Best Ultralight Backpacks of 2024

Best Ultralight Backpacks: Backpacker in the mountains with an ultralight hiking backpack

In this post, we'll take a look at:

With so many ultralight backpacks on the market, selecting the best ultralight backpack for your needs can be challenging.

The ideal pack strikes a balance between low weight, durability, comfort, organization, and ventilation. In this post, we’ll walk through the best ultralight backpacks in the popular 30-45 liter range.

Whether you’re preparing for an overnight trip or want a pack for short weekend excursions, this guide has you covered.

If you need a larger backpack for longer trips, be sure to check out our guide on the best backpacks for thru-hikes here.

Let’s get started.

What Are the Best Ultralight Backpacks?

  1. Most Ultralight: Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack (10.51oz/298g)
  2. Best Overall: Durston Kakwa 40 (27.33oz/775g)
  3. Best Value: Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack (12.73oz/361g)
  4. Most Comfortable: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40 (30.40oz/862g)
  5. Budget Option: Montbell Versalite Pack 40 (17.28oz/490g)

1. Most Ultralight
Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack

Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack

Key Specs

Weight: 10.51 ounces (298 grams)
Capacity: 38L
Material: Ultra 100
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Comfortable


❌ Can be a bit noisy

The Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack is a lightweight, minimalist frameless pack optimized for ultralight backpacking trips.

Weighing in at just over 1 pound, its ultra-strong Dyneema Composite Fabrics and waterproof construction make it an appealing choice for backpackers and weekend warriors alike.

This 38-liter pack provides ample space for multi-day ultralight loads in a compressible, streamlined profile. The roll-top closure and side compression straps allow you to cinch the pack down as you consume food and supplies. Stretch mesh and external attachment points add storage flexibility.

The Nero Ultra features adjustable padded shoulder straps and an optional removable hip belt to distribute weight comfortably, even when carrying heavier loads. The contoured straps have daisy chains for attaching accessories like water bottles and trekking pole holders.

The waterproof fabric and taped seams make this an excellent pack for wet conditions and stream crossings. Side water bottle pockets and a large central stretch mesh pocket provide easy access to items on the go.

Potential downsides are the pack’s tendency to sag when not fully loaded and the noise the fabric can make.

Overall, the Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack is a versatile, lightweight pack ready to withstand mileage on your next hike or quick overnight adventure. Its blend of minimalist design and utilitarian features is hard to beat for the ultralight-minded backpacker.

2. Best Overall
Durston Kakwa 40

Durston Kakwa 40

Key Specs

Weight: 27.33 ounces (775 grams)
Capacity: 40L
Material: Ultra 200
Price: $$


✅ Premium fabrics

✅ Can handle heavier loads


❌ Often sold out

The Durston Kakwa 40 offers a remarkably lightweight yet durable option for ultralight backpacking. Weighing just 27 oz, its innovative design provides excellent load carrying capacity and comfort for its minimal weight.

The Kakwa 40 utilizes durable Ultra 200 fabric, with a Dyneema composite face and waterproof PU coating. This enhances abrasion resistance without adding bulk.

The inverted U-shaped aluminum frame provides vertical and horizontal structure for better weight distribution than typical ultralight packs.

Load lifters connected to the frame effectively transfer weight off the shoulders to the hips. The contoured S-shaped shoulder straps and dual-strap hipbelt provide an ergonomic, supportive fit. Together, these features allow the pack to comfortably manage loads up to 45 lbs, quite impressive given its featherweight build.

The pack offers well-designed storage including hipbelt pockets, shoulder strap pockets, a quick access side pocket, and front mesh pocket. This provides easy access to gear and supplies on the move.

While availability can be limited due to popularity, the Kakwa 40’s reasonable price point compared to similar ultralight packs adds to its appeal.

Potential downsides are the slim water bottle pockets and potential fit issues, especially for some body types. The abrasion-resistant fabric may also feel overly stiff and harsh to some users.

However, for those seeking a durable yet extraordinarily lightweight pack capable of hauling multi-day loads, the Kakwa 40 is an excellent choice combining comfort, capacity, and nearly unbeatable ultralight design.

3. Best Value
Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack

Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack

Key Specs

Weight: 12.73 ounces (361 grams)
Capacity: 36L
Material: 30D cordura & 70D robic nylon
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Stretchy pockets


❌ The fabrics are bit fragile

The Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlite backpack is an ultralight pack designed for hardcore minimalists prioritizing extreme lightness over all else. Weighing under 1 pound, this is one of the lightest full-sized backpacks on the market.

The Murmur 36 is tailored towards experienced ultralight hikers with pared down gear. The roll-top closure and removable components like the sit pad and hip belt allow you to shed weight. Large outer stretch mesh and side water bottle pockets provide ample storage given the minimalist design.

The thin shoulder straps and airy back panel keep carry comfortable, although frameless packs tend to transfer more weight to the shoulders. The removable hip belt helps distribute weight but may feel insubstantial when loaded down.

The 30D silicone nylon ripstop fabric, while ultralight, compromises long-term durability. The pack requires delicate care to avoid rips and tears. The Murmur 36 favors extreme minimalists willing to sacrifice pack lifespan for remarkable lightness.

This is an ideal choice for long-distance backpackers focused on shaving every ounce. The cavernous interior has space for lengthy journeys as long as you pack smart and light.

For experienced minimalists, it’s an appealing way to shed critical weight on the trail at a reasonable price.

4. Most Comfortable
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40

Key Specs

Weight: 30.4 ounces (862 grams)
Capacity: 40L
Material: DCH50; DCH150
Price: $$$


✅ Waterproof

✅ Comfortable


❌ Nowhere to store your trekking poles

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40 is an excellent ultralight backpack for adventures in rugged terrain. Weighing under 2 pounds, its durable, waterproof construction and comfortable carry make it ideal for extended trips into the backcountry.

Made with Hyperlite’s signature Dyneema Composite Fabric, the Southwest 40 is highly abrasion and water resistant. The roll-top closure and fully taped seams provide protection from the elements, keeping your gear dry inside.

Despite its featherweight design, the padded hipbelt and harness provide a stable, comfortable carry. The pack easily handles loads up to 40 pounds, perfect for longer excursions. The compression straps allow you to cinch down the load when partly empty.

Storage options include a large mesh pocket, internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, and flat external pockets sized for maps or other essentials you need quick access to. The minimalist layout helps keep weight down.

A notable drawback is the lack of dedicated trekking pole storage, though the side compression straps or external daisy chains provide attachment points.

The Southwest 40 combines versatility, comfort, and ultralight design in a highly weather-resistant package ready for cross-country travel. For serious backpackers, it’s an ideal blend of comfort, performance, and packability.

5. Budget Option
Montbell Versalite Pack 40

Montbell Versalite Pack 40

Key Specs

Weight: 17.28 ounces (490 grams)
Capacity: 40L
Material: 30D Ballistic nylon ripstop
Price: $


✅ Simple design

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Not the most comfortable

The Montbell Versalite Pack 40 is an ultralight backpack optimized for minimalist backpackers seeking to trim every ounce. Weighing a mere 17.28 oz, it achieves an extraordinarily low weight through its pared-down design.

The main pack body utilizes 30D Ballistic nylon for strength and abrasion resistance at a minimal weight penalty. The roll-top closure and basic suspension provide just enough structure while eliminating unneeded features.

The lack of a framesheet and minimal padding keep carry comfortable up to around 25 pounds but it is not intended for heavier loads.

There is ample storage for extended trips courtesy of the cavernous main compartment and stretch side pocket. Attachment points allow trekking pole carry. A removable hipbelt pocket adds minimal organization.

While the minimalist padding may not provide enough comfort for some users, especially on longer carries, the Versalite 40’s low weight and simplicity cater directly to ounce-counting backpackers.

For those seeking a simple yet ultralight backpack, it provides an affordable option to shed critical pounds.

How to Choose the Right Ultralight Backpack

Once you switch to an ultralight backpack, you’ll never want to carry a heavier one again, even if it has cool features.

These ultralight packs are super lightweight but may sacrifice some space and durability compared to regular backpacks. It’s important to find the right balance between:

  • Reducing weight
  • Staying comfortable during carry

Choosing the right backpack can be tricky given factors like size, lid style, and how much weight you usually haul. We suggest selecting:

  • A roll-top closure for security and lightness
  • High-quality, weatherproof materials
  • Option to attach a hip belt for versatility

Framed vs Frameless

Ultralight packs come in framed, tensioned air frame, and frameless types:

  • Framed – U-shaped carbon or aluminum frame for heavier hauls
  • Tensioned Air Frame – Good ventilation for hot weather but adds some weight
  • Frameless – Simple and ideal for ultralight loads

Consider your trip needs:

  • Long treks requiring lots of food = go framed
  • Sweat a lot, even in summer? Try the tensioned air frame
  • Our top choice is frameless – streamlined and works with ultralight gear. Packing may be tricky but you’ll appreciate the minimalism after a long day.

If you need a larger backpack for longer trips, be sure to check out our guide on the best backpacks for thru-hikes here.


How to choose the best ultralight backpack?

Choosing the optimal ultralight backpack for hiking and multi-day camping trips requires balancing weight savings, durability, and carrying comfort. Look for a lightweight yet rugged frameless backpack design made with quality, weather-resistant materials like Dyneema fabric or ripstop nylon. Prioritize packs in the 30-45 liter range to allow ample space for essential camping gear while maintaining a compact, maneuverable size. The best ultralight backpacks have versatile attachment points to secure trekking poles or extra gear on the exterior. Choose a streamlined roll-top closure and removable components like hip belts to shed ounces. Consider adjustable, well-padded shoulder straps and hip belts to distribute weight and stabilize heavier loads. The ideal ultralight backpack will maximize comfort, space, and durability to tackle outdoor adventures while minimizing needless weight and bulk. Test potential packs with your full gear load to ensure a proper fit for your body type and carrying needs. With the right balanced design, your ultralight backpack will be a trusted companion mile after mile on the trail.

How durable are ultralight backpacks compared to regular backpacks?

Ultralight backpacks sacrifice some durability for extreme lightness but use rugged materials like Dyneema fabric to maintain adequate strength. They are more vulnerable to tears or punctures from protruding objects than heavier packs. However, quality ultralight packs can withstand long-distance hiking when cared for properly. Regular backpacks are built with burlier fabrics, dense cushioning, and plastic framing making them more abrasion and tear-resistant but much heavier. Ultralight designs compensate through strategic use of reinforcements in high-wear areas. Though requiring more delicate care, top-tier ultralight packs can still provide hundreds if not thousands of trail miles with proper precautions against scraping or overloading.

How much weight can an ultralight backpack typically carry?

Most ultralight backpacks can comfortably carry 20-30 pound base weights thanks to lightweight suspension components and hauling efficiency. Frameless ultralight packs perform best around the 15-25 pound range before feeling overloaded. With streamlined, properly-fitted designs, experienced minimalist backpackers can manage 30+ pound loads in some cases. However, going above 35 pounds risks compromising comfort and increases wear from the lack of robust framing. Heavier conventional backpacking packs accommodate 40-60+ pounds but add burdensome weight themselves. Aim to pare down your total pack weight for longer mileage and less strain. The lightest options require strategic packing but reward with their barely-there carrying sensation.

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Why you should trust us

At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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