What are the best gifts you can buy for an ultralight backpacker who’s a minimalist and eschews material possessions? It’s a quandary, isn’t it? Here are some tried and true gear favorites that all ultralight backpackers lust for. They may be minimalists, but they like great gear just like everyone else!
1. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider Backpack
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider Backpack (HMG) is a durable waterproof backpack made with an ultralight material called Dyneema (formerly called cuben fiber). It’s an ultralight thru-hiker favorite on long-distance hiking trails worldwide because it’s so tough. Available in black or the classic white color. Unisex.
Titanium is the ultralight backpacking metal of choice because it’s so lightweight and strong. These ultralight titanium tent stakes are a highly prized luxury item, suitable for a wide range of soil conditions and shelter types. Six stakes are included in the set, enough to set up most tents and tarp shelters. Each stake weighs a half-ounce. These would make a great stocking stuffer.
The Garmin inReach Mini is a pocket-sized satellite messenger that can send an SOS message to Search and Rescue in an emergency when you’re out of cell phone range. It can also send email messages and text messages to friends and family, whenever you want to update them or share your GPS coordinates. It has an easy to use push-button interface but can also pair with a Smartphone via bluetooth to display GPS maps and navigational information. Weighing just 3.5 oz, it’s small enough to tuck into your pants pocket.
The Zpacks Solo Quilt is available in multiple widths, lengths, colors, and temperature ratings. It has a closed foot box and includes a strap so you can attach it to a sleeping pad. An elastic cord is used to tighten the bag around your neck to prevent drafts. The Solo Quilt is insulated with 900 fill power goose down. A standard width, 6′ long, 35-degree quilt weighs 14.8 oz and costs $339. Multiple lengths and widths are available at different price points.
Gaia GPS is the most comprehensive mapping and navigation phone app available today (available for both iPhone and Android) and an essential tool for any day hiker or backpacker. Most ultralight backpackers prefer using phone apps for GPS navigation over a dedicated hand-held unit they’re so much lighter weight and because they already carry a smartphone as a camera, music device, and book reader. Gaia includes dozens of map sources including those published by the USGS, USFS, NPS, and National Geographic, and you can track your route or plan your own routes using it.
Check for the latest price and special offers at: GaiaGPS
6. Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket
The Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket is the most popular waterproof/breathable rain jacket used by backpackers because it is so lightweight. Weighing a mere 6.8 ounces in a size X-large, it is perfect for wearing in warmer weather and summer when you need to carry a waterproof hooded jacket but want to keep your gear as lightweight and compact as possible. The Helium II also has a fully adjustable hood, which is a real bonus on such a lightweight rain jacket. A women’s model is also available.
The Gossamer Gear “One” Tent is an ultralight, trekking-pole tent that weighs 20.6 oz. It has a spacious interior that’s a palace for one, with excellent ventilation to help prevent internal condensation. Factory seam-taped, The One is made with siliconized polyester instead of cuben fiber to help keep its price competitive. The front vestibule is quite large with a zippered center opening which can be closed shut in inclement weather, or rolled back for views and ventilation.
Weighing just 10.6 oz, the Feathered Friends EOS Hooded Down Jacket excels at keeping you warm on its own when conditions call for moving light and fast, or as a layering piece to augment a down quilt when weather moves in. Filled with premium 900+ fill down, Feathered Friends’ down clothing and sleeping bags are prized by hikers and backpackers around the world.
The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter system is the most popular water filter used by ultralight backpackers today. With a field weight of only 3 oz., it makes filtering water as simple as filling a pouch and squeezing water into your mouth. No pills, no pumps, and no wait. The kit includes a 32 fl. oz. pouch; collapsible pouches are made from durable Mylar foil and can be reused hundreds of times. The Hollow-fiber membrane filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli; and removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
Weighing just 6.35 oz, the Enlightened Equipment Recon Bivy protects your quilt or sleeping bag from splashback, moisture, and bugs if you’re sleeping under a floorless tarp or pyramid tent. The Recon comes with no-see-um mesh panels over the head and torso, providing excellent ventilation. A center zipper runs the length of the mesh window, making it easy to set up your sleep system and get in and out of the Recon. Elastic cords let you tie it up or stake it out to increase interior space or suspend it under your ultralight backpacking shelter.
The Deuce #2 (pun intended) is an ultralight leave-no-trace trowel for burying your poop in the backcountry. Weighing just 0.6 oz, it has serrated edges for digging into hard rock-and-root filled soil to make a discrete deposit. While the Deuce makes a humorous gift, it helps emphasize the need for us to all pitch in together to preserve the wilderness.
Weighing 3.4 ounces, the ZPacks Bear Bag Kit is made with rodent-resistant Dyneema. It has a roll-top and taped seams to keep the water out. The complete kit also includes: 50 feet of 2 mm Z-Line Slick cord, a rock sock to throw over tree branches, and a mini carabiner to attach the bag. The bear bag also makes a great waterproof case for a MacBook Pro.
Last but not least, give the gift of Darn Tough Full Cushion Hiker Socks. Super durable, cushioned, and comfortable, these wool socks fit like a dream. Their merino wool is naturally antimicrobial and repels bacteria and odors—a great feature when you need to get any extra day or two out of your socks. Darn Tough even guarantees them and will replace them for free if you can wear them out.
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