Top 5 Ultralight Backpacks (45L and Over) of 2023

Hiker in scenic snowy mountains with an ultralight hiking backpack

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

Choosing a larger ultralight backpacking backpack (45L and over) requires considering factors such as weight, durability, comfort, and features.

Essential considerations include a well-fitted design with adjustable straps, weather resistance, and specialized add-ons.

Our TOP 5 guide serves as a valuable tool, offering insights into various backpacks and their performance across these criteria.

Top Ultralight ≥ 45L Backpacking Backpack Picks

  1. Most Ultralight: Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 50L (1lb 4.7oz/589g)
  2. Best Overall: Six Moon Designs Swift V Rucksack (2lb 0.1oz/910g)
  3. Best Value: Granite Gear Virga3 55 (1lb 12oz/794g)
  4. Most Comfortable: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55 (1lb 15.6oz/896g)
  5. Budget Option: Exped Lightning 45 (2lb 9.6oz/1180g)

1. Most Ultralight
Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 50L

Ultralight >45L Hiking Backpack: Zpacks Arc Haul Ultra 50L

Key Specs

Weight: 1lb 4.7 ounces (589 grams)
Capacity: 50L
Material: Ultra 100; 200
Price: $$$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Customization options available


❌ Learning curve to adjustment

The Zpacks ultralight Arc Haul Ultra backpack is designed to endure extended journeys between resupplies.

Constructed from the robust “Ultra 200” material, it incorporates an innovative Curved Carbon Fiber frame that effectively shifts the load to your hips while providing cooling airflow.

The inclusion of adjustable straps, an interchangeable belt, and various add-on choices ensures a personalized fit.

It can be noted that although there might be a learning curve in adjusting the Arc Haul Ultra, once you become accustomed to it, the backpack offers remarkable comfort. It adeptly distributes weight to the hip belt and keeps your back comfortably dry and cool.

2. Best Overall
Six Moon Designs Swift V Rucksack

Ultralight >45L Hiking Backpack: Six Moon Designs Swift V Rucksack

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 0.1 ounces (910 grams)
Capacity: 49L
Material: robic nylon
Price: $$


✅ Adjustable

✅ Great weight distribution


❌ None

The Six Moon Designs’ Swift V Rucksack offers affordability and adaptability. This lightweight backpack is an evolved version of the original Swift.

Similar to the “Minimalist V” pack, the Swift V can switch between framed and frame-less by removing the Delron Hoop stay. What makes it unique is the Adjustable Torso Length feature, rarely found in frame-less packs.

The Swift V keeps things simple with Durable 4-Way Stretch outer pockets that flex without snagging. It employs an easy roll-top closure and lightweight compression cords for load control. Padded shoulder straps and a hip belt with pockets add practicality.

3. Best Value
Granite Gear Virga3 55

Ultralight >45L Hiking Backpack: Granite Gear Virga3 55

Key Specs

Weight: 1lb 12 ounces (79r grams)
Capacity: 55L
Material: robic nylon (100D; 210D)
Price: $


✅ Large pockets

✅ Adjustable hip belt


❌ You need a pad to stiffen the bag

Granite Gear introduces the Virga3 series, reimagining ultralight backpacking for everyone. With adjustable features and a light Re-Fit hip belt, the Virga3 55 offers an inclusive ultralight experience.

The Virga3 55 is crafted with durable Robic High-tenacity nylon. It innovatively ditches traditional frame elements for a lighter design, using the load itself as the pack’s suspension, supported by a sleeping pad. Thus you’ll need to use a pad. This is an aspect worth considering.

Key features include an adjustable padded Re-Fit waist belt, dual hip belt pockets, roll-top access, and shoulder strap bottle holders.

In conclusion, the Virga3 55L backpack broadens ultralight backpacking access more than other frameless options available today.

4. Most Comfortable
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55

Ultralight >45L Hiking Backpack: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55

Key Specs

Weight: 1lb 15.6 ounces (896 grams)
Capacity: 55L
Material: DCH50; DCH150
Price: $$$


✅ Adaptable for every situation

✅ Comfortable adjustments


❌ Water-resistant but not waterproof

The Southwest 55 from Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a versatile backpack perfect for ultralight backpackers.

Its adaptable design is handy when resupply points are infrequent or gear flexibility is essential. The pack’s top can be rolled down to match the size of the 40 when extra space isn’t required, yet it’s there when needed.

Based on our experience, the Southwest backpack has proven durable and well-fitting.

However, while its design simplicity is appreciated, it’s important to note that the pack is water-resistant, not waterproof. It’s advisable to use a dry bag inside for added protection against seepage.

5. Budget Option
Exped Lightning 45

Ultralight >45L Hiking Backpack: Exped Lightning 45

Key Specs

Weight: 2lb 9.6 ounces (1180 grams)
Capacity: 45L
Material: 10D HMPE ripstop nylon
Price: $


✅ Straightforward design

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Relatively heavy

❌ Often sold out

The Exped Lightning 45 is an ultralight backpack designed for lightweight backpacking.

It effectively combines comfort, movement, and stability, marrying the simplicity of thru-hiking with the capacity of an internal frame pack. The roll-top closure keeps gear dry and allows for expansion when necessary, while additional features ensure load security.

However, we’ve observed that the excessive strap length and small hip pockets can be somewhat inconvenient.

All in all, the Lightning 45 demonstrates its value as a dependable budget choice for individuals in search of a lightweight and capable pack for their outdoor escapades.

How to Buy the Right Ultralight Backpack

When you start using ultralight backpacks, you won’t want to go back to carrying heavier ones, even if they have cool features.

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

Picking the perfect backpack can be a challenge because you need to consider things like its size, whether you prefer a lid or not, and how much weight you usually carry. We recommend choosing a simple roll-top design because it keeps your belongings secure while staying lightweight.

Look for a backpack made from high-quality materials that provide good protection from the weather and the option to attach a hip belt for the most versatile choice.

Framed or Frameless?

Ultralight backpacks come in various types. There are ones with frames (these have a U-shaped frame made of materials like carbon or aluminum), tensioned air frames (great for hot weather and sweat), and frameless ones (simple and perfect 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 get more supplies, a backpack with a frame makes sense.

For those who tend to 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.

Looking for a smaller backpack? Take a look at our TOP 5 guide for 30-45L backpacks.

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