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  • Aria Zoner

Gear Talk - A Cozylight Approach to Ultralight Backpacking

When it comes to gear for backpacking, it seems like there are as many styles to choose from as there are trails to hike. In favor of comfort and security, the Cozylight Approach to Ultralight Backpacking sheds the ‘garbage bag tent and toothpicks for stakes’ philosophy for something more dependable. After 25 years of trail-testing and dialing-in my own set-up, here are the selections that have risen to the top of the pile – time & time again.

Laundry day on The Hot Springs Trail *Clean gear lasts longer!





The COZYLIGHT (4 Season) Set-up for Backpacking

Here’s a complete breakdown of what’s in my pack and links to the items that I’ve used most in the past:

The BIG 3:


  • Shoes: Montrail - Hardrock

  • Socks: Wigwam - Ingenius Hiker Pro

  • Pants: White Sierra - Zip-off Cargo

  • Arm Warmers: Homemade - Sleeves

  • T-shirt: Gildan - Performance Tee

  • Jacket: Montbell - Down Inner Jacket (7oz)

  • Rain Coat: Outdoor Research - Hurricane GORE-Tex (8oz)

  • Rain Pants: Homemade - Sil-nylon (4oz)

  • Gloves: Homemade - windproof fleece

  • Bandana: Official Trail Bandana

  • Sunglasses: Foster & Grant - Polarized

  • Hat: Sunday Afternoons – Solstice Visor

  • Hat 2: Winter Beanie


  • Groundpad: Therm-a-Rest - Prolite Small (11oz)

  • Bug Protection: Mosquito Head Net

  • Water Filter: MSR - Sweetwater Pump (12oz)

  • Garbage bag liner

  • Bear Can: Bearvault (2lbs 2oz)

  • Trekking Poles: Komperdell - Carbon Fiber collapsible


  • Stove: Snow Peak - GigaPower (4oz)

  • Pot: MSR - Titan Kettle (5oz)

  • Hummus container

  • Spoon

Ditty Sack 1 – Hygiene and First Aid:

  • Lotion

  • Toothbrush/floss

  • Neem, tea tree, & ylang ylang essential oils

  • Small hand brush

  • Band-Aids

  • Safety Pin

  • Sewing Kit

Ditty Sack 2 – Tools:

  • Compass

  • Knife

  • Bear bag line (Spectra cord)

  • Mini light, lighter, watch

  • Power cords for phone/camera

Total weight for this COZYLIGHT Set-up = 12lbs


Want Sub-10lbs?

Here’s how to make this set-up sub-10lbs:

  • Omit the bear can and hang your food


Want Sub-8lbs?

And here’s how to make this set-up sub-8lbs:

  • Omit the stove and only cook by fire or do a stoveless/cookless food style

  • Swap-out the pump filter for a Sawyer mini filter (3oz)

  • Use a 20 degree sleeping bag instead of a 10 degree


Whether you’re planning on going ULTRALIGHT or COZYLIGHT, it's a good idea to always make sure that you have enough gear to survive the worst circumstances that you might encounter while out on your trip. Also, whatever gear you do have, make sure that it’s dependable and can actually be used for the job that it’s intended to be used for when the time comes. Nothing’s worse than being on a 10,000ft pass and having the head of your ultralight ice axe snap off the first time you try to chop steps with it; or even worse, having to carry 8lbs of extra water because you don’t have a 12oz filter.

With foresight and proper gear, you can not only survive a long-distance backpacking journey but can be comfortable and safe during it as well. The best part is, you don't have to be burdened down by weight to be virtually bombproof. That's the benefit of a Cozylight style!


For additional tips & insights on ultralight backpacking & long-distance hiking, check out The Adventure Catalogue - by Aria Zoner.

Until next time, happy trails & keep it cozy!



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