Ultralight & Ultra-Cheap: Backpacking Gear Under $5!!!

Katie Kommer
ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive under $5 feature


Ultralight doesn’t necessarily mean ultra-expensive. In fact, in many cases the most ultralight option (cutting unnecessary items out) is completely free. A few of the products included in this list do two amazing things at once: save you weight and save you money. For example, the Grifiti bands are an excellent replacement for expensive Dyneema stuff sacks. On the other hand, some of these items are ultra-mini versions of products we use daily on trail, like lip balm and lighters. Here are nine pieces of backpacking gear that are ultralight and ultra-cheap, a win-win for hikers everywhere.

Beeswax Mini Lip Balm 

  • MSRP: $1.49
  • Weight: 0.1 oz
  • Size: 1 in 
  • Best use/ purpose: hygiene, personal care 

    ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • Anyone who’s forgotten their chapstick at home knows how essential it is for backpacking. The Beeswax Mini is as UL as it comes — it’ll easily fit in any hip pocket, shoulder pocket, or fanny pack. This is a great item to include in every resupply box; it goes by fast on sunny adventures. 

    Multi-Purpose Expandable Wipes by WYSI Wipes 

  • MSRP: $3.45
  • Weight: 0.1 oz each 
  • Size: dime-sized individual pieces 
  • Best use/ purpose: hygiene, kitchen cleaning

    WYSI Wipes ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • These wipes are pure magic. They come in an extremely lightweight and small package, yet can be used just about anywhere. Plus, one $3 package contains 12 dime-sized wipes, which easily lasts for 12 days of backpacking (or more!). When you pour water on the WYSI wipes, they expand into a full-sized cleaning wipe. I like to use the wipes to wash my face/ body quickly at camp, then wipe down my cooking system. Additionally, for a quick first aid solution, you can also add a bit of disinfectant to make an antibacterial wipe for cuts or scrapes. 



    Cutting Board by Cascade Wild 

  • MSRP: $3.99 / $4.99
  • Weight: 0.5 oz / 0.6 oz 
  • Size: original: 7.5" long x 5.5" wide / large: 8.25" long x 6.5" wide
  • Best use/purpose: food prep

    ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • Have you ever tried to cut a brick of cheese precariously balanced on your leg? Usually, it’s either that highly questionable option, or giving into eating dirt. Enter Cascade Wild’s UL Cutting Board. It’s an absolute lifesaver when it’s time to prepare and serve food. Not only does it give you a clean place to prep, it can be used as a plate as well. 

    Grifiti Cross Bands - 4”, 6”, 9”, 12” 

  • MSRP: $1.49, $1.79, $1.99, $3.75
  • Weight: 0.3 - 1 oz
  • Size: stated above 
  • Best use/ purpose: Organization, compression

    Grifiti Cross Bands ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • These stretchy, colorful bands are endlessly useful — replace stuff sacks with these bands; secure the lid on your pot to keep it from jostling in your pack; compress your clothing or a quilt into a space saving bundle; and on and on. Finally, they’re also a much better reusable emergency repair solution than zip ties. You can easily save yourself the weight and money of an ultralight stuff sack by instead using a Grifiti Cross Band. 

    Bic Mini Lighter 

  • MSRP: $1.99
  • Weight: 0.4 oz
  • Size: 2.28 inches 
  • Best use/purpose: camp kitchen, fire starting, emergency 

    ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • Why not shave some weight on this classic backpacking must-have? I tested both a normal Bic lighter and this mini in below-freezing weather, and they work exactly the same. Plus, the more compact size fits nicely into my Jetboil Stash cook system. 

    Zpacks Super Sonic Stake

  • MSRP: $2.25
  • Weight: 0.44 oz 
  • Size: 7 inches long 
  • Best use/purpose: shelter system 

    ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

  • Stakes are a crucial part of your shelter. They become even more so when working with a non-freestanding system, where tension and leverage are the name of the game. The Zpacks Super Sonic Stakes are extra long aluminum ultralight tent stakes. They have a Y-beam design for great holding power, and a groove toward the top for a cord loop. They’re very similar in design to the MSR groundhog, but a little lighter, and a little cheaper.


    Vargo Outdoors Titanium Shepherd’s Hook Tent Stake 

      MSRP: $3.75
      Weight: 0.25 oz
      Size: 6.5 inches long
      Best use/purpose: shelter system

      ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

      My favorite feature of these lightweight stakes is their comfort. Have you ever tried to pull a tent stake out of the ground on a freezing morning and felt like your fingers were going to tear off? These stakes have orange-coated hooks on the end that are much nicer on the hands, and add visibility in the dark. Their sharp end slides easily into the ground, and they’re maneuverable when trying to find that perfect soft spot for staking.  


      Condiment Packets 

    • MSRP: $0.16 - $0.52
    • Weight: 7 grams - 0.38 oz
    • Size: assorted 
    • Best use/purpose: camp kitchen 

      ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

    • Grabbing extra condiments from fast food restaurants in town may work sometimes, but you’re unlikely to find quality spicy brown mustard or Frank’s Red Hot sauce. These condiment packets are a total lifesaver when your resupplies are in need of a little extra flavor. Plus, adding either the mayonnaise or olive oil packets adds extra precious calories for very little weight tradeoff. 


      SKS Bottles Hinged Containers 

    • MSRP: $0.59 - $0.99
    • Weight: 0.07 oz, 0.1 oz, 0.2 oz
    • Size: Regular: 0.39oz volume, 1" D x 1" H; Short: 0.26oz volume, 1" D x 0.75" H; Wide: 0.2oz volume, 1.5" D x 0.375" H; Box: 2.25" L x 1.75" W x 0.5" H
    • Best use/purpose: hygiene, camp kitchen 

      ultralight backpacking thru-hiking gear accessories budget inexpensive

    • We truly do not need much between towns. Oftentimes, even travel-sized cosmetics are more than enough for a week-long stretch. These mini containers are perfect for splitting one bottle of cosmetics between your tramily during resupplies, or when preparing for a weekend backpacking trip. I’ve found them useful for moisturizer, face sunscreen, and for storing my WYSI wipes. 


      Bonus List! 

      Even MORE Ultralight Gear Costing Less Than $5! Here are 6 Extra Shout Outs ...

      inexpensive budget ultralight backpacking gear


      1. Derma-Safe Folding Knife

      2. Ultralight Thumbprint Toothbrush

      3. Inflatable Pillow!

      4. Nylofume Pack Liner!

      5. Smart Water Bottles (to be reused time and again; compatible with both Sawyer Squeeze and HydroBlu Versa Flow gravity filters) 

      6. Ziplock Baggies (for use as stuff sacks, food storage, etc.)



      Ultralight Backpacking Thru-Hiking Gear Inexpensive
      Budget Friendly Ultralight Gear



      Katie is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. When she's not behind her laptop, you can find her guzzling instant coffee in the backcountry or developing a new and expensive outdoor hobby. To see her adventures and occasional long rambles, follow her on Instagram @katelyn_ali

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