Looking for a gift for someone who loves backcountry camping but also travels as light as possible? Known as ultralight (UL for short) or lightweight backpackers, these outdoor adventurers try to shave as many ounces off their pack weight as possible — but this can make it difficult to choose the best gift for them!
It can be hard to shop for ultralight backpacking loved ones when you’re worried they won’t want to add the extra gear to their base weight. Ultralight backpackers keep their total gear weight under about 10 pounds, so you definitely need to be choosy for what present you get them — if you’re gifting outdoor gear, that is.
If you want to get them something they can use, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best gifts for lightweight, ultralight and even superultralight backpackers and hikers that they’ll be able to love (and use) for all their future outdoor adventures!
What to Know About Ultralight Backpackers Before Buying Gifts
Ultralight backpacking is a form of backcountry camping in which the camper aims to carry as little weight as possible. It’s a popular style of backpacking with thru-hikers who’re trekking long distances, but packing ultralight can be done for any camping trip.
To be considered an ultralight backpacker, their base weight — the total weight of their camping gear, minus consumables like food — should be under about 10 pounds (4.5 kg). To put this into perspective, most traditional backpackers have base weights over 30 pounds!
Some ultralight backpackers are more extreme about their base weight than others. Those who keep their base weight a bit heavier (under 20 pounds) are considered lightweight backpackers, while superultralight backpackers aim for under 5 pounds!
Generally, ultralight backpackers are minimalists and picky about what gear is added to their base weight. While this does make it harder to buy them presents, it’s not impossible to find something they’ll love!
Below, we cover the best gift ideas for ultralight backpackers, lightweight campers, light-packing hikers, and even fastpackers (a combination of running and backpacking) to help you figure out what to get for your loved one!
Best Gifts for Ultralight Backpackers
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is the gold standard for ultralight sleeping pads. While some ultralight backpackers use just a thin piece of foam to sleep on, the Xlite is ideal for those who want more comfort without adding much to their base weight!
With the regular size weighing only 360 grams (12.5 ounces), this incredibly lightweight air mattress is a top gift for ultralight backpackers. The sleeping pad is inflatable with an extra secure WingLock Valve to prevent air loss. When deflated, the pad compacts down quite small, no larger than a water bottle!
With a R-value of 4.2, the Therma-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite keeps you extra toasty at night. The mattress works well in three seasons thanks to ThermaCapture technology that holds heat and the Triangular Core Matrix design that reduces convective heat loss.
While on the pricier side, your gift recipient will love this sleeping pad! It also comes with a pump sack, stuff sack, and repair kit in case of any unexpected mishaps. The only complaint is that the pad crinkles when you move around on it. Otherwise, it’s one of the best ultralight backpacking sleeping pads out there!
Weight: small (240 g / 8.3 oz), regular (360 g / 12.5 oz), regular wide (440 g / 16 oz), and large (470 g / 17 oz)
BRS 3000T Gas Stove
Unless your ultralight backpacker enjoys eating cold-soaked foods, they’ll need a stove for cooking. At only 25 grams (0.88 ounces), the BRS-3000T is one of the smallest and most lightweight backcountry gas canister stoves out there.
Perfect for ultralight backpackers, the BRS 3000T stove is almost the same size as a lighter. Even so, it still boils 1L of water in under 3 minutes! After use, the stove folds down for compact storage in its bag, fitting right into the cooking pot.
The stove only supports small camping pots, so it works best for just boiling water. Most lightweight backpackers won’t need more, but if they do want to cook, we recommend the MSR PocketRocket 2 instead. The MSR stove is heavier at 73 g (2.6 oz), but more stable for cooking.
While lacking some features (like an ignition), the BRS 3000T gas stove does pack a punch for its size, weight, and cost. The small price tag, high efficiency, and extremely light weight make this an unbeatable ultralight backcountry stove.
Weight: 25 grams (0.88 ounces)
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter
Anyone camping off-grid needs a water filtration system. The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter is the best option for lightweight, ultralight, and superultralight backpackers, fastpackers, and hikers looking to shave off any excess weight.
With a 0.1 micron membrane, the Sawyer Squeeze effectively removes 99.9999% of harmful bacteria, protozoa, dirt, and microplastics from freshwater sources. Very durable, the filter cleans up to 100,000 gallons before needing to be replaced — so it lasts a really long time!
At only 99 grams (3.5 oz), this is a perfect gift for any ultralight backpacker. Simply fill the pouch with dirty water, screw on the Sawyer Squeeze, wipe the bottle, and then start filtering! Drink the clean water straight from the filter or fill up a water bottle or hydration pack.
While buying the even lighter Sawyer Mini (1.4 oz) or Micro (1.8 oz) filters is tempting, we recommend sticking with the Sawyer Squeeze. The weight saved with these smaller filters often doesn’t outweigh their slow flow rate — although this is up to personal preference!
Weight: 99 grams (3.5 ounces)
Garmin inReach Mini 2
When you’re in the backcountry and out of cell service, it’s essential to have a satellite communicator for emergencies — even if it adds on a few extra ounces. Keep your ultralight backpacker safe by giving them the gift of a Garmin inReach Mini 2, one of the best safety communication devices for anyone exploring remote wilderness areas.
With global satellite coverage, the Garmin InReach Mini 2 works anywhere you go. The device sends a SOS alert in an emergency to a rescue center, getting you help no matter where you are. It also allows two-way messaging even without cell reception. This is incredibly handy in many situations, even if it’s just messaging your ride to pick you up at the trailhead!
Other handy features include TracBack routing for retracing your steps if lost and weather forecasts. When paired with a phone, it also has extra capabilities like off-grid navigation maps and waypoints through the Garmin Explore app.
Measuring 2 x 4” and weighing only 100 grams (3.5 ounces), it’s one of the best safety devices to gift to an ultralight backpacker to keep them safe. The device is incredibly compact, durable, water resistant, and the rechargeable battery lasts up to two weeks.
Weight: 100 grams (3.5 ounces)
TOAKS Titanium 450 ml Cup
Another top gift for ultralight backpackers is the TOAKS Titanium 450 ml Cup, a lightweight and compact cooking pot that doubles as a drinking cup. Weighing only 76 grams (2.7 ounces), it won’t add much to an UL backpackers base weight!
This titanium backcountry cup is durable, lightweight, and quite functional. It has a folding handle for storage, and gradation (oz and ml) for accurate liquid measurements. It also comes with a mesh carrying bag to protect the titanium from scratches.
Weight: 76 grams (2.7 ounces)
Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spork
There’s nothing a light packer loves more than something two-in-one, which is what makes the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spork one of the best gift ideas for ultralight backpackers.
This backpacking utensil is made of a lightweight, hard anodized aluminum alloy that’s quite durable (but not dishwasher safe). The spork design means you can both scoop and spear whatever you’re eating on the hiking trail. And the long handle is useful for reaching the last morsels out of a backcountry meal packet!
Only 12 grams (0.4 ounces), it adds almost nothing to an ultralight backpacker’s base weight. While the spork comes with a carabiner for easy attachment to the outside of a pack, an ultralight or superultralight backpacker can save a little bit of extra weight by leaving this behind.
Weight: 12 grams (0.4 ounces)
Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Inflatable Pillow
While some ultralight backpackers go without a pillow to save some ounces, many will find that a more comfortable sleep is worth the extra weight. If your gift recipient has ever complained about a bad sleep while camping, a backpacking pillow might make a great gift!
At 59.5 grams (2.1 ounces), the Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Inflatable Pillow is one of the best gifts for ultralight backpackers looking for a comfortable sleep. This camping pillow is soft and provides great head support. You can also adjust the level of inflation with the air valve to find your ideal pillow firmness.
The Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow packs down to 2 x 2.8” for compact storage, so it doesn’t take up valuable pack space. It comes in four colors and three sizes (regular, large, and deluxe). Best of all, it can be used anywhere, from camping trips to air travel and everything in between!
Weight: Regular (59.5 g / 2.1 oz), Large (71 g / 2.5 oz), and Deluxe (130.4 g / 4.6 oz)
Nitecore NU25 Headlamp
A good quality, lightweight headlamp is one of the top gift ideas for ultralight backpackers. Really any outdoor adventurer would likely be happy getting a headlamp as a present!
The Nitecore NU25 Headlamp is the perfect gift for ultralight backpackers, weighing 53.9 grams (1.9 ounces) with the headband or 28 grams (0.99 ounces) without. While it’s lightweight, the headlamp is also quite powerful with a maximum output of 360 lumens that goes up to 88 yards.
The NU25 has three light settings: red for better night vision, high CRI mode for close-range vision like reading, and the main light for wider illumination. There are multiple brightness levels for the main light, and a red flashing mode for emergencies.
Best of all, the headlamp is rechargeable — so no more searching for AAA batteries before a camping trip or worse, realizing you forgot extra batteries when your headlamp dies on the trip… Paired with a lightweight powerbank like a Nitecore NB 10000, this headlamp will make an excellent gift!
Weight: 53.9 grams (1.9 ounces)
Nitecore NB 10000
From satellite communication devices to rechargeable headlamps, backpackers bring many electronics on their adventures — which all need to stay charged to be worth the extra weight! If your ultralight backpacker or hiker doesn’t already have one, a lightweight powerbank is a really practical gift idea.
The Nitecore NB10000 USB Charging Bank is one of the most compact and lightweight 10,000mAh portable chargers available. It’s only 150 grams (5.29 ounces), which is about half the weight of many other powerbanks on the market.
Made of carbon fiber, this portable charger is resistant to impacts. It also has an IPX5 rating which means that it will withstand some rain or snow too!
Indicator lights show how much power is left. You can also set it in a low current mode for more delicate devices, like smartwatches. And it comes with a Type-C USB charging cable for when you need to recharge it.
While it’ll recharge devices a couple of times, don’t expect this small powerbank to hold much more. It’s a better powerbank for shorter trips. For long treks, you might want something with a bit more oomph.
Weight: 150 grams (5.29 ounces)
Darn Tough Socks
Backpackers always need more hiking socks and for that reason, socks always make a great gift! Ultralight backpackers or hikers will love receiving a pair (or two) of Darn Tough Light Hiker Socks for their outdoor adventures.
Fairly lightweight, the Darn Tough Light Hiker Socks have a micro crew height which means they rise just above a hiking boot. The sole is thinly cushioned for extra comfort and minimal added weight, while the mesh on the upper side of the sock helps to improve breathability.
These socks are made of a merino wool, nylon and spandex blend, which is very breathable and helps wick away sweat to reduce sock odor. The merino wool also dries quickly and performs well in most weather, from hot summers to cold winters.
Best of all, Darn Tough offers an incredible unconditional lifetime warranty for any wear or tear, no questions asked. Basically, if you aren’t happy with the socks or they don’t last, they’ll replace them!
Weight: 68 grams (2.4 ounces)
Any outdoor enthusiast — whether they love ultralight backpacking, hiking, car camping, or other activities — needs a good pair of hiking pants. Hikes are so much more enjoyable when you’re wearing a good pair of comfortable, durable, and breathable pants!
The prAna Men’s Stretch Zion Pant and Women’s Halle Pant are straight-leg outdoor pants that ticks all the boxes for a variety of outdoor adventures. Made from recycled nylon and spandex with a DWR finish, they are durable, water-repellent, and quite comfortable.
We love these pants because of their incredible versatility. While they work great as hiking pants, the Stretch Zion and Halle Pants also are amazing pants for rock climbing, traveling, everyday activities, lounging around home… you name it!
While these are well-loved hiking pants, they are a bit warm for hot weather hikes. Also, at 377 grams (13.3 ounces), they are a bit heavier than some of the competition. For lightweight summer pants, we recommend the Mammut Runbold (Men’s / Women’s). They are made out of nylon and only weigh 255 grams (9 ounces)!
Both of these hiking pants have a tailored look, making them perfect for transitioning from backcountry adventures to the pub for beers after a hike or camping trip. They are super functional pants and would be well appreciated as a gift!
Weight: 377 grams (13.3 ounces)
Although a food dehydrator itself isn’t packable, the end result will definitely save space in a backpack! Backpackers can spend a lot of money on premade freeze-dried camping meals but dehydrating their own food will save them lots of money. Plus, they’ll have lots of delicious meals to eat in the backcountry!
The NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator has 12 trays for dehydrating food, perfect for camping trips where you want to save on weight. At 600 watts, it dries up to 4 times faster than other dehydrators. It also comes with special sheets for fruit rolling, sheet cleaners, and even a sample pack of seasoning for making jerky.
With a dehydrator, campers can bring more food while taking up less space in their bags, making it one of the best practical gifts for lightweight, ultralight and superultralight backpackers!
Cnoc Outdoors Vecto 2L Water Container
The Cnoc Outdoors Vecto 2L Water Container is a great addition to any ultralight backpacker’s gear kit. This lightweight portable water pouch is made of durable but pliant thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), with a dual opening design.
One side of the water bottle has a standard 28-mm threaded bottle cap. Pairing perfectly with water filters like the Sawyer Squeeze, the Cnoc Outdoors Vecto 2L works well for collecting dirty water to be filtered as part of a water filtration system.
The wide opening on the other side of the pouch allows for easy filling, and closes water-tight with a slider. In the backcountry, it’s pretty frustrating to fill a water container by scooping the water through a tiny hole, so this large opening is really handy!
The water bag holds up to 2 liters and only weighs 76 grams (2.6 ounces) when empty. With a breaking point of 100kg (220lb), it can also take a beating. Whether it’s shoved into a backpack with other gear, dropped, or even thrown around, this water bag is built to withstand it all!
Weight: 76 grams (2.6 ounces)
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
From reducing joint pain while hiking to propping up a backcountry tent, hiking poles are incredibly useful pieces of backpacking gear. If your giftee doesn’t already have some, a pair of lightweight hiking poles would be one of the best gifts for ultralight backpackers, backcountry hikers, and anyone exploring the outdoors.
Black Diamond Alpine Cork Trekking Poles are one of the best gifts for backcountry hikers who prefer to travel light or ultralight. These telescoping trekking poles adjust between 100 and 130 cm (39 to 51 inches) and collapse down to 61 cm (24 inches) for storage. They have a carbon fiber body, comfortable cork grips, and rubber grip extensions for hills.
Made from carbon fiber, these poles are quite lightweight at 486 grams (17 ounces). While not the lightest poles on the market, most lighter versions are Z-poles which don’t have an adjustable length. However, if your giftee would prefer a lighter trekking pole, we recommend a Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z — just make sure to get an appropriate length based on their height!
Weight: 486 grams (1 lb 1.1 oz)
Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket
For anyone heading outdoors, a warm puffy jacket is a must-have. Any ultralight backpacker would love a compact and lightweight puffy as a gift, especially if theirs is starting to get old or isn’t performing as well anymore.
One of the best puffy jackets out there, the Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket combines 850-fill down with synthetic CoreLoft in areas more prone to moisture to keep you toasty and dry. While it’s quite lightweight at 300 grams (10.6 ounces) and folds up really small, it’ll still keep you extremely warm during backcountry adventures.
When a jacket is this packable, warm, lightweight and easy to move in, it’s bound to make the perfect gift for ultralight backpackers.
Coming from the premium brand, Arc’teryx, you know that this jacket is built for performance! One downside of the Cerium puffy is the cost though — if you’re looking for a jacket that’s a bit more budget-friendly, a Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 (Women’s / Men’s) is one of the best alternative gifts for ultralight backpackers.
Weight: 300 grams (10.6 ounces)