Click HERE to download an Excel spreadsheet of Karl's Ultrlight Backpacking Gear List.  Those with Excel skills can modify the downloaded spreadsheet to produce their own Gear List.

This is an updated version of Ultralight Backpacking Gear List that was presented by Karl Riters as part of the Ultralight Backpacking Mini Class at Spring Training on May 21, 2017.

The Gear List is essentially what Karl uses for his backpacking adventures including hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail in 2014. The base weight of his backpack (excluding food and water) is under 12 pounds.


As I walked along the trail back to my car, I noticed a tingling feeling around my lips and eyes. The tips of my fingers and toes were also tingling. Five minutes earlier I had stepped on what I thought was a cactus. This is an odd response to a cactus wound, I thought. As I continued walking, the tingling became more pronounced, and I had the sensation that the world was closing in on me. I began to worry I might not be able to make the remaining half mile down the trail to my car, where my wife was waiting. I stopped several times in the last hundred yards to collect my strength. At last, I made it. "Take me to the hospital emergency room," I mumbled to my wife, as I opened the car door and collapsed into unconsciousness.

My wife, of course, was shocked to see the man she had left only an hour ago in perfect health now slumped in a heap halfway into the car. Fortunately, a young couple was nearby and they called 911 for help. The 911 dispatcher advised the couple to stretch me out on the ground and immediately begin CPR treatment until the paramedics arrived. Because of my age, everyone assumed I had suffered a heart attack, including the paramedics who arrived less than 10 minutes later to find my heart racing and my blood pressure exceedingly low. After they managed to stabilize my life-threatening blood pressure, I revived enough to complain about my big toe. My shoe was removed and the paramedics discovered two puncture wounds on the bottom of my big toe. How these had come to be there was a mystery, but my symptoms were consistent with a snakebite and they radioed ahead to the hospital so they could begin thawing the snake antivenom, a process that takes over an hour. In the meantime, the ambulance raced to the hospital.

Recent comments

  • Your story stays with me when I hike. Sorry you had to go through this, but it is a lesson I'll never forget. But going barefoot on a trail would, thankfully, never cross my mind :-). Glad you are fully recovered.
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At the end of a recent ultralight backpacking class Paul Randolph and I were teaching for PWV members, I made some ill-considered comment about the real reason for taking weight out of my backpack was so I could carry the new Corona saw I purchased to "cut all those trees" off my favorite trails. "I love to cut trees," I declared. I had no idea anyone was listening.

Backpacker.com offers these tips to keep your gear working as long as possible.

Leave No Trace (LNT) is both a set of practical rules to protect wilderness and an educational program to teach the rules and increase awareness of them. The program is described on the LNT Website. The following text is taken from LNT and reprinted with their permission.

Recent comments

  • Guest - Kris Roehling

    Excellent. The trailspace community pages had a more complete answer, but seeing the brief version here was a perfect confirmation of those pages. I wouldn't want a more complete answer here. that would be too much.
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