- Buyer's Guide
Our Favorite Ultralight Bag Brands
The less you have to carry, the easier your journey will be, whether it’s zipping around urban streets or embracing an epic thru-hike. And while carefully considering what you pack will help cut down on the load, your choice of bag can also significantly reduce carry weight. If shedding weight is a priority, ultralight bags are the way to go. And our favorite ultralight bag brands deftly fuse lightweight construction with the functionality to carry out their intended purpose…
Hyperlite Mountain Gear prides itself on finding the right balance between minimalism and functionality. Unnecessary features are stripped away, while still maintaining high-performance designs that can endure a variety of demanding environments. The brand uses a range of fabrics such as Dyneema® Composite Fabrics to achieve lightweight durability and protection from the elements. Gear is handmade in the USA in Maine, with carry pieces ranging from backpacks to totes and stuff sacks.
Zpacks was founded in 2005 by Joe Valesko, whose extensive thru-hiking experience is put to good use in designing and testing the brand’s gear. Zpacks gear is crafted in the USA, with carry ranging from packs to pouches and dry bags. A range of accessories allow you to customize packs to your specific needs, with options for shorter and taller users alike.
Founded in Brooklyn in 2008, Outlier first set itself apart through its innovative approach to urban apparel with multifunctional designs and technical fabrics. However, the brand’s dedication to creating quality gear spread to encompass carry too. Pieces such as the Ultrahigh Quadzip, Ultrahigh Dufflepack, and Ultrahigh Waterfall System feature lightweight Ultrahigh Dyneema Composite fabric to keep weight down while maintaining durability.
There’s no denying SDR Traveller’s premium price tags, but you get a lot of dependable discretion for your investment. The brand’s gear is designed to be strong, lightweight and discreet in order to fly under the radar in challenging environments. All their gear is made in the USA, with quality materials such as Dyneema composite fabric and X-Pac. And with offerings ranging from a duffel and messenger to pouches, you’ve got options to suit a variety of settings and carry needs.
MLD gear is handcrafted in Roanoke, Virginia, with materials such as Dyneema Composite Fabric, Dyneema X, and Pro SilNylon. Founded in 2002 by Ron Bell, a Yosemite Search and Rescue climber, the brand’s carry gear includes a range of backpacks, pouches, and pockets. Designed for streamlined efficiency and simplicity, MLD gear suits diverse outdoor carry needs, from thru-hiking to skiing and cycling.
Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA) was founded in 2001 by Pacific Crest Trail hiker Brian Frankle. Built with thru-hikers in mind, ULA gear finds a careful balance of comfort, durability, functionality and light weight. Crafted in Utah, the brand’s carry gear includes a range of backpacks, pockets and stuff sacks, with most of the packs made using ULA 210 Robic fabric.
Founded in 2010 by Christopher Zimmer, ZimmerBuilt offers ultralight packs and pockets sewn by hand in Ohio. In addition to standard pack designs, ZimmerBuilt also creates custom packs tailored to meet your specific needs.
CiloGear crafts their gear by hand in Portland, using US-sourced materials. A lean manufacturer, the brand makes its gear to order and uses a variety of materials to achieve a solid blend of light weight, durability and protection from the elements. And with bags for activities ranging from alpine climbing to skiing and urban commuting, you’re well covered whatever the day’s carry needs entail.
Founded in 1998, Gossamer Gear has spent the past two decades creating lightweight hiking gear to help people carry less and enjoy their time on the trails more. The brand uses custom-made and custom-designed fabrics, and offers a range of multi-day backpacks, daypacks, stuff sacks, pockets, and liners to cater to diverse outdoor explorations.