ultralight backpack reviews

Michael Lanza of The Big Outside hiking Besseggen Ridge above Lake Gjende in Norway's Jotunheimen National Park.

Video: How to Pack a Backpack

By Michael Lanza

Wonder why I’m smiling in the above photo? Well, sure, two friends and I were hiking the incredibly scenic Besseggen Ridge in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park; that had something to do with it. But the other big factor was that I was comfortable—and how well my pack carried had a lot to do with that. And how I loaded it greatly affected how well it carried on my back. In this four-minute video, I’ll show you how to properly load a backpack to make your backpacking trips much more enjoyable.

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A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best time to walk the Sierra, to avoid snow and the voracious mosquitoes and blazing hot afternoons of mid-summer—I offer the following picks for the best ultralight and lightweight backpacking gear and apparel for a JMT thru-hike.

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A backpacker descending from Texas Pass into the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, Wyoming.

The 10 Best Backpacking Packs of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Backpacks come in many sizes and designs for a reason: so do backpackers. Some of us need a pack for moderate loads, some for heavy loads, and others, increasingly, for lightweight or ultralight backpacking. Some prefer a minimalist pack, others a range of features and access. Everyone wants the best possible fit and comfort, and almost everyone has a budget. But no matter which type of backpacker you are, this review covers the best packs in each of those categories.

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A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail above Pitamakan Pass in Glacier National Park.

The Best Ultralight Backpacks of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Do you need an ultralight backpack? Many backpackers might answer “no” when, for many reasons, their answer should logically be “yes.” These packs aren’t just for thru-hikers. Typically weighing roughly between under two pounds and three pounds empty, ultralight packs have support for carrying 25 to 35 pounds—making them ideal for more than just ultralight backpacking. For many backpackers, that represents the range of pack weight they either carry on most trips—or could carry on most trips, with smart packing and reasonably light gear.

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Backpackers hiking past a tarn off the Highline Trail (CDT) in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Glacier National Park. The Wind River Range. The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. Iceland. The John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, and Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Yellowstone. Southern Utah’s Escalante canyons. The North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear and apparel reviewed at The Big Outside—so that I can give you honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you find the best gear for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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