A 6-Ounce Ultralight Backpack, Made in the Northeast: Appalachian Ultralight

December 27, 2016
Appalachian Ultralight founder Cody Miller hoists his 6-ounce creation, the Balloon ($200).
Photo: Courtesy of Appalachian UltralightAppalachian Ultralight founder Cody Miller hoists his 6-ounce creation, the Balloon ($200).

There’s a new entry in the world of ultralight backpacks, and it’s right here in the Northeast (Coplay, Pa., to be exact).

Appalachian Ultralight is a new one-man gear shop that just opened for commercial sales earlier this year. Its specialty? Small- to mid-sized (30- to 45-liter) ultralight backpacks, including a 6.25-ounce, 30-liter marvel of hyperlight dubbed the Balloon.

The business was founded by Cody Miller, a Pennsylvania hiker, personal gear maker, and now currently the “only full time human working in the Appalachian Ultralight shop.” After an initial foray selling packs on Etsy, Miller launched his own site in 2016.

Appalachian Ultralight currently offers a line of seven frameless ultralight packs, all of which weigh less than 1 pound. They are all reasonably priced and range from $170 to $260. Each features the same basic design—a single primary compartment with a roll-top closure—though the details beyond that vary somewhat by model.

One of the biggest differences is the type of fabric used in the packs. Some feature cuben fiber—a super-light, waterproof, and more expensive fabric—while others feature more durable (and less expensive) nylon fabric. As an example of the differences, compare the identical designs of the 45-liter, Robic Thru Hiker’s Pack (15.75 ounces, $220) and the Cuben Fiber Thru Hiker’s Pack (10.25 ounces, $260).

As for the six-ounce Balloon—a.k.a. “The Gram Weenie”—it’s designed only for the most serious ultralighter whose pack base weight tops out at no more than eight pounds.

The harness systems are all fixed on the packs and designed for folks between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet 1 inch (shorter and taller folks can contact the company for a potential custom build). Here’s the complete line-up as it stands now:


Support your Northeast gear companies! This post is part of an ongoing (though recently dormant) series on Northeast-based gear companies. Here are the 25 companies I’ve profiled to date:

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.