We’re bringing a renewed commitment to helping everyone get their ultralight backpacking gear list totally sorted. Despite what some other people (and companies) will tell you, there’s really no right answer. We’d love to wrap the how’s and the why’s up into a pretty package and top it with a bow, but the bottom line is that getting your ideal minimalist backpacking list dialed is a process.
We’re here to offer you a method to put behind the madness. We’ll help you build a base of understanding first, the essentials you need for ultralight backpacking, thru hikes, the Appalachian Trail, the PCT, climbing, mountaineering and everything in between. Add expert opinions and creative ideas from our team of ambassadors, and you’ll have what you need to get started. From there, using our modular pack systems, you’ll be able to get ready for whatever the trail, weather and/or fate can throw at you. Just the essentials—nothing more, nothing less.
We first published this guide to making your own ultralight first aid kit a little over a year and half ago. In the lead up to this year’s backpacking and thru hiking season, thought we’d revisit it to see if anything we’d learned in the meantime might be worth adding. That, after all, is the first rule of traveling safely in the backcountry; pay attention, build experience and expertise, embrace learning and above all, be open to adaptation.
The good news is that the original piece—written by our friend and long-time Hyperlite Mountain Gear supporter Andy Dappen of www.WenatcheeOutdoors.org—holds up. After consulting some other backpacking buddies who also happen to be medical professionals, we’ve got a couple new suggestions, and an edit or two.
All-in-all, the message is still the same: You can save yourself some clams and some weight by building your own ultralight first aid kit. Read on to learn how, and figure out what should—and shouldn’t–go into it.
Whoever started calling the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year” obviously never spent much time on the top of a mountain at the height of summer. That’s ok though, here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear we like to say that there are only two types of people in the world: those who have yet to fall in love with life on the trail, and those of us who already have.
You probably have a few of the former in your life. You might overhear them say things like, “She/he is out in the garage messing with that scale again” or “He/she just disappears into the woods for weeks at a time with nothing but a backpack and comes home with a huge grin on his/her face.” Specifically, they may be uttering about, well… you.
If that’s the case, you might want to consider a complete re-working of your current Gift Idea Suggestion Strategy (GISS)–in the spirit of fostering maximal yuletide cheer, of course. After all, it could be all that stands between you and a veritable rainbow of ill-fitting new turtlenecks at the end of the month.
We get it: buying ultralight gifts for backpackers must be daunting. Ultralight gear is highly technical stuff by nature; simplicity, it turns out, is kind of complicated. That’s why we put together this gift-buying guide for gearheads, but tailored to non-gearheads. It’s cool: Just let us do the explaining for you, it’s our job.
All you have to do is paste this url into an email to mom/dad/grandpappy/bubbe/spouse/partner/sister/bro/friend, share it on their Facebook wall, link, tweet, etc. If we’ve done this right, you should be all set.
To kick things off, allow us to introduce the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Gift Ease Index (HMGGEI). It’s a numerical rating scale based on the relative ease of gift purchasing decision, from 1-10 with 10 being easiest and 1 being most difficult or complicated. We took into account things like price, awareness of the giftee/gearhead’s actual activities in the field, knowledge of current state of giftee/gearhead’s quiver and several quantitative overall radness measurements (ORMs) for the HMGGEI rating of each of our products. Here goes nothing!
In additions to endorsements from some of the most hardcore, mile-bagging, wilderness-dwelling customers out there, the Ultamid got some outstanding official recognition from a few exceptional media outlets as well.
Just in case you’re on the fence about joining the club, we thought we’d see if maybe this little nudge would help. We get it: our pyramid tents are a major investment. But without getting all sales-y, we wouldn’t make them if they didn’t represent the best damn balance of lightweight performance with exceptional durability out there. “Set it (up) and forget it” applies to things in the backcountry, too–and in the case of an Ultamid, you’ll be doing exactly that for years and years to come.
SNAP! The sound of a baseball bat hitting my shins was a pain I will never forget. Except there was no baseball bat, I was a month into my Appalachian Trail thru hike and dealing with shin splints that made every step a nightmare. I remember it so well because it was the week of my 26th birthday, and my only wish was for the pain to go away.
To set the story straight I know the problem was my pack weight, which was largely due to my camera gear. I was quite new to backpacking and surely wasn’t the type of guy to brag about my knowledge when it came to the great outdoors. I was determined to keep going and willing to do anything to help ease the pain I had put my body through, but was I ready to take the steps to become an UL hiker?
Bushcrafters Love “Classic” (aka Heavy) Gear: Brian Trubshaw Wants To Change That
Text and photos by Brian Trubshaw
I started my outdoor life with Bushcraft. A naturalist at heart, I don’t just enjoy being in nature; I believe in being one with nature. Bushcraft is the art of being able to spend time outdoors with very few items because you have a better understanding of the natural world. In other words, you have excellent “wilderness skills.” Englishman Ray Mears popularized the term “Bushcraft” here in the United Kingdom in his TV show, “Wild Tracks.” His show brought his survival research across the world to the big screen and left a lasting impression on my seven-year-old self.
Like Mears, when I walk in my woodlands, I don’t just see trees and plants, I see food I can eat and resources that I can use to do tasks. For example I very rarely carry tent stakes with me, as I know that I can just use branches with a carved point on the end. However, I also have a set of tent takes I have carved out of Hazel straights for when I’m in mossy areas. Wood work, fire lighting, shelter building—with the right knowledge the possibilities are endless.
Not All Technical Appalachian Trail Clothing is Created Equal
Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and into Pennsylvania. Looking at the maps in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s main building in Harper’s Ferry made it apparent that we have put a solid dent into our journey. At this point, it’s more than a little obvious what is and isn’t working out when it comes to our Appalachian Trail clothing kit.
After making it just about halfway on the Appalachian Trail I thought I would take a good look at the technical hiking clothes I use day in and day out.
But first, a little catching up…
Lays’ parents joined us for a short stint through the Shenandoah National Park, where it rained more often than not, but it was okay because of the waysides offered at almost every 15 miles. There, we fueled up on their bounty of affordable cheeseburgers and tall beers. Since then we have done a 26 mile slack pack in eight hours, sweated profusely in the humid air and caught up with some old friends we lost during our Trail Days endeavor. Read on to find out what clothing you should bring on your Appalachian Trail thru hike.
Add Four Season Functionality to Your Gear Lists for Day Hiking
Since it’s not always an option to take five-month long hikes, I have really come to enjoy fast and light day hikes with lots of elevation and long miles. Having a system dialed in makes it easy for me to grab the right gear for the day and hit the trails without much thought, a nice perk when you’re short on time and trying to spend as much of it outside as possible.
For long-distance thru hikes, I’m used to having limited gear options–you essentially pick one kit for five months of travel and hope it works in everything from the desert to the high alpine. With day hiking or quick overnights, it’s different. I modify what I carry continually throughout the seasons to ensure maximum comfort and minimum weight.
My day hiking gear lists include “standard items,” which I always carry. Then there are the “conditional items” that I need for the specific season or activity.
Regardless of the time of year or type of trip I’m doing, the first items I throw in my Daybreak ultralight day pack are a medical kit, ditty bag, snacks, water and an insulating layer.
Daybreak Ultralight Daypack Reviews from the Seattle Times, National Geographic & More
At Hyperlite Mountain Gear, we usually just let our gear just speak for itself. But major media outlets have had such nice things to say in their reviews of our new ultralight daypack, the Daybreak, that we feel we just had to share.
Seattle Timeson the Daybreak Pack: Washington’s most widely read newspaper recently included our Daybreak daypack in its “Great Father’s Day gifts for dads who love the outdoors” article. “The new high-tech Hyperlite Daybreak Backpack ($220) is a seamless ultralight pack — weighing 19 ounces — that will get you through any long hike or trek without weighing you down.”
National Geographic Adventure Magazineon the Daybreak Pack: “Hyperlite Mountain Gear has built the Daybreak out of Dyneema® cloth, which is known for its extremely light weight, durability, and natural water resistance. Although it holds 17 liters, enough for a full day on the trail, it weighs just 19 ounces. But it isn’t flimsy: The Dyneema® has a structure that helps hold its shape, which lets it sit upright on its own and makes it easier to organize or find your gear. Like we said, sophisticated.” Read the full review.
Stripped Down Thru Hiking Gear List for Extreme, Lightweight & Extended Backcountry Adventures, By Mike St. Pierre
“I used this thru hiking gear list for my Grand Canyon section hike, but minus the technical climbing and canyoneering gear, it’s basically what I’d bring on any long-distance section, thru hike or weekend backpacking.” -Mike St. Pierre
Photos & article by Mike St. Pierre
As an ultralight long-distance adventurer, I dial in my systems to conserve energy with every step I take. The lighter my gear, the further I can go; the less weight I carry, the less the strain on my body and the less food I need. Going light just makes sense. And it absolutely doesn’t mean I’m uncomfortable when in the backcountry. I’m always warm enough, well fed and hydrated, and I sleep well at night. In this blog post, I share my thru hiking gear list from my recent 200 mile off trail section hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. This extreme adventure incorporates long-distance hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering and serious map and compass skills, and is one of the most difficult thru hikes in the world. Water is scarce, established trails nonexistent, and the terrain is steep and difficult to navigate. It’s a trip that fewer than three dozen people have done (consider that 40 people summited Mt. Everest in one day in May 2016!). However, despite the specialized nature of some of the technical gear I carried, the basic equipment I bring on any thru hike or long-distance backpacking is the same. And my pack base weight is typically 8-15lbs., depending on the discipline. Check out my full gear list below.
Our ultralight packs are meant to be used hard. Adventurers across the spectrum agree. Read the gear reviews…
We make gear that is meant to be used. Hard. And no one puts our gear through its paces like these top-tier reviewers. These guys and gals push our gear to the limit so they can provide you with a fair and accurate review of our packs. Check out some of the reviews we got this year from some of the best in the business.
SectionHiker and the 3400 Southwest Pack: Last year the 2400 Southwest Pack earned SectionHiker’s 2015 “Gear of the Year” Award, so it is no surprise that Philip Werner also loved the 3400 version. “The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Backpack is a bomber multi-day backpack geared for tough adventures that will rip most other ultralight-style pack to shreds. It you’re rough on backpacks, but still want one that only weighs two pounds, the 3400 Southwest pack probably has your name on it.” Read the full review.
This has been a great year for our Dyneema® backpacks and Duffel bag. The Alpinist Magazine gave the Ice Pack it’s Mountain Standards Award, TrailSpace.com gave our Summit five stars in a January review, and BlisterGearReview.com gave both our Duffel Bag and Ice Pack excellent reviews. Of the things that come up again and again is the strength and durability of the fabric, plus the lightweight. Read more from Carryology.
“Weight is almost never an advantage in an active backpack. But to get durability and features in your pack design, a weight compromise is somewhat inevitable. Hyperlite [Mountain Gear] is one of the pioneering brands trying to break this paradigm, and their Dyneema 2400 Ice Pack is a cracking example. Utilizing high-tech Dyneema, a reductionist design approach and very considered construction, their 2400 is crazy light, super tough, and will resist almost any weather you can throw at it.” —Carryology.com
The Dyneema® 2400 Ice Pack is part of our line of ultra-durable, ultralight Dyneema® Backpacks and Duffel Bag.
It’s never too late to change your gear. Ambassador “Tenderfoot” alters his lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit one month in.
“Aches & Pains? I thought it was just walking on the AT?!”
Photos & text by Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins
Over 100 miles in, and I already feel like I have 100 years worth of stories. We’ve met more than 100 people, and we have over 100 aches and pains. The trail has taught me more in the last 10 days than I’ve learned in all my research of it over the last couple years. Sure you can figure out who the first person to hike it was, or how many steps it takes to the end. However, it’s almost impossible to learn something like this so in depth without actually being there and living it. A couple days ago when we took our zero day (on my 24th birthday), I answered a few questions for my co-workers at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about my lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit, what I’ve changed, added and dropped. Here goes… Read More
Understanding what you need is the secret to knowing what you don’t. So when Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre decided to embark on 200 miles of one of the most difficult thru hikes in the country—the 600-mile traverse of the Grand Canyon below the rim—he refined his organizational tools by designing stackable, zippered Pods.
Because he needed to carry more food (and gear) than normal to go the eight or nine days from cache to cache, he had to optimize how he used the available volume of his pack. Fitted perfectly to the shape of his Southwest Pack, the new Pods left no space unfilled, no volume unused.
“I was looking for a better, more efficient way of storing ten days worth of food,” St. Pierre explains. “I love and have always used our CF8 and CF11 Stuff Sacks, but I found that putting ten days of food into them wasn’t working. When filled with my repackaged meals, they were like a bunch of footballs crammed in my pack. I was wasting 600 to 800 cubic inches. So it just made sense to design something that matched the internal shape of the pack. Once I figured that out, I was able to get what I put into a 55-liter pack into a 40-liter pack just by reorganizing how I laid out the food.”Read the rest of the post.
We built the ultimate, super lightweight Ground Cloth for minimalist overnight backpackers and thru hikers who like to sleep under the stars, but who still want foolproof protection for their gear from moisture, mud and dirt. Ideal for goal-oriented adventurers constantly on the move and in need of fast protection from inclement weather, it’s sizeable at 96” X 52” (8’ X 4’”) but weighs less than an iPhone. Pair it with our Flat Tarp, Echo II Tarp or UltaMids (if not using the respective inserts) for optimal ultralight multi-sport travel. Made of 100% waterproof Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber), it serves as an excellent waterproof barrier between you and the ground. Use the reinforced loops to stake out the lightweight Ground Cloth so the wind doesn’t blow it away.
Weight: 0.12 lbs | 3.4 oz. | 96g
Dimensions: 96” x 52” (244cm x 132cm)
Material: Spruce Green CF8 Dyneema® Composite Fabric (formerly Cuben Fiber)
* Reinforced CF11 Corners
* Corner and center tie-outs made with 1/2” lightweight binding
Two Hyperlite Mountain Gear Employees Share their Appalachian Trail Thru Hike Gear List Planning & Prep
Early summer 2014, my girlfriend, Kendra Jackson, and I took on our second 5000-footer together—Mount Katahdin. Soon after waking up the day of our ascent we met a 20-something New York City-based mountain guide, Peter. A veteran thru-hiker, he had a wealth of knowledge about backcountry travel and the Appalachian Trail. He taught us about shelters that set up with trekking poles instead of your common tent poles, trail names, “Trail Magic,” “Zero Days,” “Nero Days,” “Hiker Hobble” and cleaning yourself with baby wipes. We immediately got overly enamored and stoked on this magically ridiculous world and decided to hike the “AT.” Fast travel to the summer of 2015, and Kendra and I began taking on adventures such as the Mahoosuc Range between New Hampshire and Maine in a weekend and returning to work on Monday.
On our first forays into the wilderness, we took awkward thrift store backpacks and a beaten-down double sleeping bag. We cooked dinner on a heavy propane stove right near our Walmart dome tent. Needless to say we had a ton of fun using terrible gear, but knew there had to be better options out there. Through my job as a tent maker at Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I gleaned a ton of ultralight knowledge from the owner, Mike St. Pierre. The more I learned, the easier our trips became. And, more importantly, we enjoyed our backcountry adventures even more. And now’s the time. We’re taking all that we have learned since 2014 and heading out for our Appalachian Trail thru hike. In this blog post I detail our planning, preparation and gear.
Considered one of the most influential gear review sites by Outside Magazine,BlisterGearReview.com does comprehensive reviews of outdoor products. They recently published excellent reviews of Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Dyneema® Expedition Duffel Bag and our UltaMid 2 Pyramid Tent. What they said…
“If your objectives entail hauling a lot of gear far into the wilderness, and you put a premium on low weight and durability, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema® Duffel should be on your short list. It’s a high-performance bag designed for objectives where excess weight is anathema and durability and weatherproofing are vital. For those looking for top-tier performance, it’s a great option.”
“For years I’ve been searching for a superlight four-season shelter that I can use year round for human powered adventures, and now I seem to have found it. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear UltaMid 2 is the best performing, most versatile shelter I’ve ever used. There is little doubt in mind that it will continue to be my top choice for shelter any time I’m thinking of spending the night outside.”
Rangers Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla recently joined an exclusive group of just 26 backcountry experts to have embarked on this extreme thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. As well, they are among the eight most recent people either thru hiking or section hiking below the rim who are using Hyperlite Mountain Gear equipment. In this post Jenkins shares the gear choices they make specifically tailored to ultralight winter backpacking. You can read the other posts in his series, including their Ultralight Winter Backpacking Sleep System Strategies. And read more about what it takes to do a huge adventure like this in Rich Rudow’s blog, “The Grandest Walk.”
There’s been recent buzz on the Web regarding DSM Dyneema’s 2015 acquisition of Cubic Technologies, name changes to the material it produces, formerly known as Cuben Fiber, and the future of this technological advancement. As one of the leading outdoor gear manufacturers backing this technology, we thought it appropriate to weigh in, share some insight and better explain this technology.
DSM Dyneema acquired U.S. manufacturer, Cubic Technologies, May 2015. DSM is a large, global, Dutch company active in the health, nutrition and material sciences industries, and is also the inventor and manufacturer of the Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE) fibers branded as Dyneema®. Read more…
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross is a renowned climber and videographer. A self proclaimed “dirtbag,” Ross spends as much time as possible exploring icy wilderness areas. Last May he climbed the Southwest Ridge of Mount Francis, the West Face of Kahiltna Queen, an unreported route on the South Face of Peak 12,200, Bacon & Eggs on the Micro-Moonflower and the French Route on Mount Hunter with various partners. We recently caught up with him and asked him for his go-to alpine climbing gear list for serious lightweight adventures.
Kurt’s Go-to Alpine Climbing Gear List for Ultralight Obsessives
The decision of what to wear on your person and in your pack for a big alpine objective can be as nerve wracking as deciding what to wear on a hot date with someone who’s way out of your league. Why did she agree to go out with you anyway? You’re an alpine climber; you have no social skills. She’s probably just doing a favor for your friend who set you up. Wait. Don’t be so hard on yourself. She wouldn’t have agreed to do it if she didn’t see anything that she liked in you. You may as well give it a chance. Like, cast a large net or whatever. What was I saying?
People sometimes make fun of weight-obsessed climbers, but it really is important to cut as much fat off of your gear as is reasonable before attempting hard objectives. I’m not sure that breaking your titanium spoon in half and cutting the pockets out of your jackets is going to make the difference between sending or not, but I do think that general weight consciousness is worthwhile for big adventures. After all, the physical consequence of carrying every extra ounce is correlated to the the amount of spacetime you’ll be hauling it through. The simple unfortunate truth is that spending a bit more money to get that 900 fill, carbon, Dyneema®, helium filled stuff will make you a better climber/hiker/whatever to an extent. C’est la vie. Read More