Ultralight kit

Jen and Sim Benson review the best ultralight kit options.

A selection of clothing, laid out

1  Vaude Zebru UL 3L waterproof jacket 

£320 (180g small) vaude.com
Designed for Alpine conditions, this jacket packs down small and is incredibly light and comfortable. The adjustable wired hood, and adjustment on the cuffs and lower hem ensure it stays snug in the worst weather, while two zipped handwarmer pockets offer waterproof storage. The three-layer fabric and water-resistant coating are free from toxic PTFE and PFCs. Fair Wear certified.

2  Primus Lite+ stove system 

£115 (400g) primus.eu
This compact stove combines a 1,500W burner and a 500ml pot that lock together to create a stable, efficient system. It’s lightweight, easy to use and comes with piezo ignition; a durable, felt-lined heatproof sleeve; lid; studs to support other pots; and a foot support for stability. It all packs into the aluminium pot, which doubles as a mug.

3  Montane Trailblazer 

18 pack £60 (445g) montane.co.uk
With its smart looks and innovative design, this versatile pack is great for all-round use, from commuting and day walks to weekend adventures. It’s stable and comfortable to wear, with easy-access zipped pockets on the shoulder and waist straps, a generous main compartment and a zipped organiser pocket on the front. 

4  Komperdell Trailstick Carbon C4 Vario walking poles 

£159.95 (470g pair) komperdell.com
Made from strong, lightweight carbon fibre, these adjustable poles pack down to a tiny 39cm at the push of a button. They have a tough, anodised aluminium locking system, and the sculpted foam grips and padded straps ensure comfort and security. The poles come with durable tungsten/carbide tips, which grip well on a range of surfaces and hexagon baskets to limit sinking in mud or snow.

5  Salewa Ultra Train 2 shoes 

£140 (580g pair UK6.5) salewa.com
The updated second edition of the Ultra Train is a light yet supportive speed-hiking shoe with outstanding precision and grip. They’re great for long days out on dry, technical trails when you’re not carrying a heavy pack. The quick lace system creates a secure fit, while the integrated debris gaiter prevents grit from entering. The rugged Michelin outsole has a incredible grip.

6  Berghaus Fast Hike 32 pack 

£80 (605g) berghaus.com
With its stripped-back yet stable design, this pack is ideal for fastpacking or crossing steep, uneven ground. The chassis fits snugly, staying comfortable even when carrying a heavy load, while breathability is maintained through a honeycomb mesh back panel. It has compression straps, easy-access pockets on the waist and shoulder straps, side pockets, hydration sleeve and a removable back panel that doubles as a sit pad.

7  Berghaus Paclite GTX waterproof overtrousers 

£110 (200g size 10) berghaus.com
These protective Gore-Tex Paclite waterproof trousers have ankle zips, long venting zips and well-placed poppers to keep flapping to a minimum. The waist is elasticated and the fit allows for good freedom of movement. Available in a short or generous standard length, they’re great for all-day walking or stowing in a pack for emergencies.

8  Patagonia Micro Puff insulated jacket 

£220 (225g small) patagonia.com
This versatile jacket works as an insulating mid-layer under a waterproof shell or as a standalone outer layer. It combines a durable yet lightweight ripstop Nylon Pertex Quantum shell with Patagonia’s soft, warm PlumaFill synthetic insulation. It has two zipped handwarmer pockets and two internal drop-in pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff sack. Bluesign and Fair Trade certified.

9  Nordisk Halland 2 LW tent 

£560 (1,500g) nordisk.co.uk
Lightweight and packable, yet spacious for two people, this tunnel-design backpacking tent is a joy to use. The two-pole construction means it’s quick and simple to pitch, and the outer also pitches on its own. The large front zipper opens into a good-sized porch. The build quality is outstanding, and the tent comes with a range of handy spares for on-the-go repair and replacement.

10  On Cloudrock Waterproof boot 

£180 (820g pair UK 6.5) on-running.com
Designed as a speed-hiking boot for mixed terrain, the Cloudrock combines the support, protection and waterproofing of a walking boot with the lightweight, smooth ride and flexibility of a running shoe. The lacing creates a snug fit with plenty of padding around the ankle. The outsole offers excellent shock absorption and a decent amount of grip, particularly on dry surfaces.

11  MSR TrailShot pocket-sized water filter 

£47 (142g) msrgear.com
The innovative TrailShot is a small, light and highly effective water filter, removing 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.9% of protozoa and particulates at a rate of a litre per minute. Drink straight from the source via a tube or pump water into a bottle to take with you.

12 Thermarest ProLite self-inflating short mat 

£80/£100/£100 (350g short/510g regular/520g women’s) thermarest.com
The lightest of Thermarest’s self-inflating mats, with a layer of foam sandwiched between two outer layers of tough fabric, the ProLite features a tapered shape and diagonally cut foam, so it packs down small. Durable and convenient, it offers a warmer and more comfortable alternative to a basic foam mat for a little more weight but less bulk. Available in three different lengths and in a women’s version.

A selection of clothing, laid out

13  OMM Classic 25 pack 

£90 (710g) theomm.com
A classic on the mountain marathon scene, OMM’s tough, lightweight packs have also become favourites with fast-and-light backpackers. The padded harness and removable back panel (which doubles as a sleeping mat) create a stable fit. Two zipped waist-pockets allow easy access to essentials on the go, while mesh stash pockets on the front and sides and a zipped lid add extra storage. 

14  Nordisk Oscar +10 sleeping bag 

£220 (370g) nordisk.co.uk
Made from an ultrafine ripstop nylon shell with a 100% recycled synthetic filling from post-consumer PET bottles, this light synthetic sleeping bag has a tiny pack size, perfect for trips when space is tight and the weather is warm. The mummy shape offers a snug but comfortable fit, while the half-length zip allows for ease of access while keeping the weight down.

15  Petzl Swift RL headtorch 

£97 (100g) petzl.com
Petzl’s new compact Swift headtorch is lightweight and recharges via a USB port. It gives off a dazzling 900 lumens and is powerful enough for moving fast over technical terrain and map-reading in the dark. Reactive lighting technology adjusts the brightness to your needs as you go. Comfortable to wear, the reflective headband has a two-part construction, meaning it stays put.

16  Alpkit Kraku stove and MytiMug 650

£26.99/ £29.99 (47g/98g) alpkit.com
This tiny and super-lightweight stove is made from titanium with pan supports that uncurl from a cleverly folded position. It screws directly into a gas canister and can be used with a small pan or something like Alpkit’s excellent MytiMug 650, a jumbo, handled, titanium mug, which delivers a proper-sized cuppa first thing. While not designed as a system, the two products work beautifully together. 

17  Rab Spark waterproof jacket 

£160 (265g medium) rab.equipment
Made for fast and light walking, climbing or adventure racing, the Spark Jacket is a stripped-down, stretch waterproof jacket made from a Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer fabric. Well-thought-out features include an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood; two part-mesh chest pockets with rain drains (one doubles as a stuff-sack); adjustable hem and cuffs and reflective detailing. It’s brilliantly protective for its weight, packs small and is comfortable enough to wear all day long. 

18  Inov-8 Roclite G 370 boots

£150 (822g pair UK11) inov-8.com
With a deep, graphene-enhanced tread and a water-resistant upper, these light yet tough boots are ideal for year-round off-road walking, even in muddy conditions. They’re comfortable and supportive to wear, although some may find the minimalist design a little lacking in padding, particularly around the ankle. The grip is excellent on any terrain and, as they don’t have a waterproof membrane, they’re more breathable than many traditional walking boots.

19  Lifesystems Bivi Bag and Light and Dry Pro first aid kit

£13.99/£19.99 (110g/200g) lifesystems.co.uk
In remote places, an emergency bivi bag can save your life, while a good first-aid kit is essential for managing minor issues quickly. Lifesystems’ thermal bivi bag is a great addition to your pack. As well as being lightweight and reusable, it provides total body coverage, reflecting and retaining over 90% of radiated body heat. The well-stocked Light and Dry Pro first-aid kit comes in a lightweight, waterproof bag for all-weather protection.

20  Osprey Levity 45/Lumina 45 packs

£180 (770g/825g) ospreyeurope.com
Available in a standard (Levity) or women’s-geometry (Lumina) fit, this cleverly designed pack is aimed at those undertaking self-sufficient fast-and-light adventures. A great range of features includes a suspended mesh back panel for excellent breathability, a light but stiff frame for support, padded shoulder and hip straps for comfort and weight distribution, hydration sleeve, compression straps, zipped internal and lid pockets, and large stash pockets on the front and sides.

21  Montane Minimus Pants 

£100 (140g large) montane.co.uk 
Part of Montane’s innovative Minimus range, these lightweight waterproof trousers are designed for moving fast in demanding environments. They can be pulled on straight over a shoe or unzipped at the ankles to fit over a boot. Made from tough yet light Pertex Shield fabric, they fold down small for stashing in a pack. And when you need them, they offer a great level of protection for the muddiest, wettest conditions.

22  PHD Wafer Ultima K Down Pullover 

£321 (200g large) phdesigns.co.uk
Designed and manufactured in Stalybridge, Manchester, PHD deals directly with customers offering custom-made clothing as part of its functional yet beautiful range of lightweight performance outdoor kit. This smock-style jacket is incredibly warm for its weight and pack size, combining a windproof and downproof shell with top-quality 1000 fill-power down. The high collar and long body add extra warmth, while the half-zip allows variable venting while reducing weight.

23  Salomon Outbound GTX shoes 

£120 (660g pair UK11) salomon.com
Lightweight and cushioned with a Gore-Tex membrane for waterproofing, these smart-looking shoes are a great choice for travel, everyday walking and longer walks on lower-level terrain. They’re not as rugged or supportive as those designed for the mountains, but the Contragrip outsole offers great traction across a wide range of surfaces. The seamless, reinforced uppers offer good all-round foot protection and they’re comfortable enough to wear for long days on your feet.

Buying tips

Innovations in fabrics and technology mean outdoor kit can now be made smaller and lighter than ever before, and when you’re carrying everything you need for multiple days and nights, every gram really does count. Take care not to sacrifice durability for weight, though – there’s no reason a good-quality, lightweight product shouldn’t last just as long as a standard version.