With a new year comes new backpacks, and if you’re getting ready to get yourself prepared and geared up for the upcoming season, you may want to look into an ultralight backpack. Why? Because sometimes, less is more. The less weight you carry on your back, the faster and more comfortable you’ll be, and the less tired you’ll be at the end of the day. An ultralight backpack will, of course, not have as much storage and capacity as a heavier-duty one, but you’ll be surprised at how much weight you can cut without sacrificing too much. For our list of the Best Ultralight Backpacks for 2018, we’re going to be looking at the lightest – like, under 3 or 4 pounds, whenever possible – backpacks in existence. Take a look below and see which one is right for you.
HMG 2400 Southwest
This backpack from Hyperlite Mountain Gear weighs in between 1.79 and 1.9 pounds, depending on whether you choose the small, medium or large size. It’s made from 100% waterproof Dyneema Composite fabric (also known as Cuben Fiber), manufactured in Maine, and built to outlast everything else. It has removable, contoured aluminum stays for shape and support, as well as a ¼” foam backpack. The top closes with a roll-top closure, with both side and vertical compression straps, and a y-strap on top that is designed to secure your gear. This backpack is about as light as it gets and has every bit the durability to match. Throw in 40l of storage and you’re ready for some ultralight trekking.
ZPacs Arc Blast
This backpacking pack also comes in at less than 2 pounds – 21 ounces, to be exact. Even less than the HMG 2400. It’s got 42l of space in the main compartment, 2.5l on the side pockets, and an 8l center pocket for 55l total – more than enough for an ultralight trekking pack. Like the HMH 2400, it’s made of Dyneema fabric, which makes it waterproof and super tough. The unique, Flexed Arc external frame means its more comfortable than most other packs, thanks to the gap between your back and the bag itself that relieves pressure and gives some air flow. It can only hold about 35 pounds of weight reliably, so you’ll definitely be packing light with the Arc Blast.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa
A well-known name in when it comes to ultralight backpacks, the Gossamer Gear Mariposa weighs just 2 pounds, and is constructed of sturdy 100D and 200D Robic nylon. It’s tough, durable and very light. There’s a total of 60l between the main compartment and 7 other pockets. One pocket is mesh, for stuffing in wet clothing, two are meant for water bottles. There’s a removable hip belt, an airmesh harness, and an over- the-top closure system that keeps the water out. There are also loops for ice picks and axes, and trekking poles. The Mariposa maintains a very slim, close to the body fit, and weighs just about nothing – so if you’re trying to cut down on weight, there really aren’t many better choices.
REI CO-OP Flash 45
With 45 liters of space but an ultra-small size, the REI Co-op 45 is a very affordable pack for dayhikers who want to shed some weight. The size isn’t conducive to lengthy multi-day trips, but there’s more than enough storage here for a long day on the trail and a quick overnight. It’s got REI UpLift™ Compression technology, with a 3d contoured hipbelt, and an REI packknit back panel, which serves to increase airflow and keep you cool. There are water bottle pockets, attachment loops and a large mesh pocket to stash items. The top also comes off so you can customize your pack volume.
You want light? You got it. The MLD Prophet is a pretty large pack, with 48 liters of storage, but weighs exactly 16 ounces – one pound. It does this by using – you guessed it – Dyneema ripstop fabric, waterproof and practically bulletproof. It’s got all the pockets, water bottle pouches, attachment loops and d-rings you could possibly want, as well as a hydration pocket for stashing a water bladder, with ports for the hose on either side. The curved side panels move the load towards the upper back, which is more comfortable and spreads the weight out more evenly, as well as increases the amount of room available in the upper main compartment. It ain’t cheap, but the MLD Prophet sure is pretty – and sure is light. The lightest on our list of ultralight backpacks.
Granite Gear CROWN VC 60
The CROWN VC 60 manages to pack 60 liters of space into a package that weighs only 2.2 lbs, a sleek, slim design all the way around. It’s a top-loader, with roll-top access, and no lid – but you can add one with Granite Gear’s LineLoc.
The bag uses a suspension called Vapor Current, which has vents molded into the back panel so air can circulate from the top and the bottom, cooling your back in the process. There is a full-length HDPE die-cut sheet is underneath the molded foam, to add support when carrying loads. You can also remove the entire frame, if you’d like to cut down on weight and just roll an unsuspended bag. The belts and shoulder straps also feature dual-density padding for comfort, with mesh pockets for storage. If you still need to haul a lot of gear (60 liters worth) but want to go as light as possible, the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 gets the job done.
Like the Prophet above, the MLD Exodus weighs only one pound, but manages to pack in even more space – 59 liters. That’s (almost) the same size as the Crown VC 60, but at half the weight. It’s made from Dyeema, comes in small, large and medium, and features ripstop reinforcements on angles and high stress points. There’s a hydration sleeve, internal stow pocket, and all the requisite storage – water bottle pouch on the strap, gear pouch on the shoulder, mesh pockets on the side. The removable sternum strap has a whistle. The one thing it doesn’t have, is some kind of suspension or frame; it simply rides like a regular old backpack. But if you’re just looking for the lightest backpack with the most space available, and don’t need fancy suspensions for long trips, we like the Exodus. You probably will you.