The backpack equipment industry has made amazing weight-reducing improvements in the last few years. I have been continuing to lighten the weight of my backpacking gear. I am hiking many miles per year in the western mountains on my backpacking trips. Every ounce that I can take off the weight of my gear means more energy, knee comfort, trip enjoyment and feasible route distance.


On my recent Teton Crest Trail Adventure with my daughter Barbara, my total weight of gear with food and water was just over 22 pounds. Below is a list of that gear showing what changed for me on my Teton Crest Trail trips between 2016 and 2017. My 2017 list of gear weighs about 10 pounds less than in 2016. And by the way, note that I carry less food per day. I've learned that I have no more appetite on the trail than I do at home - - probably less in fact.

Included below are links to websites where you can go to learn more details about the products and see pricing.

Big Agnes Copper Spur 2 Platinum tent
At 2.3 pounds, this is my second Big Agnes tent. Big Agnes took a great existing design (Copper Spur 2) and made it even stronger and lighter in this variation. It's considered to be a double-wall tent. It has an inner bathtub floor with screen mesh sides and ceiling. The outer fly is easy to attach and the design facilitates ventilation to minimize condensation on walls and ceiling.

Big Agnes Q Core SLX sleeping pad
This is my second generation version of their Q core lightweight blowup pad. This one weighs one pound. It is about 2.5 inches thick and is very cushy to sleep on. That makes a huge difference to me as these trips are very demanding of the body. A good night's sleep is not a luxury but a necessity.


Fleece balaclava and down footies
Both used for sleeping on extra cold nights. Two ounces for each and I take these along if I think the weather forecast means I'll need to extend the temperature rating of my sleeping bag.

Neoprene water socks for camp use
Three ounces per pair, perfect for stream crossings. I take my boots off and put on the water socks when water level is above my boots. I also use them in camp as comfy slippers.

Jetboil Micro Mo stove
It boils 16 ounces of water in just over 2 minutes. Robb Wiley introduced me to the Jetboil line about four years ago. Couldn't be happier.

Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles
Halfway through 2016 I started using trekking poles. Oh - my - gosh! What a huge advantage they provide. I bet it means a 25% to 50% improvement in comfort and distance for me and my knees. Water crossings in the Tetons with my daughter Barbara were so easy this summer. Crossing the snowy double black diamond traverses were with added confidence and safety.

Zpacks Arc Haul-Zip Backpack
Imagine a serious backpack that weighs a little over 1.5 pounds. Waterproof zippers, adjustable torso height, comfortable waist straps and buckle system. Zpacks is an amazing little company that makes superbly designed and constructed backpacking stuff.


Zpacks Classic Solo Sleeping Bag
This is my third iteration in a search for a sleeping bag. This one weighs 1.6 pounds. So far I have used it on 4 trips this year and love it. It's a "quilt" style bag with a "closed foot box".

Blow-up pillow
This 2 ounce bit of gear really delivers important comfort for such an insignificant sounding item.

Battery bank
USB charging system for my camera, Steripen, headlamps, smart phone. Weighs 5 ounces.

Sony A6300 camera with 16-50mm lens
The quality of images and the degree of easily accessible control delivered by a 1.1 pound camera is amazing.

Steripen Freedom Water Purifier
This utilizes UV rays to purify. Built-in rechargeable battery is compatible with the battery bank I carry to also charge my smart phone and my two headlamps. For redundancy, I carry the water treatment pills as a backup.

Platypus soft bottle
I carry a couple of these one liter bottles in rolled up condition along with 1 - one ounce, wide mouth former mayonnaise jar - which is used for the Steripen process.

Ursack S29.3 Bear Resistant Sack Bag
The compact, soft, lightweight nature of this item is far superior to the hard and heavy canisters. Where parks actually require bear proof containers, the Ursack is accepted by most but not all.

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray
I bought mine with an optional practice unit which has powder without the pepper itself.

SPOT satellite phone
It's important to always have the appropriate local emergency phone numbers handy.

Zpacks rain jacket and pants
Weighs just 0.7 pounds combined. Barbara and I used ours in the sudden rain and sleet just after we went over Paintbrush Divide at 10,700 feet in the Tetons last month.

Therm-a-Rest Z Seat
A folding butt cushion that weighs about 2 ounces, I use it on hunting trips too.

Nitecore NU20 CRI 270 Lumens Headlamp
This is my 3rd or 4th attempt at finding the ultimate headlamp for my needs. I think this is IT! I carry two of them as this item is one where I think redundancy is critical for safety. It features a built-in rechargeable lithium battery using the same charger as my Steripen, smart phone and Sony camera.

My emergency stuff includes typical items like fire starter, compass, matches, lighter, a small knife, etc.

For food I eat Mountain House freeze dried items. Comes in its own foil pouch. Just add hot water and wait a while for hydration to occur. Usually back home I place the contents into a zip lock freezer bag and throw away the foil pouch. This saves bulk in the backpack and makes trash management much easier.

On most trips some of my meals are fresh food such as hard salami on a ciabatta roll. I prepare at the trailhead or at home. Store each one in itw own zip lock bag. Supplement with trailmix.

Again, I can't stress enough what an advantage it is to lighten the load on mountain backpack trips!


Len Backus is the owner of He has been a long range hunter since the 90's and is as likely to bag his game with a camera as with a rifle or a specialty handgun. His outdoor photography can be seen at