Best Ultralight Backpacks | Lightweight Backpacking Packs

ultralight backpacksPictured: Zpacks Arc Zip Ultralight Backpack

Most people prefer a pack that holds a little more gear than they actually need. An oversize pack allows you to go with the seven to nine pounds for three-season hiking but scale up to 13 pounds for winter. It also allows you to add more food and to accommodate a bear canister if one is required on the trails you’re hiking or if you just choose to use one. For most hikers a 55-to-60 liter pack will work for just about any trip you plan to take from a weekend hike to a Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. Here are five packs consistently recommended by a cross section of outdoor ultralight backpacking gear reviewers and gear testers.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack is incredible light and collapsible. It weighs only 3.6 ounces and collapses to about the size of a banana. Yet it has a volume of just a little less than 30 liters (1800 cubic inches). Construction from CF11 cuben fiber accounts for the light weight and collapsibility.

Volume: 30 liters
Weight: 3.6 ounces (0.2 pounds)
Material: Cuben fiber

Key Features:

  • Incredibly light weight of 3.6 ounces
  • Waterproof
  • Roll-top enclosure system
  • Collapsible packable. Collapses to about the size of a banana

Osprey Packs Expo 58

The Osprey Packs Expo 58 has been a popular pack with ultralight backpackers since it was first introduced in 2008. It has been updated and features have been added since then. The lid, key straps,and attachments points are all removable. Outdoor Gear Lab voted it’s little brother, the Expo 48, its “Best Buy” among a comparison of nine ultralight backpacks.

Backpack Volume: 58 Liters
Backpack Weight: 2.6 pounds

Key Features:

  • Aluminum frame
  • Removable top pocket
  • Under lid mesh pocket

Granite Gear VC Crown 60

Granite Gear’s VC Crown 60 backpack has a 35 pound load rating. It has hydration ports and an internal hydration sleeve.

Volume: 60 liters
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Material: 100 D and 210 D Cordura Nylon

Key Features:

  • Removable frame
  • Large stretchable side and front pockets
  • Ventilation channels are molded into the back pad

ZPacks Arc Blast

The Arc Blast is ZPacks most popular ultralight backpack. It can carry 25-30-pound loads but performs best with about 19 pounds or less.

Volume: 55 liters
Weight: 21.3 ounces
Material: Hybrid cuben fiber

Key Features:

  • Parented 5-piece carbon frame system
  • Adjustable torso height
  • Center pocket
  • Big zipper to access main compartment
  • Hybrid cuben fiber material is mostly waterproof

Read More about ZPacks Arc Blast cuben fiber backpack

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack

  • Volume: 40 liters. Recommended for 30 pounds or less.
  • Weight: 33.6 ounces
  • Material: 70 and 100 denier Robic nylon

Key Features:

  • Removable internal frame
  • Three built in pockets
  • Large hip belt pockets
  • Two side mesh bottle pockets accessible while wearing pack
  • Rear mesh pocket for carrying or drying clothing
  • Full side compression
  • Ice ax loop
  • Outside storage for trekking poles

Read more about the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack