10 Best Lightweight Backpacks of 2022

10 Best Lightweight Backpacking Backpacks

Backpacking packs and backpacking gear have gotten much lighter weight in recent years due to innovations in the materials and fabrics available to backpack manufacturers. Most lightweight backpacks now weigh between 2 and 3 pounds and have 40 to 60 liters of storage volume. They have frames and can usually carry between 30 and 40 pounds of backpacking gear, food, fuel, and water. If you need to carry more than that, you’ll want a bigger backpack. Less than that, you’ll probably want to get an even lighter, frameless, ultralight backpack.

Here are the 10 best lightweight backpacks that we recommend.

Make / ModelWeightFabric
Zpacks Arc Haul 60L19.6 oz / 556gUltra
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L30.5 oz / 865gRobic Nylon
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 340034.9 oz / 989gDyneema DCF
Granite Gear Crown 3 60L32.6 oz / 1040gRobic Nylon
Osprey Exos 5842 oz / 1191gHigh Tenacity Nylon
ULA Circuit 68L37.3 oz / 1038gRobic Nylon
REI Flash 55L42 oz / 1191gRipstop Nylon
Gregory Focal 5841.3 oz / 1171gRobic Nylon
Superior Wilderness Designs Long Haul 5034.2 oz / 970gXPac
Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-6042 oz / 1191gNylon-Poly Ripstop
See the 10 Best Ultralight Backpacks of 2022, for a lighter weight set of packs designed for backpacking with a maximum weight of 25 lbs and smaller volume loads. For a list of lightweight backpacks designed specifically for women, see 10 Best Lightweight Backpacks for Women in 2022.

Be sure to read our Lightweight Backpack Selection Guide below and the linked FAQs for even more advice and reader feedback. SectionHiker has an international reputation for its comprehensive men’s and women’s backpack reviews and we’re passionate about helping our readers find the best backpacks for their needs.

1. Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L Backpack

Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60
The Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L is an ultralight ventilated backpack with a suspended mesh back panel to keep you cool in hot weather. Made with waterproof and extremely durable Ultra 200 and 100 fabric, the 19.6 oz Arc Haul Ultra 60 is a roll-top with side water bottle pockets and a front mesh pocket for external gear storage. The torso length is adjustable by raising and lowering the shoulder pads, while the hip belt is available in multiple lengths. The Arc Haul Ultra can haul up to 30 lbs comfortably. While strictly speaking, the Arc Haul is an ultralight backpack, its large 60L capacity makes it a popular choice with lightweight backpackers. Women’s models are also available. Read the SectionHiker Arc Haul Ultra 60L Review.

Check out the latest price at:
Zpacks.com

2. Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack

Gossamer Gear Mariposa
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is a great pack for backpackers who are lightening their loads because it has plenty of storage. It’s intuitively organized for multi-day thru-hikes and section hikes with plenty of external pockets and covered storage. The Mariposa has a lightweight aluminum frame capable of carrying 35 pounds comfortably, and interchangeable hip belts sizes are available, ensuring a good fit. It’s made with Robic nylon which is good for on-trail use, but you may want something more durable for tougher terrain. Weighing 1 lb 14.5 oz, it has a unique side quiver pocket that is perfect for storing a tent or hammock. The sizing is unisex. Read the SectionHiker Mariposa 60 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
Gossamer Gear

3. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 Backpack

HMG Southwest 3400 Black
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest (55L) is a streamlined and durable backpack good for any kind of outdoor adventure from thru-hiking to wilderness backpacking. Made with super-strong but ultralight Dyneema Composite Fabrics, it’s effectively waterproof with solid external pockets for increased durability. The frame on this roll-top pack consists of two aluminum rods, called frame stays, that can be bent for a custom fit. Weighing 2 lbs 3 oz, it has a maximum recommended load of 40 pounds. We recommend getting the black-colored version because it’s more durable than the white-colored one. The sizing is unisex. Read the SectionHiker.com 3400 Southwest Backpack Review.

Check out the latest price at:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear   

4. Granite Gear Crown 3 60 Backpack

Granite Gear Crown 3 60

The Granite Gear Crown 3 60 is an ultralight-style roll-top backpack that’s well-suited for thru-hiking, section hiking, and multi-day backpacking trips. Weighing between 32.6 oz to 44.6 oz with all of its optional components, it has all of the features you’d expect including an optional top lid (there’s a roll-top underneath), a large mesh front pocket, and side water bottle pockets. What makes this pack unique is an adjustable length hip belt so you get a custom fit, the ability to carry a bear can canister under the top lid, and wrap-around compression straps that make it easy to carry bulky gear. The Crown 3 60 has a maximum recommended load of 30-35 pounds. A women’s model of the Crown 3 – 60, is also available. Read the SectionHiker Crown3 60 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

5. Osprey Exos 58/Eja 58 Backpack

Osprey Exos 58
The Osprey Packs Exos 58 is a lightweight minimalist pack favored by thru-hikers, section hikers, and weekend backpackers alike. Weighing 2 lbs 10 oz fully configured, it has a rigid frame that makes it good for hauling heavier loads up to 30-35 pounds. The top lid can be removed if not needed, dropping the pack weight close to 2 lbs 5 oz ounces. Ultralight details and back ventilation make the Exos a good backpack for hiking in hot or humid conditions. Read the SectionHiker Exos 58 Review. A women’s model is available called the Osprey Eja 58. Read the SectionHiker Eja 58 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Osprey | Amazon

6. ULA Circuit Backpack

ULA Circuit Backpack

 

The ULA Circuit Backpack is a popular multi-day backpack with thru-hikers and weekend backpackers. Weighing 37.3 ounces, this 68-liter backpack has a load-carrying capacity of 35 pounds and is available with men’s or women’s specific shoulder pads and a unisex hip belt. The Circuit has a roll-top favored by long-distance hikers, with a front mesh pocket, two large side water bottle pockets, and two large hip belt pockets. Lightweight, but bomber tough, this pack can last through a long-distance hike and come back for more! Read the SectionHiker Circuit Backpack Review.

Check out the latest price at:
ULA Equipment

7. REI Flash 55 Backpack

Rei Flash 55
The REI Flash 55 Backpack is a 2 lbs 10 oz ultralight-style roll-top backpack with an optional top lid. The pack has all of the standard features of an ultralight-style backpack including a front mesh pocket, side water bottle pockets, and hip belt pockets. There are two things that set this pack apart from others. First, it comes with pockets and straps (called “packmods”) that can be removed without having to resort to scissors and can save an additional 7 oz of weight. Those same pack mods can be moved around to tailor the pack to your needs. The Flash 55 also has innovative side water bottle pockets that make it very easy to reach your bottles, with snap closures to secure tall bottles if you use them. A women’s specific model is also available. Read the SectionHiker REI Flash 55 Review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

8. Gregory Focal 58/Facet 55

Gregory Focal 48
The Gregory Focal 58 (women’s Facet 55) are multi-day backpacks with mesh-backed trampoline-style perimeter frames capable of hauling 30-35 pounds. Weighing 2 lbs 9.3 oz, fully configured, the floating top lid and included rain cover can be replaced by an ultralight weather flap, dropping the pack weight close to 2 lbs 6.5 oz ounces. A front stretch mesh pocket, side water bottle pockets, and back ventilation make the Focal and Facet good packs for hiking in humid weather. The biggest difference between the Osprey Exos and Eja above, and  Gregory Focal and Facet is that the 2022 Exos and Eja have an adjustable length torso. Read our Gregory Focal 58 Backpack review or our Gregory Facet 55 review.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Backcountry | Gregory

9. Superior Wilderness Designs Long Haul 50

2022 Long Haul 50 EcoPak

Weighing 34.2 ounces, Superior Wilderness Design’s Long Haul 50 backpack is well-sized for multi-day backpacking trips with all of the must-have features you’d expect on a lightweight backpack like a rear mesh pocket, side water bottle pockets, hip belt pockets, and a roll-top closure. Made with EcoPak, a waterproof fabric similar to Dyneema DCF, but more abrasion resistant, the Long Haul is built for durability. Pre-bent aluminum stays and a sewn-on hip belt also provide superior comfort, excellent load transfer, and a body-hugging fit, while a plethora of attachment points make it easy to tailor for technical hikes. Packs made with EcoPak compare very favorably to those made with Dyneema DCF in terms of durability, weight, and price. Read SectionHiker’s Long Haul 50 Review

Check out the latest price at:
Superior Wilderness Designs

10. Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 60 Backpack

Flex cap
The Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 is a top-loading backpack with a unique top hatch and two side water bottle pockets. Designed by Andrew Skurka, it has wrap-around compression straps that let you shrink or expand its capacity from 40L to 60L so you can fit more food and gear inside when you go on longer trips. This is complemented by a stiff but lightweight frame that makes it possible to haul heavy loads, far exceeding those that can be carried by similarly sized internal frame backpacks. The current Flex Capacitor is available in white or black only. Read the SectionHiker Flex Capacitor Review.

Check out the latest price at:
Sierra Designs

Lightweight Backpack Selection Guide

Lightweight Backpack Frames

Most lightweight backpacks range from about 40 liters up to 60 liters in volume and usually weigh between 2 and 3 pounds. They’re intended for carrying loads between 30 and 40 pounds and have full frames or frame stays. The volume and weight capacity you need will depend on the amount of gear, food, fuel, and water you need to carry. This can vary from trip to trip, or town to town if you’re a thru-hiker or section hiker, but compression straps let you shrink a pack’s volume from 40L down to 60L as needed. Generally speaking, you want more “frame” for heavier loads, but this can be a matter of personal preference.

See the following FAQs for more advice and reader discussion:

Gender-Specific Backpack Features

Many lightweight backpacks are now available in men’s and women’s specific models, although there are a few exceptions. They also tend to have fixed torso lengths and hip belt lengths, although many backpack manufacturers have figured out that adjustable torsos and hip belts or ventilated backpacks give them a significant competitive edge. Many women prefer S-shaped shoulder straps and female-specific hip belts because they mold better to a “curvier” female form.

Backpack Fabric Durability

Most lightweight backpacks are made with Nylon and its variants including Robic Nylon, Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF), XPac, EcoPack, and Ultra. In terms of durability, Ultra is usually the most durable in terms of abrasion resistance, then EcoPak, XPac, DCF, and then Nylon, although it depends on the thickness of the material used. In addition, there are many different types of Nylon and thicknesses, which are measured by “deniers”, also abbreviated as “D” in “20D Nylon Ripstop. Usually, higher denier counts result in more durable fabrics.

Cost

Dyneema (DCF) packs are the most costly in terms of price, then Ultra, EcoPak, XPac, and then Nylon.

Backpack Covers and Pack Liners

DCF, Ultra, EcoPak, and XPac are waterproof materials so you can get by without a backpack cover if you wish. That said, the shoulder pads and hip belts on all backpacks are not waterproof and will absorb some water, but your gear will stay dry even if you don’t!

Most lightweight backpacks do not include a rain cover. If your backpack is not waterproof and rain is likely where you plan to hike, we recommend you get a backpack rain cover or line the inside of your backpack with a plastic bag. Some people do both or wear ponchos that cover themselves and their backpacks. See the following FAQs for more advice and reader discussion:

Roll Tops vs Top Lids

Some of the backpacks listed above are roll tops and some have top lids. Which you choose is a matter of personal preference. Roll tops can be nice because they’re more minimalist and require fewer webbing straps. But top lids are handy if you need to change hats or gloves frequently or access a map and navigation gear. Still, other packs, like the Granite Gear Crown 2 60 and the REI Flash 55 are roll-tops, but come with an accessory top lid that can you attach over them. That’s really the best of both worlds.

Backpacking Fit

The most important factor when choosing a lightweight backpack is fit. Keep trying ones on until you get a torso length and hip-belt that fits you perfectly. Return policies and warranties matter. Stick close to manufacturers that guarantee their products, are easy to contact, and want you to have the best experience possible. What makes a lightweight backpack great? It fits you, has easy-to-use external pockets, and works well with your other backpacking gear choices.

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34 comments

  1. Hi, Philip, I’m waffling between HMG and eXped Lightning for winter. I’ve read your reviews. Any further thoughts. Much appreciated.

    • I’d figure out what you want in a winter pack. Personally, I value a floating top lid, top lid pocket, lots of compression straps, an internal pad pocket, external crampon pocket, and the ability to hang insulated water bottle sleeves more than just about anything else. That really simplifies the choice (Hint: CCW Chaos).

  2. Fantastic list, as always. Thanks for adding metric weights too. Much appreciated. Those new Gregory packs look interesting!

  3. Hi Phillip,

    I’ve been excited about the Gregory Focal coming out. Love the comfort of my Atmos 50 ag but saving weight is always helpful. When do you think you might post your review of it? Retailers are starting to list it for sale.

    Thanks!

  4. I’m glad to see the Exos 58 still makes these lists. I’ve had mine for several years and haven’t regretted the purchase.

  5. Nice article. Where would you place Waymark Lite 50 framed you recently reviewed?
    Thanks

  6. Very complete list of the best of this genre of packs. Thanks Phil.
    I’ve had an Osprey EXOS for 5 years and it is THE most comfortable 3 season pack I’ve ever owned. I like to keep my foam sit pad behind the mesh trampoline where it’s handy. My 1st two UL backpacks were REI FLASH versions and were quite good but just not the comfort level or the EXOS.

    I have cut off the hiking pole holder stuff and the top flap under the lid pocket as they were useless to me.
    But i added light side pockets for fast access to things like water purification kit, 1st aid kit, toilet kit, stove and fuel. etc. the few ounces of those pockets is well worth the convenience.

    • I suspect that people will switch from the Exos to the new Gregory Focal is which very very similar to the Exos in every way, but comes with two large hip belt pockets. I have no idea why Osprey decided to drop the hip belt pockets from the Exos. Pure idiocy.

  7. Phillip,
    I found what I was asking for in my prior text

    Thank you for all the quality content you present.

    Bruce

  8. I’m intrigued by Zpacks’s new Arc Haul Ultra. It weighs about 0.5oz more than the Blast, carries 5L more, and may solve the durability issue with DCF.

    • From what I gather, the Arc Haul Ultra is built on their Arc Air Frame, which has had a lot of problems from quality and poke-thru from hard objects. I reviewed their Arc Air Robic (or whatever they call it over the summer). Ultra is also a new fabric that hasn’t really been that through one or two seasons. It sounds good, but I’m sure that some kind of flaw will pop up with use. Zpacks has sent me an Arc Haul Ultra to review, so we’ll know about the frame soon enough.

  9. On Gregory’s website, they list the max load for the Focal 58 at only 15.9 lbs, in the synopsis here it says will handle 30-35 lbs. Is that a misprint??

  10. I’m surprised to not see the “Highly Recommended!” Seek Outside Flight pack in your list. I now own one and I agree with your review. I like it much more than my HMG and my Exos.

    • The same reason it wasn’t on this list last year. Its max recommended load varies by close to 100% depending on your torso length, which is kind of odd if you think about it. It has some durability issues as well, although they may now be mitigated by the fact that SO has switched to Ultra which is much more abrasion-resistant. Finally, flight is a wilderness trekking style of backpack (related more to a hunting backpack) and a very different animal than these lightweight backpacks, with the possible exception of the long haul which can span both worlds, now that its made with EcoPak.

  11. Quite a number of UK backpackers, including me, have been really impressed with backpacks from a relatively néw UK based cottage manufacturer, Atom Packs. My Atom Pack ‘Custom Mo’ is the best I’ve ever owned – I’ve previously used a Z Packs Arc Blast, a GG Mariposa and a ULA Catalyst amongst others. The Mo carries superbly. Very comfortable carry. I would highly recommend. I must add that I have no connection with the company other than as a very satisfied customer.

  12. Do you recommend the Granite Gear Blaze or Crown? I can’t tell the different between the two. TIA!

    • Actually both. The Crown 3 has a fixed length torso, while the Blaze has an adjustable length torso. Both packs have adjustable length hip belts. The Blaze is really designed for hauling heavy loads and is about 1/2 pound heavier than the Crown. For general purpose backpacking, the crown is the way to go if it fits you.

  13. Just finished a short trip for one night into Joffre Lake (BC) with my new Mariposa backpack and must admit, most comfortable pack I have ever worn. Largely felt as if it were a daypack and truly enjoyed the short trip in the upper lake for a one night stay. Now pack weight was light, as a short trip and I wouldn’t want to bushwhack with it, but on trail and doing some boulder hopping it worked so well I literally did a bit of a extra day hiking with a full kit. For me, it was almost a perfect fit right out of the box. Did take a while for me to figure out best way to pack and will likely improve on that with more use, but very pleased.

  14. I would take anything made by Six Moons over the REI pack.

    • When it comes to backpacks, I wouldn’t.

      • Interesting, besides the v harness versus non (preference)
        which pack? priorities are comfort, ease of use, and weight (3 day trips)
        I picked up the Six moons 30 ultra (Swift V out) and not sure I will keep it.

        Sub-Nero 30L DCF Backpack
        Waymark EVLV Ultra
        Swift V

        p.s. Thanks for all the reviews very helpful and informative

        • If it was me, I’d go with the Waymark because it has daisy chains on the shoulder straps, it’s higher volume, and doesn’t have a fiddly external pad. You can always compress, but its hard to go the other way. Six moons anything wouldn’t be at the top of my list. The last pack they made that I really really liked was the Starlite.

  15. Very helpful list. Looking to replace a 10 yr old Deuter Act Zero 50+15 (3 lb 6z) if I can safely and cost-effectively drop 1 lb. Need room for shoulder season and durability (lots of sharp granite, willows and I’m off trail frequently) in places like Wyoming’s Wind Rivers or NH 48. Add 1 lb fishing gear, 9-12z bear spray,2L water, plus 4-5 d food and I’m at 30 lb total (including backpack), roughly 27 lb carried. I’m 5’10”, 155 lb

    Would you recommend the Mariposa 60, Crown 3 or Circuit? Liked the photo of the fishing pole + water bottle you had in the Crown 3 review! Want to carry a spin rod rigged for fast deployment in Wy.

  16. Phillip, Any thoughts on the Osprey Levity 45? I can’t find a review on the site and it happens to be on sale at the moment so thought I might give it a try. Claimed weight 1.786 lb (and I like the ventilation packs here in California for mostly 3day trips).

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