Summer is the time for going big, but that doesn’t have to mean going heavy. With the right ultralight gear, you can shave pounds without sacrificing performance.
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Rab Phantom Pull-On
Over the last four or so years, Rab has been on top of the technical fabric world, churning out shell after category-smashing shell. That streak continues with the Phantom, which, as the lightest waterproof/breathable shell on the market, has the weight of a trashbag poncho, the rain protection of a hardshell, and yet somehow the airy feel of a softshell. Oh, and it packs down to the size of a kiwi. 3.1 oz.
Mammut Kento Light HS
This featherweight-yet-functional piece is a great shell when pack space is at a premium but you don’t want to break the bank. 5.4 oz.
Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet DCF 48
At the cutting edge of ultralight packs, it’s tough to keep shaving weight without also paring down comfort. The frameless Prophet DCF hits the balance perfectly: EVA padding on the shoulder straps and hipbelt keep it feeling good, even at max capacity, and the wide hipbelt wings transfer weight comfortably to the hips. 1 lb. 1 oz.
LiteAF 35L Curve Fast-Track-Pack
What’s in a name? With LiteAF, everything you need to know. The brand’s frameless Curve Fast-Track-Pack is the lightest pack we tested, but its cushy shoulder straps still serve up all-day comfort for loads up to 20 pounds. 15 oz.
Big Agnes Scout 1 Platinum
Say it with us: 13 ounces. That’s all you’ll have to shoulder with this single-wall trekking pole tent that’s one of the lightest fully-enclosed solo models on the market. 13 oz.
Marmot Superalloy 2P
The Superalloy achieves an attractive trifecta: livable, lightweight, and affordable (for an ultralight shelter), making it a good pick for minimalist hikers on a budget. Its smaller-than-average 28-square-foot floor still fit two 6-foot testers thanks to an 87-inch length and nearly vertical walls. 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Montbell Seamless Down Hugger WR 900 #3
We’ve loved the Down Hugger since 2009 for its unparalleled stretch and warmth. Now you can add to the list: lightweight. Montbell slimmed the Down Hugger by eliminating baffles in favor of long strings of barbed yarn that hold the down in place. 1 lb. 3 oz.
Therm-a-Rest Vesper 45
There are grapefruits larger than the packed size of this ultralight quilt. “I got everything I needed for a four-day mountaineering mission on California’s 13,150-foot Mt. Ritter into a 35-liter pack, thanks in large part to this quilt’s tiny packed size,” one tester says. 12 oz.
Rab Mythic Ultra 360
For committing expeditions, the Mythic offers premium performance at a premium price. There’s 900-fill goose down, and a clever construction that saves weight by using chevron-shaped baffles to hold down toward the center without using extra interior fabric. 1 lb. 5 oz.
Exped FlexMat Plus
Closed-cell foam pads are usually longer-lasting and more affordable than inflatables. But one thing they’re usually not: luxe. With the FlexMat Plus, Exped has created a comfier, warmer foam mat without compromising the durability and price point that make them a favorite of budget-conscious hikers. 1 lb. 2 oz.
Hydro Flask Trail Series Ultralight Titanium Standard Mouth Bottle
Gulping down ice-cold water miles from camp used to be a luxury reserved for those willing to tote heavy insulated vessels. Well, pull out your pocketbook, because that’s about to change. Hydro Flask’s double-walled titanium bottle takes insulation down a few weight classes—and up a few price points. 8 oz.
RapidPure Pioneer Straw
The Pioneer Straw filters out bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals, reduces bad tastes—and it’s barely thicker than your thumb. Thank RapidPure’s unique UltraCeram, a filtration technology that attracts and traps viruses and bacteria using positive electric charges rather than hollow fibers. 2 oz.
The Andesite is one of the most affordable carbon poles out there, and it handled more than 1,500 miles of the Continental Divide Trail as sturdily as poles twice the price. Our thru-hiking tester reports that the single twist lock never loosened, and the low swing weight kept her arms from tiring during 25-mile days in the mountains. 11.2 oz. per pair
Mountainsmith Zerk 40
The Zerk was designed in conjunction with The Hiking Viking, a Triple Crowner who clearly knows his stuff. He and Mountainsmith created a veritable backpacking control center. 1 lb. 12 oz.