The expansive European continent is home to an ever-growing community of cottage gear makers and ultralight, outdoor enthusiasts. Over the years, we’ve witnessed several awesome brands emerge from all corners of Europe, offering innovative products made with impeccable craftsmanship by great people.
With all this passion on the loose, we felt it was high time to showcase a small sampling of European cottage ultralight brands. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it is an enticing one — chocked full of gear makers worth checking out!
Thrunotes creates a brilliantly designed line of waterproof, tear-proof, fully recyclable, adventure-ready notebooks and memobooks.
The small brand was founded in 2020 by Russ Hepton who, after hiking the PCT, realized that jotting down trail notes and memories on a phone felt impersonal and limited creativity — as well as drained the battery.
Designed to capture fleeting trail thoughts, landscape sketches, contact info and so much more, Thrunotes are available in a variety of page options: lined, dotted or blank. My personal favorite, The Thru, also has additional features specifically designed for thru-hiking and long-distance backpacking, like sections to chronicle trail info and resupply options.
Thrunotes prides themselves on using high-quality, eco-friendly printing techniques, and ensuring that all their packaging is made from FSC-certified, recycled paper and materials.
Founded by Madrileños, Ana Vicaria and Guillermo Maroto, CuloClean promotes a more sustainable and responsible relationship with our environments. Ana and Guillermo’s vision is to contribute to the Leave No Trace movement and help people feel clean, refreshed and ready.
Their signature product, the portable ultralight backcountry bidet, attaches to most any plastic water bottle and is manufactured in Spain. It has been gaining traction among backpackers and outdoor adventures the world over. Fans are quick to compliment the bidet's safe, easy-to-use and discret nature, ultimately leading to better LNT practices.
You can pick up your very own ultralight portable bidet here at GGG.
Tom Gale launched Atom Packs in 2018 after years spent learning how to design, sew and handcraft high-quality, ultralight packs. Expanding from its humble beginnings in the corner of Tom’s bedroom, this well-respected UK company now employs a dedicated team of eight sewing ninjas with a bonafide studio in Keswick, England.
Atom Packs offers a range of bright and beautiful bespoke ultralight hiking packs and optional add-on accessories, like hipbelt pockets. They also have a small selection of ready-made, in-stock, one-off bags ready to ship.
Bonfus is an ultralight outdoor gear brand led by the dynamic sibling duo, Niccolo and Stefania Bonfadini. Bonfus prides themselves on crafting technical, functional and ultralight packs — in both frame and frameless options — as well as shelters and accessories.
Both Niccolo and Stefania credit their original homebase, at the foot of the Alps in northern Italy, for setting in motion their love for outdoor adventure. After years of making their own ultralight gear as a hobby, Bonfus officially launched in 2019.
These days, the Bonfus product line is designed and tested by Niccolo in the wilds of Norway; where he also runs the numerous and never-ending logistics that go hand-in-hand with a thriving small business.
Meanwhile, the Bonfus product line is sewn with love, passion and incredible attention to detail by a small team of nine skilled sewers in Mexico City. Bonfus owns the Mexico City workshop, with Stefania herself overseeing production.
Bonfus will soon be available on GGG (WooWoo!!!), or can be ordered right now through the Bonfus website.
Founded in 1989 by ‘fast and light’ Polish outdoor enthusiast Zdzisław Wylężek, Cumulus Equipment has established itself as a world-renowned adventure brand with firm European roots. Their ever-expanding team specializes in combining extremely functional and ultralight fabrics with the incredible warmth, performance and conscientiousness of ethically sourced Polish down.
Cumulus offers an impressive range of sleeping bags, bivy bags, quilts and comforters, many of which pair perfectly with their ultralight hammocks and shelter offerings. Cumulus also boasts a line of tip-to-toe clothing, ranging from down pants and jackets to headwear and booties. All of their impeccably crafted products are made in Poland.
Cumulus is part of 1% for the Planet and promotes a ‘repair instead of a repurchase’ mindset.
When preparing to thru-hike the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne (HRP) in 2019, Jason Beaumard found himself discouraged by the limited lightweight gear options available. So he decided to take matters into his own hands, literally, and sat down at a sewing machine.
After his DIY pack survived the HRP, he set about perfecting his sewing skills and designs, soon offering them up to the burgeoning UL community.
Nowadays, Atelier Longue Distance, which translates to ‘The Long Distance Workshop’, offers both a standard and fully customizable frameless pack called Le Hybride. This flagship pack comes in 20L, 30L and 40L options, intentionally blurring the lines between an ultralight hiking bag and a running vest.
Alongside the Le Hybride, Atelier Longue Distance offers a tidy line of UL accessories, like their ‘Banana Bag’ hip pack, DCF bag liners, wallets, Dopp bags and food sacks.
Atelier Longue Distance ships worldwide from their home factory in the Dordogne region of southwestern France.
Specializing in ‘snacks that actually taste good’, Outdoor Provisions aims to keep your belly full and your adventures rolling. Their delicious, nutritious, plant-based energy bars and nut butters come in completely compostable wrappers and skip refined sugars and palm oils.
OP was dreamed into existence by co-founders Luke Douglas and Christian Smith while beta riding the Second City Bikepacking route in the UK, a route the duo pieced together. They soon realized they both longed for an energy bar that “didn’t taste like wood chips and chalk dust, or leave them rushing to the bushes.”
Born in 2019, OP hand makes their energizing and unique recipes, like their Cherry x Almond energy bars, and their Peanut, Almond & Raspberry nut butters. Nom, nom.
After completing a solo winter trek from Lands’ End to John O’Groats using lightweight gear he made himself, 15-year-old British hiker, Skye MacGregor, decided to launch his own UL brand. Wild Sky Gear was born from Skye’s overflowing passion for reliable adventure gear that works hard, but doesn’t weigh you down.
With time, this has expanded into a full UL line that Skye makes with his own two hands; and then ships to happy customers all over the world. From tarps and tie-outs, to DCF stuff sacks, dry bags and first aid kits, as well as chest packs, pouches, packing cells and more, Wild Sky Gear caters to hikers who want to go the distance. Free international shipping seals the deal on this cottage brand.
Huckepacks is a German cottage industry company with more than a decade of experience making ultralight packs and accessories. Featuring a sleek, unique aesthetic that borders on futuristic, the brand merges smart design details with high-quality fabrics to create durable, versatile, and reliable gear.
Founded by hiking enthusiast Mateusz Szultk in 2010, Huckepacks (originally called LAUFBURSCHE) quickly grew from a small startup into a bonafide business employing a dedicated team of adventurers.
Browse their full line of packs and accessories on their website (you can use the translate button) and be sure to peruse their special offers on their best selling PackL for an incredible range of custom colors and fabric options.
Named after the Slavic deity and protector of the woods, Leshy, the Warsaw-based brand, Lesovik handcrafts lightweight hammocks and shelters.
Founded in 2012 by Rafał Palowski and Maglorzata (Gosia) Szalinska-Palowska, the adventure partners, back in their student years, discovered DIY hammocks as an excellent accessory for their numerous trips and travels.
With gear originally handcrafted by Rafal and Gosia themselves, Lesovik's growth has allowed them to partner with a small, family-run, Polish sewing company. Nowadays, they offer their hanging sleep systems in basic, minimalist and Superlekka, or super ultralight (SUL), models.
Alongside their hammock selection, Lesovik offers a thoughtful line of accessories, like underquilts and mosquito netting. They also produce a variety of UL tarps that cover you while you’re hammock sleeping or ground dwelling.
Check out the Lesovik LAB on their webstore.
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker or at her blog thisisalibecker.com.