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Dream Backpacking Gear List

Pairing your backpacking kit down to feather light weights can make rambles in the mountains much more enjoyable. Brandon on a fun overnight up near the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park  Colorado.
Friday March 13, 2020
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Dream Backpacking Gear List


We've taken the time to put all of our favorite backpacking gear in one place. This dream list has options for any type of trail treader. Whether you love to go fast with the lightest gear on the market or prefer a more leisurely adventure with lavish, comfortable gear, we've got options. We also consider the best value options to help you save money. The links below in the gear category go to the reviews of each product.

Last Update - March 2020
Take a gander at the latest and greatest in backpacking gear. We test throughout the year to get a well-rounded perspective on each product. The lists below highlight the award winners for each backpacking category we've tested. Enjoy!

Related: Best Budget Backpacking Tent of 2020
Related: Best Budget Backpacking Pack of 2020
Related: Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bag
Related: Backpacking Checklist

Related: Introduction to Layered Clothing Systems

We take backpacking seriously. This article will help you find the best backpacking gear for your adventures.
We take backpacking seriously. This article will help you find the best backpacking gear for your adventures.

Legend


EC = Our Editors' Choice - the product we'd select if we could only choose one.
BB = The Best Buy! These products will keep your wallet heavy and your thoughts light.
UL= Ultralight. What you're looking for if you find yourself in steep or challenging terrain.

SUL = Super ultralight weight. The lightest of the light on the market.

Backpacking Tent


EC: NEMO Dragonfly 2 or Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2
BB: REI Co-op Passage 2 or The North Face Stormbreak 2 or Nemo Hornet 2P
UL: ZPacks Duplex Flex Upgrade - only 1.2 ounces

SUL: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp - only 11 ounces

When backpacking  a solid tent that offers the right amount of protection at a great price is key. We test the REI Passage 1 on a solo mission through forested trails  a fantastic option if you're looking to save a chunk of change.
When backpacking, a solid tent that offers the right amount of protection at a great price is key. We test the REI Passage 1 on a solo mission through forested trails, a fantastic option if you're looking to save a chunk of change.

Tent Stakes


EC: MSR Groundhog Stakes
UL: MSR Carbon Core Tent Stakes- .2 ounces per stake

For Winter Camping: REI Snow Stake

Tent Footprint


EC: Tyvek - Simple, but doesn't have corner gromets

Men's Sleeping Bag


EC (Unisex): Western Mountaineering MegaLite
BB: Kelty Cosmic 20 or NEMO Kyan 35

UL: Feathered Friends Flicker 40 UL or Western Mountaineering Summerlite (Both ~19 ounces)

Women's Sleeping Bag


EC: Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 (UL option)

BB: Sierra Designs Cloud 800 (also UL option) or Kelty Cosmic 20 - Women's

A solid sleeping bag should be compressible and lightweight while offering enough warmth to keep you toasty on precarious perches.
A solid sleeping bag should be compressible and lightweight while offering enough warmth to keep you toasty on precarious perches.

Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack


EC: ZPacks Medium Dry Bag (also UL option) or the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack
BB: Garbage bag or shopping bag

Best for Winter: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack

Men's Sleeping Pad


EC: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm
BB: Klymit Static V2 and Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol

UL: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite (12 ounces)

Women's Sleeping Pad


EC: Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated - Women's
BB: REI Co-op AirRail Plus - Women's

UL: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's

A thick sleeping pad that can be set on uneven ground with unreal views will offer the best comfort on the market.
A thick sleeping pad that can be set on uneven ground with unreal views will offer the best comfort on the market.

Men's Backpack


EC: Granite Gear Blaze 60
BB: Osprey Volt 60 or Granite Gear Virga 2 (also UL option - 1.2 pounds)

UL: Gossamer Gear Mariposa (1.9 pounds)

Women's Backpack


EC: Ultralight Adventure Equipment Circuit
BB: Osprey Renn 65

UL: Osprey Lumina 45 (1.86 pounds)

The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is a pinnacle point of comparison when it comes to performance. This backpacking pack aided our explorations high above the trees of Vermont  making our travels light and comfortable.
The Granite Gear Blaze 60 is a pinnacle point of comparison when it comes to performance. This backpacking pack aided our explorations high above the trees of Vermont, making our travels light and comfortable.

Trekking Poles


EC: Leki Micro Vario Carbon or Leki Women's Micro Vario Carbon
BB: Black Diamond Distance Z (UL option - 12 ounces) or Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock

SUL: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z (10 ounces)

Headlamp


EC: Black Diamond Storm or Black Diamond Spot
BB: Petzl Tikkina

UL: Petzl e+LITE (1 ounce)

When the light begins to dwindle  a solid headlamp will light your path. Don't spend too much and look for illuminating quality and performance.
When the light begins to dwindle, a solid headlamp will light your path. Don't spend too much and look for illuminating quality and performance.

Stove


EC: Soto Windmaster (UL option)

BB: BRS-3000T (also UL or SUL option)

Pot


EC: Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Pot Set
UL: MSR Trail Mini Duo

SUL: Snow Peak Trek 700 Titanium

A lightweight stove and pot will keep your load light when backpacking or in the frontcountry. We love the Primus PrimeTech pot for its awesome capacity and quick boiling speed.
A lightweight stove and pot will keep your load light when backpacking or in the frontcountry. We love the Primus PrimeTech pot for its awesome capacity and quick boiling speed.

Spork


EC: Snow Peak Titanium Spork
BB: humangear GoBites Uno

UL: Vargo Titanium ULV

Pocket Knife


EC: Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585
BB: Kershaw Leek or Kershaw Chill or Sanrenmu 7010

UL: Victorinox Classic SD Swiss Army Knife

Mmmmmm. Food after a long day tastes so good! Bring along a collapsible bowl and a solid spork to help shovel it into your gizzard.
Mmmmmm. Food after a long day tastes so good! Bring along a collapsible bowl and a solid spork to help shovel it into your gizzard.

Water Bottles


EC: YETI Rambler 26
BB: Nalgene Wide-Mouth or Simple Modern Summit
UL: Platypus SoftBottle

SUL: Recycled plastic water bottle

Hydration Bladders


EC: Platypus Big Zip EVO
BB: Platypus Hoser or CamelBak Crux Reservoir

UL: Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir

The CamelBack Crux is a reliable choice when exploring up high in the alpine. It'll keep you hydrated while you slog up the steepest of slopes.
The CamelBack Crux is a reliable choice when exploring up high in the alpine. It'll keep you hydrated while you slog up the steepest of slopes.

Water Filtration


EC: Platypus GravityWorks or Sawyer Squeeze
BB: Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L

UL: Katadyn BeFree or Aquamira Water Treatment Drops (purification system)

Portable Solar Panel


Best: BigBlue 28W
BB: ECEEN 13W

UL: Renogy E.Flex5 (6.1 ounces)

Keep your water filtered with an easy-on-the-go filter like the Sawyer Mini. Here  Jo squeezes some water from a high alpine lake after finding some slick snow stashes in the summer.
Keep your water filtered with an easy-on-the-go filter like the Sawyer Mini. Here, Jo squeezes some water from a high alpine lake after finding some slick snow stashes in the summer.

Men's Hiking Pants


Best: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants

BB: REI Co-op Sahara Roll-Up

Women's Hiking Pants


Best: Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible - Women's

BB: REI Co-op Sahara Convertible - Women's

Find a solid hiking pant that moves with you as you climb  hike  and relax. It will keep you protected on your missions around the globe.
Find a solid hiking pant that moves with you as you climb, hike, and relax. It will keep you protected on your missions around the globe.

Hiking Socks


Best: Darn Tough Hiker Full Cushion (Women's & Men's options)

BB: Danish Endurance Unisex Merino Wool

Men's Base Layer Top


Best: Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer

BB: Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Lightweight

Women's Base Layer Top


Best: Smartwool Merino 250 1/4 Zip - Women's

BB: Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew - Women's

Our favorite baselayers offer amazing thermoregulation like the lightweight Smartwool Merino 150. This next to skin layer will wick away moisture and ultimately keep you dry and warm on any backcountry mission.
Our favorite baselayers offer amazing thermoregulation like the lightweight Smartwool Merino 150. This next to skin layer will wick away moisture and ultimately keep you dry and warm on any backcountry mission.

Men's Fleece


Best: Patagonia R1 Hoody

BB: Outdoor Research Vigor Half-Zip Hoody

Women's Fleece


Best: Patagonia R1 Hoody - Women's

BB: Marmot Flashpoint - Women's or Columbia Benton Springs - Women's

A comfortable and cozy fleece jacket adds insulation to any layered clothing system. Make sure it offers a looser fit to easily layer underneath. This is one of our favorites.
A comfortable and cozy fleece jacket adds insulation to any layered clothing system. Make sure it offers a looser fit to easily layer underneath. This is one of our favorites.

Men's Rain Jacket


Best: Arc'teryx Beta SL
BB: Patagonia Torrentshell
UL: Outdoor Research Helium II (under 7 ounces)

SUL: Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket

Women's Rain Jacket


Best: Outdoor Research Aspire - Women's
BB: Marmot PreCip Eco - Women's

UL: Outdoor Research Helium II - Women's (5.2 ounces)

The Instellar occupies a sort of hybrid category between hardshell and rain jacket. You can trust it to keep you dry while skiing  but it's not tough enough for alpine climbing. The perfect activity  however  might be rainy hiking.
The Instellar occupies a sort of hybrid category between hardshell and rain jacket. You can trust it to keep you dry while skiing, but it's not tough enough for alpine climbing. The perfect activity, however, might be rainy hiking.

Men's Wind Jacket


Best: Patagonia Houdini (also best UL option)

BB: The North Face Fanorak

Women's Wind Jacket


Best: Patagonia Houdini - Women's (also best UL option)

BB: Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Unisex

Enjoy the lightweight construction of the Patagonia Houdini Jacket while running and exploring. Throw it over a fleece and you have an awesome wind shell. This essential piece of gear is a great choice for high alpine ridges and breathes well.
Enjoy the lightweight construction of the Patagonia Houdini Jacket while running and exploring. Throw it over a fleece and you have an awesome wind shell. This essential piece of gear is a great choice for high alpine ridges and breathes well.

Men's Down Jacket


Best: The North Face Summit L3 Hoody
BB: The North Face Sierra Peak Hoody or REI Co-op 650 Down Hoodie 2.0

UL: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2

Women's Down Jacket


Best: Feathered Friends Eos - Women's

BB: Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket - Women's or REI Co-op 650 Down 2.0 - Women's

A down jacket offers a fantastic warmth: weight ratio that'll keep you toasty. Whether you're hiking down the PCT or tieing in for a cold Fall climbing route  it's an essential piece of gear.
A down jacket offers a fantastic warmth: weight ratio that'll keep you toasty. Whether you're hiking down the PCT or tieing in for a cold Fall climbing route, it's an essential piece of gear.

Men's Synthetic Jacket


Best: Rab Xenon Hoodie (also best UL option)

BB: Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata Hoody

Women's Synthetic Jacket


Best: Ortovox Swisswool Piz Bial - Women's
BB: Columbia Heavenly Hoody - Women's

UL: Rab Xenon Hoodie - Women's or Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody - Women's

If the temperatures start to plummet  bring along a warm insulated jacket. Breathable options are great for on-the-go missions  while continuous shell versions will offer more wind protection  warmth  and pack down to a smaller size.
If the temperatures start to plummet, bring along a warm insulated jacket. Breathable options are great for on-the-go missions, while continuous shell versions will offer more wind protection, warmth, and pack down to a smaller size.

Men's Hardshell Jacket


Best: Arc'teryx Alpha FL

BB: Outdoor Research Interstellar (great UL option)

Women's Hardshell Jacket


Best: Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid - Women's
BB: REI Co-op Drypoint GTX - Women's or Arc'teryx Zeta SL - Women's

UL: Arc'teryx Norvan SL Hoody - Women's

Energy Bars


Here are some recommendations from our OutdoorGearLab review team:
Kate's Real Food - delicious meal replacement
Honey Stinger Waffle - sweet waffle for quick calories on the go

Justin's Maple Almond Butter - delicious butter with value in the mix

Whatever your adventure  make sure you get the right gear. From an ultralight tent to an excellent pair of hiking socks  we have fantastic recommendations that you need to check out.
Whatever your adventure, make sure you get the right gear. From an ultralight tent to an excellent pair of hiking socks, we have fantastic recommendations that you need to check out.

Conclusion


A great backpacking trip starts with great gear. We've got excellent budget options with a look at the best of the best on the market. Whether you love to go ultralight or pack a little extra for comfort, there are many options out there. We've just done the research and testing to help you find exactly what your heart desires.

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