Budget Ultralight Big 3

Big 3 Budget Ultralight

As many of you may know or may not know my entire backpack was stolen during my A.T. Thru-hike in 2016 in Duncanon, PA. I now have fully rebuilt and replaced my kit and created a lighter and cheaper set up. In this post I will go through my gear and explain what it is replacing.


Big 3

The big three for me was a tough chose to be able to balance cost and weight. I previously had an Osprey Exos 58, Sierra Designs zissou 12 sleeping bag, Neo Air x-therm, and a GoLite tent. With extensive research I have now replaced my Big 3 with some great gear.

1. Equinox Aras Pack (Blue/Black)- $40.79 – 20.8oz

 Equinox Aras Pack

I decided to go with a frameless pack and settled on the Aras Pack because I found a screaming deal on amazon.com and I have a small torso size. This pack met all my criteria but the only thing I am not the biggest fan of is the bungie and wing flap system.

2a. Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 quilt- $280 – 18.11 oz

enigma quilt

I decided to go with a quilt because I found that I tend to over heat with a tradition mummy bag and would have my bag fully unzipped into a quilt most nights. I love this quilt because of its packability and workmanship.

2b. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad Small- $34.95- 10 0z

z lite pad

I went with a foam pad because I liked how I could use it as a back frame for my pack and the durability. My sleeping pad on the A.T. got 3 holes in it over 2.5 months. This will allow me to lighten up my repair kit and not have to carry as much repair tape.

2c. Klymit Pillow X- $24.95- 1.95 oz


I have chosen to go with the Klymit Pillow because it is just slightly lighter than the Sea to Summit Aeros UL pillow. and it was about $10 cheaper too.

3a. Paria Outdoor Sanctuary SilTarp- FREE– 20.5 oz

Paria Outdoor's Sanctuary Siltarp kit

I was fortunate enough that Paria Outdoor Products sent me an overstock model of their Sanctuary Tarp and I plan to use this when I know its not going to be buggy out. This is a very versatile tarp. You can check out my short review here. Along with the tent I do carry a poly-cro ground sheet that weighs 1.6 oz.

3b. Big Agnes Copper Supr HV UL 2- MSRP $449 (we got it cheaper with our REI dividend)- 42 oz/ 2lbs 12oz


We chose to go with the Copper Spur HV UL2 for our main tent because of its larger floor plan, two doors, and how light weight it is. This has a very similar design to our old Golite tent that was stollen.



After replacing my big three I have roughly spent $570. Granted the quilt was a gift and we used a 20% off and our rei dividend on the tent so in reality I have only spent $250 dollars. Depending on my shelter set up my big three weigh in at 5.8lbs with the Tent and only 4.56 lbs if I go with my tarp set up. my current base weight weighs anywhere between 7.89-9.13 lbs. My old kit’s base weight was roughly 15lbs.

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Comments 2

  • Mike kwortnik : Apr 22nd

    How did your pack get stolen in duncannon? I’m planning on a section hike from swatara gap to duncannon in 2 weeks and would def like to avoid getting mine stolen.

    • Patrick Donahue : Apr 22nd

      Hi Mike,
      I had left my pack outside of a trail angels house on her deck when I went to grab food. I came back and it was gone. I would just say always keep and eye on your gear.


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