Top 10 List for Lightweight Backpacking Gear

With so many quality products out there, it's difficult to whittle the pack down to 10 essential pieces of equipment for lightweight backpacking. Here are our choices:

The Tarp Tent: This shelter system has redefined the way we sleep outside. Don't let the name deceive you; this is no mere tarp. These tents offer protection from rain, bugs, and sun, with a packed weight of less than 24 ounces. Keep in mind you'll need to carry poles to set this system up. Available for approximately 200 dollars, it's hard to find much more bang for your buck.

Jetboil Stove: The Jetboil is a lightweight alternative to a full MSR stove. The entire cooking system is contained within a mug. That means both your cookset and stove can be stowed together in your bag without taking up a ton of room. The Jetboil also brings water to a boil (duh!) faster than almost any other product on the market. Perfect for solo trips where you'll be eating a lot of dehydrated foods.

Gossamer Gear Lightweight Trekking Poles: You won't believe these things until you pick them up. These poles, while not the most durable, are certainly the lightest. The only other downside is that they're non-adjustable.

Big Agnes Sleep System: For the weight, you won't find a warmer sleep system anywhere. Big Agnes' sleeping bags are specially designed to incorporate some of the most comfortable sleeping pads around. Combined, the two make an incredibly warm, light system at under 4 pounds for a 30 degree setup.

Denatured Alcohol Cooking Stove: This is the one that really gets gearheads going. That's probably because it's the simplest, cheapest way to prepare food in the outdoors. For less than a dollar, you can carry your own alcohol stove, the "most ultra of the ultralight", at less than an ounce.

Smartwool Socks: Smartwool socks are designed to wick moisture away from the foot to the outside. They also retain most of their ability to maintain heat when wet, unlike cotton or even many polypro materials.

Montrail Trail Running Shoes: What's halfway between a hiking boot and your average running shoe? Yes, that would be the Montrails. For a few extra ounces, you'll gain complete waterproof coverage. When matched up with a solid pair of gaiters, you're sure to stay dry, even after shallow crossings. Wearing running shoes instead of heavy hiking boots is a lightweight backpacking rite of passage.

Garmin Etrex GPS: At only 5 ounces, waterproof, and capable of storing more than 500 waypoints, the entire Etrex series provides great options for staying connected in the wilderness. While it's still necessary to carry a compass for safety, this item will make your life much easier.

Steripen Water Purification System: This incredible system uses UV light to purify water. It weighs less than 5 ounces, and the lamp lasts for 10,000 cycles, nearly perfect for lightweight backpacking. The only drawback is that, with all technology, you run the risk of failure. That's why it's important to carry iodine along with this piece of high tech speed hiking gear.

The Titanium Backpacking Spork: Last but certainly not least: don't leave home without your spork. This versatile cooking utensil speaks for itself, not to mention that it's virtually indestructible.

All pages on this topic:
Ultralight | Fastpacking: Carry Less, Go Further | Top 10 List for Lightweight Backpacking Gear | Ultralight Backpacking Gear: For the 21st Century Hiker | Ultralight Backpacking Shelters | Ultralight Backpacking Shelters
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