The easiest way to light up an outdoor lover’s face is to invite them on a trip, or get them a sweet piece of gear. We’re hoping you have the trip planned, but with the holidays around the corner a gift is probably a good idea, too. We know there’s essentially too much gear to choose from, so we created a guide with some of our favorite ultralight backpacking products in the outdoor world.
We’ve split the products into High-End Gifts, Mid-Range Gifts, and Budget Gifts, because we know you have a budget in mind for that lucky Backpacker. These gifts are specifically tailored to the Ultralight Backpacker — those cooky folks who count every gram and take the minimum necessary for their adventure. We know what those folks want, and we know you probably don’t. So, enjoy the highly curated list of gifts your Ultralight Backpacker buddy, relative, or significant other will love.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody — $299
The Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody is a new synthetic insulated jacket that mirrors the weight and warmth of down using PlumaFill. At 9.3 ounces for a fully hooded jacket, it’s uber light and has a distinctive patterned look that Patagonia is known for. Every design element is top notch, and there are two zippered hand pockets. We’re fans of synthetic puffies because they’re quick drying and warm without making you feel like you’re wearing a marshmallow.
An excellent gift for lovers of puffy jackets, those that want synthetic over down, or Patagonia die-hards.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 — $215
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is a standout ultralight backpack. It weighs two pounds and has load lifters, a removable back panel that doubles as a seat cushion, and seven excellently designed pockets. Incredible craftsmanship combines with high quality materials for a pack that will stick around for years. The Mariposa 60 won our Classic Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker.
An excellent gift for anyone that wants to go ultralight but still needs lots of pockets to stay organized.
Check out the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm — $199.95-$239.95
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad is legendary. Light, rugged, and warm, the NeoAir XTherm set many of the standards for sleeping pads. Reflective layers keep heat where it’s supposed to be, making this a true four-season sleeping pad. Both mummy and rectangular shapes are available in multiple widths to make back and side sleepers comfortable. Packed up, it’s not much bigger than a Nalgene bottle. We love this pad, and it won our Premium Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.
An excellent gift for gram counters, toss-and-turners, and those who want the best ultralight sleeping pad on the market.
Check out the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.
Gossamer Gear The One Tent — $299.25
Gossamer Gear describes you’re night’s sleep in The One Tent as “snug as a bug in a weatherproof, ripstop rug.” It’s fast and easy to set up solo, and leaves room for you and your gear to stay dry together. Small to medium sized Fido’s can fit as well, and there’s nothing quite like puppy love to keep you warm. An impressive 19 ounce weight isn’t quite as low as hammock camping, but you never have to worry about finding trees, and it knocks the socks off most other 1-person tents. Adjustable ventilation makes it easy to keep comfortable even in boggy rain.
An excellent gift for the solo-backpacker looking to shed pounds and stay in the cottage gear marketplace.
Check out the Gossamer Gear The One Tent.
Western Mountaineering UltraLite – $484.95–$514.95
The Western Mountaineering UltraLite is the pinnacle of sleeping bag engineering. This bag is incredibly durable and intelligently crafted, from the continuous baffles to the down collar to the wide yet warm hood design. The down is high quality, and the bag is made in the USA. With proper care it’ll last a lifetime, and it weighs around two pounds for true 20-degree protection. The UltraLite sleeping bag won our Premium Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker, and remains one of the top bags on the market.
An excellent gift for the luckiest ultralight backpacker on the planet — the gift of a Western Mountaineering bag is one that won’t ever be forgotten.
Check out the Western Mountaineering UltraLite sleeping bag.
Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking Poles — $95.50 per pole
Gossamer Gear’s LT4 Carbon Trekking Poles are made for Ultralight Backpackers. A single adjustment point helps cut down grams and maintain stability, while still giving you flexibility. Expandable from 90 cm to 135 cm for hiking, these poles go up to 140 cm if you want to use them to set up a shelter. Durable and strong, they also float just in case you drop them in a stream along the way. But you may not want to watch them float away after you’ve fallen in love.
An excellent gift for Ultralight Backpackers who need that “super lightweight” set of trekking poles.
Check out the Gossamer Gear LT4 Carbon Trekking Poles.
MSR PocketRocket 2 — $44.95
The MSR PocketRocket 2 is the recently released update to a fantastic stove. The new version is even better. Super light, extremely fast boil times, and origami-like folding make this a must-have small canister stove. The pot holders are stable and reach surprisingly far for how small the stove is, and the simmer is incredible. This backpacking stove won our Classic Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker because it’s so easy to use and it won’t let you down.
An excellent gift for anyone who wants a no-brainer stove that’s also stupidly small. Also for those who want to boil water immediately.
Check out the MSR PocketRocket 2.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light (Large) — $42.95
The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light is a surprise in the backcountry. It’s an inflatable pillow, so it doesn’t take up space, and Sea to Summit uses incredibly thin fabric for a very small weight penalty. The Regular comes in at a whopping 2.1 ounces, and it’s only .4 ounces more for the Large size, which we’re recommending. If you’re going for maximum ultralight comfort, go big or get a crick in your neck.
An excellent gift for stubborn UltraLight Backpackers who think they don’t need a pillow and then complain about their neck hurting the next morning. Sometimes we have to help our friends get the comfortable night sleep they deserve.
Check out the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light.
Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset — $59.95
If your Backpacker wants to bring just one pot and pan, the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset is it. This 7.4 ounce set gives you lots of cooking ability with a 1.4L pot and a frypan which doubles as the pot lid (and as a bowl). Made from titanium for increased strength and reduced weight, this cookset is corrosion-resistant and won’t have that weird metallic smell or taste that some pots suffer from. Nesting is easy with this set, which is designed to fit Snow Peak’s Trek 700 and Trek 900 series pots. Or, save the space for your stove, canister, bowl, mug, silverware, and whatever you want to stash in there.
An excellent gift for the Ultralight Backpacker that wants to make one-pot meals or boil water at their heart’s content. You can get the smaller sets if your Backpacker doesn’t need the largest size.
Check out the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset.
Ursack S29.3 AllWhite Bear Bag — $79.95
Ursack S29.3 AllWhite Bear Bag is made from “bulletproof” Spectra fabric to keep even the toughest bears out of your food while you’re sleeping. Recommended by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (that’s a thing!), it comes with 24 feet of cord to tie the bag shut and attach it to a tree or bear pole. When packed efficiently, the S29.3 can hold about five days worth of food for a single person. You’ll be wondering why you used a bear canister for so long when you switch to this ultralight bag. (Note: The Ursack not considered enough protection in some wilderness areas, and you still need to hang the bag.)
An excellent gift for anyone who occasionally has to fend off bears, but doesn’t want the weight of a heavy plastic model.
Check out the Ursack S29.3 AllWhite Bear Bag.
National Parks Pass — $79.99
We love our National Parks, and if you have a difficult Backpacker who needs a gift, an Annual National Parks Pass is the way to go. This pass gets you entry to over 2,000 national recreation areas for a full year. We’ve written about buying a National Parks Pass for yourself before, because this land is our land and it’s meant to be explored. Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving.
An excellent gift for someone looking to get outside and explore new places, for friends hoping to check all 59 National Parks off their list, or for families living near any of the 2,000 national recreation areas included in the Pass. Bonus: this weighs nothing on the trail!
Check out the Annual National Parks Pass.
Platypus DuoLock Softbottle 1L — $13.95
The Platypus DuoLock Softbottle 1L is an easy-to-pack, easy-to-use, super light water bottle. A wide opening means you can fill it up quick, and a new dual-locking cap prevents water from leaking out. The convenient handle gives you a spot to hang onto while filling up the bottle, so you don’t fill and squeeze precious water right back out. And the built in clip lets you attach this bottle just about anywhere. Four patterns give you a stylish bottle that stands out.
An excellent gift for a thirsty Backpacker who wants maximum gram-counting in a super packable package. Also great for ultralighters who hate spills. If you want the true ultralight version, get the regular Platypus Softbottle, which can work with a Sawyer MINI or Squeeze.
Check out the Platypus DuoLock Softbottle 1L.
Sawyer MINI Water Filter — $24.95
The Sawyer MINI Water Filter is the minimalist water filter method you want for any backpacking trip. Using the included squeeze bag you can refill water bottles and other containers with fresh, clean drinking water. The MINI also attaches directly to most bladders if you’re looking to drink on the move. We love its compact size, its versatility, and its price point, which is why it won our Budget Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker.
An excellent gift for Backpackers who want the smallest, lightest water filter on the market.
Check out the Sawyer MINI Water Filter.
Petzl e+LITE Headlamp — $29.95
Petzl’s e+LITE Headlamp is a good little light that will shine. Whether you’re moving around in the dark, reading in your tent, or looking for an emergency signal, the e+LITE has your back. We recommend it for uber-ultralight backpackers who want the tiniest light they can find. It’s a handy headlamp that won our Classic Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker.
An excellent gift to upgrade an emergency kit, or for backpackers who like fully featured ultralight gear.
Check out the Petzl e+LITE Headlamp.
Vargo Dig Dig Tool — $24.95
Vargo’s Dig Dig Tool is a simple and light tool for digging cat holes in the wilderness. (Yeah, we’re talking about poop!) Bonus: it doubles as a tent stake. An ergonomic handle gives your hand a break in soil, sand, and snow. Lightweight titanium doesn’t break or bend, and the serrated edges won’t dull for a long, long time.
The Vargo Dig Dig Tool makes a great gift because it’s something unique, super practical, and helps Backpackers practice Leave No Trace principles.
Check out the Vargo Dig Dig Tool.
Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Hiking Socks — $21
We know, nobody gets excited when they are gifted socks. Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Hiking Socks are the exception because they are trail-tested and Backpacker approved. Extra padding in all the right places protects the feet from blisters and keeps toes warm. One Backpacker said they’ve gone for “several days” without any “stank,” which makes us wonder if these socks are actually magic. Also, they have a lifetime warranty, which means you’re basically gifting your Backpacker a pair of socks for life.
Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Hiking Socks are a great gift because no one buys expensive socks for themselves. If the Backpacker on your list is eyeing a thru-hike, or any hike, these are the socks for them.
Check out the Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Hiking Socks.
Montbell Stuck In Nobashi Chopsticks – $19
Chopsticks? Yeah, chopsticks. Montbell Stuck In Nobashi Chopsticks, to be specific. The beauty of these nimble, lightweight eating utensils is they allow you to maintain some class in the wilderness. Also perfect for those who are used to endless bowls of ramen, and want to eat them in the more satisfying (and slurpy) manner. Your Backpacker won’t expect this, and they’ll be stoked to use them in the wild and around town.
These are a great gift for the ultralight backpacker who fancies themselves classy, and for anyone who wants a pair of indestructible chopsticks.
Check out the Montbell Stuck In Nobashi Chopsticks.
Aquamira Water Treatment Drops — $14.95
Looking for the truly cheap, truly ultralight water purification system? Aquamira’s Water Treatment Drops have become the standard for backup water purification in the backcountry, replacing old-school iodine tablets. They taste better and protect against more water-borne pathogens and bacteria. They also treat viruses! While it takes longer to treat water, and the taste still isn’t particularly delicious, these drops get the job done and takes up almost no space or weight.
A great gift for the Backpacker who wants a backup water treatment solution or for someone who doesn’t want to rely on more complex water filters.
Check out the Aquamira Water Treatment Drops.
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