5 Delicious And Easy Backpacking Dinners

High quality, nutritious meals are a must while hiking in the backcountry. After a long day of burning calories on the trail, I can’t think of anything better than cooking a hot meal to replenish energy and boost morale. There are a lot of different options out there to choose from. On my backpacking trips, I like to have a few options when packing for a trip to mix up the menu a little. It is also nice to throw in a ready meal option like an MRE every now and then, but they can be on the heavy side and won’t really work so well in an ultralight situation. Let’s take a look at 5 delicious and easy backpacking dinners below.

Meal #1 – Spicy Fried Rice – Approximately 600 calories

Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice is an excellent meal to have on the trail, and it isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here are the ingredients for this easy to make night one dinner:

  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tablespoons of [amazon_link id=”B0097FOR8A” target=”_blank” ]dehydrated onions[/amazon_link]
  • ¼ cup of [amazon_link id=”B007C7D2D6″ target=”_blank” ]dehydrated peppers[/amazon_link] (of your choice, mix and match to add spice)
  • [amazon_link id=”B007JE8PMK” target=”_blank” ]Kikkoman fried rice mix[/amazon_link]
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil
    [amazon_link id=”B001QC336E” target=”_blank” ]Salt and pepper[/amazon_link] to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • .5 L water

Pack all of the dry ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag, shaking them up to mix well. When you’re ready to cook and eat, boil the water and add it to the bag directly (it is recommended to have the bag in another pot or bowl). Stir and cover for 5-10 minutes until everything is re-hydrated and cooked. Mix in the olive oil and it is read to eat with trail crackers.

Meal #2 – Mountain Chicken Pasta – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B000EXKS1E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Knorr Pasta Sides, Butter & Herb 4.4 oz (Pack of 12)[/amazon_image]

This is one of my favorite backcountry recipes. It is delicious and very easy to make on the trail. Here is the ingredient list:

  • [amazon_link id=”B000EXKS1E” target=”_blank” ]2 Knorr butter and herb pasta packets[/amazon_link] (8 total ounces)
  • 1 3-5 ounce packet of chicken
  • 3 ounces [amazon_link id=”B00CRL9HHM” target=”_blank” ]sun dried tomatoes[/amazon_link]
  • 5 ounces of [amazon_link id=”B001H8R00M” target=”_blank” ]grated parmesan cheese[/amazon_link]
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated onions
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated assorted peppers

Pack the tomatoes, pasta, parmesan cheese and all the other ingredients in separate bags, and keep the chicken in the pouch. When cooking, boil 1 cup of water and pour over the tomatoes. Let sit while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When 5 minutes remain, add the mixed herbs, dried veges and chicken to the pasta. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pasta. Pour in the cheese, stir, and enjoy!

Meal #3 – MRE Of Your Choice – Approximately 1250 calories

[amazon_image id=”B009ZIDU0U” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) Genuine U.S. Military Surplus (1 Pack) Assorted Flavor[/amazon_image]

You’re probably thinking, “wait a minute, I wouldn’t count any MRE as delicious.” Maybe you’re right. But there are a few MRE options out there that I really don’t mind eating at all. You might even say I like them. But only in a certain context: the middle (or towards the end) night of a grueling backpacking trip. By this point, I’m usually expending more energy than I am taking in and in need of a surge of calories. This is what a full MRE meal offers. They aren’t lightweight (not dehydrated and full of water weight), don’t pack very well, and lack a bit of sophistication, but it’s hard to beat the per ounce caloric intake from an MRE. Throw in an MRE heater, and you don’t even need to get your stove or cooking gear out. It is the perfect mid-trip meal all around. A few that I enjoy include: beef stew, meat loaf with gravy, the beef patty, and spaghetti with meat sauce. Avoid the jambalaya, anything with ‘chicken’ in the title, and the tuna options.

[amazon_image id=”B00AB63708″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) – Two Course Fresh MREs with Heaters – 5 Year Shelf Life (Pack of 6)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”B007RZ804E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Case of 12 MRE Entrees from Meals Ready to Eat[/amazon_image]


Meal #4 – Cheesy Potatoes – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B00I4KUDDW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Idahoan Real Mashed Gable Carton, Premium, 52 Ounce[/amazon_image]

Instant potatoes are a common staple for backpacking because they cook ‘instantly’ and are filling and hearty. My cheesy potatoes recipe is easy and requires the following ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups of [amazon_link id=”B00I4KUDDW” target=”_blank” ]instant mashed potatoes[/amazon_link]
  • ½ cup of [amazon_link id=”B004VITI0K” target=”_blank” ]instant dry milk[/amazon_link]
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001EQ5AU4″ target=”_blank” ]crumbled bacon[/amazon_link]
  • 1 package of [amazon_link id=”B000F9ZM7M” target=”_blank” ]powdered cheese spread[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tbsp dried onions
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp of [amazon_link id=”B00DC5ZKQE” target=”_blank” ]butter powder[/amazon_link]
  • 4 ½ cups of water

Mix all of the ingredients in a quart sized Ziploc bag. Boil 4 ½ cups of water and add to the bag (place bag in another bowl for easy mixing and eating) and stir well. Wait for about 5 minutes, and add additional water if necessary. Enjoy your cheesy potatoes with camp crackers.

Meal #5 – Sweet Chicken and Rice – Approximately 500 calories

Chicken And Rice

Because I’m such a rice fan, there are two recipes with rice on this list. It is easy to make, and perfect for the last night on a five day excursion. Here is what you need:

  • The seasoning packet from 1 box of instant wild rice (my favorite is the [amazon_link id=”B000GZSBZ0″ target=”_blank” ]toasted almond flavor[/amazon_link])
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B00OAEVSTY” target=”_blank” ]dried cranberries[/amazon_link]
  • 1 7-ounce [amazon_link id=”B000V1LXU4″ target=”_blank” ]packet of chicken[/amazon_link]
  • 2 cups [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 3 cups of water

Boil 3 cups of water and add the instant rice with the seasoning packet. Stir in the chicken and cranberries. Let stand for 5 minutes and that’s all she wrote!

Final Thoughts

Nutritious meals are essential for backpacking success, but it isn’t as easy as grilling up a burger or cooking with refrigerated ingredients in your spacious kitchen. It takes a little more planning to pack lightweight, easy to cook meals. The five meals listed above are easy to make, packed full of calories and flavor, and did I mention delicious?

What are your favorite easy backpacking dinners? Have you tried one of the recipes (or a variation on one) above? Let us know the recipes in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy trails!


Top 5 Expedition Backpacks For 2016


Heading into 2016, expedition backpackers have many options when it comes to choosing a big backcountry backpack. A few years ago, the focus then was on interior capacity, where now-a-days, gear is getting so light and compact that a smaller backpack (50-75 Liters vs 100+ from a couple years ago) can be used on 2-8 day trips and more. Let’s take a look at our top 5 best expedition backpacks for 2016 (which might not necessarily be new pack models).

#5 – Mountainsmith Lookout 50 ~ $180

The Mountainsmith Lookout 50 backpack might be a little on the small side for an expedition backpacking trip, but there are plenty of larger options below to choose from. We couldn’t leave it off the list, especially at this price point and with its features. The Lookout features excellent padding on the shoulder pads and hip belt and is a very comfortable bag with a sweetspot weight range right around 40-45 pounds. Once again, this might not be big enough if you plan to pack gear for mountaineering, but can handle a week long trip no problem. At this price point, you can’t go wrong, and is about as good as it gets bang for buck. Click the following link to pick up your Mountainsmith Lookout 50 (or step up to the Mountainsmith Apex 80) today.

#4 – The North Face Banchee 65 ~ $250

The North Face Banchee 65 features a proprietary OPTIFIT technology that helps you to dial in your fit no matter your body type, male or female, short or tall. We found this pack to be very comfortable because of this. It also weighs 3.6 pounds, which is pretty light for an expedition pack of this size. We found that the sweetspot for the weight is right around 50 pounds. Who wants to pack around more than that anyway, right? The Banchee does a great job distributing the weight with its suspension system, and is a joy to carry around for long periods of time. Click the following linkto pick up your North Face Banchee 65 today.

#3 – Osprey Xenith 75 ~ $320

The Osprey Xenith is one of the best performing expedition backpacks on the market today. It is comfortable, durable, and has the capacity to pack for an extended stay trip no problem. The 105 Liter incarnation made the list in place of the retired Argon a couple years ago, and there are good reasons that it is back for 2016: the Xenith is a well put together backpack, with 4 access points to the main compartment, as well as well placed external storage pockets. This makes it easy to pack and unpack. The external hydration pocket is another nice feature that helps you re-fill your hydration source without having to dig out your pack’s contents. The sweetspot for the weight is right around 60 pounds, which is a ton of gear in my book. The Xenith doesn’t lack in the comfort arena either, as it features great suspension and cushion, as well as a decently breathable mesh backing for those hot summer days. If you are looking for a no joke top of the line expedition backpack, the Osprey Xenith will deliver every time. Order yours through Amazon by clicking the following link.

#2 – Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 ~ $300

With a sweetspot around 55 pounds, the South Col 70 from Mountain Hardwear is a durable workhorse to get you there and back again. It is designed for mountaineering applications, but is more than adequate for extended-stay trips as well. The South Col weighs in a smidge over 4 pounds, which makes it a lightweight option in the expedition backpack category. Some of the weight was trimmed from the padding, as the shoulder and hip pads are noticeably thinner and less substantial than most packs in this category. We found the pack to be comfortable enough at the 55 pound sweetspot, but carrying more weight made a noticeable difference in comfort, so keep that in mind. One of the best features of the pack is the waterproof main compartment. No more worries about soggy gear if you don’t get your rain gear on quickly during a sudden downpour. Your main gear will stay bone dry. This feature has won over more than one field tester. Overall, the Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 is a fantastic option and was only beat out by one other bag on this list. Simply put, it is one of the best expedition backpacks on the market today. Click the following link to pick yours up today.

#1 – Gregory Baltoro 75 ~ $320

Coming in at #1 is the redesigned Gregory Baltoro 75. A few years ago, this bag was on the cusp of making the list, but was edged out by two other Gregory packs (the Whitney and the other being the audacious Denali Pro), and it was no secret why they featured 2 bags in our top 5. Gregory makes some of the most comfortable bags on the market, from the shoulder harness systems to the hip belts. They are just a pleasure to wear, and none more so than the Baltoro 75 (and its little brother the 65). All the way up to 60 pounds, this pack is comfortable and agile while on uneven terrain. Other features of this bag include an integral rain cover, 3 access points to the main compartment, divided lid compartment, a detachable day pack, large hip belt pockets (1 waterproof), and a re-worked design that makes the pack 12% lighter than its previous incarnation. This is a serious expedition backpack that is as durable as it is comfortable. If you are in the market for a do-it-all extended stay backpack, look no further than the Gregory Baltoro 75. Click the following link to order our number 1 expedition backpack for 2016, the Gregory Baltoro 75 today!

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

As backpacking gear gets smaller and lighter, gone are the days when expedition backpackers need bags in the 100+ Liter range. You’re not doing yourself any favors bulking up to 80 pounds+ anyway. Slimmer, lighter expedition backpacks in the 50-75 Liter range are taking the spotlight, and the 5 packs above are all excellent choices, from the affordably priced Mountainsmith Lookout 50 to the Gregory Baltoro 75. Ultimately, comfort won out, as the Gregory Baltoro 75 just wasn’t matched by any other pack on our list.

What do you think of the list of expedition backpacks above? What is your top expedition backpack of choice? Let us know in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading and happy trails!


The 6 Best Ultralight Sleeping Bags On The Market

When it comes to ultralight backpacking, the weight of every piece of gear is critical to achieving your overall goal. Many backpackers focus on the ‘Big Three’ because that is where the biggest impact on weight is usually found (backpack, shelter, sleeping bag). We will be writing a series for the big three on ‘best’ ultralight options for backpacks and shelters, so keep an eye out for those articles to come in the future. Below, we will go over the top 6 ultralight sleeping bags based on weight, price, comfort, and durability as we see the current market.

Note – these sleeping bags are rated as 3 season or summer bags, no true 4 season or winter bags are included.

#6 Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45F – $330 – 19 ounces

[amazon_image id=”B00BMPIU40″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 Sleeping Bag Graphite Regular / Right Zip[/amazon_image]

Coming in at an excellent 19 ounces, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 degree sleeping bag is a top choice of Alpine climbers and ultralight backpackers alike. This lightweight summer sleeping bag is a fully featured mummy sleeping bag, complete with hood and zipper (unlike some of the bags below). The Phantom utilizes Q Shield 800 fill power down that creates nice loft, and along with the construction, features a down-filled face gasket, tight 5″ baffles, even loft spacing in hood for consistent warmth, an insulated draft tube along the zipper, and a comfort footbox. The bag can be purchased regular length or long, right or left zipper. This is a solid, proven go-to ultralight sleeping bag that is great for summer or potentially 3 season backcountry trips. One review states the following:

“This bag is great if you want to keep things super light and compact, but also value quality and performance. This bag is great, being that it is smaller than a Nalgene bottle and super light. I have also found that the temperature rating is slightly conservative by about 5-10 degrees. I have even slept in it when the temp dropped in the low 20’s, wearing only base layers and a Mont Bell ultralight down jacket inside.”


Click here to pick up your [amazon_link id=”B00BMPIU40″ target=”_blank” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 sleeping bag[/amazon_link] today.

#5 – Elightened Equipment Revelation 20F – $250 – 19.7 ounces

Enlightened Equipment Revelation

The Enlightened Equipment Revelation is the most versatile sleeping bag/quilt on our list. There are so many different configurations (lengths, widths, temperature ratings, down fill options). At the time of this writing, the regular length, regular width 20 degree 800 fill power down quilt weighs an excellent 19.7 ounces, keeping this sleeping bag in the category of ultralight sleeping bags with a little bit better warmth than some of the other bags on the list. The sleeping bag/quilt is partially zippered and can be used as a sleeping bag or as a quilt/blanket, increasing the multi-season versatility. It is a great all-purpose, lightweight option at an affordable price (best on this list). One review reads as follows:

“Enlightened Equipment makes a really quality product for a great price! There customer service is pretty stellar. I bought my quilt long and wide to fit my 6’2″ frame. I move around a lot when I sleep, and can’t stand being confined in a mummy bag… This quilt is just what I needed.”

Visit the Enlightened Equipment webpage to see all the different options of the Revelation sleeping bag. You won’t be disappointed in this lightweight option.

#4 – Katabatic Gear Palisade 30F – $420 – 18 ounces

Katabatic Gear Palisade

Katabatic Gear specializes in ultralight backpacking gear (backpacks, sleeping bags, and bivys), and the award winning Palisade is no exception. Rated to 30 degrees, this 18 ounce hoodless sleeping bag is a great option for lightweight gear seekers out there. You can choose 850 or 900 fill power down (with the 900 option trimming about .5-1 ounce off the total bag weight depending on the size you get). Outdoor Gear Lab awarded this sleeping bag a 2012 Editor’s Choice Top Pick for it’s “comfort, versatility, high warmth to weight ratio, and ultra comfy neck closure,” which we totally agree with. Other features of the Palisade are: down filled collar, trapezoidal foot box, overstuffed foot section, and a great pad attachment system (probably the best on this list). While priced on the high end of this list, you won’t be disappointed in the craftsmanship and comfort this lightweight sleeping bag provides. For more information, visit Katabatic Gear’s site.

#3 – Nunatak Arc Specialist 32F – $390 – 17 ounces

Nunatak Arc Specialist

Coming in at a stunning 17 ounces, the hoodless Nunatak Arc Specialist sleeping bag makes it’s case for best ultralight sleeping bag with an array of nice features. Rated to 32 degrees, this 800 fill power down sleeping bag is a hoodless mummy sleeping bag that is open in the back from your neck down to mid-calf with adjustable pad straps that allow you to tighten it to fit your body. Nunatak has put in quite a bit of work developing their Arc series of sleeping bags, and the Specialist (as well as the equally amazing 40 degree, 11.5 ounce Arc Edge, which rivals the #1 40 degree ZPacks option). This bag is warm, lightweight, and packs to a ridiculously small size. For more on this sleeping bag, visit Nunatak USA today.

#2 – Feathered Friends Vireo UL 25F – $300 – 15.5 ounces

Feathered Friends Vireo

The Feathered Friends Vireo UL is an amazing ultralight sleeping bag. Coming it at an astounding range of 14.4 ounces to 16.7 ounces (62″-74″, 3 different options), you will certainly attain your ultralight goals using this bag. Feathered Friends trims extra weight by cutting the hood and zipper, but don’t think it isn’t easy enough to get in and out of. The lower half has more insulation (rated to 25 degrees) while the upper half has less (rated to 45 degrees). This variable fill feature allows for additional weight trimming, and the 900+ fill power goose down is as soft, lofty, and lightweight as it is insulative. On colder nights, sleep with a sweater or down jacket to match the lower half warmth rating. Here is one review from Outdoor Gear Lab that highlights the features of this bag:

The Vireo has 900-fill down, weighs a mere 16 ounces, and packs down to the size of a grapefruit. This bag is best for sleeping in a seated position where other ultralight bags, like the Katabatic Gear Palisade, don’t cover your back and aren’t as warm. After extensive testing we now only recommend the Vireo for alpine climbs where you bring a down parka.”

This is an awesome sleeping bag – pack and use this bag and you will see why we choose it as our #2 ultralight sleeping bag option. Just don’t use this bag in the summer – the 25F rating for the lower half (which is incidentally not zippered and therefore un-vent-able) will make your warm night miserable. And remember to bring a parka for colder temperatures or your upper half will freeze. For more information, visit the Feathered Friends website.

#1 – ZPacks 30 Degree – $370 – 14 ounces

ZPacks 30 Degree

The award winning ZPacks 900 fill power down solo sleeping bags are probably the best warmth to weight ratio you will find on the market as of this writing. Here is a breakdown of their ratings and accompanying weights (all medium length, regular width): 40 degrees – 11.4 ounces (!!!), 30 degrees – 14 ounces, 20 degrees – 16.7 ounces, 10 degrees – 19.4 ounces. These weights are absurdly small for the amount of insulation you are getting. Similar to the Enlightened Equipment Revelation, this sleeping bag can be used as a quilt or blanket for added versatility. This sleeping bag features 5″ baffle spacing, a 3/4 length zipper that is positioned beneath you to get rid of the need for a draft tube, and comes with an ultralight (.9 ounce) stuff sack. Outdoor Gear Lab awarded the 20 degree version their 2013 Editors’ Choice Top Pick for its “Highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any bag tested.”

You won’t find a lighter sleeping bag out there right now. And even though this hoodless sleeping bag sits close to the top of the price range of this list, you have a lot of versatility in choosing a bag for different seasons. My favorite ultralight sleeping bag right now is the 11.4 ounce ZPacks 40 degree sleeping bag. There is just no comparison when it comes to the warmth-to-weight ratio, and even though it is mostly a summer sleeping bag, it fits my needs for getting the biggest bang for buck in the weight arena. For more information on ZPacks, visit their site today.

Honorable Mentions – Jacks ‘R’ Better Stealth, Feathered Friends Merlin

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

The sweet spot for sleeping bags in the ultralight space sits right around 1 pound. If you can find a bag that is even less than that, you will be able to have more options with the other gear you pack, which is why this list put such a premium on weight. What is your favorite ultralight sleeping bag? Did we leave yours off the list? Let us know in the comment section below. As always, thank for reading and happy trails!


The Joys Of Ultralight Backpacking

In my earlier years of backpacking and spending time in the outdoors, I was all about the gadgets and gear. I wanted to have a tool for everything, and I wanted the biggest and best of everything. When I planned backpacking trips, I wanted to have the ability to do all sorts of outdoor activities, ranging from rock climbing to water sports. I was also younger and had a lot more energy and strength, so the weight of all that gear didn’t bother me as much as it does now.

I have definitely seen an evolution in my style of backpacking over the last ten years. Even just a couple years ago, I was in this accumulation phase of buying new gear and gadgets whenever they came out. I had storage bins full of different gear options for different backpacking trips. Rather than accumulate lots of different gear choices to bring along, I am now downsizing my gear bins. I am selling things that I no longer need on eBay and Craigslist. This is a shift in my mindset towards a more minimalist approach. To me, being minimalist or ultralight or lightweight can all mean the same thing – basically, backpacking with as little weight and with minimal gear on your back.

There is one obvious benefit of ultralight backpacking – less weight. And it is an amazing benefit. Carrying heavy loads on your back for many miles on uneven terrain can quickly sap your strength and morale. But there are also hidden benefits of backpacking light that might not seem as apparent on the surface. Let’s delve into these hidden gems as well as dispel some myths about ultralight backpacking.

Enjoying Nature

Glacier View
Without being burdened with heavy loads, you will be more able to focus on why you are in the outdoors to begin with – enjoying nature. Honestly, past experiences with super-sized backpacking rigs have taught me that they quickly hamper your ability to observe your surroundings. This can not only reduce your ability to enjoy your time outdoors, but can also be hazardous to your health (tripping and slipping, missing turns, wild animals). I remember more than a few hikes where all I could think about was just trudging a few more miles so I could get the pack off my back and rest. This mindset is all wrong and defeats one of the principle purposes that I backpack to begin with.

Enjoying Company

Another hidden benefit of ultralight backpacking is that you will be better able to give attention to the people you are hiking with. Carrying on conversations while on the trail with huge packs is often more of just a distraction or coping mechanism rather than an enjoyable conversation. I have found that lightening the load has allowed for more meaningful interactions with friends and family, and not just as a way to pass uncomfortable time.

Knowing Your Limits

Planning a backpacking trip can take a lot of time and coordination. You have to map your route, plan your stops and campsites, figure out the makeup of your group, and decide which gear to bring. That last part – deciding on your gear choices – can be laborious if you have mountains of gear options available to you and a high weight limit. Going into this planning phase with the knowledge that you will be limiting yourself to ultralight gear will simplify your options. It is important to realize that you might be limited on certain types of extended-stay trips because of your ultralight load-out, and this is especially true with the amount of food you can carry. But because of the above benefits of backpacking light, you will get more out of your trips even if they are condensed.

Having a minimalist approach will simplify the entire planning process. And as an added bonus, if you are good at improvising and have some Bear Grhylls bush-craft skills, you might be able to extend your stay without starving yourself by setting snares for food, fishing with small kits, and foraging for wild berries and edible plants.

Myths Debunked

There are some notable obstacles to ultralight backpacking, but a lot of them are overblown exaggerations. This is especially true with newer technology surrounding the outdoor market. One of the loudest complaints of ultralight backpacking is the loss of comfort. Several years ago, this complaint had a lot of pull, and for the most part, was an accurate depiction of minimalism in the outdoors. For example, the weight of your sleeping bag determined the warmth it provided. Twenty years ago, these new innovative micro-fibers that were lightweight and super insulative just didn’t exist in the marketplace. But with newer technology and innovation in outdoor gear design, the comfort factor is still there even at the micro-weight level, and the prices continue to become more and more affordable.

[amazon_image id=”B008FJH3VC” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Sleeping Bag – Men’s Long Blue Ridge Left Hand[/amazon_image]

Another complaint of minimalist backpacking is that you are limited with what you can do on your backpacking trip. This used to be my mindset when planning my trips and pulling my gear together. I never wanted to limit myself to a certain set of activities and therefore be less free; rather, I wanted to be able to do everything on every trip. I wanted binoculars to be able to glass for wild game. I wanted a fishing pole to be able to catch dinner. I wanted fancy cookware to make delicious meals. I wanted a chair to sit on at base camp. I wanted changes of clothes and shoes for lounging. And on and on. But what I found is that if I packed something and brought it along, I felt like I had to use it, or I carried it all that way for nothing.

I started to see that the reality of my mindset was not of freedom to do what I wanted at all. Instead, I felt like my plans were locked in and I had no room to improvise. Part of the allure of being in the outdoors is getting away from set schedules, routines, and day-to-day activities. But backpacking trips are all about planning and coordination (and when it comes to being safe, healthy, and getting home in one piece, rightfully so). In going ultralight, however, I have found it is easier to stay away from the drudgery that can sometimes find its way into the backcountry.

In Conclusion

I understand that ultralight backpacking is not for everyone. Ten years ago, it wasn’t for me. But I have seen my ways evolve over that time to embrace the benefits of backpacking light. If nothing else, it is an interesting concept. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to minimize your gear and free your mind and body to better enjoy nature and your company? Give ultralight backpacking a try. Here is a great article on getting started with ultralight backpacking.

What are your opinions of ultralight backpacking? What merits do you see in it? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and for adding to this community!


ULA Equipment Catalyst – Lightweight Expedition Backpack For Less

Let’s say you are looking for a heavy-duty expedition size backpack that is lightweight, capable, and won’t break the bank. You have come to the right place for a review of the more than capable, lightweight and inexpensive ULA Equipment Catalyst backpack! Let’s check out some of the features and specifications below!


ULA Equipment CatalystFirst and foremost, the Catalyst weighs in at only 48 ounces (for a Medium torso and hipbelt size). That is an incredible weight for a pack of this size. Some of the features are removable, bringing your total weight down even more to 44 ounces. The Catalyst is sewn with ULA’s 210 Robic fabric, which according to ULA, is the “toughest stuff ounce for ounce that we’ve ever seen.” You will be the judge of that, but everything we’ve seen is that it is some lightweight fabric that is extremely durable.

The total volume capacity for the pack with all the pockets attached is 4,600 cubic inches or about 75 Liters. The breakdown is as follows:


  • Main Body: 2,600 cubic inches
  • Front Mesh Pocket: 600 cubic inches
  • Side Mesh Pocket: 350 cubic inches times 2
  • Exterior Collar: 600 cubic inches
  • Hipbelt Pockets: 100 cubic inches

The recommended maximum load is 40 pounds or less.


Here are the integrated features of this backpack:

  • Internal Frame
  • Twin Stay Framesheet
  • Contoured Shoulder Straps
  • Front Shock Cord
  • Front Mesh Pocket
  • Dual Hipbelt Pockets
  • 210 Ripstop Adjustable Side Pockets
  • Rolltop Closure
  • Side/Top Compression Straps
  • Ice Axe/Pole Retention Loops
  • Bear Canister Capable
  • Cordura Bottom Panel

Here are the removable features (for a weight savings of about 4 ounces):

  • Handloops (~.8 oz)
  • Hydration Sleeve (~1.4 oz)
  • Internal Stash Pocket (~1.1 oz)
  • Water Bottle Holsters (~.8 oz)


The ULA Equipment Catalyst comes in 4 different Torso sizes and 5 different hipbelt sizes:


  • Small (15”-18”)
  • Medium (18”-21”)
  • Large (21”-24”)
  • XLarge (24”+)

If you happen to fall right between two torso sizes, ULA recommends you go with the smaller size. Make sure you measure you torso by standing up straight, tilting your head to your chest, and finding the largest lump on your neck. Measure with flexible tape down to the top of your waistband resting on your hipbone.


  • XSmall (26”-30”)
  • Small (30”-34”)
  • Medium (34”-38”)
  • Large (38”-42”)
  • XLarge (42”+)

If you fall between two hipbelt sizes, ULA recommends that you go with the larger hipbelt size. For men, use the waist of your pants and add 2 inches.

The Shoulder straps come in two different fits: the original J-Curve and the S-Curve. The J-Curve straps work best on most men with an average build. Men with athletic builds (strong, square shoulders) most often prefer the S-Curve straps. The S-Curve straps work best on almost all women and men with good posture and square shoulders. Below is a sizing guide for the Catalyst backpack, but be sure to measure your waist and torso to be accurate.

ULA Equipment Catalyst Sizing Chart

It also comes in 4 different colorations: original Green, Purple Blaze, Multicam Camo, and Woodland Camo. The two camo options (for you hunters out there) are made with 500 Cordura, so plan on adding about 2 ounces to the overall weight of the pack.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

We are big fans of the lightest ULA Equipment backpack, the CDT, but we also recognize that it is limited to shorter backcountry trips. We have found that the ULA Equipment Catalyst is a nice step up into the big-boy land of extended-stay and expedition backpacks, but without adding unnecessary weight. While it might lack style points, this is truly function over fashion, and admittedly, some of the ‘fashion forward’ backpacks tend to not only be on the heavier end of the spectrum, but also quite a bit more expensive.

Speaking of price, what will a ULA Equipment Catalyst set you back? $500? $400? Try $250. That’s right, a lightweight, capable extended-stay/expedition backpack costing only $250 is a steal. ULA Equipment is a proud American company that makes their backpacks in the good old U S of ‘Merica. They are a great company with awesome customer service, and are just a phone call away with any questions you have about fitting the pack to your build and body type.

This is what one customer recently said about the Catalyst:

  • “Excellent Quality: The pack had excellent reviews, so I took the plunge and ordered it. Quality of fit and finish is indeed excellent. The owner even called me before shipping to double check the sizing. A focused, American based, craft manufacturer producing an excellent product at a reasonable price. Highly recommended.”

Here is another review touting the customer service aspect of ULA:

  • “Great Customer Service: It did what it was supposed to do for 6 days on the John Muir Trail. When it arrived it had a loop accidentally stitched to the pack itself. I got an instant response to my email to the company which overnighted me a new one with a label to return the other one. Impressive.”

If you are looking for a lightweight, durable, and inexpensive backpack capable of medium to extended-stay trips, look no further than the ULA Equipment Catalyst. This is a highly recommended backpack for the weekend warrior and trail-blazer alike. Click the following link to order yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZGP2″ target=”_blank” ]ULA CATALYST Ultralight Backpack[/amazon_link]

What do you think of the ULA Equipment Catalyst backpack? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


How To Set Up For Lightweight Trekking With An Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

Ultralight BackpackingFor many of us backpacking enthusiasts, the ultimate goal is to reduce the total weight of our packed gear bit by bit. I look back on the many years I have spent in the great outdoors and my gear has evolved over and over. My total weight has ranged all over the place, but a few years ago I underwent a transformation from a gadget backpacker to a minimalist. I now take only the bare minimum on my multi-day trips. Are you interested in trimming the weight to ultralight standards? Below, we will go over some tips to accomplish this, as well as my most recent ultralight gear list.

The Big Three

No matter how many ounces you trim from your gadgets and gizmos, you will be limited by how heavy the big three are – your backpack, shelter, and sleeping bag/sleeping pad. This is the place where you can make the biggest impact on the total weight. But this is also where you can spend the most money. Unfortunately, most of the ultralight gear is on the higher end of the price spectrum. You will need to decide if shaving a few ounces is worth the additional cost, since you will likely start to see the law of diminishing returns manifest itself here.

What if you already own some nice gear, but it is just a little on the heavy side and you want to upgrade to lighter stuff? Sell your other items to fund your upgrades. This is a fairly standard practice, and is made even easier with the advent of EBay, Craigslist, and local online classifieds. Selling your old gear will soften the blow of upgrading to lighter, newer gear.


[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA CDT Ultralight Backpack - Torso Large - Hipbelt Large[/amazon_link]There is a great company out of Logan, Utah called ULA Equipment that makes ultralight backpacks. The CDT, for example, weighs 2 pounds and has a capacity of 3370 cubic inches. This is a very capable backpack for a multi-day trip, and you are starting off on the right foot with only 2 pounds of backpack weight. The cool thing about this pack is that there are removable features that will trim the weight by an additional 5 ounces if desired (like the hydration sleeve, water bottle holsters, and internal mesh pockets). At a price point of only $135, you might not think you are getting a great backpack. But because ULA Equipment dispenses with style and design costs, they pass the savings on to you. It might not be as visually appealing as a Gregory or Arcteryx pack, but it’s all about weight, and that is where these packs shine. Click on the following link to order your ULA Equipment CDT backpack today.

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA Equipment CDT Backpack[/amazon_link]


[amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralite Mummy Bivi Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]When it comes to finding a tent or other shelter that is lightweight, bivy sacks are the ultimate option. Weighing as little as 6 ounces ([amazon_link id=”B005W4K9P0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell Breeze Dry-Tec UL Sleeping bag cover[/amazon_link], ~$115, and the [amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralight Bivy Cover[/amazon_link], ~$65), bivy sacks are basically sleeping bag covers that will keep you dry. Some come with wire hoops that give you a little headspace, but you will basically be confined to the shape of your sleeping bag.

[amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond Beta Light Tent[/amazon_link]Tarp tents are another great lightweight option. [amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond’s Beta Light 2 person tarp tent[/amazon_link] is about a pound and a half (split in half is about 12 ounces per person, plus trekking poles) and offers quite a bit more space than a bivy sack. For $150, you get a super light shelter for two. Another great option for about the same price is the [amazon_link id=”B00453MUNS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR E-Wing Shelter Tent[/amazon_link], weighing in at roughly 1 pound (plus trekking poles).

[amazon_link id=”B0036GT87G” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Person Tent[/amazon_link]Finding an ultralight tent in the 1 pound range is difficult, but splitting the weight of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (2 pounds 2 ounces) is about as good as it gets. The Fly Creek UL2 costs about $300, so quite a bit more than the other options, but you will have the most space and weather protection here. I have used this tent for most of my trips, and while it is cozy on the inside, it is perfect for me and my wife.

Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Pad

[amazon_link id=”B00AYH8HQ8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Unisex Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Bag BLUE Reg RH[/amazon_link]There are a few other articles on this site that talk about lightweight sleeping bags. My favorites include the Marmot Helium down bag, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom series, and the [amazon_link id=”B007LL3LX4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell UL Super Spiral Hugger series[/amazon_link]. Down sleeping bags will give you the best warmth to weight ratio, but will generally cost more. There are different temperature ratings to be aware of as well. Colder conditions will require lower ratings, which will bump up the weight and price. My choice is the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 degree sleeping bag, which weighs only 2 pounds (~$450), and with a 15 degree temperature rating, I’m usually comfortable for 3 season trips, even at higher elevations.

[amazon_link id=”B005I6QZE6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Thermarest Prolite Sleeping Pad (Large)[/amazon_link]As for the sleeping pad, if you decide to have one at all (think more weight savings by leaving one at home), look for a pad around 1 pound or less. You might have to settle for a torso length (only covers your waist and up) to shave more ounces. The [amazon_link id=”B0047BXBUO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped SynMat UL 7[/amazon_link] in medium weighs in right at a pound ($170). Thermarest’s Prolite pad is another great option. You can get a smaller dimension torso length pad weighing 8 ounces for $60.

Totals For Big Three (My choices)

Backpack [amazon_link id="B00534ZLG6" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]ULA Equipment CDT[/amazon_link] $135 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Shelter [amazon_link id="B0036GT87G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2[/amazon_link] $300 17 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce split in half)
Sleeping Bag [amazon_link id="B00AYH8HQ8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15[/amazon_link] $450 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Sleeping Pad [amazon_link id="B0075JN8FS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Thermarest Prolite Small[/amazon_link] $70 11 ounces
Totals $955 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)


[amazon_link id=”B005BV88NO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Outdoor Research Men's Helium II Jacket, Medium, Glacier[/amazon_link]If you are really going for weight savings, you will need to skimp on extra clothing. Plan on bringing a few extra layers for night and for rain/snow/colder weather, as well as extra socks and under garments. Having extra socks and under garments will prevent chafing and blistering, as well as keep you from stinking to high hell. But these garments should be as light as possible. Here is a list of what I pack with me on a spring/summer/fall mountain multi-day (3-5) trip:

Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces X2
Sleeping Socks [amazon_link id="B004M5UG4O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Darn Tough Vermont Men's Merino Wool Boot Full Cushion Socks[/amazon_link] $15 4.8 ounces
Thermal Top [amazon_link id="B005I0JXPK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Thermal Bottom [amazon_link id="B005I0JYTU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Undergarment [amazon_link id="B00D4KISI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Anatomica Boxer[/amazon_link] $50 3 ounces X2
Spare T-Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Shell Top [amazon_link id="B005BV88NO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Helium II[/amazon_link] $150 6.4 ounces
Shell Bottom [amazon_link id="B004OZ6R3G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Epic Pant[/amazon_link] $90 8 ounces
Beanie [amazon_link id="B00EV0KDCK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Effusion Dome[/amazon_link] $25 1 ounce
Gloves [amazon_link id="B006O2EZ0O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Winter Momentum[/amazon_link] $40 2 ounces
Clothing Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)

Food and Water Prep

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]Depending on the length of your trip, your menu will vary. One of the most important things to remember is to plan your hike along a source of water. This will allow you to re-supply via water purification. You don’t want to have to carry all the water you will need for a multi-day trip, since water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon (more than the big three combined!). Below is a list of what I utilize for food and water prep with their accompanying weights and costs:

Trail Filter [amazon_link id="B006QF3TW4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]LifeStraw[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Stove [amazon_link id="B000AXVOLQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Homemade Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link] $0 .5 ounces
Fuel [amazon_link id="B0016GXNC4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Heet Methanol[/amazon_link] $2 12 ounces
Cook Pot [amazon_link id="B009B5E39O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]TOAKS Titanium 600ml Pot[/amazon_link] $30 3.8 ounces
Mug [amazon_link id="B004BKHVYI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Sea to Summit X Mug[/amazon_link] $15 2.7 ounces
Spork [amazon_link id="B001E7S5BO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Light My Fire Titanium Spork[/amazon_link] $15 .5 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B004TPFKPW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SOL FireLite and Tinder Quick Fire Starter[/amazon_link] $10 1.3 ounces
Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
1/4 Water Towel [amazon_link id="B001QWFHIQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]MSR Packtowl (S)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Food and Water Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $119 26.7 ounces (1 pound 10.7 ounces)

Toiletries, Tools, First Aid

[amazon_link id=”B0032Y4IUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Leatherman 831204 Squirt ES4 Black Keychain Tool with Scissor[/amazon_link]When it comes to gadget backpacking, this is where I used to go crazy. I used to pack multiples of different tools based on the old axiom ‘two is one and one is none.’ While there are a few things that might require a little redundancy, most everything in this category will be just fine by itself. Think carefully about these items and how much each weighs. Look for gear items that serve multiple purposes. And if you really feel like you should include redundant gear, go ahead and do it. You will see if you really needed it while on your trip, and might be able to trim it for your next excursion. Below is a list of what I take with me on the trail:

Toiletries Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (5L)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Light [amazon_link id="B003VU4I3Q" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Multitool [amazon_link id="B0032Y4IUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Leatherman Squirt[/amazon_link] $30 2.1 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B00711YQN8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mini Bic Lighter[/amazon_link] $1 .5 ounces
Tinder Dryer Lint (in Ziploc bag with Petroleum Jelly) $0 1 ounce
First Aid Kit [amazon_link id="B00BAV6C5U" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit (.3)[/amazon_link] $9 2.3 ounces
[amazon_link id="B002KQ6682" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Duct Tape[/amazon_link] Wrapped around Old Credit Card $0 2 ounces
[amazon_link id="B00664KXGA" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]550 Paracord[/amazon_link] 50 feet $5 3.6 ounces
Sunscreen [amazon_link id="B0014L9TH4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunblock Lotion SPF 30[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Soap [amazon_link id="B000TG6HI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel 1 OZ Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Toothpaste [amazon_link id="B0070IZQBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Colgate Toothpaste 2.8oz Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 2.8 ounces
Travel Toothbrush [amazon_link id="B000052YA2" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GUM Travel Toothbrushes with Antibacterial Bristles[/amazon_link] $2 1.6 ounces
Towel [amazon_link id="B0075JTNXO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Packtowl Nano Light Towel (M)[/amazon_link] $10 .9 ounces
Trail Map Laminated Map $0 1 ounce
Totals $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)

Worn Or Carried On Self

[amazon_link id=”B0054TJOUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Salomon Men's XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running Shoe,Swamp/Black/Deep Red,10.5 M US[/amazon_link]Not everything will go into your backpack. Some of the gear you will be wearing or carrying on your person. For example, sunglasses, hats, trekking poles, boots, clothing, a watch, a headlamp, etc. will be extra weight but won’t be on your back. You should still consider these items because your body is still exerting energy to carry all of them, even if the final tally doesn’t count against your pack weight. Think about packing some of the items above in other lists in pockets or on your belt for easier access.

Below is what I normally hike with on my body on a sunny, warm day (obviously, these things will change with the weather and possibly the terrain).

Trail Shorts [amazon_link id="B004M9XOA8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shorts[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Trail Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces
Trail Hat [amazon_link id="B008ENFV40" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Men's Chiller[/amazon_link] $40 2.9 ounces
Sunglasses [amazon_link id="B00CM0957A" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Polarized P52 Sunglasses Superlight[/amazon_link] $30 1 ounce
Watch [amazon_link id="B0006OGJZK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Dakota Watch Company Digital Compass Watch[/amazon_link] $40 9 ounces (belt clip)
Trail Shoes [amazon_link id="B0054TJOUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Salomon Men's XA PRO 3D Ultra 2 Trail Running Shoe[/amazon_link] $130 14 ounces
Trekking Poles [amazon_link id="B00AU2R8XU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles[/amazon_link] $140 10.4 ounces
Totals $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)

Location Specific/Extra Gear

[amazon_link id=”B00H8MPCIS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link]There are a few gear items that, depending on where I am hiking, I will bring along. If I am backpacking in bear country, there are a few extra precautionary items to bring along, like bear spray or a bear canister. Below is a list of these extra items that I may or may not pack.

Bear Canister [amazon_link id="B0055QGZUS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Bear Keg Food Container[/amazon_link] $65 56 ounces
Bear Spray [amazon_link id="B002E6VAHK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SABRE FRONTIERSMAN Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster[/amazon_link] $36 7.9 ounces
GPS [amazon_link id="B00542NVDW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link] $165 5 ounces
Emergency Messenger [amazon_link id="B002PHRDQU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit[/amazon_link] $90 8.6 ounces
Bug Spray [amazon_link id="B00DP2A1SQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Deep Woods Sportsmen[/amazon_link] $5 2.2 ounces
Mosquito Net [amazon_link id="B0009PUSZI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Coleman Insect Head Net[/amazon_link] $2 1 ounce
Additional Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
Camera [amazon_link id="B009TCD8V8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition[/amazon_link] $400 20 ounces
Warmer Top [amazon_link id="B0061CSTNG" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Bottom [amazon_link id="B0061CSV8O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Jacket [amazon_link id="B00ABSTNBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Halogen Jacket[/amazon_link] $200 13.3 ounces
Fishing Kit [amazon_link id="B001E18M2M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Eagle Claw Pack-It Spin Combo Telescopic Rod[/amazon_link] $25 12 ounces


Backcountry foodsWhen it comes to packing food for an ultralight 3-5 day trip, you really need to maximize your calories-to-weight ratio. There are a lot of good trail foods that help achieve this, like trail mixes, peanut butter, cheese, and granola. Protein is another essential menu item, and any time you are able to have a warm meal, you will have a more enjoyable time on the trail.

Food fatigue is a real enemy of backpackers, and can be a dangerous situation if prolonged. Pack a variety of flavors and types of foods. Sure, 10 pounds of trail mix is chock full of calories, but will you want to eat it three meals a day for 5 days straight? I will go over my ultralight backpacking menu in another post, but keep in mind that you will want to keep your food to about 2 pounds per day, give or take a few ounces. I pack my meals without extra packaging or boxes. For example, if you are taking an MRE, strip all the ingredients out of the MRE pouch and leave behind anything you don’t plan on consuming.

Don’t forget to bring along some water additives as well. Water fatigue is another problem to be aware of. Sweeten up your water with some Crystal Light or Gatoraid powder, and bring along some coffee/hot chocolate/tea for evenings and mornings.

Final Weight Talley

Big Three $995 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)
Clothing $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)
Food/Water Prep $120 27 ounces (1 pound 11 ounces)
Necessities $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)
Worn Gear $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)
Gear Subtotal $2250 175.3 ounces (10 pounds 15.3 ounces excluding worn gear)
Water 1L $0 35.2 ounces (2 pounds 3.2 ounces)
Food ~2 pounds per day $40 ($10 per day) 128 ounces (8 pounds)
Total Pack Weight 338.5 ounces (21 pounds 2.5 ounces)

Final Thoughts

You can see that the total weight of a little more than 20 pounds for a multi-day excursion is not only achievable, but will also afford quite a bit of comfort in the backcountry. The gear base weight at a little more than 10 pounds is just breaking the unofficial ultralight threshold, but I choose to bring along a few extra comforts (like extra socks and underwear) that push it over the top. Your mileage will vary, and you may very well fit comfortably under the magic number of 10 pounds.

Remember that trimming weight from the Big Three is essential for obtaining this goal. I have listed a few options above for getting there, but there are certainly a lot more options on the market today. Get started making your list and find ways to trim extra weight.

Hopefully, this article will help you to get started in the wonderful world of ultralight backpacking. Use these lists to help modify the gear that you pack. Thanks for reading and happy trails!

What do you use for your Big Three? What is your gear base weight? What about your total 3-5 day weight? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for your contributions!


The Top 5 Backpacking Stoves – It’s All About The Weight

Esbit Pocket StoveWhen compiling this list of our top 5 backpacking stoves, it became very apparent that the weight of not just the stove but also of the fuel source was the number 1 factor. This is especially true if you are an ultralight backpacker, with a weight limit of just 10 pounds total in your bag. It’s all about the weight of our top five backpacking stoves, as all of them are under 4 ounces (the stove itself, not including the fuel source). Let’s kick things off with the number 5 backpacking stove.

Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove – 2.7 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B0009VC7UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove[/amazon_link]The Coleman Exponent line of stoves features some nice backcountry stoves, including an option that will burn just about any type of liquid fuel. But the Exponent F1 Ultralight stove is one of the lightest stoves on the market today. It utilizes butane or propane as its fuel, and you can attach the tank right to the stove. This portable stove can boil a Liter of water in 3 minutes 40 seconds on high, and it also comes with additional settings for easier cooking settings. It features push button ignition, a portable foldable design for easy packing, and a flicker-proof regulator. For around $60 plus $9 per fuel canister, you really can’t beat the ability to boil water and cook food fast. The stove weighs 2.7 ounces, plus a 7.75 ounce fuel canister to total a 10.5 ounce cooking powerhouse capable of cooking on high for 50 minutes or for 2 hours on low. Click the following link to order your Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove today!

[amazon_link id=”B0009VC7UG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B000PY9T0S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Coleman Butane Fuel Canister[/amazon_link]

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove – 2.6 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B000A8C5QE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR Pocket Rocket Stove[/amazon_link]MSR is no stranger to backcountry cooking. They have several lines of stoves that are awesome for the solo hiker up to the group expedition. The MSR Pocket Rocket is a fantastic ultralight option, weighing in at just a hair over 3 ounces. The Pocket Rocket utilizes MSR’s IsoPro fuel canister (isobutane), which is a short bottle of the 230 gram (7.75 ounce) size. It is very efficient, boiling a liter of water in under 3 minutes 30 seconds. It also features a wind clip protector to enhance thermal efficiency in windy conditions. It is easy to use with no priming, pressurizing or maintenance. It also has an adjustable switch, to go from a boil to a simmer with the twist of a knob. The total package weighs in at 10.4 ounces (stove + IsoPro fuel canister), and for around $40 (not including fuel), you can’t go wrong with this amazingly light system. To get your MSR Pocket Rocket, click the following link today!

[amazon_link id=”B000A8C5QE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR Pocket Rocket Stove[/amazon_link]

Snow Peak LiteMax Stove – 1.9 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B002D4X26U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak LiteMax Stove Stoves[/amazon_link]Snow Peak’s LiteMax stove features titanium and aluminum construction, which enables this stove to break the 2 ounce threshold. The LiteMax utilizes Snow Peak GigaPower Fuel, which is a propane to isobutane mixture. It takes a little longer to boil a liter of water (4 minutes, 25 seconds), but it puts out more heat per ounce of fuel weight (mixture). The fuel mixture also is capable of burning down to 17 degrees F, which makes this a great 3 season or high elevation cook stove. The total weight of the system comes in at 9.6 ounces, and for around $60 + fuel, you can’t really go wrong here. If you are interested in buying the Snow Peak LiteMax Stove, click the following link today!

[amazon_link id=”B002D4X26U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak LiteMax Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B001GTUTSC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Snow Peak Giga Power Fuel Canister[/amazon_link]

Esbit Pocket Stove – 3.2 ounces

[amazon_link id=”B001C1UGVO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove with Six 14g Solid Fuel Tablets[/amazon_link]There are several different brands of hexamine fuel tablets, but the Esbit brand of tablets and stove is a great option, especially when you consider the price. For $10, you get the stove plus 6 tablets. These tablets will burn for approximately 12-15 minutes, and can be cut smaller for smaller burn times. It takes longer to boil water, approximately 7 minutes to boil 1 cup of water. Esbit tablets don’t burn as clean as the fuel canisters do, and they often leave a sticky brown residue on your cookwear. Each Esbit tablet weighs less than 1 ounce, so the 3.2 ounce stove plus 12 tablets (around 8 ounces), is about 11 ounces total, and will last quite a while if broken up into smaller tablets. This is a great bang for your buck option, and is one of the lightest options available today, especially since you can bring as many tablets as you will need on your trip rather than a half full canister that you aren’t sure when it will run out so you bring another full one along. Follow this link to order an Esbit Stove and some fuel tablets today!

[amazon_link id=”B001HYIHGC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B005NGMJLY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Esbit Fuel Tablets[/amazon_link]

Home Made Heet Alcohol  Stove – 1 ounce

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]As far as the stove itself, making your own alcohol stove is the lightest possible option today. They can be made out of cat food cans and soda pop cans with ease. You can also purchase more ‘deluxe’ versions as well if you aren’t a do-it-yourselfer (like the Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove pictured to the left) . They can weigh between .5 ounces and 1 ounce, which is like basically carrying a feather. They utilize alcohol as the fuel, in either ethyl or methyl alcohol varieties. Alcohol is only about half as efficient as canister fuels, so it will take a lot longer to boil water with one of these, especially in colder or breezy conditions. It really depends on how well the stove is built, and the boiling times vary between the different models and alcohol types greatly. A bottle of methanol (Heet) weighs 12 ounces and will last for several boils, and is very inexpensive (~$2). When it comes to price and weight, the alcohol stove is the king of our survey, as they are very popular with the ultralight backpacking community. Click one of the following links to buy a deluxe Vargo Titanium stove and some fuel today!

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B0016GXNC4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]12 Ounce Heet (Ethanol)[/amazon_link]

For ideas on building your own, watch one of these following videos.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

It really is funny how the least expensive and easiest to use stoves ruled our survey. That is not to dissuade you from purchasing one of the other awesome lightweight stoves on this list, but the Esbit and the Alcohol stoves really are a favorite of our team’s on the trail. Keep in mind that they have limitations, and don’t handle cold or windy weather very well or large groups for that matter. Hopefully this list will help you to get the right stove for your needs. As always, thanks for reading, and happy trails!

What is your favorite backpacking stove? Is our top 5 completely wrong? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!


5 Great Dual Purpose Daypacks For Back-To-School

When the summer days begin to get shorter, and the temperatures begin to back off of summer highs, back-to-school shopping comes to mind. If you are looking for a good backpack for your books, computers, and supplies that can also double as an able daypack on the trails this fall, you have come to the right place. Below, we’ll highlight 5 great dual purpose daypacks for this back-to-school season.

The North Face Vault – $50

[amazon_link id=”B00IAUUU8O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vault Backpack Style: A93D-0M3 Size:One Size For AllSize For All[/amazon_link]This is a fantastic choice for back-to-school, and can also be used on the trail to good effect. The North Face Vault backpack features 26 Liters of interior space, two large double zippered compartments (one larger perfect for books, binders, computers, clothing, hiking gear, etc. and one smaller for smaller gear organization, calculators, pens, etc.), exterior daisy chain for lashing additional gear to your pack while on the trail, and support giving chest and waist fitting buckles. It also comes in several different color options. One customer review states the following:

“This backpack is made very well – it looks good, it is very sturdy and we anticipate it will last the entire school year – (not like some of the other backpacks we’ve bought in the past)!”

If you’re looking for an affordable, durable, and spacious daypack, The North Face Vault is a perfect option. Click the following link to pick yours up today.

[amazon_link id=”B00IAUUU8O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The North Face Vault[/amazon_link]

Osprey Talon – $75

[amazon_link id=”B00HPM8TG8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Talon 22-Litre Backpack (Meteorite, Medium/Large)[/amazon_link]The Osprey Talon is a 22 Liter daypack that resembles more of a hiking backpack than the Vault does, but it is more than capable of hauling your day-to-day school books and supplies. The Talon features a ridge-molded foam back panel with grip mesh covering as part of its Airscape suspension system that provides superior comfort for hiking, biking, and everyday use. The hipbelt distributes weight across the body, and also features a modified ErgoPull closure to ensure a secure fit. The sternum strap harness is adjustable and features a safety whistle. There is also a helmet strap (LidLock) to keep your bike helmet with you at all times. One reviewer says:

“First off, it’s an Osprey. Great reputation, lifetime warranty, and the Talon-22 definitely lives up to its name.”

The Osprey Talon is a great lightweight daypack with the support and harness to haul heavier books or hiking gear. If you are into biking (or are biking to class), you’ll love the LidLock feature, and this pack is hydration compatible. Follow this link to get yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B00HPM8TG8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Osprey Talon[/amazon_link]

Gregory Miwok – $100

[amazon_link id=”B008NB4K72″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Miwok 22 (Prussian Blue)[/amazon_link]Gregory makes some of the most comfortable backpacking packs on the market, and their daypacks are no exception. The Miwok is lightweight and efficient for its ability to carry 22 Liters of gear or school supplies. From Gregory, “the Gregory Miwok 22 daypack is an ideal size for day hikes, long strolls, and other single-day adventures,” including a short or long day of classes. It features 6 pockets plus the main compartment, it is hydration compatible, and also features a lifetime warranty. The suspension system allows your pack to move with you, increasing the comfort. The key is the use of a set of flexible tendons that attach the shoulder harness and hipbelt to the pack body. See what this customer thought of the Miwok:

“Great product, I use it for everything from day backpacking to weekender, lately I have been using it as a carry on for flights across country.”

Gregory makes awesome backpacks, and the Miwok daypack is a fine choice for school or the trail. Pick yours up today by clicking the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B0045TB0FG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Miwok[/amazon_link]

High Sierra Cirque – $50

[amazon_link id=”B004EBRG3K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]High Sierra Classic Series 59102 Cirque 30 Internal Frame Pack Redrock, Auburn, Charcoal 21.5x12.75x9 Inches 1830 Cubic Inches 30 Liters[/amazon_link]This daypack features a whopping 30 Liters of internal space, enough for a laptop, several books and binders, or a ton of daypacking gear, and all under 2 pounds of weight. It offers a harness media pocket, daisy chains for lashing extra gear to the outside, suspension harness and padded hipbelt made of breathable mesh, and an integrated hydration compartment with dual exit ports.

One recent customer noted that they were “looking for a good sized hiking daypack that had a nice padded hip belt, and wasn’t terribly expensive. My initial reaction is very positive. I really like the design of this pack and it’s exactly the size I was looking for. The apparent quality of the materials and construction seem much higher than other packs I’ve looked at in the $50.00 price range, I’m actually really impressed with the quality at this price.”

If you are looking for a big daypack at a not so big price that is capable of hauling all of your school or trail gear, click the following link to buy yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B004EBRG3K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]High Sierra Cirque[/amazon_link]

Kelty Redtail 30 – $60

[amazon_link id=”B00AATSCY2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Redtail 30 Daypack (Cobalt, One Size)[/amazon_link]Another 30 Liter bag rounds out our selection, and this one is from another company that is known for offering a lot of features for the price. The Kelty Redtail daypack is a great option for those interested in a large pack for hiking or carrying a lot of school supplies. It features a webbed hipbelt for lighter loads which is also removable, plenty of pockets for organization or school supplies or backcountry gear, side compression straps, mesh construction on the suspension harness and back panel, daisy chain, and a reservoir sleeve. It is lightweight and low profile. One reviewer said this about the Redtail daypack:

“Light…great padded straps…nice size for my gear and nice design on padding for your back…purchased another one for the wife.”

With a limited lifetime warranty from Kelty and all of these features, the Redtail is a great option for you. Click the link below to order yours today.

[amazon_link id=”B00AATSCY2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Redtail[/amazon_link]

The Bottom Line

This concludes our look into 5 great daypacks for back-to-school season. Any one of these is a great choice, whether you are getting ready to hit the books or hit the trails this fall, or both. Thanks for reading, and happy trails (and studying)!

What is your favorite daypack? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks!


The Best Lightweight Summer Sleeping Bags On The Market

Summer Night CampingWhen it comes to finding a summer sleeping bag for your next backpacking trip, many trekkers look for the lightest option available. Summer is the best time to experience ultralight or minimalist backpacking at its finest. Summer sleeping bags are usually rated at 40 degrees or higher, and because of this, they have less insulation, which means the bags are lighter, smaller, and more compact. It is not uncommon to find a summer bag that is close to a pound in total weight, which means you are well on your way to packing less than 10 pounds of gear (usually the cutoff for ultralight backpacking). If you are looking for a summer sleeping bag to add to your equipment arsenal, this is the place for you to be. Below, we will highlight our favorite lightweight summer sleeping bags out there on the market today.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 – $170

[amazon_link id=”B00314H5EQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 Degree Sleeping Bag - Jungle LH[/amazon_link]The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 is very high on our list of best summer sleeping bags. It is a lightweight 800-fill down sleeping bag that weighs only 1 pound 3 ounces. It is cut to snuggly fit your body to maximize warmth and minimize weight. Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags are known for their comfort, and the Phantom is no exception. The price is right, especially if you can find it on sale at Amazon (which at the time of this writing it currently is). Click the following link to purchase yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B00314H5EQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45[/amazon_link]

Marmot Atom 40 – $290

[amazon_link id=”B003C17HWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Atom Down Sleeping Bag, Regular Left, Red[/amazon_link]Marmot is another name in the industry that has a devout following. The Marmot Atom 40 is one of their ultralight sleeping bag offerings for summer month backpacking, and is a 2008 Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice award winner. Coming in at 1 pound 5 ounces, this bag is super light, compacts down to the size of a Nalgene bottle, and will keep you warm below 40 degrees with a simple base layer. The Atom features 850+ fill power goose down, which is the best weight to warmth down on the market today. Click this link to order your Marmot Atom 40 today!

[amazon_link id=”B003C17HWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Atom 40[/amazon_link]

Marmot Always Summer – $200

[amazon_link id=”B00AO5NBKW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Always Summer Down Sleeping Bag, Regular-Left, Red[/amazon_link]Appropriately named, the Marmot Always Summer is a perfect summer sleeping bag for backpackers of all types. While not as light as the Marmot Atom or some of the other bags on this list (coming in at 2 pounds 3 ounces), the Always Summer makes up with its attractive price point of under $200. It features a slightly heavier 650-fill down, so it won’t be as compactable as higher-fill down sleeping bags, but the bag is rated down to 40 degrees. This is an all-around great summer sleeping bag, and offers great value at its price point. Get yours today by clicking on the following link!

[amazon_link id=”B00AO5NBKW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Always Summer[/amazon_link]

MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger – $320

[amazon_link id=”B007LL3RG0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger 40 Degree Sleeping Bag Blue Ridge Regular / Left Zip[/amazon_link]This is a sleeping bag that I was personally excited to test myself. First of all, it comes in multiple temperature ranges, but the 40 degree bag is by far the lightest and most economical of them all. The Spiral Down Hugger features 800-fill power goose down that weighs an amazing 1 pound 2 ounces. That is truly ultralight. This sleeping bag also features a stretch woven fabric that allows the bag to conform to your body as you sleep. This stretch keeps the bag snug to your body but does not constrict your nightly movements. I loved this bag, for all of the reasons discussed above, and would recommend it to anyone seeking a truly ultralight summer sleeping bag for backpacking. To get your MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger today, click the following link!

[amazon_link id=”B007LL3RG0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #4[/amazon_link]

Big Agnes Pitchpine SL – $330

[amazon_link id=”B004MQSM58″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Pitchpine SL 45-Degree Sleeping Bags(800 Down fill), Reg Left Zipper[/amazon_link]Another summer sleeping bag that gets really close to the one pound threshold is the Pitchpine SL by Big Agnes. Rated to 45 degrees and insulated with 800-fill power goose down, the Pitchpine SL offers a 1 pound 2 ounce package that compacts to a very small overall size (5”x6”).  This is a comfortable bag that has a lot of comfort add-ons, like a pillow pocket, sleeping pad loops that allow flexibility in the legs, and a water repellant surface treatment to keep you dry and warm.  The Pitchpine SL is a true ultralight summer sleeping bag that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Click on the following link to get yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B004MQSM58″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Pitchpine SL[/amazon_link]

Lafuma Lightway 45 – $125

[amazon_link id=”B00B6QLSDU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lafuma Lightway 45-Degree Down Right Zip Sleeping Bag, Olympic Blue[/amazon_link]A more economical choice (around $125), the Lafuma Lightway 45 will still allow you to approach that ultralight backpacking concept. Weighing in at 1 pound 9 ounces, the Lightway features 600-fill power duck down which is more affordable than higher power goose down. This is a perfect summer sleeping bag option that has an attractive weight and price tag. To get your Lafuma Lightway 45 today, click the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B00B6QLSDU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lafuma Lightway 45[/amazon_link]

Kelty Cosmic Down 40 – $100

[amazon_link id=”B009PRN4QG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Cosmic Down 40-Degree Sleeping Bag, Yellow, 6-Feet[/amazon_link]The most affordable sleeping bag on our list, the Kelty Cosmic down 40 sleeping bag comes in right around $100. It features 550-fill power down, which adds a little to the overall weight of 1 pound 13 ounces. It also includes hang loops for storage, sleeping pad security loops, internal liner loops for those cooler summer nights, and a form fitting and snug shape. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, the Kelty Cosmic down 40 sleeping bag is for you. Click the following link to order yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B009PRN4QG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Cosmic Down 40[/amazon_link]

Exped Ultralight 300 45 – $350

[amazon_link id=”B0087XXFEK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped Ultralite 300[/amazon_link]The 1 pound 4 ounce Exped Ultralight 300 lives up to its name as one of the best summer lightweight sleeping bags on the market today.  Featuring a high loft 840-fill goose down insulation and a waterproof packsack and net storage bag, the Exped Ultralight 300 is a great choice for ultralight backpackers. To order your Ultralight today, click on the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B0087XXFEK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped Ultralight 300 45[/amazon_link]

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

You probably noticed that every single sleeping bag on this list is a down bag. It is just a fact that natural down has a better warmth to weight ratio than synthetic insulation does. Technologies change, and this might flip in the future, but right now, if you are looking for the lightest sleeping bags, especially for summer ultralight backpacking, down is the way to go.

The list of sleeping bags above has a wide range of prices. The cool thing is that the more affordable sleeping bags actually stack up quite well against the higher priced bags. My favorite summer bag is the MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger with its 1 pound 2 ounce weight and excellent comfort, but a close second is the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 (one ounce heavier than the Super Spiral). Any one of these sleeping bags would provide excellent summer sleeping comfort, and exceptional warmth to weight. Hopefully, this guide will get you started on your search for a summer sleeping bag to fit your needs.

What do you think of the list of summer sleeping bags above? What is your favorite summer sleeping bag? What sleeping bag do you use for ultralight backpacking? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!


The Best Lightweight Backpacking Water Purifiers

Katadyn Pocket MicrofilterWhen it comes to spending significant time in the backcountry, obtaining clean water is essential for your survival. Long trips demand that you purify water while on the trail rather than carry all the water you will need on your back. Remember that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so you will be severely limited on the amount that you can carry on your back, especially when you have all the other gear packed in your bag. So what are the lightest and best water purifiers out there to pack along for your trip (besides boiling your water)? Below, we will go over some of the best options out there.

Ultralight Water Purification Options – $10

[amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus[/amazon_link]Iodine tablets and chlorine drops are the ultimate ultralight options available. [amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua water purification iodine tablets[/amazon_link] are not only lightweight, but they are also very inexpensive. Amazon regularly sells them for under $10 for a bottle of 50 tablets. If you aren’t too fond of the taste that these tablets add to the water, get the combo with PA Plus, which neutralizes the bad iodine flavor.

[amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Water Treatment, 2 Oz, Part A and B, Chlorine Dioxide[/amazon_link][amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira water treatment drops[/amazon_link] are made up of chlorine dioxide. Part B neutralizes the chlorine taste, similar to the iodine tablet PA Plus. These drops are similarly priced and take up about the same amount of space. Super light and affordable! It does take up to 30 minutes to purify your water, so you will have to wait similarly to if you are boiling your water.

Straw-Like Filters – $15-$20

[amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw Personal Water Filter[/amazon_link]When it comes to filtering out dangerous microorganisms without lugging around a huge filtering apparatus, small trail filters are lightweight, easy to use, and quick to deliver clean water to your body. The first option is the [amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw personal water filter[/amazon_link] by Vestergaard-Frandsen. The LifeStraw cleans your water, has a filter life up to 1000 Liters, and weighs only 2 ounces! There are no moving parts to wear out, and no batteries to replace. The LifeStraw can be used to suck water right out of a puddle or creek, but the easiest way to use it is to scoop up dirty water with a cup or bottle and suck it out of that instead of getting down on the ground. Costing only $20 on Amazon, this is a great option for any outdoorsman.

[amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]McNett Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter[/amazon_link]Another option is the [amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Frontier Pro[/amazon_link]. This straw-like filter can clean up to 50 gallons of water from the trail, and only costs ~$15 on Amazon. The downside of these straw-like trail filters is that they don’t have the capability to fill a reservoir of clean water (you could always fill a reservoir with dirty water to drink out of with the straw filter). That means you will have to stay close to the water source while in the backcountry. But they are lightweight and very affordable!

Trail Filters – $20-$325

[amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Capsule Water Bottle and Filter[/amazon_link]The [amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira H20 Capsule water bottle filter[/amazon_link] is a perfect trail filter that fits inside its own water bottle. This allows you to store water and as you drink it, the water is filtered and cleaned. Filtering is instantaneous, has a 100 gallon filter life, and the bottle holds 25 ounces of water. This particular bottle costs around $20, and there are several others from different companies like [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle’s 28 ounce flip top filter and bottle[/amazon_link] (~$25), the [amazon_link id=”B00BWIWX9K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Berkey Sport portable water purifier[/amazon_link](~$20), and [amazon_link id=”B002RRYB4U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn’s MyBottle purifier[/amazon_link] (~$45).

[amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter[/amazon_link]If you are looking for a pocket filter that has the capacity to clean several thousand gallons of water and the ability to fill up large reservoirs with clean water, a more conventional filter is needed. If this is the case, the [amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket water microfilter[/amazon_link]is what you need. Weighing only 20 ounces and measuring only 10”x2.4”, the Pocket microfilter packs quite a punch in its small package. It also comes with a 20 year warranty, which is outrageously long in the water filter market. The price is pretty high (~$325), but you won’t need any other water filtration device with this bad boy on board.

SteriPen Battery Operated UV Germ Destroyers – $50-$150

[amazon_link id=”B003A1MURC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier[/amazon_link]There are several different SteriPen options on the market, ranging from the most affordable [amazon_link id=”B000PH013E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Classic[/amazon_link] and Traveler to the crank operated Sidewinder or the solar panel charging Adventurer Opti. What sets the SteriPen apart from the other options is the fact that you are not filtering out any of the organic or inorganic components of the water, which takes away some of the ‘flavor’ or ‘taste.’ Instead, you zap the water with a blast of UV rays to kill any harmful microorganisms, and then drink away. Depending on the model you purchase, the UV element will be able to treat several thousand half Liter portions of water. They are very lightweight (the Adventurer Opti, for example, weighs only 3.6 ounces), compact, and easy to use (cleans water in seconds). The only downside is they are reliant on batteries, unless you opt for the Sidewinder or solar charging models, which are heavier.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

When considering lightweight options for water purification on a backpacking trip, this list sums up the best options on the market today. Obviously your budget will dictate which option is most appealing to fit your needs. All of these options are lightweight and take up little room. The different SteriPens available are my favorite water purification methods while on the trail, but I also like to take a backup water purifier, such as the water tablets or one of the emergency straws (since they aren’t really adding any extra weight and might end up keeping me from getting dysentery in the backcountry). Remember that it is always a good idea to plan backpacking trips close to water sources, and unless you plan on boiling your drinking and cooking water you will need to bring along a water purification device. Use this list to get started on discovering your preferred method.

What is your preferred water purification method while backpacking? Did we leave your favorite water purification method or device off our list? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!