Getting ready for hiking with tents and trekking poles


Seems like we are always needing more of these, so once again, let’s take a look at ultralight gear for tents, trekking poles and water purifiers, so the ultralight list at Outdoor Gearlabs is super helpful


Well, there is a tradeoff between lightweight and being sturdy, but we have the Big Agnes UV 2 which is just awesome and can fit three in a pinch, but Outdoor Gear Labs has great reviews. Two are basically tied for those who are frequent campers and backpackers:

  1. Zpacks Duplex Ultralight 2. ($600 direct). If you are really insane, then this is the tent for you, it is only 21 ounces mainly because you use your trekking poles to hold it up (clever!) but costs a fortune.
  2. Nemo Dagger 2P ($400 from REI) is a big heavier at 3 lb 12 ounces (Ok everything is relative), but more durable. If you are an REI member, then you get 10% off as a rebate and I hope you have a free REI card so you get an additional 3% off. Finally use and you can score about 2% more.
  3. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2P ($450 from EMS, Backcountry, Moosejaw). We got this through a friend for about half off and the reuglar UL2 was a dream. This one is high volume and the only drawback is that to get to 3 lb 1 ounce, the material is very, very delicate. Also, EMS, Backcountry and Moosejaw regularly have big discounts, so sign up for their newsletters. Also cashbackmonitor regularly shows 12% rebates from these sellers plus whatever you get on your card. So it’s expensive, but that takes a little sting out of it.

As an aside note you will also need a footprint to go underneath, you can either get a dedicated one from the vendor or just get a 4×8 Tyvek for $16 from Amazon
If you want the 3 person versions, they are just a little bit heavier and more expensive but work better for bigger folks.

Trekking Poles

There are lots of fancy ones out there now and you can even get them at CostCo, but two years ago we got the Gossamer Gear LT3, these are fixed height, but weigh in at 3 ounces each. They are fixed in height though, so you need a traveling tube to carry them. Now looking at Outdoor Gear Labs and Switchback Travel again they like are heavier at 17 ounces or so, so:

  1. Gossamer Gear LT5. Just out, this is 9 ounces in total, so much lighter and has three connectors, delicate as it is carbon fiber, but lightweight. It’s expensive at $195 but comes from a small vendor, so feel good about helping the little guy.
  2. Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z. These are 10 ounces so close to the Gossamer, but cheaper at $160 from big retailers, so you can get another 10% offer pretty easily like Backcountry. For about $100, you can get the aluminum versions that are 2-3 ounces heavier. These are fixed, so use the sizing chart, but basically 120cm is for 5’7” to 5’11” and 130cm for taller folks.
  3. Gossamer Gear LT3. If you are a real weight fiend,this is just 6 ounces per pair and cost $120 for a pair or so, but is fixed length, personally, I haven’t found that to matter too much, just grip the pole at at a different place. Also, get the one with out a strap, you don’t really need it, just get a little string and tack it on. The main limitation is that they are hard to take with you on airplanes or stick into your pack.

For the more durable:

  1. Leki Micro Vario Carbon. This one is relatively light at 14.5 ounces and packs small. It is less durable, but should work for those who are more athletic. $200 so it is premium prices, but light.
  2. Leki Carbon Ti. 15 ounces and packs longer. It’s a little cheaper at $180

Sleeping Pads

We have been using the Thermarest Neo-Rest XLite based on Outdoor Gear labs and Switchback Travel and it is great, so looking again the choices are:

  1. Therma-rest Neo-Rest XLite still seems like they make the top pad, although at $160 at REI and others right now it should give you a little pause but at 12 ounces with an R value of 15 it is worth it.
  2. Neo-Rest XLite Short. This is much shorter for just the torso and is $130 and just 8 ounces
  3. Gossamer Nightlight. If you are really hard core, you can get some high density foam and it comes in at 5-6 ounces mainly because it is only for your torso. The sacrifices we make for weight.


Well, we’ve been using the Osprey Atmos 65 as our ultralight weight choice and it has been great, but what’s new from Outdoor Gear Labs review of ultralight backpacks with the note that around here we need to carry bear canisters so can’t just take the lightest pack:

  1. Z Packs Arcblast 55. This really is lightweight at 21 ounces (?!) but you should onliy carry 10-20 pounds. Also you can customize it and add weight to it, but it will be more versatile.
  2. Osprey Exos 48. This still remains on top weight just 37.4 ounces and can carry just about anything. Note there is a 38 and a 58, so you can actually get something larger if you need it. The main thing is that it is great for 30 pound loads, so get this if you need to carry a bigger load.
  3. Gossamer Gear Gorilla. Man these guys are cleaning up in this category. It’s a little heavier but can handle 30 pounds. It is pretty small though, so hard to fit a bear canister at 38 liters.


We have a Snow Peak Titanium pot and it is a miracle of lightness, so what does Outdoor Gear labs like now:

  1. G4Free. This is $20 at Amazon and perfect for hiking. It is 1.2 pounds of stuff
  2. Snow Peak Titanium. This is an incredible 7 ounces for three pieces and it really only good for heating water (about all we do on trips). It is $80 at Amazon.

Water Purifiers

We had great luck with the Sawyer water filter combined with a good water system is the best way to go. Just one ounce or so. It’s $20 from Amazon

Sun Hats

OK they look dorky, but the sun is not your friend while hiking, the Sunday Afternoon Adventure Hat has a great rating. $38 at Amazon.

Hydration Packs

We fell in love with the MSR Dromlite system a few years ago. The four liter bag is perfect and doesn’t leak, so Outdoor Gearlabs still likes them but also recommends:

  1. Geigerrig Hydration Pack. IT’s main claim to fame is that you can pressurize it, so no more sucking, just open and drink 🙂
  2. Hydrapak Shapeshift. This is only $20 and is super lightweight and like the Geigerrig, you can dish wash it since you can flip it inside out.
  3. Dromlite. Still the best if you don’t need it as a hydration pack but just for water storage. Light and strong.

Water bottles

Hard to mess with success in water bottles, the $9 at Amazon Nalgene wide mouth is still awesome and the $40 at Amazon Hydro Flask is the perfect insulated one to keep in the car.

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