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The Ultimate Ultralight Backpacking List for Women

Packing light for a trip abroad can be challenging and is somewhat of a science: you want to keep your luggage light enough to comfortably carry, yet still fit all of your essential items! This ultralight packing list is designed to be minimalistic, yet versatile.

Keep in mind that you can use this list as a guide and simply customize it depending on your destination and prospective activities. Also remember that I travel with a lot of electronics in my carry-on in order to maintain this blog, so you can forgo these items if you don’t require a laptop or aren’t interested in photography.

If you aren’t interested in using a backpack to travel (i.e. you have wheeled luggage), you can still benefit from the packing list below to organize what to pack in your carry-on versus your checked luggage.

Alternatively, if you want to try to travel carry-on only, feel free check out my secrets to minimalist packing post, where I share how I managed to previously travel internationally with only my small 27L backpack.

Ultralight backpacking: General Packing Tips

First things first, let’s talk about backpacks. If you are reading this ultralight backpacking list, I will assume you are already using a backpack to travel (versus wheeled or duffle-bag style luggage).

You may already own your own backpack, but if not, I recommend the Osprey Questa 27L as a solid daypack choice for women. Reasons why? Osprey has a LIFE-TIME warranty (yes that’s right, lifetime) and their products are high-quality. I think my backpack is actually an older model because I got it in 2017 (and it’s still thriving), but it is still sold on Amazon so I’ve featured it below.

Related: Review of the Osprey Questa 27L Daypack

I also use a 65L Mountain Warehouse backpack as my main luggage (pictured below). If you are thinking to yourself, “65L is NOT ultralight”, think again. I probably don’t need 65L because I typically don’t fill it and I have a small frame, but I still love this backpack because of its versatility.

Since it is a tall, top-loading style, it can easily fit larger items like my yoga mat or a tent, but it can also be folded down with its adjustable clips when not full. I also love that it has zipped compartments on each side, top and bottom for easy access and a hidden zipped compartment inside.

Since the bag is on the larger side in height dimensions, I usually stow it for long haul travel and use a luggage tag in the case that it gets lost. You can browse through the best luggage tags for international travel here.

I use the packing cubes featured above (they come in a 3-set of small, medium and large in all different colours) and they help me save space and stay organized. I started with dollar store ones which broke after two trips, so I would highly recommend investing in better ones from the get-go. This brand has lasted me over a year so far. Conversely, if you don’t want to buy them right now, you can opt to use large zip lock bags for the same effect.

The ultimate ultralight backpacking list for women:

ultralight backpacking list

My first attempt at ultralight packing back in 2016! Now I use packing cubes to help me and there are few items here I wouldn’t bother with, like the huge stash of multivitamins or my iPod (I use my iPhone now instead). I also didn’t use the running shoes, deck of cards, selfie stick, or water purification tablets. I have since replaced the Swell bottle with a collapsible bladder by Platypus.

Day-pack/ Carry-on: 

My packing rule of thumb, is to pack your carry-on with anything you don’t want to get lost or stolen. Essentially you want to keep all of your valuables with you (or on you) during transit. I use my daypack for my plane/train/bus carry-on and always keep it secure in a locker if I stay in a hostel.

I pack a few go-to toiletry items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip chap, hand sanitizer) in my carry-on for easy access, especially for long haul flights. Be sure to separate the <100mL liquids into a ziplock bag or use a clear plastic case like this one featured below.

Large backpack:

As I mentioned earlier, I use a set of three packing cubes in small/medium/large sizes for my clothes. I use the small one for under garments, a bathing suit, sleep wear, socks and any miscellaneous items like a scarf or jewelry. I usually use the other two to organize my tops versus bottoms, or while on the road to separate clean versus dirty items. I always roll items inside the packing cubes to save space

Bonus:

  • Items that I’ve previously packed on trips over the years and virtually never used
    • Deck of cards
    • Water purification tablets
    • Lifestraw bottle (after buying it, I realized it still doesn’t filter viruses so I don’t recommend it).
    • A watch
    • Extra pillow case
    • Neck pillow for plane (some people love these, I just find they take up too much space and aren’t all that comfy)

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Read next:

5 Minimalist Travel Packing Tips

Best Women’s Daypack for travel and hiking: Osprey Questa 27L

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thepinkbackpack.com said:
Thanks Ellen :) So glad to hear you found it helpful xo
August 1, 2016 at 2:46 am
Ellen said:
Super helpful post! Thanks for a great post Steph :)
July 31, 2016 at 4:23 am
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