There are people in this world who drill holes in $2 toothbrushes because they are too heavy to take on the trail. Crazy, right? How much of a difference does that really make — three, maybe four grams? That’s a handful of paper clips! To average day hikers, such a thing is unfathomable. But thru-hikers understand. These are the brave men and women who spend weeks on the trail, sometimes months. This particularly insane subdivision of hiking requires the absolute lightest, most reliable gear. Every ounce counts. The following kit highlights essential pieces of thru-hiking equipment, all of which are among the lightest available today.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Windrider
The Hyperlite 2400 Windrider is perhaps the lightest thru-hiking backpack in its class. Every single detail of the pack is built to achieve two purposes: exceptional strength and lightness. Most of its thru-hiking prowess is owed to the Dyneema shell — a miraculous fabric that might as well have floated down on golden clouds as a heavenly gift from the gods of thru-hiking. Those mythological figures, it turns out, are right here on Earth, and they are assembling Hyperlite packs in Biddeford, Maine.
Weight: 28.2 ounces
Volume: 49.8 liters (40 internal, 9.8 external)
Capacity: 40 pounds
Body: waterproof Dyneema composite
MSR Thru-Hiker Tarp
The bug net is sold separately, but you’re a thru-hiker. You don’t want it and you won’t need it.
Weight: 12+ ounces
Body: 20-denier ripstop nylon
Leki Carbon TI Poles
One of the most overlooked pieces of hiking equipment. They will save your legs and back, both on and off the trail. Plus, you’ll need ’em to pitch your shelter.
Weight: 15.2 ounces (7.6 ounces per pole)
Length: 100-135 cm (adjustable)
Hardware: aluminum, carbon
FireFly UL Titanium Collapsible Wood Stove
It doesn’t get any lighter than this. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle compared to a white gas stove, but it’s all in the name of weight savings.
Weight: 2.7+ ounces
Mesh Grate: stainless steel
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
Packs down smaller than a Nalgene bottle, and weighs less than your smartphone. Just don’t expect it to be cozy. For that, you’ll need something a bit more plush.
Weight: 8+ ounces
Packed Size (Small): 9 by 3.3 inches
Body: ripstop nylon and polyester
Katabatic Gear Palisade 30°F
Katabatic counts itself among the very few companies specializing in lightweight, minimal sleeping bags. And they’re killin’ it.
Weight (regular): 17.5+ ounces
Temperature Rating: 30° Fahrenheit
Insulation: 850/900-fill goose down
Shell: Pertex Quantum ripstop
Snow Peak Wabuki Chopsticks
Chopsticks have long been a go-to for crusty old thru-hikers. The traditional move would be to grab some cheap ones at your local Chinese diner, but those could break on the trail. These ones, on the other hand, will not.
Weight: 1.8 ounces with carrying case, 1 ounce without
Materials: stainless steel, bamboo, brass
Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium
Veteran thru-hikers have often used ten-cent aluminum cans as makeshift stoves. Much like the chopsticks, though, this elevated titanium stove is nearly indestructible, unlike the cheap stuff. It’s worth the premium.
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Capacity: 30 fl. ounces (.88 liters)
Platypus Platy Bottle
All that’s missing is the iodine tablets.