3-Day Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

Dear fellow backpacker,

I’m on the sunset side of 60, but even when I was in my teens and twenties I had fun reducing the weight of my pack.

When I was young, strong, and full of energy I still couldn’t understand carrying a heavy pack. Backpacking is infinitely more enjoyable when you’re carrying a light load and getting closer to nature. Hiking should be closer to walking than hauling.

So, for over 40 years I’ve been working on ways to lighten my pack — without sacrificing comfort.

I get lots of catalog requests that say things like "I have knee problems and need to get my pack down to 35 pounds." Ouch!! Why not get under 20 pounds so you can float along and really have fun!

Much of a heavy pack comes from the overkill of carrying winter items. If your biggest weather threat is a summer shower, backpacking should be simple. For starters, most people use a sleeping bag that makes them sweat in summer. It’s easier to use one of the Western Mountaineering bags — then if you go on a trip that’s going to be a little cooler, just add a silk liner. It’s just 4.7 ounces, and the liner keeps you another 9 ½ degrees warmer.

Once you commit to a light pack, you can save a lot of weight on the pack itself. Many packs weigh 7 pounds or more. And the manufacturers have the nerve to say how "comfortable" they are. Your knees and ankles know the total weight you’re carrying.

Notice how these products are as comfortable to use as heavier ones, and in most cases more convenient because they’re small and simple.

People have asked me for a specific list of how I can get my pack weight down to 15 pounds. Here it is -- including clothing and food. You can modify it with a tent instead of a bivy sack and so on. Put the pencil to it. It works!

Add up your heaviest items, the pack, sleeping bag, bivy, pad, rain gear, stove, and fuel and you’re still under 7 pounds — the weight of many packs alone! Choose the larger pack and the tent, and you’re still under 8 pounds. Then see how light your total can be, including food and water.

Your 3-day pack can be only 7 lbs. 12.7 oz. plus water. No smoke. No mirrors. These are the real weights of each item and the real total. You can switch to the larger Six Moon Designs Starlite pack, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo tent, and an Insul™ Mat air mattress and still be at only 11 lbs 5.5 oz.

Have fun,

Steve Green

3-Day Lightweight Backpacking Gear List

Item Weight Description
Pack 13.0 - 17.0 oz Six Moon Designs Essence (3,200 cubic inches)
Or 27.0 oz Six Moon Designs Starlite (4,100 cubic inches)
Or 20.0-26.0 oz Katahdin pack (3,350 cubic inches)
Or 21.0 oz Granite Gear Virga (3,200 cubic inches)
Or 32.0 oz Granite Gear Vapor Trail (3,600 cubic inches)
Or 48.0 oz Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone (3,800 cubic inches)
Sleeping bag 18 oz Western Mountaineering HighLite 6' (with stuff sack)
Shelter: Bivy 6.2 oz Equinox Ultralite Bivy Cover
Or 7.0 oz MontBell Bivy
Or 15.1 oz Lightweight Equinox tarp (using 6 titanium stakes)
Or 16.5 oz Integral Designs Sil Shelter (6 stakes. Add pole weight)
Or 24.0 oz Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (Pole +1.8oz.)
Or 24.5 - 41.0 oz Contrail, Squall2, Cloudburst2, Double Rainbow, or Rainshadow2 Tarptent
Or 22.0 - 51.0 oz 4 models of Black Diamond tents
Or 40.0 - 44.0 oz Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo (Pole +1.8oz)
Or 43.0 oz Sierra Designs Light Year
Sleeping pad 10.3 oz 72" x 20" x 3/8" closed cell foam pad
Rain gear 9.5 oz Rainshield Rain Wear (large)
Or 15.5 oz mont-bell versalite (medium)
Stove 1.25 oz mogo gear go torch
Or 2.5 oz Snowpeak titanium - Very quick and convenient
Fuel 7.0 oz mogo gear go torch: 6 oz. boils 16 oz. 6 oz. and 1 oz. container
Or 7.0 oz Snowpeak 70% butane/30% propane cartridge
Mess kit, cup 4.6 oz Titanium kettle, plus plastic cup
Spoon .2 oz I take spoon only, shortened for weight & to fit in cook kit
Knife .4 oz Gerber Micro knife - Super strong for its size
Water bottle 1.4 oz 32 oz./1 liter soda or water bottle
Towel .7 oz Using about 1/4 of the towel in the web page/catalog
Mirror .8 oz Use it for grooming & as an emergency signal device
First aid kit 1.0 oz Add your items to our kit & place in a lighter ziplock bag
Flashlight(s) .5 oz The weight is for 2 Pulsar II's, so you even have a backup
Compass .2 oz Sun Country "Strapper"
Matches .5 oz 2 book matches & a few water/windproof in 2x3" ziplock bag
Emergency Blanket 1.8 oz Very light for the peace of mind it offers
Whistle .2 oz Weighs about 1/2 regular plastic size & 1/6 metal size
Insect repellent .4 oz Ultrathon with DEET in 1/4 oz. container
Biodegradable soap .4 oz Campsuds in 1/4 oz. container
Sun screen .4 oz Your favorite in 1/4 oz. container
Lip protection .3 oz Your favorite with SPF protection
Water purif. tablets .6 oz 50 Potable Aqua tablets in the 1-dram bottle
Toilet paper 1.0 oz Don't try to go too light on this one!
Cord* .4 oz 25 feet of very lightweight nylon cord for general use
Garbage bag* .4 oz Large re-sealable bag (10 1/2x12") found in all supermarkets
Long-sleeve shirt 3.9 oz Silk shirt - Warms when cool, wicks moisture when hot
Socks 2.6 oz Wigwam Ultimax™ (large size)
Running shorts 2.8 oz Lightweight nylon running shorts pack small, dry fast
Underwear* 1.5 oz Use lightweight bikini brief style or silk boxers
Map* 1.5 oz Trim if desired - Don't cut legends, side trails, etc...
Pencil, paper* .2 oz Small pencil & paper for emergency messages and notes
Sunglasses* .8 oz Choose a lightweight style; ziplock bag is lightest protection
Toothbrush* .2 oz Pick one with small brush area, cut handle in half
Toothpaste* .6 oz Small sample, half empty. Or use powder or baking soda
Comb* .1 oz Smaller than average, and cut in half
Car Key* .2 oz Take just the one you need; tie small bright cord to it; drill and file much of the weight out
Cash & ID* .3 oz I always carry some cash, 1 credit card, and drivers license
Rubber bands/pins* .4 oz Rubber bands, safety pins, tape, needle & thread

The clothing items above are your extras. Of course, you can reduce overall carrying weight by wearing lightweight clothes to begin with, too.

Food* for 3 days

The following weights are achieved by removing packaging from the MountainHouse freeze dry products and placing them in sandwich-size ziplock bags.

Meal Weight Description
Breakfasts (3) 4.1 oz. x3 = 12.3 oz Mountain House granola with blueberries & milk
Lunches (3) 2 envelopes = 4.7 oz Lipton dry soup mix, rated at 6 total servings
Dinners (3) 3.5 oz. x3 = 10.5 oz Mountain House entrees. (Add 6 oz. for double servings)
Kool Aid .4 oz. Pre-sweetened

Total food weight = 27.9 oz.

Optional Items

Item Weight Description
Water filter 5.3 oz The Timberline filter is very fast and light
Or 5.3 oz 32 oz. Bota Remove the weight of your other water bottle
Or 8.0 oz Katadyn Ceramic Mini Filter
Or 11.0 oz Pur Hiker Water Filter
Gloves 1.0 oz Polypropylene gloves are warm, light & compact
Hat, cap, or visor 1.2 oz Watch cap. Visor or mesh hat is light, too.
Camera* varies Several brands make very light models
Deodorant* .3 oz Arrid makes a cream that can go in a small, plastic container
Dental floss* .1 oz Put some in a 2x3" zip seal bag
Scouring pad* .1 oz Cut about 1/3 from the ones you find in the supermarket
Fire starter* .5 oz Wind & waterproof matches & stove should be enough....
Hiking Poles 19.3 oz Leki Titan Ultra poles
Inner jacket 7.4 oz mont-bell Ultralight Down Inner Jacket
Thermawrap jacket 8.8 oz mont-bell Synthetic Jacket
Down Pants 7.4 oz mont-bell Inner Down Pants
Thermawrap pants 10.0 oz mont-bell Synthetic Pants
Umbrella 5.8 oz mont-bell's Ultralight Trekking Umbrella
Gators 3.0 oz Lightweight Mini Gator
Mosquito Head Net .6 oz Great protection if bugs are thick
Reading glasses* .5 oz I take the tiny folding kind
Medications* Varies Not optional, but their weight adds to the total
Reading Material* Varies Some folks like to take some light reading

Total weight before water: 7 lbs. 12.7 oz.

The larger Six Moon Designs Starlite pack, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo tent (w/ poles), and an Insul™ Mat air mattress is still only 11lbs. 5.5 oz.

There you have it. A checklist of where you can make the most weight savings to lighten up and have more fun. Happy camping!

This chart is figured for solo camping. When hiking as a pair, you can make some other small weight savings.


Here’s a sample of the gear I’d be wearing:

Item Weight Description
Socks 2.6 oz Wigwam Ultimax™ (Same as list above)
Shoes* 1 lb. 15 oz New Balance 801 Trail running
Silk T-shirt 2.5 oz Same as in catalog & web page
Long-sleeve shirt 7.4 oz RailRiders, Roll-up tabs convert it quickly to short-sleeve
Pants 8.0 oz RailRiders, Adventure Khakis
Underwear* 1.5 oz Bikini brief style or silk boxers

* These are the only items not found on our website

Click here to see our clothing and other ultralight gear


Call: (800) 933-HIKE (4453)


"Helping hikers lighten up with lightweight backpacking gear"

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