I like and would have liked to have known a few years ago before buying some of the wrong stuff. Welcome to BPL and good luck in your adventures


probably the best cost-weight-performance shelter is a tarp bivy setup, you can get a water resistant bivy on backpacking light for under 100, and a tarp elsewhere for around the same price, and allows you to make a pretty tight setup for bug and water resistance and can even be used in deep winter as well by digging it in a little. is good as well as

even though you said you have no sewing skill, if you are primarily doing 3 season backpacking you can use alcohol stoves, which are the lightest but not as powerful as butane or white gas, and can be made out of soda cans is a great resource among others. Also check out for light cheap cookware. You probably need a stove, pot and lid, windscreen, stand, pot grips, fuel container, and lid. Use platypus, nalgene, or evernew, flexible bottles if you don't have something that will work (or empty plastic bottles!) and aquamira for water treatment, it helps to duct tape the two droppers together.

Packing (also a good place for cheap sleeping pads along with this site) are some good places to start. its tough to guess how much of a backpack you need before you own all the other gear, its handy to get it last, also if you have a lighter pack you can use the foam pad as a frame and then be more comfortable on the trail. Also a pack with some foam padding can provide the padding for your feet while sleeping. Stuffsacks are handy, but don't overdo it as well, I use one for my toiletries (first aid kit, headlamp, toothbrush and toothpaste, sunscreen, sunglasses, bandana if not in a pocket etc.) and one for my sleeping bag, and one for food.

This will probably bring your costs up. A 3/4 length foam pad is usually enough for camping, but you can also get air pads, but its pretty rough having to repair it when it eventually leaks (for repairs, you can get away with duct tape, needle and thread or floss, and some super glue or seam sealer like seam grip or silnett) for low costs you can grab a synthetic sleeping bag from a company like Big Agnes or Slumberjack. Also slightly more expensive but MUCH lighter is something like,which offers gear that is under a lb for summer sleeping, pretty awesome. You can also make bags warmer with warm clothing...

It seems like the best set up is a baselayer (I use a smartwool mid weight zip shirt, which is pricier but WELL worth it) of wool or synthetics, merino wool, capilene, (which is always on sale somewhere online) under armor etc. there are many different ones out there, most of them similar. Most ULers find their main warmth from a windshirt (Marmot Ion, patagonia houdini, montbell UL wind parka, montane windshells, too many to name them all) and a synthetic or down jacket (backpackinglight cocoon wear, patagonia micropuff, montbell thermawrap, western mountaineering flight, alot of these as well) trying to stay under a lb with those, and then a rain jacket, which can also be found for under a lb (North face triumph and DIAD, outdoor research zealot if you can find it, integral designs eVent jackets, golite virga) also you could get a poncho tarp and shave a lb+ off your gear with something like the golite poncho tarp which costs about $50 bucks and requires some skill, but its not rocket science. Add some socks, hat (I often use a patagonia R1 balaclava, something of this weight range can be multiuse and a life saver, no windstopper though, it affects your hearing) nylon pants (underlayers and also puffy pants like the ones from BPL and montbell are reallllly luxurious for an unexpected cold night out) and gloves and you are ready for an adventure. Use your sneakers or some trail runners from innovate or golite.

Also if you decide on any BPL gear they have that 40% off sale.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE:"Ultralight backpacking gear lists." on 12/27/2008 16:41:13 MST Print View

Awsome, Noah! It's nice to know I'm not the only 13 year old Boy Scout into ultralight camping.My Troop is very small, and I'm accustumed to being able to go 'solo' on our trips by bringing whatever I want for myself and not having to divy up so much unneseccary gear, so I don't have enough expierience to tell you all what to carry, since your Troop might make you carry alot of group gear, but you can still go light in your personal items.Ignore that silly '10 essentials' page in the handbook.

BPL has this awsome gear list:

If you are going in summery conditions, you can leave a lot of this stuff at home.

Don't worry about having all of the latest gear, or the nicest,just work on basics and when you become more expierienced in ultralight camping, you can get some more advanced a lighter stuff.

My last pieces of advice:

DO NOT:Try to shave every last gram from from your pack, especially if this is your first 'lightweight trip'.You will want some sort of safety net until you are more expierienced.

DO NOT: Go and brag to all your friends about how you have gotten your pack weight so light. This I learned from expierience. They will tease you relentlessly and think you are an arogent jerk. just keep it to your self until someone asks you why your pack is so light, then humbly state that you are into ultralight backpacking, and maybe you get someone to convert!


-Evan, First Class Scout, Troop Scribe of Troop 93

Edited by edude on 12/27/2008 23:32:23 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
backpacking gear lists on 12/27/2008 16:46:27 MST Print View

Noah - review the links on this posting

The list above has a handful of very specific pieces of ultra-light weight gear. THat said, it isn't anything too extreme. (well, maybe the G6 pack is a little specialized)

I just made up another list (below), with less specialized gear. More of a list for folks just stepping into this realm. The other list (above) and the pretty good list (below) are divergent with certain gear.

A "pretty good" 3-season LIST:

Compare and contrast these two lists. The "standard" list comes in a little bit lower in weight, but it requires a little extra dedication by the user (skill and specilized gear).

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
backpacking gear lists on 12/27/2008 16:47:41 MST Print View

Also - Spend 14 dollars and get the book LIGHTEN UP!

It's just what you need!

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE:"Ultralight backpacking gear lists." on 12/27/2008 16:47:51 MST Print View

I have all these bookmarked.

Good Luck!


Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE:"Ultralight backpacking gear lists." on 12/27/2008 16:50:17 MST Print View

Spend $25 and get:

Lightweight Backpacking & Camping by Ryan Jordan

I HIGHLY recommend it. It's what got me into ultralight.


te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
UL lists on 12/27/2008 17:42:54 MST Print View

a wise man once said "anyone who carries a pack over 30 pounds is either very strong or very foolish, or both"

yeah, UL packers are gods among men and dont be afraid to show it. Also, sleeping on the ground is for dogs. what you should consider is checking out the hammockforums dot net and see what the "now" offers. Peace!

*there are some who would strongly disagree but I dont care.

*Ive had WAY too much coffee
*only half of this is 200% true

Edited by mikeinfhaz on 12/27/2008 17:43:27 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Ultralight backpacking gear lists on 12/27/2008 17:56:26 MST Print View

Noah, Here is a list I posted under another thread, I'm going to repost so you don't have to wade through it. It is a list of most everything you need. The prices I listed were actual prices I found on sale at the time of the post. The post was recent, but prices maybe different today (i.e. contrail is $199 I believe). Please note this setup uses a tent and a quilt. All items are what I call "great value pieces". You get a great item for a good price. The total cost is $860 with a base weight of 7.3 lbs. Also this kit can be used down to about 20 degrees.

I too echo reading both Lighten Up and Lightweight Backpacking and Camping. Also check out the gear lists under reader profiles you can learn alot from those too.


Item = Example oz cost
Pack = Jam2 21.0oz $69.00
Shelter = Contrail 24.0oz $150.00
Sleeping Bag = Golite Ultra 20 19.0oz $180.00
Pad = GG Thinlight 3/8" 6.0oz $20.00
Stuff Sacks = 2xREI Stuff sacks 1.2oz $18.00
Pack Liner = garbage bag 1.5oz $-
Ground Sheet = none 0.0oz $-
Rain Gear = Golite Virga & Reed Pants 13.6oz $115.00
Jacket = Thermal Wrap 8.8oz $105.00
Socks = smartwool PHD 2.0oz $20.00
Cold Hat = fleece cap 1.5oz $10.00
Stove = Caldera Cone+stove 2.0oz $30.00
Pot = 550 snowpeak ti mug 2.8 $25.00oz
Spoon = GSI Collapsible Spoon 0.3oz $6.00
Wind Screen = using cone 0.0oz $-
Lighter = mini bic 0.5oz $1.00
Water Containers = 1 lt + 2 lt platy 2.1oz $20.00
Water Treatment = Micropur Tabletsx18 1.0oz $10.00
Flashlight = Ion Headlamp 1.0oz $20.00
First Aid = Gauze, tape, pills, needle 1.0oz $-
Map+Compass = Photocopy+button compass 1.0oz $10.00
Knife = Swiss Army Classic 0.8oz $10.00
Teeth = Infant+travel paste+floss 1.0oz $1.00
Gloves = Fleece Gloves 1.5oz $10.00
Bug Dope = DEET in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Sunscreen = Sunscreen in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Soap = Dr Bonners in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Bear Bag = 30' spectra + mini biner 0.8oz $15.00
Extra Fire = book matches 0.5oz $-

Total Weight in oz 116.3
Total Weight 7.27 lbs
Total Cost $860.00 (internet current sales)

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
RE:"Ultralight backpacking gear lists." on 12/27/2008 17:57:49 MST Print View

LOL, Michael!

I wish I had a hammock.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Ultralight backpacking gear lists. on 12/27/2008 18:01:40 MST Print View

Yeah, another scouter! Though I am not officially a scout anymore as I recently turned 18, it's good to see UL penetrating into scouting. I found that Boy Scouts (at least my troop) is not the most accommodating environment for learning and practicing UL backpacking...traditional philosophy is still entrenched.

You say the first time you would try UL is at Philmont 2010. I would highly recommend gaining some experience before jumping into Philmont with a lot of new lightweight gear. Try to get your troop to do some backpacking trips - even if you don't have lightweight gear yet, the more experience the better.

Also, it is hard to choose gear (especially UL gear) if you haven't figured out what works for you. Gear is a very personal thing and what works for others may not work for you.

By chance, what area are you from. Knowing that would be helpful in making gear recommendations. Finally, I recommend becoming a BPL member - you will easily make the money back through member discounts and such. I highly recommend both Lighten Up! (as an introduction) and Lightweight Backpacking and Camping (as a more in-depth resource) which I believe are both sold at the BPL store.

If you have any more questions, feel feel to post on this forum or PM me.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Cheaper Tarps on 12/27/2008 18:04:14 MST Print View

Two places to get cheaper tarps: (Not just for hammocks...their tarps are multi-purpose


No need to spend 100-150 on a tarp.

Or if you want REALLY cheap, get a 2 mil. 12x9 plastic drop cloth at your hardware store and reinforce grommets with duct tape. =) Cost = $5

As far as a bivy goes--take a disposable heatsheets Bivy (3 oz). Most likely you won't even need to use it, but if it's pouring rain, you'll have the protection.

Ground sheet == vinyl shower curtain at the dollar store. $1. (or more of the plastic drop cloth...the shower curtain is better if you can find one that is texturized so you won't slip around on it as much.)

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Ultralight backpacking gear lists on 12/27/2008 18:13:37 MST Print View

Noah, Here is one way to change this list...

Go tarp/bivy instead of tent....

Integral Designs Sil Tarp - $75 - 6.5 oz
Equinox Ultralight Bivy Cover - $65 - 6.5 oz
Ti stakes & spectra line - $30 - 3 oz
Contrail Tent - 24 oz

Net: removes about 8 oz to go to tarp/bivy.

If you want a sleeping bag instead of a quilt, Marmot bags are great value pieces...

Marmot Hyrdogen 30 - $250 on sale - 25 oz
Golite Ultra 20 quilt - 19 oz

Net: adds around 6 oz to go to sleeping bag

Please note that these are just starting points. You will want to adjust pieces to suit your needs. Also you can buy most all the gear in the above list at either or


Edited by jshortt on 12/27/2008 18:16:12 MST.

Noah Kirschbaum
(kirschdude) - F

Locale: Iowa
Thanks on 12/27/2008 22:21:28 MST Print View

WOW is all I can say...

Thanks SO much for all yours help.This has given me TONS of ideas as well as a basic understanding of some of the gear I should look into.

This is for Peter... I live in Iowa, so average weather here : / Yeah I would like to try this in boy scouts, but its not really all about boy scouts for me. As soon as I get older I would love to go on several trips all over the country. I would like to ask some of my troop leaders if I could try out UL backpacking on a campout to see how it goes. I think of Boy Scout as an oppertunity to get the basic skills of camping before I get older and start camping for real =D Thats the main reason I joined.

Thank you all for the very friendly and informitive posts,
As for any other questions I have about backpacking I will be sure to come back here.

Noah Kirschbaum
(kirschdude) - F

Locale: Iowa
Prices? on 12/27/2008 22:41:37 MST Print View

Hey Mike, I was looking at your gear lists (great lists btw) Sorry if you put it and I overlooked it, but could you give me and estimated price of both lists. Just for an idea so I know how much to save up, and also to compare to other lists.

Noah Kirschbaum
(kirschdude) - F

Locale: Iowa
New gear list. on 12/27/2008 23:02:49 MST Print View

Well it is midnight here, and I am very bored. So Im gonna try taking Mikes two lists and combining them to create a list that more suites me. I was looking at them a little more and the 7.8 pounds seems a little light, and 14.5 seems a little to much for what im aiming for(looking for around 10 pounds). So Im gonna spend the night trying to form a list, I will post it in a new thread, if you would check it out Mike or any of you it would be greatly appreceated.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Ultralight backpacking gear lists. on 12/28/2008 07:31:15 MST Print View


Ditto the comments cheering a scout starting out on the light path!

I see that you've also found the Philmont forum here at BPL and that Peter has pointed you to Doug Prosser's UL at Philmont article. Be aware that he's said to be working on an update so it's worthwhile checking back now and then to see if it's come out.

15lb base weight at Philmont is easily done. 10lbs is also doable. Yes they'll let you do it but start accumulating gear soon and start using it on every campout this coming season so that you get experience using it (your most important piece of your crew is that thing between your ears, train it well!) and so that your crew advisers can tell your ranger "eh, he does this all the time, he'll be OK)

They won't likely let you use a tarp for shelter but they will allow single wall shelters that can be pretty much closed up like those found at,,, and other places. Do you have a buddy to share that cost with? Oh, and forget about a hammock ... they won't let you tie anything to their trees except a bear bag rope.

The stove suggestions you've gotten are mostly geared to solo use. Philmont's meals and methods are pretty much geared towards group cooking so you'll need more power than your typical alchy stove. If Philmont continues to stock canister fuel in back country commissaries it'll be hard go a lot lighter than a pair of UL canister stoves for a crew of 7-12.

Sleeping quilts work well at Philmont. I don't know what to recommend buying (I make my own).

I like a 48" Thermarest Prolite 3 for a pad, good balance of wt., volume and comfort ... but there are lighter options.

Buy the pack after you know the volume/wt of your other gear. It may be hard to beat the price of a Golite Jam2 for a pack with it's capabilities. You aren't likely to need more volume than that (I had trouble completely filling a similar sized pack at Philmont and my clothing is much bulkier than your's unless you are a Real Big Boy). I'm sure the other packs suggested would also work well.

Have fun! Our troop will also be there in 2010 and I'll be with them if there is room in a crew for an adviser without a son along.

Edited by jcolten on 12/28/2008 07:34:27 MST.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Thanks on 12/28/2008 08:48:40 MST Print View

Yeah, my troop was not really into backpacking either so I completely understand your desire to take some "real" trips - sometimes car camping just does not cut it! Certainly try to test out UL equipment on normal campouts...the more experience the better. When I went to Philmont as a very small 15-year old, I could not have done it without a light pack. For me, LW was not just a luxury but a requirement. I was very lucky to have discovered BPL and lightweight backpacking before my trek.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Woot! on 01/02/2009 15:57:04 MST Print View

Nice to see a scout not start out with the huge packs of yore. I learned the hard way and only found UL hiking when I got to college.

<-- Eagle Scout, Troop 4, Sauk Rapids MN

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
UL - Philmont on 01/12/2009 14:48:00 MST Print View

Good choice to start now gearing up for Philmont. It gives you time to refine your list and see what you like and don't like.

My son and I went to Philmont last summer and I agree with the comments above that Philmont has some limits on what they will allow (mostly just tents). Just be aware of that when you are gearing up.

You are doing the right thing by:
Going light.
Doing research.
Talking to those with experience.
Choosing what works best for you.

Best wishes,