Top 5 Ultralight Backpacks (30-45L) of 2023

Hiker in the mountains with an ultralight hiking backpack

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

When selecting an ultralight 30-45 liter backpacking backpack, prioritize factors like weight, durability, comfort, organization, and ventilation. Remember that this is the most popular size preferred by most ultralight fanatics.

Our TOP 5 guide offers expert insights to aid your decision-making process. Let’s get started.

Top Ultralight 30-45L Backpacking Backpack Picks

  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: REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack (40.98oz/1162g)

1. Most Ultralight
Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack

Ultralight 30-45L Hiking Backpack: Zpacks Nero Ultra 38L Backpack

Key Specs

Weight: 10.51 ounces (298 grams)
Capacity: 38L
Material: Ultra 100; 200
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Comfortable


❌ Can be a bit noisy

The Zpacks Nero Ultra is a compact and versatile frameless ultralight backpack designed for lightweight trips.

With essential features and options for customization, it’s a reliable choice for various types of journeys.

While a potential downside is the noise it can produce on your back, the Nero Ultra’s durability and adaptability make it a valuable companion for backpackers seeking a minimalist yet functional pack.

2. Best Overall
Durston Kakwa 40

Ultralight 30-45L Hiking Backpack: 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 offers a remarkably lightweight option for ultralight backpacking. With its comfortable design and substantial load capacity, it’s a reliable choice for carrying heavier loads.

The use of Ultra 200 fabric ensures durability without compromising weight.

While the pack’s availability can be a challenge due to its popularity, its affordable price and quality construction make it a standout choice for backpackers seeking both performance and value.

3. Best Value
Gossamer Gear Murmur 36 Hyperlight Backpack

Ultralight 30-45L Hiking 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 a specialized option designed for experienced ultralight backpackers.

With its lightweight construction and minimalist design, it’s tailored for those with light and simple gear setups. The pack’s spacious stretchy pocket and removable cushioning pad add convenience.

However, it’s worth noting that its extreme lightness can come at the cost of durability. If you’re committed to going ultralight and prioritize weight savings, this backpack could be a great fit for your adventures.

4. Most Comfortable
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 40

Ultralight 30-45L Hiking Backpack: 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 a standout choice for ultralight trips, offering smart and efficient packing solutions.

Designed for challenging adventures, this backpack is waterproof, ultralight, and exceptionally comfortable for long journeys.

With minor concerns about pole storage, overall, it’s a reliable and functional companion.

Whether you’re tackling tough terrains or enjoying the comfort and convenience, the Southwest 40 is a fantastic option for your ultralight backpacking needs.

5. Budget Option
REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack

Ultralight 30-45L Hiking Backpack: REI Co-op Traverse 32 Pack

Key Specs

Weight: 40.98 ounces (1162 grams)
Capacity: 31-33L
Material: 300D ripstop nylon
Price: $


✅ Options for men and women

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Relatively heavy

The REI Co-op Traverse 32 pack is a reliable and well-designed companion for various backpacking adventures. With durability in mind, this pack offers comfort and organization for both overnight trips and day hikes.

It’s praised for its thoughtful features like tilted water bottle pockets and easy-access side-zip entry. While generally highly rated, the occasional issue with the sternum strap’s attachment rail is a minor concern.

Overall, the Traverse 32 proves to be a great choice that balances functionality and comfort for your backpacking needs.

How to Buy the Right Ultralight Backpack

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

These ultralight backpacks are super lightweight, but they might not have as much space or be as tough as regular backpacks. It’s important to find the right balance between reducing weight and staying comfortable.

Choosing the right backpack can be tough, considering factors like size, lid preference, and the amount of weight you usually carry. We suggest going for a straightforward roll-top design because it keeps your stuff secure while staying lightweight.

Look for a backpack made with high-quality materials that offer good weatherproofing and the option to attach a hip belt for the most versatile choice.

Framed or Frameless?

Ultralight backpacks come in different types, like ones with frames (which have a U-shaped frame made of materials like carbon or aluminum), tensioned air frame (good for hot weather and sweat), and frameless (simple and great for ultralight gear).

If you’re going on long treks where you need to carry a lot of food because you won’t find many places to restock, a backpack with a frame makes sense.

For those who sweat a lot, even in scorching summer months, a tensioned air frame is a good choice, even though it adds a bit of weight.

Our personal favorite is the frameless design because it’s simple and works well with ultralight gear. Packing can be a bit tricky, but it all comes together, and you’ll appreciate your setup. Your back might get a bit sweaty, but you’ll be comfortable at the end of a long day.

Still looking for a bigger backpack? Take a look at our TOP 5 guide for >45L backpacks.

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