Lighten the load on your next backpacking trip, with some of the latest ultralight gear available…at least for now.
By Kevin Keckeisen
One of the fundamental rules of backpacking is to pack as light as possible and ultralight backpackers have taken this rule to heart. For the past couple of years, ultralight backpacking has skyrocketed in popularity. From cutting tooth brushes in half to swapping out a tent for a tarp, ultralight backpackers are constantly looking for new ways to shed weight.
By carrying only essential lightweight and multi-use equipment, backpackers are frequently able to cover longer distances in shorter time spans rather than collapse from exhaustion after carrying around a 60 pound pack for a few hours. The time saved allows one to see more, do more, and most importantly, enjoy the great outdoors without a big burden on your shoulders.
However, many of us still enjoy a few luxuries while on the trail, including the extra space and comfort of a tent or inflatable sleeping pad. Luckily, there are several lightweight equipment products on the market today that use both strong and lightweight material to provide an ultralight product without sacrificing comfort. So for those looking to get started in ultralight backpacking or for veterans looking for the lightest gear, we’ve searched for some of the lightest essential pieces of equipment: a backpack, a tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a stove.
GoLite Jam Pack
Weighing in at only 1 pound and 15 ounces, the GoLite Jam Pack is manufactured from 210-denier Dyneema® double ripstop fabric, which combines polyethylene, nylon, and Tier 1 recycled nylon for impressive ruggedness, lightness, and longevity. The Tier 1 recycled nylon performs on par with virgin, petroleum-produced materials and can be continually recycled and makes up 50 percent of the nylon in the pack. Although lacking a frame, the Jam pack can comfortably carry and distribute a load up to 30 pounds with help from its padded shoulder straps and air-channel back panel.
Rather than using a lid to slash weight, the top-loading design uses a cinch cord and roll-top closure with an adjustable strap to compress and secure your load. The top compression ComPACKtor™ system reduces pack volume and an internal stretch-woven hydration sleeve can hold a reservoir of up to 3 liters (101 ounces), which can be accessed by either left or right water tubes for mobile drinking water access. Quick-release buckled side compression straps allow you to cinch down the pack body; straps can attach to the other side to carry large items such as a snowboard. The pack also features a newly expanded zippered pocket on the front of the pack which offers quick and easy access to frequently used essentials and bulky items. The pack also features two side stretch pockets, ideal for trekking poles and water bottles, two ice axe loops and handles straps which allow you to lash winter gear onto the exterior, and a sternum strap buckle which doubles as an emergency whistle.Specs: M- 1 lb. 15oz. (879 grams), 3050 cu. in., 50 liters L- 2 lbs. (907.2 grams), 3,233 cu. in., 53 liters Retail price: $150
Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 tent
Awarded by the Guinness World Record for the lightest double wall shelter in the world at a whopping 1.28 pounds (581 grams) packed weight with pegs, the Laser Ultra 1 canopy and floor is made from Terra Nova’s signature superlight and strong waterproof Cuben Fiber ULTRA fabric, with a thin nylon fabric interior. The tent was designed for short duration ultralight trips and fits one person comfortably or two people at a tight squeeze. For ventilation, there are two end vents, the door and the ends, which can be rolled up for improved air flow.Specs: Weight: 1.28 lbs (includes 12 1-gram pegs) Style: Three-season, one-person, double-wall, non-freestanding tent with floor, one side entry door with vestibule. Included: Tent body, one aluminum pole with stuff sack, 12 1-gram titanium stakes with stuff sack, pole hood, storage bag Packed size: 14 x 3 in (35 x 8 cm) Retail: $700
Terra Nova Laser 300 sleeping bag
Continuing their commitment to ultralight gear, Terra Nova graces this list yet again with the Laser 300, which weighs an astounding 11.6 ounces (329 grams). Comfort rated at 50 Fahrenheit (+10 Celsius), the sleeping bag is insulated with 900 Fill power goose down and is perfect for shorter backpacking trips or trekking in hot climates.
Specs: Weight: 11.6 oz. (329 g.) Style: No zipper, open hood Sizing: 78 in. (200cm.) long Shoulder girth: 27.5 in. (70 cm.) Packed size: 10.6 in x 4.7 in. (27cm x 12cm) Temperature range: 35° (1.6 ° C) Temperature rating: 50 ° (10 ° C) Price: $270
Books-Range Alpini sleeping pad
With the 17.1 ounce (484.7 grams) Books-Range Alpini inflatable sleeping pad, you do not need to sacrifice comfort for weight in the backcountry. It uses die cut foam to shed weight without disposing of precious insulation needed to keep you warm in your sleeping bag. At a size of 38-1/4 inches long and 19-3/4 inches wide, the sleeping pad only extends from your head to your waist, leaving backpackers with the option to place their pack under their legs and feet to provide good insulation.
With a durable plastic valve, the pad inflates quickly and easily and can be deflated relatively quickly after being rolled and packed into a small stuff sack that’s about 2 inches in diameter by 9 inches in length. Also, on the top of the pad Brooks-Range printed a variety of SOS signals using your body, a whistle, a flashlight, ground signals and surprisingly, Morse code, for a possible unfortunate day when you and your buddy experience an emergency while on the trail.Specs: Weight: 17.1 oz. (484.7 g.) Sizing: 38-1/4 inches long and 19-3/4 inches wide Price: $59.95
MSR WhisperLite Internationale Stove
The MSR WhisperLite Internationale stove can be described as lightweight, durable and diverse. Weighing at a refreshing 11.5 ounces (the stove and pump only), the MSR WhisperLite can run on white gas, kerosene, jet fuel and unleaded automobile fuel, making it a perfect stove for traveling internationally. Its self-purging pump is tough, easy to adjust and will not leak when removed from the stove after cooking.
The lighting and priming time of the stove is shortened by its priming-wick so you can eat sooner, which is very important after a long day’s hike. Tired of unclogging your stove after a hearty meal? Fear no more as the WhisperLite stove jet features a unique shaker, self-cleaning needle which allows the stove to unclog itself as you hike. The WhisperLite also includes a reflector, a storage sack and a windscreen which is designed to accommodate cookware up to 10 inches in diameter. The MSR WhisperLite stove requires an MSR fuel bottle for operation, which is sold separately unfortunately.Specs: Weight: 11.5 oz. (Stove and pump only) Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 4 in. Fuel: White gas / kerosene / jet / auto / diesel Burn time (max flame): (White gas) 25.6 / (kerosene) 29.8 minutes Average boil time: (White gas) 3 min. 51 sec. / (kerosene) 4 min. 42 sec. Water boiled per 100g fuel: (White gas) 6.7 / (kerosene) 6.3 liters Price: $89.95