Ultralight Buys for a Buck


99¢ Only Store — “Ultralight Depot”

One of the exciting aspects of ultralight backpacking is the on-going quest for light, small and cheap equipment.

Typically, “small and light” comes at a higher price, but what if I could show you how to buy ultralight items at an ultracool price of a dollar each?

I began my love for gear in the 80s. I used to collect “lightweight” gear at different outdoor outfitters and mountain shops. What I didn’t realize then, is that most of the gear I was purchasing could easily be found at local convenience stores that not only weighs less but sometimes cost you almost nothing.

Today when I walk into an REI or other outdoor stores, I am amazed at how much gear can be replaced at thrift shops, grocery stores and The 99¢ Only Store.

All of the gear listed below was purchased at the 99¢ Only Store. Browse the isles and see what items you can find to replace some of your current gear.

Have fun with it! Leave a comment below of what you’ve found, or any UL ideas.


I bought a single sunshade for a dollar and have made two ultralight cup insulators and a freezer bag cozy with more than half of the material left!




Cup and bowl: Forget expensive titanium, aluminum or stainless steel cups, bowls and sierra cups. The 99¢ Only Store sells two, ultralight cups for a dollar!





Small and light hydration bags can be found at most stores for around a dollar. They work great as a “smelly” bottle, used only with electrolyte drink mixes. When not in use, they pack up nicely in a bear bag or bear can at night.




Hand sanitizer has become more and more popular since studies have recently concluded that it truly does kill germs.

Breath drops come in small, “dropper” bottles of three. Empty the contents, rinse with water and let dry. I use droppers for my Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, DEET and Aqua Mira mix container.



First Aid Supplies: Consider buying some of your first aid supplies at the 99¢ Store. They have a huge selection and it all works.







DIY Stove: Would you believe that for less than a dollar, you can make your very own ultralight backpacking stove? All you need is a hole puncher and in 10 minutes you will have a functional “Supercat” stove made from a cat food can. All you need is denatured alcohol.

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