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Fantasy Backpacking: Hottest Items for 3-Season Camping

Updated on November 16, 2015
Availiasvision profile image

Jennifer is an adventure writer and loves helping people outfit themselves for adventure. She loves backpacking, camping, and scuba diving.

The modern backpacker is given a plethora of gear choices and must choose between competing technologies and features. Products are infinitely lighter, stronger, and more technologically advanced than ever before.

Everyone has different objectives and qualifications for their gear setup. Price, weight, quality, manufacturer location, and intended use all play a factor in what products are considered superior to others. To create a perfect three-season setup, here is the fantasy list, with technologies that rock.

The Deuter ACT Lite series packs are lightweight and very comfortable.


Deuter's ACT Zero 50+15 is a lightweight, comfortable pack, great for weekend backcountry campouts and stealthily packed treks. It won the 2011 Outside Gear of the Year Award and is a perfect lightweight choice for your next adventure. At 3 lbs 7oz, this pack will appeal to your inner-minimalist without cutting out features like ice-ax loops, water bottle pockets, and padded shoulders.

Why I'm Digging it:

  • Features a super comfortable suck to your hips hip belt.
  • Includes a rain cover
  • Adjustable shoulder straps to fit a wide range of torso sizes
  • Removable lid with an extension collar that adds 15 liters to the pack
  • Emergency info stamped into the lid
  • External half mesh pouch allows wet gear to dry



Big Agnes' Fly Creek UL 1 person tent defines the category of ultralight backpacking tents. With only one DAC Featherlight pole, and the option to set it up without the tent body, this fully taped tent will disappear in your pack. At only 1 lb 14 oz, and a fast pack weight of 1 lb 6 oz, the Fly Creek is a great addition on your next minimalist minded adventure.

Why I'm digging it:

  • One of the lightest tents on the market without being a constrictive bivy sac
  • Comes with reflective guide lines
  • One pole design that is easy for a one person setup
  • Very breathable 1200 mm waterproof coating
  • Taped seams
  • Has the option of leaving the body at home and just pitching the fly and footprint

Sleeping Bag

Marmot's Plasma 15 degree sleeping bag will keep you toasty warm on cold frosty nights. Constructed with the industry's highest quality, 900 fill goose down, and weighing in at 1 lb 15 oz, the Plasma is one of the lightest 15 degree bags on the market. It's highly compressible down will be a trusty friend in the bottom of your pack for years to come.

Why I'm digging it:

  • Super lightweight and under 2 lbs.
  • Baffles allow you to move the down around to your coldest areas
  • Packs down really small into a 7.5 by 15 inch stuff sack
  • Comes with Marmot's Lifetime Warranty

Sleeping Pad

The NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad has a cushy 2.5 inches of loft and a a toasty R-value of 3.2. What Even better, is the light weight material has no bulk and wraps up to the size of a water bottle. Thermarest has created a very light weight product with superior comfort. You'll never sleep on a foam pad again. The 2.5 inches of loft is perfect for the restless side sleeper.

Why I'm digging in:

  • One of the lightest on the market at 8 oz (S), 12 oz (R), and 16 oz (L)
  • Comes with a repair kit
  • Baffles help spread out body weight with fewer pressure points
  • Sturdy and thin material
  • Almost fits in your water bottle


The Jetboil Flash is a very user friendly cooking system with an integrated flint sparker, thermal sleeve, color temperature gauge, adjustable burner, and At only 14 ounces, it will boil a liter of water in 2 minutes, and do it 12 times off of one canister.

Why I'm digging it:

  • Quick 2 minute boil time
  • Orange heat sensor is helpful for knowing when it hits a boil
  • Fuel and burner all tuck away into the cooking cup for efficient storage
  • Easiest stove to use
  • No fuel mess and no need for a lighter
  • Optional coffee press sold separately

Water Filter

Katadyn's Vario is a top quality product and follows strict EPA standards. The Vario is lightweight, easy to clean out in the wild, and improves the taste of water. Being able to pump right into your water bottle leaves one less hose to worry about. The high flow output and simple pumping motion make this filter easy to use for backcountry travel and emergency preparation.

Why I'm digging it:

  • High flow rate of 2 liters a minute
  • Easy to clean in the field
  • Pre-filter keeps the mirco-filter from getting clogged
  • Carbon core improves the taste of the water and reduces odors and chemicals
  • Pumps directly into your Nalgene bottle
  • Comes with a hydration pack adapter
  • Only 15 oz and 6.5 inches tall


Light my Fire FireSteel: Very compact fire striker that produces up to 3,000 strikes. With a little practice, this small striker has the reliability of creating thousands of very hot 5,500 degree Fahrenheit sparks, even when wet. The handle has an excellent grip and a built in whistle. At 1.6 ounces, there is no reason to leave home without one.

Gerber Warrant: This half serrated knife is perfect for splitting tinder and kindling. It has a lightweight and slim profile to slip easily around and ankle or mount onto a pack. The knife slides into a camo colored holster which is perfect for hunting or blending into the wild. Go chop, dig, slip, and saw your heart out with this Gerber fixed blade.

Adventure Medical .3 Kit: Super light and watertight, this personal medical kit is a great for the weight conscious hiker. Depending on the length, area, and activity you can shop Adventure Medical's add-ons and refills.

Gear Weight List

3 lb 7 oz
Sleeping Bag
1 lb 15 oz
1 lb 14 oz
12 oz
14 oz
Water Filter
15 oz
Fire Starter
2 oz (aprox.)
6 oz
Medical Kit
3 oz

© 2013 Jennifer Arnett


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    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      Your dad is so lucky to be hiking the AT! I'm sure he'll enjoy such lightweight gear. On a trip that far, ounces really add up. Thanks for reading, sharing, and pinning.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      What a fun bonding time with your dad. You are going to have tons of new ideas for hubs when you get back. You could be like the Irish guy in the movie.

      Buen Camino!

    • theluckywriter profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      Yes, I loved that movie! I'll be going with my Dad. I'm in my thirties and he's in his sixties. We're leaving Canada in mid-March and coming back at the end of April. Part of me wants the time between now and then to just fly by. The other part of me needs it to slow down, since I still have to learn some spanish and save a lot of money. Ha!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      You are so lucky to be able to walk the Camino. Have you seen the movie The Way? It's fantastic. It's been a dream of mine for years. I really want to do it while I'm young. Are you going alone?

      Backpacking is one of my favorite topics, so more will be on the way.

    • theluckywriter profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      I'm walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. 800 km over 35-40 days, from hostel to hostel. My goal is 13 pounds, but it means buying a much lighter and more expensive sleeping bag, which isn't exactly in the budget right now. I'm walking in March, so I need to carry heavier clothes and sleeping bag (some hostels are not heated).

      I hope you'll post more hubs about lightweight backpacking! It's definitely a personal interest of mine!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California


      Where are you going on a 40 day trek? With a trip that long, you will feel EVERY ounce and are smart to pack extremely light. 15 pounds for forty days is fantastic, even if you're moving between huts and hostels.

      Best of luck on the trek!

    • theluckywriter profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      The Big Agnes has been on my wish list for a while now! I'm currently packing for a different sort of trip (40-day long walk/trek, but no camping), and I'm pretty obsessed with grams and ounces. It's amazing how quickly they add up! I use an ultralight backpack that I absolutely love: the OMM Classic Marathon 32l. It weighs in at only a pound and a half - it's as light as a feather. Well, a heavy feather, I guess. Ha! No internal frame, but sturdy and comfortable so long as you don't go over 15 pounds or so.

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 4 years ago from Florida

      My dad's thru-hiking the AT and just recently switched to a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (because he wanted a little extra space inside to pull his gear in). The weight difference was quite significant from the other "lightweight" tent he was using. He's also using the The NeoAir Xlite which he replaced, too, from another lightweight option. Great review! Sharing and pinning.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      I'm trying to pack for more than a weekend out of a 34 liter pack. Every ounce and square inch counts! After years of tweaking my kit, these are my current favorites. Thanks for stopping by and voting up.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 4 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Great details for backpacking! I think your hub on this subject included certain things mine didn't! I did like the weight chart.....this is such an important part of packing for camping especially. Great job on this, awesome details. I'm voting up and sharing!

    • Will Jason profile image

      Will Jason 4 years ago from Chattanooga, Tennessee

      In "light" weather backpacking, i rarely pack a tent. the hammock and tarp is quick, adequate, and makes you feel like you're really part of what you're doing.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      Will, thank you so much for reading and participating. I really appreciate it.

      For the hardcore Ultralight followers, 8 lbs would seem outrageous. I enjoy lightweight product, with a dash of comfort, so this is the list I think is ideal for the typical 3-season backpacker. I work in the industry and have tried or interacted with all of these products. The items listed really are my favorites on the market.

      I agree with the flip flops and a hammock. One day I'd love to get into hammock backpacking. Pitch a tarp above it and your're good to go. Sounds fantastic!

    • Will Jason profile image

      Will Jason 4 years ago from Chattanooga, Tennessee

      Wow! what an incredible list. the weight tally at the end made me chuckle seeing it all weigh in under 8lbs! Throw a few meal packs in, some flip flops, and possible one of those eno hammocks (they're awesome btw) for an afternoon siesta or two, and you're good to go.