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A Couple’s Sub-10lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear Setup!

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We’re all about backpacking here at Terradrift. Specifically ultralight backpacking. That’s partially due to the fact that we’re small people so it’s easy to have a pack that’s too heavy pretty quickly, but also because we love the challenge of seeing what we can pare down and do without so we can move faster, father, and more comfortably.

But ultralight (UL) doesn’t have to mean ultra uncomfortable. In fact, there’s tons of UL backpacking gear out there that’s designed to be both easy on your shoulders and comfy cozy. And we took a bunch of it out onto the Allegheny Trail in West Virginia in late spring conditions (i.e. mild during the day, cool at night, and plenty muddy) to see how light we could get our packs and how the gear performed.

That said, this list of gear is perfect for late spring through early fall. And altogether, our average base weight (the weight of all gear minus food and water) was about 9.65lbs! Josh carried about 3 more pounds than I did because he’s bigger and he can, but for a couple’s ultralight backpacking kit, that’s pretty dang impressive and more than meets the “criteria” for ultralight backpacking (which is historically a base weight of 10lbs). Here’s what we carried.

Want more UL backpacking content? Check out the biggest mistakes UL backpackers make and 5+ tips for packing ultralight.

A man wearing an ultralight backpacking in the woods.
Josh ultralight backpacking in West Virginia.

His UL Backpacking Gear: 11.1 lbs

Josh is bigger and heavier than me, so we split up what gear we carried based on that. As a result, he carried a few more pounds than I did when it comes to base weight, but I helped close the gap by carrying most of our meals.

  • Backpack: LiteAF ECOPAK Curve 40L (32oz)
    • We reviewed this pack in more detail in this post, but suffice it to say that this ultralight backpack is a durable powerhouse. A simple removable U-shaped aluminum frame gives it some structure without adding much weight, the outer fabric is made of recycled materials and is also ultra durable and highly water resistant, and there are so. many. pockets. We also love that these packs come in tons of colors and patterns and you can order a fully custom pack if you so desire.
  • Sleeping Pad: Rab Ionosphere 5 (19.4oz)
    • We highlighted the Rab Ionosphere 5 here, but it’s comfortable, compact, tolerably light, and is warm enough for shoulder season camping with an R-value of 4.8.
  • Sleeping Bag: Big Agnes V-Notch 40 (1lb 6oz)
    • This ultralight sleeping bag is designed for warm weather. Comfy, roomy enough for the average hiker, and not too loud.
  • Headlamp: BioLite 325 (1.8oz)
    • It’s powerful, rechargeable functional, and easy to use. It’s the headlamp I always reach for.
  • Clothing: Cotopaxi Sombra Hoodie (5.6oz) + Kuhl Renegade Shorts (9oz)
    • We reviewed the Cotopaxi hoodie in this post. I love it for the loose fit, fitted hood, and accessories pocket on the side seam. The shorts just fit well, are durable and functional, and I wear them for everything, though they’re not supremely ultralight shorts.
  • Shoes: Bedrock Cairn Evo Sandals (about 15oz depending on size)
    • This trip was short, warm (enough), and extremely muddy, so I chose to bring only my Bedrock sandals (check out a full review here). But should shoes with more coverage be required, my go-to is the Vivobarefoot Magna Lite SG.

A woman walks on a boardwalk with an ultralight backpack.
Alisha ultralight backpacking in West Virginia.

Her UL Backpacking Gear: 8.2lbs

I’m a pretty small human (just 109lbs), so when I pack my ultralight backpack, I do so judiciously. Nothing goes in that I don’t absolutely need and I’m willing to pay more for lighter gear that won’t weigh me down. This is what went in my pack this time around.

Backpacking gear spread out in a shelter on the Allegheny Trail.

Their UL Backpacking Gear

Because we’re a duo, there’s some gear that can be split up and shared between the two of us. This can effectively help lighten your overall load, but we’ve also included options for things we carry if we’re hiking solo.

Backpacking gear spread out in a shelter on the Allegheny Trail.

Ultralight Backpacking Gear Bottom Line

We won’t say ultralight backpacking gear is cheap, but it is worth it in our opinion, especially if it means you’ll want to get outside to explore more often, go farther than you thought possible, or enjoy every experience just a little bit more. And you can always search for used gear, which not only saves you cash, but is kinder to the planet as well. So are you an ultralight backpacker? Will you be after perusing this list? Either way, get outside and wander on (in the backcountry, obvs).