Whether you’re looking to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail or for the best ultralight backpack for traveling and the occasional family camping trip camping trip, finding the best lightweight pack can be a challenge - especially when you’re not sure what to look for.
Criteria to Consider When Browsing Ultralight Backpacks
At Light Hiking Gear, we pride ourselves on our one-of-a-kind bodypacks, which function as an ultralight backpack that was designed with your entire body’s mechanics in mind. That said, we considered the following criteria about our own product’s development, which makes them a great baseline to plan out your own pack purchase for all of your load-carrying needs!
The best ultralight pack for you is the one you can afford. Simply put: If the price is too high for you to be able to purchase, then that pack isn’t for you - regardless of what it promises to offer. Of course, you can usually save a little longer to purchase a more high-end pack, but if time is not on your side, then you will have to go with the best pack that doesn’t break the bank. That said, many more pricey packs feature high-quality material backed by competent engineering; while you may get a bit of sticker shock at the thought of spending a few hundred bucks on a pack, consider that the right pack could last decades (or more).
Well, obviously, weight is a criteria that must be considered when you’re looking for the best ultralight backpack (hence the name “ultralight”). When you’re going to be walking miles carrying only the essentials, every ounce of excess pack weight will end up feeling like pounds by the the time you finally set the pack down for the day. Of course, you can’t just go by weight alone; a pack needs to also offer the durability, comfort, and functionality you need it to while still weighing as little as possible.
Frame & Volume
Getting into the nitty-gritty of pack choosing means mapping out exactly what you’ll need to carry. These criteria will end up dictating how robust of a frame you’ll need and the allocation of volume within the pack. Frames largely determine the carrying weight, and so may not be discussed directly in any product descriptions, but alluded to with a weight in pounds or kilograms; be sure to account for all hang-ons, including tents, poles, cooking gear, and more. Volume is a little more straightforward, and much more intuitive, but you should be concerned with the breakdown of pouches - see our previous blog to learn about packing your pack, which can help to purchase your pack as well!
Features You Need
We don’t want you to get bogged down with selling points that don’t matter, but nor do we recommend buying a pack that doesn’t explicitly cover the needs you have for a pack. Do you live in a wet area? Then you should place a high priority on getting a pack that is already waterproofed, not requiring you to try to tape your clasps and zippers on a wet pack. Other criteria to consider include (if needed/desired):
- Pouch location and space allotment
- Belt and shoulder pockets for walking access
- Hydration ports
- Trekking pole/ice axe loops
- Chest straps
- Versatility; will it suit all of your pack needs or just one?
- Anything else you can think of for your pack needs!
The fit of a pack should be just as important as everything above; after all, you’ll be wearing the pack every time you use it. Years ago, we discovered that the fit of a pack was, in many cases, more important than the weight of the pack itself, the load it was carrying, and other oft-touted selling points of most packs out there. Find a pack that doesn’t just fit you, but compliments your form and distributes the weight of your load safely and evenly.
At Light Hiking Gear, fit is one of our most important priorities. In fact, we’ve taken the “fit” of an ultralight backpack and tailored it to how our musculoskeletal systems actually carry weight, removing the pain points associated with every other pack on the market. Our bodypacks were ergonomically designed to provide exponentially more comfort than even the best ultralight backpacks can hope to offer, which is why our customers have so many great things to say about wearing them!
Shop Our Bodypacks
If you’re looking for the best ultralight backpack for your money, then you should consider an Aarn Bodypack. Each of our packs was designed to help you carry your load in the most optimal way for your body by merging the biomechanics of comfort, balance, and agility. Discover the difference of an ergonomically-engineered ultralight backpack for yourself!