Best Ultralight Backpacks

10 Best Ultralight Backpacks in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

(Last Updated On: June 28, 2021)

Whether you’re out for a couple of hours or a few months, having the best ultralight backpack is an essential feature of a good trip. Backpacks come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes, fabrics, features, and designs but all seek to do the same thing: help you move your stuff from point A to point B successfully.

Whether you’re a hiker, a backpacker, or just a traveler, you’ve probably tried to find ways for your packing to be more efficient. If you’re tired of carrying rolling luggage around and want a better way of packing your stuff, you’re in the right place. Ultralight and lightweight backpacks are the perfect use of space and are so much easier to carry than a standard backpack or luggage.

In a Hurry? The test winners after 10 hrs of research

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack – Premium Pick

Why is it better?

  • The side pockets are deep and snug
  • Very helpful load lifters
  • Extremely ultralight
  • Has been very comfortable for both long and short hikes

G4Free Ultralight Packable Hiking Backpack

G4Free Ultralight Packable Hiking Backpack – Best Value

Why is it better?

  • Folds away easily into a pouch that is actually a pocket that is attached to the bag itself so that you never have to worry about misplacing the carrying pouch
  • Lightweight and breathable. Perfect for hikes in warmer weather!
  • Lots of pockets and room inside to keep your things for a short hike
  • The top cap serves as another compartment

Best Ultralight Backpacks – Overview

Ultralight doesn’t always work better. Each gear lies somewhere on how much it weighs. They’ve got pros and cons. Thin and compact are easier to carry but will not last through abuse. Ultralight also comes with a price. When weight shrinks, the cost increases. What’s the perfect blend of durable but lightweight? How much would you like to bring, and how much would you like to pay? Here are some of today’s best ultralight backpack available on the market.

Ultralight Backpacks Reviews

1. Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack – Premium Pick

Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack

If you love to pack ultralight for weekend backpacking trips, you’ll love the ultralight Granite Gear Virga 2 Backpack which weighs just over a pound. The Virga 2 is two ounces lighter and more comfortable than the original Virga and incorporates a frameless suspension style with a lidless roll top, lightweight fabric and 10 mm webbing straps of smaller size for significant weight savings. You can load it down for up to 20 pounds of gear, and the padded shoulder straps and hip belt, together with a sternum strap and lining remain securely comfortable to balance the load. The comfort straps wrap-around tightly to protect your clothing to prevent it from moving as you run.

The extendable roll top of the backpack provides extra space if your load continues to overflow, and once you roll it down and snap it tight, it keeps your equipment secure without the need for a cumbersome lid cover. A large stretch mesh front pocket and stretch side pockets hold things you would like to reach easily, and two hand loops on the back hold an array of tools you want to add. Hang your hydration reservoir on the internal hanger. The sturdy Cordura nylon lining of the backpack with extra-lasting strengthened parts will get you through a lot of happy weekend wild excursions.

Key Features:

  • Rolltop closure
  • Frameless suspension
  • Internal hydration hanger
  • External stretch mesh pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 52L
  • Dimensions: 26.2″ H x 14″ W x 12.8″ D
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs
Pros
  • The side pockets are deep and snug
  • Very helpful load lifters
  • Extremely ultralight
  • Has been very comfortable for both long and short hikes
Cons
  • You need a sleeping pad on the inside against your back to make it comfortable

2. Osprey Packs Eja 48 Women’s Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

Osprey Packs Eja 48 Women's Ultralight Backpacking Backpack

The Osprey Packs Eja 48 Women’s Ultralight Backpacking Backpack gives you the ultimate, race-winning combination of speed and comfort with a balanced volume which keeps your packing habits under check. It is possible to remove the floating lid, sleeping pad straps and compression straps to save on ounces, and the frame is designed to make long days and long trips free from back pain. The AirSpeed rear panel and light-yet-durable alloy frame give you breathability by pouring excess heat from the edges, and for enhanced convenience, ExoForm wraps the shoulder pads and waist belt with mesh and silicone.

The Exos promises plenty of nooks and crannies for food, maps, and trekking poles, as well as some premium apps, even with minimalist hiking habits to mind. A hydration reservoir sleeve has a place to store your three-liter flask, so you don’t waste precious seconds stopping to pull out a bottle of water, and the FlapJacket rain cover keeps your precious stuff safe when the weather turns bad. You may also be interested in some of the best backpacking backpacks for women from our list, so check them out.

Key Features:

  • Integrated FlapJacket protects packed gear when top lid is removed
  • Front stretch mesh pocket stores rain gear and layers for easy access
  • Dual access stretch mesh side pockets for storing water bottles and other gear
  • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve accommodates up to a 3L reservoir (sold separately)
  • Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 48L
  • Dimensions: 27″ H x 16″ W x 5″ D
  • Weight: 2.15 lbs
Pros
  • This one does a great job of loading the weight right at the hip bones, which makes carrying a fully loaded pack an absolute dream
  • It is easy to feed the tube through the opening of the pack
  • The pack also has an amazing ventilation system that really allows for a lot of air movement
  • The padding on the backpack is also amazing
Cons
  • There’s no way you’ll be able to put a full water reservoir in the pack without taking (nearly) everything out first

3. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Men’s

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack - Men's

Introducing the all-new Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Men’s, an ultralight yet ultra-comfortable multi-day pack. This new and improved successor to the classic Crown V.C. 60, boasts Granite Gear’s patent-pending fully adjustable Re-Fit hip belt, Granite Gear’s new and innovative Air-Current Mark 2 compression molded PP frame sheet with molded foam back panel, and bonus lid (removable), all while weighing in at 2.2lbs. (regular torso without lid). for ultralight loads, the frame sheet can be removed lowering the weight to 1.7lbs. The Crown 2 60L has a fixed, non-adjustable torso length that is offered in 3 torso sizes.

Similar to the Lutsen pack series, the Crown 2 has adopted the Re-Fit hip belt. This easily adjustable belt allows a fit customization to all body types. One of the features that separate the Crown 2 from its predecessor is the newly designed top lid compartment with DWR treated zipper. The new lid is perfect for quick access for smaller items. The new Vapor Current Mark 2 frame is a molded polypropylene frame sheet with die-cut holes to minimize pack weight without compromising the design.

Key Features:

  • Dual large hip belt pockets with DWR treated zippers
  • Roll-top main compartment opening with centered dual strap and singular buckle for quick access and easy compression
  • Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper
  • Hydration port & internal hydration sleeve
  • Large side stretch woven pockets

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 13″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.34 lbs
Pros
  • The main compartment has plenty of room to carry most of what you need
  • The zipped pocket inside where the frame is offers some extra organization as well for flatter/less bulky items
  • The lid is pretty awesome, nice gear loops at each corner so you can clip stuff to them
  • This pack, considering the very ultralight weight, is extremely durable and the water resistance is actually pretty effective
Cons
  • There’s no way you’ll be able to put a full water reservoir in the pack without taking (nearly) everything out first

4. Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Women’s

Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack - Women's

One of the lightest weight multi-day backpacks available, the Granite Gear Crown 2 60 Backpack – Women’s is primarily designed for women with gender-specific shoulder straps and a hip belt. The compression-molded polypropylene frame sheet Vapor Current mark 2 has molded support channels and die-cut holes to reduce weight, without losing structural integrity.

The frame fits in tandem with the molded foam back panel with ventilation channels and long-lasting laminated mesh to help ventilate heat and moisture, without moving the center of gravity away from your back. The patent-pending, fully adjustable RE-FIT hip belt makes it easy to obtain a custom-fit hip belt! The Crown2 60 comes with a fully removable zippered lid for added volume and organization, designed specifically for use on this pack.

Key Features:

  • Removable lid has a compartment with DWR treated zipper
  • Hydration port & internal hydration sleeve
  • Large side stretch woven pockets
  • Stretch mesh front pocket
  • Side and front compression straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 23.5″ H x 13″ W x 8″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • Built in hip belt pockets each large enough to hold a phone plus a couple of bars and miscellaneous small items
  • Deeper side pockets
  • Removable back support
  • Removable lid – this feature will be great when toting around a bear canister and just need that little extra space for toiletries, etc.
Cons
  • The foam back panel takes a little getting used to

5. G4Free Ultralight Packable Hiking Backpack – Best Value

G4Free Ultralight Packable Hiking Backpack

The G4Free Ultralight Packable Hiking Backpack has bungee elastic ropes and straps for hanging the trekking poles, fishing rods, sleeping bag or the camping accessories for extra space. Chest strap for secure lock and has the whistle wildlife essentials helping you to find your companion when in need. Features large side mesh pockets to hold the big bottle. It fits into an ultra-compact pouch. Easy to folds up into small pocket

The backpack is made from high-quality water and tear-resistant nylon fabric, provides strengthen and long-lasting performance with minimal weight; Adjustable and breathable padded shoulder and strap to meet different requirements for both men and women. This pack is roomy enough to carry what you need on the trip like the hammock, clothes, towel, food and a couple of beers if needed.

Key Features:

  • Bungee elastic ropes
  • Top double-sided pouch
  • Easy to folds up into small pocket
  • Large side mesh pocket
  • Chest strap

Specifications:

  • Brand: G4Free
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Dimensions: 22.8″ H x 13.4″ W x 7.9″ D
  • Weight: 0.79 lbs
Pros
  • Folds away easily into a pouch that is actually a pocket that is attached to the bag itself so that you never have to worry about misplacing the carrying pouch
  • Lightweight and breathable. Perfect for hikes in warmer weather!
  • Lots of pockets and room inside to keep your things for a short hike
  • The top cap serves as another compartment
Cons
  • It’s light rain resistant, but not for long

6. Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack

The Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack is at home on a 14,000-foot summit or on a trip to the local farmer’s market. Designed to attach to a number of Osprey’s larger packs and travel bags for use as a separate pod pack on day trips away from base camp, it is the perfect companion on any trip. Access to the main compartment is easy with a large zippered panel. Side mesh pockets hold water bottles and other items while a front pocket with a mesh organizer and key clip secure small items in a single secure spot.

The multi-function interior sleeve can be used for either a reservoir, tablet, or laptop (up to 14”); attaches to a variety of compatible Osprey Packs. Mesh-covered die-cut foam back panel provides both comfort and ventilation. The front panel shove-it pocket is great for stashing a light rain shell and other small items. Be sure to also check out our list of day packs for hiking for more great items like this.

Key Features:

  • Large panel-loading main compartment
  • Front pocket with mesh organizer and key clip
  • Multi-function interior sleeve for hydration or tablet
  • Vertical zippered front panel slash pocket
  • Fabric front panel shove-it pocket

Specifications:

  • Brand: Osprey
  • Capacity: 20L
  • Dimensions: 18″ H x 10″ W x 9″ D
  • Weight: 1.19 lbs
Pros
  • Wide pockets that are really accessible
  • The straps are breathable and well engineered to distribute weight and be comfortable
  • It has a foam back to keep its shape which they added channels under mesh to keep your back cool
  • Has both a sternum strap and a waist strap to help distribute weight
Cons
  • The padding seems a little light for a laptop

7. Gregory Mountain Men’s Optic Ultralight Hiking Backpack

Gregory Mountain Men's Optic Ultralight Hiking Backpack

Achieving fluid motion takes more than counting ounces. The ultralight Gregory Mountain Men’s Optic Ultralight Hiking Backpack combines weight-saving design with exceptional fit and load management to give you a low base pack weight along with mileage-crushing efficiency. Comfortable carry and thoughtful trail features keep your head in the game so you stay ahead of your thru-hiking itinerary.

Features a removable top zippered pocket to shed ounces and swap-in included ultra-light weather flap to stay protected (stows in top pocket). Included custom fitted rain cover stows in the top pocket for quick access in unexpected showers. It has a sunglass QuickStow system on shoulder harness for quick, secure and scratch-free access to your shades without taking the pack off. Lastly, oversized, durable front stretch mesh pocket gives you quick access organization. Love backpacks? Check out our review of the best waterproof backpacks for hiking for our top picks.

Key Features:

  • Custom fitted rain cover included
  • Removable top lid with ultra-light weather flap included
  • Quick access on-the-go water bottle stow access
  • Dual zippered hip belt pockets
  • Dual adjustable attachment loops

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gregory
  • Capacity: 48L
  • Dimensions: 24.8″ H x 11.8″ W x 5.5″ D
  • Weight: 2.75 lbs
Pros
  • The weight is all distributed on your hips so when you carry an uneven pack load it doesn’t feel any different then a balanced packload
  • The water bottle pockets are faced towards you so it’s easy to pull stuff out and put stuff in
  • Sunglass straps are a nice feature meaning you can quick stow to get them out of the way
  • The mesh they used was this rubbery stuff with high tension so it stayed pretty well open
Cons
  • The bottom straps being more of a tensioner and less of a lashing

8. Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack

Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack

Sea to Summit stands for a culture of design perfectionists who develop ingenious, functionally beautiful products with an independent, free-thinking Australian attitude. The Sea to Summit Flow 35L Drypack is a tough, durable and waterproof option for wet, snowy and rainy adventures. It’s made of TPU laminated, 420D Nylon with a fully seam-sealed construction and features a white interior lining so you can find your contents with ease.

The contoured back panel, removable waist belt, and deep stretchy mesh exterior side pockets mean this is also an ideal choice for commuting, mountain biking, hiking, and lightweight travel. It has a removable waist strap and a large top handle for comfortable lifting.

Key Features:

  • Stretch mesh side pockets and a large exterior zippered pocket
  • Waterproof, abrasion-resistant, TPU laminated 420D nylon fabric
  • Top loading roll-top main chamber
  • Ventilating, perforated shoulder straps
  • Internal zippered pocket for small items

Specifications:

  • Brand: Sea to Summit
  • Capacity: 35L
  • Dimensions: 21.6″ H x 13.8″ W x 5.9″ D
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
Pros
  • It has a side pocket on the front with a zipper than you can use to store stuff you want to get quick access to
  • It also has a small internal pocket with a zipper
  • There are two ‘side’ pockets and a pair of compression straps on each side that can be adjusted, so you can lash equipment on the outside as well
  • The top rolls down and then snaps into two clips on either side
Cons
  • Lacks structural support when the weight is too heavy

9. Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack

Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack

The successor to the cult classic Granite Gear Vapor Trail, with upgrades! Introducing the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack, with Vapor Current Suspension technology. Weighing less than the Vapor Trail at 2 lbs, 2 oz (1 lb 13 oz with frame removed), the Crown 60 is a top loader with a secure roll-top closure that provides easy access. The simple lidless design can be upgraded with an optional LineLoc lid.

The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. The belt and shoulder straps feature dual-density padding and updated narrow webbing straps. The shoulder strap has a built-in stretch mesh pocket, and the belt has the capacity to accept our optional hip belt pockets. Vapor Current packs are fixed (non-adjustable) torso packs that come in sizes: Short, Regular in women’s models and Regular and Long in the men’s version.

Key Features:

  • Vapor Current Suspension
  • Interchangeable Belts
  • Hydration Ports & Internal Hydration Sleeve
  • Large Stretch Side & Front Pockets
  • Extended Overflow Crossover Straps

Specifications:

  • Brand: Granite Gear
  • Capacity: 60L
  • Dimensions: 29″ H x 15″ W x 5″ D
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
Pros
  • Straps and outside pockets are well designed
  • The outside side pockets and long back pocket have plenty of room
  • The top unfolds to provide a lot of extra space
  • Fits well to your back and required very little adjustment
Cons
  • The only real drawback is accessing the water bladder when fully packed

10. Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack

Lightweight but incredibly robust, the Gorilla 40 Ultralight Backpack is perfect for short trips or hikers in the minimalism team who know how to crush it. The Gorilla holds everything you need in case you refuse to bring it all. Its usability, reliability, and convenience make it the best companion you’ll ever have at the weekend.

It also works on longer trips, and hikes with itineraries including opportunities for grocery/laundry. It incorporates an integrated stiffener belt and stay integration for superior load transfer and convenience as well as Air-mesh fabric on shoulder straps and hipbelt for less friction, better protection, and more support. It also features a nice rear mesh pocket for drying clothing and holding other gear.

Key Features:

  • 3 hipbelt size options for a more custom fit
  • Dual exit hydration tube exit port
  • Internal hydration sleeve and drinking tube keeper loops on both shoulder straps
  • Two side mesh bottle pockets accessible while wearing pack
  • Includes a SitLight pad and a removable stay

Specifications:

  • Brand: Gossamer Gear
  • Capacity: 40L
  • Dimensions: 22″ H x 11″ W x 6″ D
  • Weight: 1.90 lbs
Pros
  • Strapping system is perfec
  • Large inside with a simple space and it rides well
  • The removeable back pad was was great as a pillow
  • Removable belt worked great on small excursions
Cons
  • No zippered pockets on the side

Buying Guide

Weight

If you go with an extreme ultra-light backpack like the G4FREE, you’re guaranteed to be in possession of one of the lightest ultralight hiking backpacks ever to have been. That being said, the lighter the backpack is, the less tough it will be and possibly less comfortable. Weight is also directly related to size. To get the weights of the backpack as low as possible, manufacturers are using bare-bones fabrics that wear down in the long run. This is the same across all ultralight backpacks.

Price

How much you’ll be using your ultralight backpack should also influence how much you’re willing to pay for it. Planning a big thru-hike? Are you flying across Europe? Just looking for an awesome pack for the day? Each of these situations demands a different price point. If you’re going to climb in a single shot thousands of miles, you’ll actually want to invest in a very ultra-light backpack like the Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60. Likewise, the Osprey Eja 48 would be the way to go if you’re planning backpacking Europe.

Comfort

Ultralight backpacks are definitely not as comfortable as compared to full-size bulked out hiking backpacks. For ultralight backpacks, all that padding used for heavy backpacks is significantly reduced. The lighter you go, the less comfortable your backpack will be. Ultralight backpacks are units that are minimalist. You sacrifice the padding for lightness.

Breathability

Breathability is another backpack feature that you should be researching and taking seriously. When you go trekking, you sweat a lot. Ideally, your backpack should provide some airflow and ventilation to make it possible to avoid all this back heat. A properly designed ultralight backpack also allows for some ventilation to take place.

Materials

The lighter the bag, the less likely it will have strong materials. That said, even ultralight backpacks are capable of taking a decent bit of abuse. Generally, one of two fabrics is used to make ultralight backpacks: Ripstop Nylon or Dyneema Composite Fiber. Both are quite water-resistant and can withstand a few good snags.

Capacity

The idea of buying an ultralight backpack is that, in principle, you bring less gear. Ultralight backpacks by nature require the customer to remove anything that is redundant for any particular trip. Ultralight backpacks have not been designed to carry heavy loads, either. When you load your ultralight backpack over it either break on you or it’s going to be very, very difficult to hike in. Getting some packing cubes for backpacking is also a great idea to utilize the maximum capacity of your bag.

Conclusion

We hope this guide was helpful for finding the best ultralight backpacks as well as our guide on features to look for in an ultralight backpack. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this guide, feel free to let us know in the comments section.