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The Ultimate Ultralight Backpacking List for Women

Packing light for a backpacking 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 backpacking 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. Also remember that I travel with a lot of electronics in my day-pack in order to maintain this blog; you can forgo these items if you don’t require a laptop or aren’t interested in photography.

If you would rather avoid taking two backpacks (a large backpack and a daypack) and stick to using only a carry-on, check out my secrets to minimalist packing.

ultralight backpacking list

The ultimate ultralight backpacking list for women:

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 (I wrote a full review on it here).

I use a 85L Mountain Wearhouse backpack as my main backpack. If you are thinking to yourself, “85L is NOT ultralight”, think again. I probably don’t need 85L 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-fill style and can fit 85L, it can easily fit larger items like a yoga mat or tent, but can also be folded down more compactly when less full. I also love that it has 4 different zip compartments from the outside and one hidden one on the inside.

Since the bag is on the larger side and needs to be checked or stowed for long haul travel, I 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 a set of 3 packing cubes to help me save space and stay organized (honestly these are a huge game changer). I started with dollar store ones which broke after two trips, so I would highly recommend investing more for sturdier options. My current packing cubes are in small, medium and large sizes and are just no-name ones from Amazon. Conversely, if you don’t want to invest in them right now, you can opt to use large zip lock bags.

ultralight backpacking list

My first attempt at ultralight packing! 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 also replaced the Swell bottle with a lifestraw bottle and a collapsible bladder by Platypus.


The best rule of thumb, is to pack your day-pack with everything you don’t want to lose or get stolen. Essentially you want to keep all of your valuables with you (or on you). 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 always keep a few go-to toiletry items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip chap) in my daypack 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 before plane travel.

Large backpack:


I hope this packing list helps you to plan your next adventure and remember that you can always use it as a guide and simply modify it to meet your needs. Happy Travels!

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ultralight backpacking list

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Read next:

5 Minimalist Travel Packing Tips

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


10 Best Jogging Shoes for Travel

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This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. 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