I spend a lot of time in the mountains, and usually I am trying to go fast - either because I am running an ultra marathon, or simply because speed means safety. As such my kit needs to be functional and reliable and above all: light weight. Yes, I am one of those mountain people that saw off the handle of their toothbrush to save space and weight; you can imagine that I pay great attention to the weight-to-value ratio of my gear, no matter if it's the caloric density of my preferred nutrition or the empty weight of my backpack. Read on for a summary of my lightweight favorites, gear that accompanies me on just about every mountain adventure.
- Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z (295g / 10oz)
I rarely ever go for a long run, big hike or heavy carry without trekking poles. Black Diamond's excellent Distance series is not just comfortable and lightweight, but also sturdy enough to withstand some serious abuse - mine have been up and down Aconcagua, run a couple 100-Mile races with me, and kept me balanced while carrying a 70lbs pig down from the top of El Capitan.
- Backpack: Hyperlite Southwest 4400 (1005g / 35.4oz)
Hyperlite Mountain Gear has taken the market by storm, establishing itself as a leader in topnotch UL gear for extreme backcountry adventure essentially overnight. Because who wouldn't love a near-indestructible pack that's waterproof and weighs almost nothing? Exactly. That's probably why a recent backpackers.com review of the Southwest closes with "I might consider proposing marriage to the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400, except for the fact that I’m already taken..." - I pretty much agree, though I prefer the larger 4400 version since its size allows me to hump Himalaya-expedition-worthy loads when necessary.
- Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Neo Air X Therm Max (430g / 15oz)
A sleeping pad with a high R rating is critical for my high altitude climbs and treks where it's not unusual for me to see temperatures near zero degrees Fahrenheit inside my tent at night. With an R rating of 5.7, there's no better lightweight solution than Therm-a-Rest's Neo Air X Therm. Good insulation means better chances for a good night's rest means more energy for long, hard days at altitude!
- Upper Body Attire: adidas Outdoor Terrex Skyclimb top (192g / 6.8oz)
I just recently got to add this top to my wardrobe - thank you adidas Outdoor! - and it has already become my new favorite piece of clothing. In addition to being lightweight, the Skyclimb top has a super flattering design and wears like a dream - it is soft and fluffy but supremely functional, dries quickly and provides excellent temperature regulation.
- Mountain Boots: Salomon S-LAB X ALP Carbon GTX (1000g / 35oz)
This boot is currently unbeatable in its category: it's light, crampon-compatible, waterproof, and climbs well. I reviewed it in detail a few months ago - take a look at the original post here if you want to know more.
- Solar Light: LuminAid PackLite 16 (85g / 3oz)
I have been traveling with LuminAid's PackLite ever since getting a Cairn box that included this awesome solar light. The PackLite provides up to 30 hours of light bright enough to read by, is waterproof, charges well, and packs up into a convenient compact format that carries on the outside of your pack as easily as a luggage tag.
There you have it: ~3kgs or 6.6lbs of awesome gear that covers most of the essentials; just add a pair of pants, sleeping bag, and food/water. Speaking of - if you've got recommendations for pants / sleeping bag / other fabulous lightweight items, I'd love to hear them. Comment or DM me on Instagram!