What are the best gifts you can buy for an ultralight backpacker who’s a minimalist and eschews material possessions? It’s a quandary, isn’t it? Here are some tried and true gear favorites that all ultralight backpackers lust for. They may be minimalists, but they like great gear just like everyone else!
Here are 20 of our top gift ideas for the ultralight backpacker in your family.
1. Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket
The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket is a purpose-built synthetic jacket made for hiking and backpacking. It is insulated with Climashield Apex, which is also used by Enlightened Equipment to insulate its synthetic quilts. The Torrid has two zippered handwarmer pockets, elastic wrist cuffs, and an adjustable hood opening to block side drafts. The construction is not sewn-thru to eliminate drafts through needle holes, which is a significant enhancement and departure from the norm for jackets in this class. Its raglan sleeves are designed to be used with a backpack and its ultralight nylon exterior fabric has a durable water-repellent finish to repel mist and light precipitation. A women’s model is also available.
The Swiss Army Classic pocket knife is a longtime hiker favorite because it’s super lightweight but packs many of the tools that hikers need on a daily basis, ranging from a small pair of sharp scissors and a knife to a nail file, toothpick, and tweezers. Weighing just 0.7 ounces, it’s easy to clip to the outside of your backpack with a mini-biner for easy access. Replacement toothpicks and tweezers are also available since they’re usually the first thing you lose.
The Jetboil Stash is a 7.1 oz fully integrated personal cook system that includes a titanium stove, an anodized cook pot w/lid, and a stand. It’s smaller, lighter weight, and packable than other Jetboil stoves which is the reason it’s such an attractive option. When not in use, the stove, stand, and a 100g oz gas canister fit inside the cookpot, making the Stash remarkably easy to pack. The Stash can boil a half-liter of water in 2 minutes 30 seconds and boil up to 12L on one small fuel canister.
The Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a pocket-sized satellite messenger that can send an SOS message to Search and Rescue in an emergency when you’re out of cell phone range. It can also send email messages and text messages to friends and family, whenever you want to update them or share your GPS coordinates. It has an easy-to-use push-button interface but can also pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth to display GPS maps and navigational information. Weighing just 3.5 oz, it’s small enough to tuck into your pants pocket.
Hyperlite’s Mountain Gear’s (HMG) Shoulder Strap Pocket is a waterproof pocket made with Dyneema Composite Fabrics that is perfect for carrying a Smartphone, point-and-shoot camera, or travel documents. It has a built-in sleeve that can be used as a hiker wallet as well as an external mesh pocket that will hold a phone securely, even when you take off your pack or it falls over on the ground. It’s easy to attach to packs with daisy chains on the shoulder straps with the included gatekeeper buckles.
The Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak is a unisex ultralight down pullover insulated with 900 fill power goose down with a 7-denier ballistic nylon ripstop shell. Weighing just 7.6 oz, it has a fully adjustable 2-way hood with a fully insulated tunnel pocket to keep your hands nice and warm. While this highly compressible garment packs down small, it will keep you toasty warm when worn by itself as an outer layer or layered under a shell. It doesn’t have any zippered pockets but you’ll be amazed by how warm the jacket is.
Darn Tough’s Micro-Crew Wool Socks are hands-down the most popular hiking socks used by hard-core hikers because they’re both comfortable and indestructible. Made with Merino Wool, they resist body odors and naturally move foot perspiration away from the feet to prevent blisters. They even come with a guarantee, that if you can wear them out, Darn Tough will replace them for free! Price:
The Katabatic Gear Piñon Bivy (7.3 oz) provides a waterproof floor with a water-resistant upper to protect your quilt from spray and mist. It has an extra-large mesh window and long U-shaped zipper extending from waist level across the top, allowing for easy entry and exit. It is designed to work well with both pyramid shelters and tarps. Katabatic Gear also makes the Bristlecone Bivy which has a smaller mesh window that is better for cooler weather but has the same U-shaped zipper for easy entry or exit.
Can’t reach your water bottles when you get thirsty? That’s not a problem if you attach your water bottle to your backpack shoulder strap. The Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear (CTUG) Water Bottle Sleeve can attach to backpack shoulder straps that have a daisy chain in front or a hydration hose keeper loop making them compatible with just about every backpack in existence. The sleeve is available in two sizes and compatible with 0.7L and 1L Smart Water Bottles (a hiker favorite). Durably made with X-Pac, these sleeves are attached at the top and bottom so your bottles won’t fall into the dirt when you bend over to tie your shoe.
The Zpacks Duplex is a 18.5 oz two-person trekking pole tent designed for three-season use that’s a popular choice with section hikers and thru-hikers. It’s very easy to set up and provides good weather protection. The two rainbow-style doors and side vestibules make it easy to share with another hiker, but the tent is lightweight enough that it can even be used by one person. Any hiker would love to get a Duplex as a gift.
The Waymark EVLV Ultra is a minimalist frameless pack with a roll-top closure, side water bottle pockets, a front stretch pocket, and daisy chains on the shoulder straps. It’s made with Ultra, which is waterproof and more abrasion resistant than Dyneema DCF. The EVLV ranges in volumes from 35-38 liters depending on your torso size and is best suited for base weights (minus water, fuel, and food) of 10 lbs. The EVLV is available in multiple colors and torso sizes. We think the construction and attention to detail on Waymark’s packs is top-notch.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Packing Pods are ultralight kidney-shaped stuff sacks designed to use all of the space in a backpack and eliminate the voids that are leftover if you pack with conventional cylindrical-shaped stuff sacks. They’re made with an ultralight waterproof fabric called Dyneema DCF and have an attached top flap that lets you view their contents but zipper closed for moisture protection. All of Hyperlite’s Packing Pods are silver-colored.
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation is one of the most popular quilts on the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail. This company was among the first to really popularize backpacking quilts, and the Revelation is one of their most popular quilt models, coming with a zippered footbox. The stock 20-degree Revelation weighs 19.18 ounces, but can also be customized. The Revelation comes with elastics to strap to your sleeping bag and a draft collar to snap around your neck.
The 2022 Durston X-Mid 1P is a 28-ounce double-wall trekking pole tent that is exceptionally easy to set up. This 2-door tent is made of 20D polyester with a 2500mm sil/PEU coating and requires trekking poles to pitch. All of the seams are taped and the inner tent is optional so you can just use the rainfly if desired. The X-mid can be set up fly first in the rain to keep the inner tent dry and has plenty of interior gear storage space. This mid-style tent is quite stormworthy and includes extra guy-out points for extreme conditions.
The Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad has extra thick 4″ air sprung cells that provide excellent comfort for side and back sleepers. ThermoLite synthetic insulation and a platinum liner reflect warmth back to you to minimize radiant heat loss. A flat valve makes it quick to inflate and deflate, and a combination stuff sack/air pump is included for ease of use. The Ether Light has an R-Value of 3.2, making it suitable for three-season use, while a size regular (72″ x 20″) weighs in at 15 oz. Multiple sizes are available. We won’t sleep on any other pad.
The Platypus QuickDraw is a squeeze-style water filter that screws onto platypus bottles, reservoirs, and 28 mm pet bottles (including SmartWater bottles). It’s sold with a 1L bottle shown here but can also be purchased separately. The QuickDraw filter is a hollow fiber filter that physically removes, protozoa, 99.9999% of bacteria, and 99.9% of protozoa, with a flow rate of up to 3L/minute. It can be backflushed or shaken clean. Both ends of the filter can be closed between uses, preventing water from dripping over all of your gear. The weight of the filter and the bottle is 3.6 oz, while the weight of the filter alone is 2.2 oz.
The Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt is an incredibly refined, 2 oz wind shirt, made with 10d nylon with an adjustable hood, elastic wrist cuffs, a drawcord hem, and a full-length zipper. While most windbreakers and wind shirts have elasticized hood openings, the Copperfield hood is adjustable with pull cords, so you can completely seal off the face from drafts and prevent the hood from flapping loudly and violently in high winds. The sleeves are cut to be comfortable when wearing a backpack and the fit runs about a half size large for layering. A women’s model is also available. You can have the option to customize the Copperfield in a variety of colors and fabric weights. Read the SectionHiker Review.
18. Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 – Women’s Sleeping Bag
The Feathered Friends Egret UL 20 is a top-shelf technical sleeping bag tailored for women that has extra fill in the footbox and around the chest. It also provides more room in the elbows, including space to draw your knees up in the bag if you like to sleep that way. The contoured hood opens wide in warmer weather and makes it easy for side sleepers to use, while a two-way zipper makes the bag easy to vent. The Egret has a draft collar to help seal in the heat around your shoulders, while a trapezoidal footbox allows your feet to fall in a natural pose without compressing the sides. Available in two lengths: 5′ 3″ and 5′ 9″, the Egret UL 20 is insulated with 950+ fill power goose down and weighs just 1 lb 9.6 oz. That’s seriously light!
The Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 60L is an ultralight ventilated backpack with a suspended mesh back panel to keep you cool in hot weather. Made with waterproof and durable Ultra 200 and 100 fabric, the 19.6 oz Arc Haul Ultra 60 is a roll-top with side water bottle pockets and a front mesh pocket for external gear storage. The torso length is adjustable by raising and lowering the shoulder pads, while the hip belt is available in multiple lengths. The Arc Haul Ultra can haul up to 30 lbs comfortably. Sizing is Unisex, but a new women’s model is also available. This pack is seam-taped.
Ultralight and easily adjustable with a twist lock, Gossamer Gear’s LT5 carbon fiber trekking poles have a three-piece carbon construction that can be adjusted from 23.5” when collapsed to 51” fully extended. The foam handle absorbs sweat, and the strap is padded and adjustable. The set weighs under 10 ounces, which is feathery light making them a joy to use.
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