What kind of gifts can you 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 backpacker’s lust for. They may be minimalists, but they’re not stupid. They like great gear just like everyone else!
Altra Timp Trail Running Shoes
The Altra Timp is a moderately cushioned trail runner perfect for long days of hiking when you need to move fast but want a little extra protection for your feet. Drainage holes help shed excess water—perfect for creek crossings, while the uppers have thermoplastic urethane overlays for added stability and protection. Altra’s signature wide toe box allows toes to spread naturally, while hook-and-loop tabs provide attachment points for gaiters.
Price: $130 Buy Men’s Buy Women’s
Katabatic Gear Palisade 30F Down Quilt
The Palisade 30 quilt is extremely lightweight, warm to just below freezing. It easily attaches to any sleeping pad and offers unmatched versatility, comfort and efficiency in a quilt style sleeping bag. An elastic binding around the bottom opening prevents gaps and drafts at the sleeping pad. Continuous baffles allow the down to be easily moved around in the bag as temperatures dictate for maximum versatility, while an overstuffed draft collar fits comfortably against your neck to protect it from drafts.
Price: $445-510 Buy Now
Gossamer Gear “The One” Ultralight Tent
Weighing 21.65 oz, “The One” is an ultralight, single-walled trekking-pole tent with a spacious interior that’s a palace for one. Made with Silpoly, it is factory seam-taped and well-ventilated to prevent internal condensation. A high volume front vestibule provides excellent storage, while the internal bathtub floor provides excellent protection from wet ground and crawlies.
Price: $295 Buy Now
Apple iPhone X – 64GB
A smartphone is an indispensable multiple-purpose item on every ultralight backpacker’s gear list and Apple’s iPhone X is simply the best one available today. In addition to its communication function, it’s a first class digital camera and GPS Navigation Device, internet browser, email program, book reader, text messenger, trail journal, and music player, replacing several heavier but essential items. In this day and age, you need a smartphone on the trail if you want to reserve a bed at a hiker hostel or arrange for a trailhead shuttle, avoid carrying heavy maps, or call home (hint).
Price: $1375 Buy Now
Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket
The Outdoor Research Helium II rain jacket is a minimalist rain shell that is so lightweight, it can serve double duty as a waterproof wind shirt. 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.
Price: $159 Buy Men’s Buy Women’s
Yama Mountain Gear 1P Cirriform Tarp
The 13.1 ounce 1-person Cirriform tarp has a wind shedding shape and front vestibule for increased weather protection and gear storage. Made with stretch resistant Silpoly fabric, it has an aerodynamic cut that saves even more gear weight. This tarp is quickly becoming a UL classic.
Price: $175 Buy Now
Superior 35 UL Backpack
Weighing just 16 oz, the frameless black Superior 35 UL Backpack (made by Superior Wilderness Designs) is optimized for ultralight backpacking. Made with a tough, waterproof fabric called XPac, you’ll have a hard time shredding this pack on overhanging vegetation or rough granite. A durable mesh pocket and hard-faced bottle pockets make it easy to keep frequently used gear accessible when you’re moving fast.
Price: $200 Buy Now
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket
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.
Price: $309 Buy Men’s Buy Women’s
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter Kit
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.
Price: $39.95 Buy Now
Liteflex Trekking Umbrella
Weighing 8 oz, the LiteFlex Trekking Umbrella can protect you from cold rain and the hot desert sun. It is highly flexible and nearly unbreakable, with high-density fiberglass ribs and a teflon coated polyester panels for high water repellency and soil resistance. This is the same umbrella as the classic Golite Chrome Dome Trekking Umbrella, only without the Golite branding since the company went bankrupt.
Price: $52.50 Buy Now
NEMO Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad
Weighing just 10 ounces, the 48″ NEMO Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad is quiet, warm, and compact. It’s covered with 20D PU Polyester Ripstop that has a soft hand against your skin. Lined with Primaloft insulation w/ an internal aluminized reflective liner, it does not make the loud crinkly sound you find with other UL sleeping pads.
Price: $119.95 Buy Now
Mountain Laurel Designs eVent Rain Mitts
Weighing just 1 oz, these rain mitts are designed for 3+ season hikers, needing short term early morning warmth or anytime rain protection. While not intended as all-day everyday cold weather mitts, they are easily layered with fleece or wool liner gloves. Seam sealing is recommended for full weather protection. These mitts are a UL backpacking classic and have a worldwide following.
Price: $45 Buy Now
QiWiz Titanium Leave-No-Trace Trowel
The QiWiz (pronounced Chee-wiz) Big Dig Trowel is an ultralight titanium trowel that’s tough enough to cut through tree roots and hard packed soil when you need to dig a hole in a hurry. Weighing just half an ounce, this hand-made trowel can be used to stake out a tarp or tent when it’s not needed for other “business.”
Price: $36 Buy Now
ZPacks Bear Bag Kit
Weighing 3.4 ounces, the ZPacks bear Bag is made with rodent resistant cuben fiber. 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.
Price: $50 Buy Now
Alpacka Scout Packraft
Tipping the scales at just 2.5 lbs, the ultralight Alpacka Scout is perfect for ultralight fastpacking, crossing rivers, canyoneering, and mountain lake fishing. The Scout tube fabric is a 210-denier High Count Nylon base fabric with a light polyurethane coating on both sides to minimize weight while maintaining air retention. The floor is a 400-denier weight version which significantly reduces the weight and bulk of the overall boat. Includes: Inflation bag, stuff sack, repair kit.
Price: $595 Buy Now
Darn Tough Hiker Socks
Last but not least, give the gift of Darn Tough 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. An army travels on it’s feet. Nuff said.
Price: $24 Buy Now
Want to learn more? Here are gear reviews of many of the items I list above.
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