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Lightweight Backpacking Gear We Love

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This is stuff we actually own and use, and we have found these to be solid options for lightweight gear. We’re continually adding to this page so check back for updates.

We include typical weights for some of these items, and of course products may change over time so the actual weights may vary. We also note some products that are made in USA as of this writing, but alas that can change too.


There are too many options to cover completely so we’ll just suggest some higher-quality brands that we use and have worked well for us. It’s important to choose the length of the pack to fit your body, and the capacity to fit the typical length of trip you take and the amount of gear you carry. Be sure to check the actual weight and as a general guideline, a lightweight internal-frame pack typically weighs under 4 pounds and a lightweight frameless pack typically weighs under 2 pounds. Heavier and larger packs can be better if you need to carry a lot of gear and supplies on a longer trip, but your body needs to be conditioned to the load.


This is one of the most popular brands and their packs are fairly durable at moderate prices. Most are internal-frame packs such as the Redwing series, and they aren’t superlight but are generally fairly lightweight.

Granite Gear

Despite the heavy-sounding name, they make some of the lightest frameless packs available. The lightest options are barely more than a giant stuff sack with straps, which saves considerable weight but some may find it less comfortable and more fatiguing compared to an internal frame pack with more rigidity.


Perhaps better know for their smaller daypacks, Osprey also makes larger backpacking packs that are high-quality and reasonably lightweight.

Shelter, Sleep and Comfort

There are lots of different shelter and sleep systems and you should find one that suits your own body and your preferences for weight versus comfort. Here we suggest a few options that have worked well for us.

Big Sky Revolution 2P Tent

This is not a cheap tent, but it’s among the lightest 2-person tents available and has proven durable over many years of use. It sets up fast and the vestibule on each side is big enough to (barely) cover a backpack and keep it out of the rain. It’s snug but adequately-sized for 2 people.

Weight: 1550g / 55oz / 3.4lb

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Ultralight Tent

We’ll be honest, we haven’t used this one yet but it’s on our short list for the next upgrade. Yes it’s pricey but it’s amazingly light at 2.5 pounds for a 2-person tent. Even the 3-person model comes in at around 3 pounds, so having some extra space wouldn’t cost much extra weight. One feature we like is that you can set up just the frame and rain fly as a quick rain shelter, and then you can set up the rest of the tent underneath it while keeping relatively dry.

Weight (2-person): 1134g / 40 oz / 2.5lb

ALPS Mountaineering Ultra-Light Tarp Shelter

Having a tarp can be a luxury or a necessity depending on your sleeping setup. Even with a tent or a hammock that has its own tarp, we consider a separate tarp worth carrying because it’s no fun sitting in camp in the rain without some overhead protection. There are lots of options available but pay close attention to the weight.

Some ultra-light tarps are also ultra-expensive, but this is a more affordable option that still keeps the weight reasonable. It’s a hexagonal shape, which doesn’t give as much coverage as a full rectangle but also weighs less. It can be set up over a hammock or by itself, giving enough room for two people to sit comfortably with space to use a stove etc. The included guy lines are reflective so you can see them easily with a headlamp at night.

Weight: 547g / 19.3oz

Unigear Hammock Rain Fly Waterproof Tent Tarp

This is rather heavy for solo backpacking and perhaps too much even for a couple, but it’s a reasonable option for a camp shelter if you’re sharing it with a larger group. It’s inexpensive and the rectangular shape can be set up in a variety of ways.

Weight: 975g / 34oz

Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Deluxe Sleeping Pad

This is among the most comfortable sleeping pads we’ve tried, and its insulation kept us warm underneath even in very cold weather with our tent pitched on frozen ground. It comes with a simple inflator sack that doubles as a water-resistant stuff sack, and inflates pretty fast. You can find many lighter pads, but this one isn’t very heavy and it’s worth the weight for its comfort and insulation value.

Weight (depends on size): 650g / 23oz

Enlightened Equipment Down Quilts

Down quilts aren’t cheap, but they’re one of the most versatile and lightweight options for sleeping warm in cold weather. Most of them can open fully as a blanket, or wrap around you like a mummy bag. Unlike a sleeping bag, they don’t go fully underneath you so you’ll also want an insulated sleeping pad if it’s really cold.

Enlightened Equipment sells a variety of stock models and sizes of quilts, and they’ll also customize them to your specifications so you can get one in the exact size and insulation level you prefer. Made in USA.

Weight (depends on the model and down filling level): 740g / 26oz

Silk Sleeping Bag Liner

This is one of the lightest “sleeping bag” options available, and works okay all by itself in warm weather. It keeps us from sleeping directly on the sleeping pad, but packs down super small. It is easy to wash, and keeps our other sleeping gear from accumulating skin oils. Don’t expect much warmth from it though – it’s really just a barrier between us and the rest of our sleeping gear.

Weight: 140g / 4.9oz

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Inflatable Pillow

These are rather pricey as pillows go, but they deliver a lot of comfort for very little weight.

Weight: 100g / 3.5oz

Duck 286218 Extra Large Patio Door Film

This is tough clear plastic that works well for making your own ground sheet to go under a tent. It weighs and costs practically nothing, far less than commercially-made ground sheets although it will need to be replaced from time to time. A ground sheet is not absolutely essential, but it can extend the lifetime of the tent’s floor and prevent moisture from moving up from the ground into the floor of the tent. It can also trap rainwater under a tent if you’re not careful to keep the edges tucked under, and to pitch your tent on a slight rise where there is natural drainage away from it.

Weight for a typical 2-person tent ground sheet cut from this: 57g / 2oz

REI Flexlite Air Chair

We’ve tried a lot of lightweight seating options and this is one of the more comfortable ones. We think it’s worth carrying a pound of extra weight to have a comfortable place to sit, but comfort is very subjective so try one first if possible. It sets up fast so it’s nice even for a quick stop along the trail, especially if you want to take your boots off. The biggest drawback to this chair is that it’s a bit tippy side-to-side, especially on soft ground where the legs tend to sink in. But that’s a tradeoff of keeping the weight down.

Weight: 485g / 17.1oz


Cold, wind and rain happen, but they don’t have to ruin your day. Hiking in the rain can be quite enjoyable with a little preparation, and it doesn’t take a lot of gear. The trick is finding the right balance between carrying a little extra to handle some unforeseen weather, and carrying more than you’ll ever really need.

First Lite Uncompahgre 2.0 Puffy Jacket

This packs down inside its own pocket and is small enough that we can stuff one inside a backpack just in case things get cold. The synthetic insulation isn’t quite as warm as down, ounce-for-ounce, but it far outperforms down if it happens to get wet. The outer shell is somewhat water-repellent but not sufficient for wearing in serious rain so you’d also want a poncho.

We would recommend this for cool weather in spring and fall, but not for seriously cold conditions. It’s nice to have as an extra layer when the temperature drops at night or when getting up early in the morning.

Weight: 520g / 18oz

First Lite Uncompahgre Puffy Pant

These go with the puffy jacket above, and they have similar insulation and are similarly packable and water-repellent. One really convenient feature is that they have side zippers that open completely so that you can put them on around whatever you’re wearing without having to take your boots off. That does take a bit of practice though, as it’s easy to get them inside-out or backwards, so practice putting them on at home first.

Weight: 520g / 18oz

Arcturus Lightweight Ripstop Nylon Rain Poncho with Adjustable Hood

This is an inexpensive rain poncho that has worked well for us. It packs small and is light enough that we carry it even on day hikes when rain is not expected, just in case. It’s big enough to go over a backpack so it keeps the pack relatively dry too. It snaps down each side, meaning that it can be unsnapped into a more-or-less square shape that could be rigged up as a tarp if necessary. In a pinch, donning a poncho also gives quite a bit of wind protection and can keep you much warmer in windy conditions so it serves multiple purposes.

Weight: 315g / 11oz

Happy Feet

Healthy feet are happy feet! There are a zillion options out there and we can’t possibly list them all, so here are some that we’ve used personally and can recommend.

Darn Tough Socks

These socks are made in Vermont and are among our favorites. Most them are 100% merino wool or a blend. They wear really well and the wool retains some insulation value even if it gets wet. They also don’t seem overly hot in the summer. Made in USA.

Terramar Thermasilk Over The Calf Sock Liner

These thin liners are a great way to prevent blisters! By wearing them under your main socks, they let your foot move around a bit without rubbing the skin. They also capture some of the sweat from your feet to keep the main socks cleaner, and they can be hand-washed and dried much more quickly than heavier socks.

Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll

So you didn’t take our advice and wear sock liners (above), or maybe you did and got a blister anyway? It happens. The best thing is to address the irritation as soon as you notice it, not later when you get to camp and it’s become a bigger problem. This stuff sticks well and prevents friction from making things worse. It comes in a pretty big roll, so we cut it down ahead of time and carry a few smaller pieces.

Merrell Hydro Moc Water Shoe

These are our choice for the occasional water crossing where we choose to keep our boots dry. And because they don’t absorb water, you can get them wet and dry them off quickly. They also work well as a camp shoe when worn with socks.

Typical weight per pair (varies with size): 454g / 16oz

Superfeet Trailblazer Comfort Carbon Fiber Orthotic Support Insoles

Replacing the factory insoles in a pair of hiking shoes or boots can make a big improvement, and Superfeet makes a wide range of them. The Trailblazer model is specifically designed for hiking, with an extra-deep heel cup that stabilizes the heel. They’re pricey but they work, and last a long time. Once you find what works best for you, putting the same kind of insole in different pairs of footwear tends to make them feel similar.

Potable Water

You could get by with just a pot, and boil water over a campfire to sanitize it. But having a water filter is a lot more convenient and adds minimal weight. We consider the boiling pot to be our backup purification system just in case we lose the filter.

Note that compact filters generally filter out protozoans and bacteria but not viruses, so one must avoid using water sources in areas that may be contaminated with human waste. Generally that’s not a problem except when in areas of high human activity; in that case we would boil the water instead.

Sawyer Micro Squeeze Water Filtration System

This is the lightest water filter option we’ve found, and it has worked great for us. It’s a little slower than using a pump, but far lighter and it filters quickly enough. Sometimes we scoop water from the source using our titanium pot and pour it into the water bag, especially if the water source is shallow or slow-moving, because otherwise the bag can be difficult to fill by itself. The filter can be back-flushed to remove clogging sediment, which we typically do after returning home from a trip, and because the filter can be flushed it’s rated for an amazing 100,000 liters. Made in USA.

Weight including one pouch: 50g / 1.8oz

Sawyer Micro Squeeze Pouches

We got these extra pouches for the micro squeeze filter (it comes with one pouch), and each pouch weighs next to nothing so we usually we carry two pouches with us just in case one fails. That also lets us fill pouches at a water source and carry them to either filter or boil later. They look totally different from our sanitary water containers so there’s no chance of confusion.

Weight per pouch: 30g / 1.1oz

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Water Filter, Fast Flow, 0.1 Micron EZ Clean

Here’s another very lightweight option, a water bottle and filter combined. The included cartridge filters up to 1,000 liters, and replacement cartridges are available but there’s no back-flushing capability. It’s a bit more expensive than the Sawyer Micro, especially considering the lower capacity of the cartridges, but it’s compact and convenient.

MSR MiniWorks EX Backcountry Water Filter

Pump filters like this one are a lot larger and heaver than the options above but they can be faster, and having an intake tube makes it easer to get water from a shallow source. We’d recommend a lighter-weight filter for one or two hikers, and this would be a better choice for sharing one filter among a larger group. Made in USA.

Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets

We don’t prefer these as our primary means of purifying water, as they add chlorine to the water and take 4 hours to work. But unlike most filters they have the advantage of working on viruses so it’s a viable option in areas where water sources may have human contamination. It’s also a good option to carry as a backup purification method. One tablet treats one liter of water so you can add a tablet to a 1L bottle and let it work while you hike.

Platypus Flexible Water Bottle

Flexible water bottles are much lighter than rigid ones, and have the added advantage that they pack flat when empty. We’ve never had one leak, though it’s certainly possible if exposed to sharp objects. You can get them in a range of sizes, and we like the 1-liter size because it lets us spread the load around in our packs. A larger bottle is fine too, but then you’ve got more weight in one spot so it can sometimes be harder to get your pack balanced.

Weight per bag: 30g / 1.1oz

Nalgene HDPE Water Bottle

We prefer the flexible water bottles because they’re even lighter, but if you want a rigid bottle this one works well and doesn’t weigh much more than a flexible one. It’s not as sexy-looking as the polycarbonate bottles but it weighs less. The large mouth is a plus for cleaning, but it can be a little harder to drink directly from it without getting a wet face.

Osprey Hydraulics Water Reservoir / Hydration Bladder (3 Liters)

Hydration bladders make it convenient to drink while hiking, but they have the notable disadvantage that they’re hard to refill without at least partially emptying your pack. That matters more on an extended backpacking trip than on a day-hike. If you choose to use one, we suggest getting the largest capacity that your pack will accommodate, even if you decide to only fill it partway.

This particular water bladder has a rigid back panel that keeps it from collapsing down into your pack. It also has a magnetic catch that attaches to a strap on your pack, and keeps the hose from flopping about. This works great but you need to remember to hold your compass well away from the magnet when using it.

Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets

These are indispensable for cleaning water bottles and hydration bladders. If a bottle has any off odor or shows any discoloration, these will usually clean it. You just dissolve in warm water and soak the bottle for an hour or more, then rinse really well. We don’t carry these on the trail but we use them often at home.

To clean a hydration bladder, we empty it and put in 1L of warm water and a Bottle Bright tablet, and squeeze out all the air at the top before sealing it. We wait about 15 minutes for it to dissolve fully, and then run some of the liquid out the drinking tube. Then we let it sit a few hours or overnight before flushing it thoroughly with several changes of fresh water, and running clean water through the drinking tube.


For a minimalist cooking system, you could start with just a pot with a bail and use that over a campfire. We like the convenience of having a stove too, as we don’t always choose to build a fire and it’s nice for quick meals or a hot beverage.

TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot with Bail Handle

This has served us well, both on a cannister stove and over a campfire. The bail makes it easy to hang it from a stick or cord and the 750ml pot is big enough to hold a fuel canister plus a compact stove inside. It will boil enough for 2 hot beverages or meals. The fold-out handles mean you can use it as a mug, which we have tried and it works okay but usually we just boil water in the pot and use separate mugs for beverages.

Weight with storage sack: 122g / 4.3oz

Jetboil MightyMo Ultralight and Compact Camping and Backpacking Stove

This compact stove has the convenience of a built-in igniter and a regulator that keeps a more even flame as the fuel pressure varies. It’s a bit more pricey than other ultralight stoves but it’s also higher-quality and has worked flawlessly for us.

Weight: 104g / 3.7oz

Jetboil Zip Camping Stove Cooking System

JetBoil’s main line of stoves include their FluxRing pots that have fins on the bottom and neoprene insulation, both of which greatly increase the fuel efficiency (about double that of a typical stove). The Zip model is the smallest in this series and weighs only a bit more than the minimalist stove plus titanium pot above.

The increased fuel efficiency matters more on longer trips. For one or two nights your total weight may be lighter with an ultralight stove and pot, but on longer trips you can carry significantly less fuel weight that offsets the slightly heavier stove and pot. One down side of this system, aside from its higher cost, is that the pot can’t be used on a campfire without possibly damaging it.

Weight: 340g / 12oz

MSR WhisperLite Universal Compact Hybrid Fuel Camping and Backpacking Stove

While not as light and compact as the Jetboil MightyMo, this stove has the advantage of using multiple fuels including canister fuel, white gas, kerosene and unleaded gasoline. The liquid fuels work better in cold conditions, when fuel cannisters suffer from low vapor pressure. If you’re only camping in warm weather then a cannister stove like the MightyMo or Zip might be a better choice, but this is a lightweight option if you also need cold-weather performance. Made in USA.

Weight: 318g / 11.2oz

Ready Made Meals

Ready-made backpacking meals have come a long way from their beginnings, and modern ones are generally quite tasty. It’s a more expensive option than making your own, and you may end up with bulkier and heavier packaging compared to DIY meals, but it definitely saves time. Here are some of the more popular brands:


We like making our own meals, and here are some good sources of recipes:

Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’: Lightweight, Trail-Tested Recipes for Backcountry Trips

Completely revised and updated, this all-in-one food guide builds on the format pioneered by the original, providing clear and thorough at-home and on-trail preparation directions, nutrition and serving information, and the weight of each recipe, while adding a wealth of reference information, instructional material, and all-new illustrations throughout.

Fork in the Trail: Mouthwatering Meals and Tempting Treats for the Backcountry

Inspired by foods from all over the world and the guiding principle of “if you wouldn’t eat it at home, why eat it in the backcountry,” Laurie Ann March has created over 200 lightweight, taste-tested recipes to turn an ordinary backcountry outing into a gourmet adventure.

Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor Adventures

An excellent cookbook, with a huge range of flavors. You’ll find recipes like shiitake rice balls, Dutch oven sticky buns, lentil farro salad, hot chocolate oatmeal, buffalo cauliflower wraps and pecan praline fondue. Perusing this book is sure to give you ideas for your next trip—and make you hungry.” —Washington Trails Magazine

Dry Ingredients

If you’re making your own meals, which we recommend, you can dehydrate most foods at home with a simple food dehydrator. But some things are not practical to dehydrate that way, and here are some sources of dry ingredients we’ve found useful.

Heavy Cream Powder

Like butter powder it goes great in instant oatmeal, and also works well for making instant cream soups and desserts. It has the highest specific energy (Calories per gram) of any ingredient we’ve found except for oil.

Calories per gram: 7.5

Butter Powder

This is great for adding to instant oatmeal and other recipes to increase the calorie content and flavor.

Calories per gram: 6.7

Whole Egg Powder

These eggs are pasteurized before drying and powdering, but we’d still recommend using them in recipes that require cooking. They cook up more or less like regular eggs and can be used to make instant omelettes, and pretty much any recipe that calls for eggs.

Calories per gram: 6

Whole Milk Powder

You can find skim milk powder at any grocery store, but whole milk powder is harder to find. It’s richer and higher in calories, and makes a great addition to instant oatmeal and cold cereal as well as any recipe that calls for milk.

Calories per gram: 5

Cheddar Cheese Powder

This stuff has a great cheese flavor and works well in any recipes needing cheese. It’s good for making instant omelettes for example.

Calories per gram: 5

Whey Powder

This is essentially pure whey protein, and can be added to any recipe that needs a protein boost. We like it in oatmeal, where it also gives a creamier consistency. It also works okay in hot beverages like hot chocolate, but it does tend to clump a bit so it needs lots of stirring to get it dissolved. There are many varieties available, and we recommend unflavored plain whey powder with no additives.

Calories per gram: 3.8

Granulated Tomato Flakes

You can dry tomatoes at home but they contain a lot of water so it takes awhile, and buying tomato flakes is an easy way to add tomato goodness to soups, stews, pasta, rice etc. The flavor is good and they rehydrate into little tomato bits, not quite a smooth sauce consistency.

Calories per gram: 3


These are some lightweight containers that we have found useful.

Hefty Slider Storage Bags, Gallon Size

We use these large bags to organize a day’s worth of food, and also for waterproofing electronics, maps etc. The slider works a lot better for repeated opening and closing than a simple zip-lock bag, and makes it far easier to open and close when wearing gloves.

Coghlan’s Squeeze Tubes

These work well for holding thick liquid foods like butter and honey. They aren’t prone to leaking as long as they’re not overfilled (halfway is about right), but we carry them in a zip-lock bag just in case.

Weight per tube: 28g / 1oz

RATSACK – Rodent Proof Food Storage Container

We once left a food bag unsupervised in our tent for just a short time, and returned to find that a chipmunk had chewed through the tent’s screen to get our packets of instant hot chocolate, which it then spread all over our down quilts! We now carry our food in one of these bags.

It is NOT bear-proof, or even anything remotely close to bear-proof, but it will stop determined mice and chipmunks from making a mess. Unless we’re in an area with lots of bear activity, we feel safe enough leaving this unattended during the day, such as when we ditch our packs to climb a hilltop for example. At night we can hang it out of reach of bears, but it’s only effective if it’s truly out of their reach.

Weight: 250g / 8.8oz

Trash Compactor Bags

These are cheap and work great for lining the inside of a backpack to keep the contents dry. It’s more practical than trying to waterproof the outside of the pack so we’d recommend one of these instead of using a rainfly over the pack.

Electronics & Tech

These are some of the electronics we carry when hiking. Honestly you don’t need any of this stuff, but if you’re going to carry electronics then here are some more-capable and relatively lightweight options.

ThruNite Ti2 EDC Flashlight 120 Lumens AAA Battery Keychain Flashlight

We love this little flashlight as a backup illumination source, because it’s very small and takes a regular AAA battery. It has 3 levels of brightness, including a “firefly” mode that’s just barely bright enough to see with but extends the battery life tremendously.

Weight: 24g / 0.8oz

Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight, 900 Lumens CREE LED, Water-Resistant, Zoomable

This is not a lightweight flashlight but it’s amazingly bright, and the zoom capability means it can cover a wide area or focus down to a narrow spot that’s super-bright. For most backpacking we’d use a headlamp or lighter-weight flashlight but this is a good option if you expect to be out at night a lot.

Weight: 238g / 8.4oz

Bushnell H2O 8x25mm Binoculars, Waterproof and Fogproof

Binoculars are certainly not a necessity but they can add to your enjoyment of the outdoors. You can find a lot of lighter and cheaper ones but their image quality is typically so low that they’re not worth carrying. These Bushnell binocs are reasonably priced and among the lightest ones that have decent optical quality.

Weight: 342g / 12.1oz

Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld and Satellite Communicator

This GPS has all of the typical handheld GPS navigation features plus satellite communications that let us send and receive texts, get weather reports, and trigger an interactive SOS if needed.

Garmin offers several subscription plans with varying levels of included messages per month, and you can switch from one level to the next at any time. So we keep ours activated with the least-expensive plan at around $10 per month, and switch to a higher-usage plan temporarily during an expedition when we expect to send more texts and get more weather reports.

Weight: 275g / 9.7oz

Garmin InReach Mini Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator

This is a lighter and smaller alternative to devices like the GPSMAP 66i, and it has the same satellite communication features but without the handheld navigation capability. It’s a good choice if you want to stay in touch and have SOS capability but don’t need handheld GPS navigation.

Weight: 99g / 3.5oz

GoPro Hero 11 Black

We use GoPro cameras to capture many of our hiking and overlanding adventures. The slightly older Hero 10 is almost as good and a little less expensive.

Olympus TG-6 Black Underwater camera, Waterproof, Freeze proof, High Resolution Bright, 4K Video 44x Macro shooting

This is a great option for backpacking because it’s compact and lightweight, and waterproof like the GoPro so we don’t have to worry about rain, dust etc. It has an 8x optical zoom and takes pretty good still photos and 4K video, considering its compact size. Don’t expect the image quality level you can get from a much larger and heavier camera/lens combination, but it’s our favorite lightweight option. It also has a “microscope” mode that does a pretty decent job shooting macro images and video.

Weight: 325g / 11.5oz

Insta360 X3 Waterproof 360 Action Camera

Taking 360-degree photos and video lets us capture all of our surroundings and then reframe them later at home, where we often see things we missed at the time. It’s like having a GoPro that’s pointed in all directions at once, although the resulting resolution is a bit lower. Of the Insta360 models available, we like this one because it’s fully waterproof so we don’t have to worry about rain. One battery gives roughly an hour of video shooting, depending on which mode you choose, and you can get extra batteries to carry on an extended trip.

ALPS Mountaineering Classic Trekker

This trekking pole has one noteworthy feature that most don’t – removing the top knob reveals a 1/4-20 stud where you can attach a GoPro mount, compact ballhead, or Insta360 invisible selfie stick to mount any lightweight camera like the ones listed above. When used with the Insta360 selfie stick, the trekking pole is narrow enough that it becomes invisible in the shot and extending both of them to maximum length gives a 2.74 meter / 9 foot long pole.

Weight: 312g / 11oz

Pest Control

What’s a hike without mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies? Pretty nice, actually! Here are some of our favorite ways to repel critters small and large.

Mosquito Head Net with Insect Shield Permethrin Repellent

Let’s face it, head nets are annoying to wear. But if the bugs are really thick then repellent alone may not be enough. These are lightweight and come in a nice little stuff sack that takes up little space.

Weight: 20g / 0.7oz

Natrapel 12-Hour Repellent Wipes

These picaridin wipes work well, and come in a convenient packet that takes little space. There’s very little odor but they do a good job of keeping the critters from biting. We typically wipe exposed areas first and then finish with our socks and pant legs. One packet contains one wipe, which is usually enough for two people if you don’t have a lot of exposed skin.

Weight per packet: 5g / 0.2oz

Sawyer Products SP562 Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion, 2-Ounce

While not as compact as the Natrapel wipes, this holds a lot more product and is enough for an extended hiking trip. It’s still a fairly compact and lightweight package. As far as we can tell, all the picaridin products work about equally well.

Sawyer Products SP657 Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent for Clothing, Gear & Tents

We use permethrin to treat our socks, pants and shirts before. Once they’re dry there is no odor, and the repellent bonds with the fabric so it’s good for many washings before losing its effectiveness.

On one occasion we went hiking with another person who didn’t have permethrin-treated clothing, and they found over a dozen ticks on them in a single 3-hour hike while we had ZERO. We are sold on it. This container treats quite a few sets of clothing but see below for a more economical option.

InsectGuard Permethrin Mosquitoes, Ticks and Flies Repellent

If you want to treat a LOT of clothing with permethrin, it’s more economical to buy a gallon-size container. As far as we can determine it’s essentially the same stuff as that sold by Sawyer but a bit less expensive. The hose and lightweight spray head mean it’s less fatiguing to use compared to a handheld spray bottle.

SABRE Frontiersman 9.2 oz. Bear Spray

If you follow the advice given in our article What You Need to Know About Bears, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have a bear encounter where bear spray would make a difference. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and bear spray has proven an effective deterrent when used at close range. Even if you never actually need to use it, carrying bear spray may give you a measure of comfort and there’s nothing wrong with packing a little nonlethal heat if it improves your enjoyment of the outdoors.

Weight: 365g / 13oz


We’ve used quite a few different options over the years, and these are some that have worked well for us.

Coghlan’s Backpacker’s Trowel

This is a very inexpensive trowel that works well, and the orange color makes it hard to lose. We’ve tried more expensive thin aluminum backpacker’s trowels and they save a tiny bit of weight but don’t work as well. This does a decent job even in soils with some stones and roots, and weighs so little that it’s not worth spending more for a lighter and flimsier one.

Weight: 55g / 2oz

Goodwipes Really Big Body Wipes

These are a great option for getting clean without needing extra water, soap etc. One wipe is enough for a whole-body cleaning if you do it sensibly. We start with our face and cleaner areas, and work toward the nether regions. These are NOT biodegradable so you need to pack them out with your trash, but they don’t take up much space. We carry one per person per day, plus a few extras “just in case”.

Weight per wipe: 12g / 0.4oz

Pee Funnel

While not a necessity, these can give women a bit more privacy and also a lot less exposure to biting insects and old weather. It takes a bit of practice so try it at home first.

Weight with included pouch: 75g / 2.6oz

See Also: The Best Compass for Land Navigation