The Ultimate Ultralight Backpacking Gear list for 2018

Your search for the best deals and most reliable ultralight backpacking gear for 2018 is over. We at Wildist have put this gear to the test on some of the most challenging alpine routes in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and California.

Grab the full version of this list as a spreadsheet or PDF here to customize for your own needs!

◒ = indicates an optional item or item you may want to bring but leave in your car if conditions are favorable


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Backpack REI Co-op Flash 65 Pack 58 $199
Fitted internal frame pack, gear capacity 50-65L
Pack cover or heavy trash bag REI Co-op Duck’s Back Rain Cover 7.6 $16 To keep pack dry
Headlamp Black Diamond Spot Headlamp 9.8 $29 Look for a model with a red light mode
Extra Batteries 1.5 $10 For headlamp, GPS, etc.
Cordelette for bear bag 7mm BlueWater PreCut Accessory Cord 13 $18
Grab one rated for human weight (>10KN) so it’s useful for emergency climbing or lowering
Ultralight Multitool or Knife Leatherman Skeletool 5 $60
2-4 Liter Water Bladder CamelBak Crux Reservoir 100oz 9 $31
24+ oz Water Bottle Nalgene Tritan 32oz Wide Mouth Bottle 6.5 $11
Carry a hard (plastic or metal) bottle in case your bladder gets punctured
Water treatment system SteriPen Ultra UV Water Purifier 5 $99 Filter, UV, chlorine or iodine treatment

Navigation & Communication

Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Topo GPS mobile app GAIA GPS 0 $0
Be sure to cache the USGS topos to your device
GPS Garmin GPSMAP 64st 9 $264
Map and compass Suunto MC-2 Compass 2.6 $39
Solar charger Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel 12.8 $79 If needed for trip length
Extra battery pack Anker PowerCore II Slim 10000 Ultra 9 $30 If needed for trip length

Camp Kitchen

Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Small pot/cup for boiling water Stanley Camp 24oz Cook Set 7 $12
Fuel Jetboil Jetpower 4-season Fuel 8 $10
Sufficient for # of meals / melting snow for water
Measuring Cup/Coffee Mug Inlcuded in Stanley kit above 3 $0
Ultralight Camp Stove Snow Peak Giga Power Stove with Auto Start 5.5 $37
Utensil TOAKS Titanium Ultralight Spork 0.4 $9
Lighter Standard Bic 0.75 $2
Water proof matches Coghlan’s 940BP Waterproof Matches 0.5 $4 Backup fire source


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Pad Big Agnes Q Core SLX Super Light 16 $160
20-30 degree Ultralight Sleeping Bag REI Igneo 25 26 $269
REI Igneo line is top notch, affordable for ultralight and super lightweight
Bivy Sack Outdoor Research Helium Bivy 18 $175
Lighter weight and faster than a tent, but less protection in a storm
Ultralight Tent MSR FreeLite 2 Tent 38 $330 Most tent manufacturer’s make good lightweight options
Tent Footprint or Tarp MSR FreeLite 2 Footprint 7 $34
Inflatable Pillow Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow Ultralight 2.5 $35


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Dry Bag Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 1.6 $15 For packing clothing in wet conditions
Stuff Sack Sea to Summit Stuff Sack 2.5 $11 For packing clothing in dry conditions
Approach shoes 0 $90 Best for fast alpine traverses with lots of climbing
Trail runners 0 $90 Overall best comfort when doing less climbing
Bandana/handkerchief 0.2 $10
Buff Buff UV Headband 1.5 $12
For covering your face or as a sweatband
1-2 pairs Wicking/synthetic Undies
Wicking/synthetic T-Shirt The North Face Men’s Hyperlayer Crew 2.5 $30 base layer
Rain Shell/Windbreaker outermost layer
Long-Sleeve synthetic shirt mid layer
Synthetic/compressible UL Puffy insulation layer
Tough Quick-Drying Pants
Ultralight Strap-on Sandals Z-Trek – The Lightweight Packable Sport Sandal 8 $60 for fording streams, at camp
Hiking Socks Synthetic or wool
Sun-Shielding Hat/Cap Wide brim, quick drying, packable
Light Gloves
Warm Hat
Rain Pants
Ultralight Thermal bottoms Optional depending on conditions
Pack Towel
Microspikes Kahtoola MICROspikes 12 $65
Climbing helmet Mammut Skywalker 2 Climbing Helmet 13 $60 Recommended if rock fall is a danger

Personal items

Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Allergy medications 0
Any RX medications 0
Painkillers (aspirin, ibuprofen) 0
Car keys 0
Small Hand Sanitizer
Toilet paper / wipes 0.5
Toothbrush / floss 1
Insect Repellent
Lip Balm


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Stuff Sack (or Bear Canister) Sea to Summit Stuff Sack 2.5 $11 For food, hang-able as bear bag
2 Dehydrated meals per day Breakfast and dinner
3 Trail snacks per day No-prep lunch and snacks
Instant coffee singles/powder creamer
Hot chocolate/tea
Energy/electrolyte powder
Energy Food (Bars, Gu, Chews, etc)
Extra day’s food supply
Ziplock bag for trash 0.05


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
Camera and/or Smartphone
Ultralight Hammock 6.5 $50
Trekking poles


Item Our Recommendation Weight (oz.) Cost Link Notes Optional
First-Aid Kit 16
We’ll provide a deep dive into 1st Aid Kit contents in an upcoming post
$60 cash 0 For emergencies, car issues, etc.
Personal Locator Beacon ACR 2880 ResQlink 4.6 $244 Good idea if going solo
Repair Kit for Sleeping Pad, Tent 2.5
Patching, seam seal & small amount of duct tape

Selecting and using outdoor gear

This equipment list has been developed specifically for the conditions we experience in the Rocky Mountain region during the summer mountaineering season. Equipment must function well in a wide variety of conditions. Everything you pack should fit securely inside your pack.

Low temperatures on high peaks often drop to slightly above freezing and daytime highs can range anywhere from 30°F to 80°F. Mountain winds are not uncommon and should be taken into consideration when planning your clothing system.

Take the time to carefully prepare and understand your equipment. Use your gear in the field before any major treks so you are prepared. Properly label and identify all items of personal gear. Your name on a garment tag or a piece of colored electrical tape on carabiners and miscellaneous items is an easy way to label your gear; fingernail polish on hard goods is excellent.

If you are preparing for travel, please remember that lighters and stove fuel are not allowed on aircraft. Stoves that have been thoroughly cleaned can be put in your checked baggage.

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