I looked around and couldn’t find a guide of ultralight backpacks that suited my needs, so I decided to create exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to know what backpacks are pushing the limits, taking us to the edge where the magic happens. If I find one more best backpack guide that lists the ULA Ohm and Osprey Exos I might lose it and use a few plastic garbage bags for my next trip.
What I included as Ultralight Backpacks
- Total weight must be under 16 ounces.
- All options will be minimized. No hipbelts, extra straps, etc.
These weights are all as described by the manufacturer so your mileage may vary. The goal of these packs is to have a volume of over 30L but not more than 45L which is the range most ultralight hikers find to be the sweet spot. The material were mostly nylon or Dyneema. All backpacks picked did not have frames as I didn’t find any in this weight range that had them. The materials included on the table are from each of the websites. Most of them have some variation so I only included one, also some were listed in oz/yd and others as denier.
List of the best Ultralight Backpacks
|Backpack Name||Weight (oz)||Volume (L)||Price ($)||Material
|Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlite||8.5||36||155||30D & 70D Nylon|
|Zpacks Nearo 38L||13||38||199||2.92 oz/yd DCF|
|Appalachian Ultralight Thru Hiker||8.3||35||255||1.43/yd DCF|
|HyperLite Mountain Gear Summit Pack||12.8||30||185||150D DCF|
|Mountain Laurel Designs Burn ||14||38||180||210D DCF|
|KS ultralight KS 4||9.75||40||138||210D DCF|
|Palante Simple||12.8||40||220||X-pac VX03 & VX07|
|Kabatic Gear Knik||14||42||155||70D Nylon|
|Zimmerbuilt Quickstep||9.75||36||150||50D DCF|
|Freelight SpinZacc||10.6||37||160||150D Nylon|
I listed out the backpacks with things I think they did well and where they lack, the list is ordered randomly not in any specific order.
The Murmur is among the lightest in the group and it achieves this by using 30D nylon which is really pushing the limits. I would only use this on well traveled trails where you won’t get snagged on a tree or bush.
You can also add a hip belt if you want as well as large side pockets and mesh. It looks like the perfect pack for weekends and speed attempts if you aren’t looking for long term durability. It is reasonably priced at $155.
The Zpacks Nero replaced their Zero design which was well recieved. The Nero offers 38L capacity including all the other pockets. It also comes with a hip belt which most of the others do not.
This pack is reasonably priced considering the material and what we have come to expect from Zpacks in terms of pricing. The Nero looks sturdy using 2.92oz/yd DCF. This looks to be a great overall pack for any type of three season backpacking.
Appalachian Ultralight’s Thru Hiker pack is the lightest ultralight backpack considering and it also comes in with the highest pricetag. Appalachian Ultralight is new to the market but their pack looks good. They have two options for durability 1.43oz/yd or 2.92oz/yd DCF. They have two size options as well but I had included the 35L.
This pack should be well suited for all uses but I would be hesitant to use the 1.43oz/yd material on any trails that would require bushwhacking or are highly overgrown. Looks great for well maintained trails as it is the lightest on the list.
I was actually quite disappointed by HMG’s offerings. Most people recommend the WindRider which is their 40L offering, but at a whopping 28 ounces I wouldn’t dare include it into my list. The summit is more of their day pack but I thought it could be easily used for ultralight backpacking.
None of the stats really impressed me, I would only go for this pack in the event that I had a lot of brand loyalty to HMG. It looks reasonably durable, comfortable, and overall a bit lackluster. It would be good short trips as the capacity is a bit lacking.
Mountain Laurel Design Burn is one of the top recommendation for ultralight backpacks and for good reason. The MLD Burn could be considered the standard of ultralight backpacks. It offers a reasonable price, durable material, many options, a lot of volume, and a very light weight.
This pack is very suitable for any type of three season trip. The Burn is a consideration for my next pack because it is the jack of all trades and master of none.
This is a pack that I was very surprised by. At basically a tie for the lightest pack on the list it also boasts an affordable price tag. It is the cheapest pack on the list, so it looks to be the best value as well! It has plenty of options for different features including adding a hip belt. You can also change the material from DCF to Xpac.
After researching these backpacks in depth, I put this at the top of the list. The website to order it is a bit hard to understand as the company is based in Japan but they look to make a quality product. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this for most of my three season excursions.
Palante packs are some of the most sought after packs in ultralight backpacking. This is likely due to their quick selling and high recommendations from notable names in hiking. The under pocket is also a very popular feature for them. The price tag on these is too high to justify what you get. For about $40 less you can get the Burn which I find to be most comparable to this pack.
The Palante packs utilize X-pac VX03 and VX07 which is basically laminated nylon. It’s a solid pack and there is a reason that its highly recommended but it will not be a pack in my future.
Kabatic has been the high end quilt manufacturer for a while and it looks like they have been dabbling in the backpack market. The one that stood out to me was the Knik offering everything you need for your three season adventure.
The Knik is reasonably priced, durable, and another lackluster pack. I think that is a good thing for this pack though, it offers everything you need for 14 ounces. It’s not completely pushing the limits but it gives you everything you need in a cheap durable pack.
I scoured Zimmerbuilt’s hard to use website for their best ultralight backpack. What I found was the Quickstep. As much as I disliked their website, I really liked this pack. It has a reasonable price, being the second cheapest one listed and also a weight under 10 ounces. It has enough capacity for basically any trip you would need to do.
The colors of the pack are great and it looks to be somewhat durable as well. They use 50D DCF as the main material, which may be pushing the limit a bit but that’s what I like to see in packs. This is another pack I will be considering when I get my next one!
I included this pack because it comes from an lesser known Japanese company that looks like it produces some good gear similar to that of KS Ultralight. It looks like an overall good pack at a reasonable price and weight. I couldn’t find if they ship to the US or not but assuming they do this could be a great pack for someone looking for something a bit flashier.
The color offerings for this pack are great, I would love to see more colors in ultralight packs. The pack has everything you need for a nice weekend or longer trip. If anyone has or ends up with this pack I would love to hear more about it!
I reviewed the best packs that I could find under a pound, they all have different benefits and differences so it’s up to you to find what’s best for you. If you don’t care about price and want a lightweight durable pack then go with Palante Simple or Zpacks Nero. If you want to save every ounce and penny then it’s clearly the KS-4. Looking for the best value? Go with the MLD Burn. Those are my recommendations for packs, would love to hear what you think of these packs! If you’re looking for some more ultralight gear check out my best value setup!