I will never forget the first time the benefits of ultralight backpacking were revealed to me. It was August 2014 on the Uinta Highline Trail (aka Trail 025), an 80+ mile, high altitude traverse of the Uinta Mountains in Utah. Our six member group encountered snow, lost two members for 24 hours, crossed eight passes, and finished the journey to tell the tale.
I had heard of the ultralight approach before, but at 24 years old, I considered myself too young, strong, and capable to need it. Stubbornly, I crossed the Uintas in a pair of Levis as a tribute to my grandfather. I refused to weigh my pack, but I can assure you it was heavy.
On the Highline, I witnessed Justin and Clay whiz up switchbacks like gazelles with their featherweight GoLite and ZPacks backpacks. The next summer, we hiked the Wind River Range. After many more miles of oxygen-depleted deliberation, I decided it was time to lighten up.
The Legend of GoLite
When it comes to ultralight gear, a lot has changed in the four years that have passed since we hiked the Highline. For instance, GoLite, the company often credited for instigating ultralight backpacking, went bankrupt.
When GoLite went kaput, the ultralight torch was passed to other companies that continue to innovate to this day. I have not encountered a brand that has worked to take ultralight mainstream in the way GoLite did.
At one point, GoLite had 20 of its own brick and mortar retail stores. I remember visiting one and being blown away. All of the gear was high quality, lightweight, made by GoLite, and the store was staffed by knowledgable outdoor enthusiasts.
Tip: Not sure which lightweight backpacking gear to buy? We’ve done the “heavy lifting” for you. See our top picks.
A New Day: My Trail Co
A few weeks ago, I discovered My Trail Co online and was intrigued by their outdoor equipment offerings, all of which are lightweight and affordable. After doing some research, I learned that My Trail Co was started by the same guy that founded GoLite way back in 1998. His name is Demetri “Coup” Coupounas.
Wind HL Jacket
To test the waters, I ordered a Wind HL Jacket and my initial impressions are all positive. To start, I love how the jacket looks and feels. The fabric is soft, comfy, and effective as a water resistant windbreaker.
I am 5 foot 9 inches at 165 pounds, and the medium fits great on me. The seams are stitched with precision and the whole thing stuffs into its large back pocket, carabiner loop included. At 4 oz, the jacket weighs next to nothing. On trail runs, I like to throw it in my hydration vest for cool mornings and the chance of rain.
Overall, I am satisfied with the Wind HL Jacket and eager to get my hands on more My Trail Co gear. After poking around their website and seeing a brand new collection of products, I am impressed with how inexpensive everything is compared to other ultralight gear makers. If their build quality continues to be up to snuff I might be sporting a lot of My Trail Co logos in the backcountry.
- Fabric: 20D polyester
- Finish: Durable Water Repellant (DWR)
- Weight: 4 oz
- Stuffs into its own pocket
- Semi-trim fit