The Best Ultralight Weekend Backpacks

We most recently tested the best ultralight backpacks in 2017 on trips of three to seven days in Illinois and Oregon. We rated each product on comfort, versatility, weight, storage and durability. In that test, all the packs weighed in at just over 2 pounds, with the exception of the Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus, which is the lightest pack on the market at a mere 16 ounces. The ultralight backpacks we evaluated cost about the same, between $190-$199, except the Mountainsmith Scream 55, which is a little more wallet-friendly at $150.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 58
90
Best in Class
2017
Comfort 7
Storage 7
Versatility 8
Weight 9
Durability 9

Ultralight

Durable

Basic

Mindful design

Comfortable shoulder straps

Waist belt does not support weight

Lays flat against back

Requires mindful packing

Tight side pockets

MSRP
$195.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60
87
Comfort 8
Storage 8
Versatility 6
Weight 8
Durability 7

Carrying capacity

Comfortable

Large side pockets

Convenient shoulder strap pockets

Limited versatility

Small rear pocket

Bulky hip belt with no pockets

Thin hip belt webbing loops

MSRP
$199.95
BEST DEAL
Osprey Exos 48
82
Comfort 8
Storage 6
Versatility 7
Weight 5
Durability 6

Comfortable

Good short term storage

Flexible capacity

Back ventilation panel

Small hip belt pockets

Limited capacity

Heavy

Features don't reflect intended use

MSRP
$190.00
BEST DEAL
Marmot Graviton 58
81
Comfort 7
Storage 7
Versatility 8
Weight 4
Durability 5

Quick release compression straps

Large capacity, wide body

Vented back panel

Versatile access

Heavy

Reduced durability

Small attachment loops

Slender back pocket

Thin shoulder & waist straps

MSRP
$199.00
BEST DEAL
Mountainsmith Scream 55
80
Comfort 6
Storage 5
Versatility 4
Weight 6
Durability 9

Durable

Affordable

Large hip belt pockets

Lack of ready-to-use attachment points

Side pockets high and tight

Limited roll-top extension

Bulky and heavy buckles and straps

MSRP
$149.95
BEST DEAL
Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus 58

The Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus is by far the lightest pack in the test group and its lightweight and durable materials can stand up to a severe beating. Pack weights above 25 pounds see a proportionate decrease in comfort since weight rests entirely on the shoulders. It can be filled to the limit of the extension collar or cinched and rolled down tight to accommodate a smaller load. This pack is tailored to long distance backpackers looking to minimize the weight of the gear they carry. 

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Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60

The Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60 is designed for extended backcountry expeditions and gracefully balances storage and comfort. Its carrying capacity and well designed side pockets stand out from the rest of the test group but certain aspects, like the limited back pocket and large waist belt, keep this pack from reaching its full potential. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at GearTrade.com

Osprey Exos 48

The Exos 48 is the smallest pack in the test group. Ease of storage in the back pocket and brain are offset by small hip belt and side pockets. Many features add a nice touch but cater to the day hiker and will be less useful the longer a backpacker is out in the field.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Gear Coop

Marmot Graviton 58

The Marmot Graviton 58 is a versatile pack with a large internal storage compartment that is fully accessible thanks to a large duffle-style zipper. It's quick-release compression buckles are the best in the test group, but some storage areas like the back pocket and lid could be improved. Ultimately, urban focused features add to the packs weight and become less useful as one heads into the backcountry. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at MasseysOutfitters.com

Mountainsmith Scream 55

The Mountainsmith Scream 55 is a roll-top rucksack that is surprisingly affordable and durable but has some features that miss the mark. Our testers were not be impressed by the tight side pockets or the vertical rear pockets and the provided webbing loops are not accessible unless other means of attachment are produced. Compared to other packs in the test group, the Scream 55 has great durability and value, but falls short when it comes to crucial features. 

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Moosejaw

See All Ultralight Weekend Backpacks Reviews

What is an Ultralight Backpack?

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Ultralight backpacking is about getting by with less. This can make the actual experience of hiking much more enjoyable since you carry less weight on your back every day. The trade-off is that you have fewer comforts for camping and there is less room for error when it comes to staying warm and dry. An experienced ultralight hiker brings fewer items to begin with, chooses the weight of items carefully, and packs with discipline and strict organization. Ultralight backpacks generally have fewer comfort features, less support and suspension, and fewer pockets than regular backpacks of the same size. This requires more thoughtful packing and organization, but rewards the hiker with less weight to carry.

Why An Ultralight Backpack?

A backpack is one of the largest items in a backpacking gear list, so lightening the weight of your actual pack goes a long way toward reducing pack weight. However, backpack choice should be one of the final additions to an ultralight hiking kit. You can only comfortably carry a minimal and lightweight backpack if you also have small and lightweight gear to go inside it, so don’t choose an ultralight pack as your only ultralight item.

The 50-69 liter size is the most versatile volume of backpacking pack, and the most common size for ultralight packs. This is the ideal size for two- to four-night trips, and is also the typical capacity chosen by hikers on long thru-hikes, who tend to favor ultralight setups. If you are interested in this size range of 50-69 liters and want to compare standard designs to ultralight models, reference our weekend backpack review.