Ultralight Backpacking Gear for Tall People 20

Below is a guest post by Tim Hopper about gear recommendations for ultralight backpacking for tall people. Many of these tips could be applied to camping in general. This post was originally on UltratallUltralight.com. For more on tents, check out this page: Tents for Tall People.

I’m 6′9″. This doesn’t just result in copious comments from strangers, it also makes many activities difficult.

For the last eight years, backpacking has been a past time. Due to the influence of my friend Ron Babington, I’ve been working towards building an ultralight pack.

However, due to my height, the gear available to me is limited. When I thumb through Backpacker magazine’s annual gear issue, I breeze past the shoes, jackets, shirts, pants, tents, sleeping bags, and packs because most of the items won’t fit my long body.

Over the last six years, I’ve gradually made my pack lighter and lighter. Along the way, I’ve learned a good amount about what will and won’t work for an unusually tall backpacker. I am trying to share that information here in hopes that others can benefit.

At the same time, I’m far from satisfied with the gear I have in my pack. I would love for you to join the conversation about how the ultratall can enjoy the backcountry. Please leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

— Tim Hopper
  • Height: Just under 6′10″ (approx. 208 CM)
  • Weight: Approximately 260 lbs currently
  • Inseam: 35″
  • Waist: approx. 37″
  • Shoe size: 16 US
  • Shirt size: Medium or large extra tall
backpacking gear for tall people

On Dix Mountain, Summer 2014


I carry a tall ZPacks 54L Arc Zip. It cost me $324.00 in 2015. It weights 1.3 lbs. It’s very comfortable, and I love it.

Notes: Before I started transitioning to ultralight backpacking, I carried a ULA Catalyst. It cost me $235.00 in 2009. Ron Bell, founder of Mountain Laurel Designs told me on Backpacking Light that they frequently make packs for tall folks.

Sleeping quilt and mat

I use a custom quilt made by Goosefeet Gear. It is overstuffed with 850 FP DownTek, in 1.75″ vertical baffles. There are snaps and a drawstring to create a footbox. Goosefeet sized it based on some measurements I gave them, and I am extremely happy with it. It weighs 1.5 lbs and packs into a 5L stuff sack. It cost me $395 in 2014.

I use a Gossamer Gear Airbeam Sleeper inflatable pad in the wide, torso length size. It cost me about $100 in 2014. It weights 0.9 pounds. I sometimes carry a 3 oz foam pad for extra insulation.

Notes: Buying sleeping pads isn’t too difficult since they often don’t need to be the full length of your body. Buying a bag or quilt is much hard. I highly recommend finding a small shop like Goosefeet Gear to make one to your specs.

Before getting the quilt, I had the enormous and warm Sierra Designs Paul Bunyan mummy bag. It weighs 4 lbs!

I talked to Nunatak about a quilt. They said they’d do it for around $500. ZPacks and Feathered Friends said they wouldn’t do a custom quilt. Ron Bell, founder of Mountain Laurel Designs told me on Backpacking Light that they frequently make quilts for tall folks.


I sleep under a Bearpawwd 8′x10′ silnylon, rectangular tarp pitched between two trekking poles. It weights 1.1 pounds. It cost me $71.00 in 2015.

On the ground, I have a 105″x48″ piece of 0.007″ thick Tyvek. It weighs 8 oz.

Notes: Finding a tent that will fit me inside and keep me dry has been nearly impossible. An advantage of this shelter is that my wife and I can both fit under it easily. Before I got the 8×10, I had a MacCat Deluxe from Outdoor Equipment Supplier. It was big, but I was afraid that it wouldn’t keep me dry in the rain due to the cut. I am considering buying a customized sized, cuben fiber bivy from Borah Gear as additional protection from wet ground and insects. I have talked to some other manufacturers and modifying their tents. ZPacks and Hyperlite Mountain Gear are unable to customize tents on a one-off basis. Yama Gear is willing to add length to their Cirriform tents. I started a thread on the topic of tents for the very tall at BPL. It’s worth reading through.

Extra Long Lunar Solo Tent 90″ (229cm)

Trekking Poles

I carry the Leki Aergon poles. I hike with them and use them to pitch my tarp. I am happy with them.


Clothes are surprisingly hard to buy. I wish I could go buy everything Andrew Skurka recommends, but most of it wouldn’t fit me.

Trail Wear

Currently have the Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant in a 38×34. Buying hiking pants in a 34″ inseam is easy; 36″ is much harder. I have REI Sahara Medium Tall shirts in long and short sleeve. REI has tragically stopped selling these; I bought two of each last year, thankfully. If anyone has a good alternative, please let me know. I typically wear Under Armour Men’s HeatGear Sonic Compression Shorts in a size Large.

Notes: On Reddit people had several suggestions for other brands to look at: Fjällräven, Kuhl, Mountain Khakis, and Prana pants.

Base Layer

I typically sleep in large, tall Cabela’s Men’s E.C.W.C.S. Polar Weight Hoodie with Polartec Power Dry or a Cabela’s Men’s E.C.W.C.S. Power Dry Silk-Weight Crew with Polartec top; neither is long enough. I have a pair of black thermal pants that I’ve had for ten years that I wear on my legs.

Rain Gear

I have a large, tall Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket. It was soak through when I hiked in it 8 hours of heavy rain a few years ago, but it’s great for light rain. I have a pair of cheap, generic rain pants I picked up somewhere along the way; they’re not long enough.

I have considered a cuben fiber poncho ($$$) or an ultralight umbrella, but have not invested in either.

Luke from Luke’s Ultralight told me he’ll add extra length to his Argon Wind Shirt. I suspect he would do similarly for his rain gear.


The shoe selection at size 16 is very limited. I hike in the Columbia North Plains Vent shoe; they’re fine. I have some Keen: Targhee II Mid boots I used to backpack in; they’re very light, which is nice.

I don’t have any trouble with XL socks; they typically say for feet up to size 16, but they fit my size 16 feet. I typically wear wool quarter socks.


I carry a $20 NWT Men’s HAWKE & CO Packable Down vest that I bought on eBay a few years ago. It’s not long enough to be fashionable, but it’s cheap, light, and warm; I highly recommend having one.

I have a large Sunday Afternoons Sun Tripper Cap. It’s very light and folds nicely to stuff in a pack.

I carry a pair of Outdoor Research liner gloves.

I don’t have a wind shirt and haven’t been able to find anything that has sufficiently long sleeves and waist; I would love to have something for windy mountain tops and running on windy mornings. The large Patagonia Houdini Jacket didn’t fit me. I have considered trying a ZPacks Ventum. Luke from Luke’s Ultralight does custom sizing for his Argon Wind Shirt. I asked about extra torso and sleeve length. He told me, “If you need 2″ more or below its free. Above that its $10 more for the argon wind shell.”

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20 thoughts on “Ultralight Backpacking Gear for Tall People

  • Dean Jackson

    6’9″ here as well.

    ULA Circuit pack

    Tarptent Rainbow (and a Eureka Backcountry 1 for heavier-duty but heavier trips!)

    I have the Paul Bunyan bag as well, and used it for winter camping for five years, including nights down to -17F. (Albeit wearing everything else I had at the same time!) I’ve never found a great 3-season bag, yet.

    REI made a sahara pant in 36×36, at least for awhile. I have the same Marmot Precip tall rainjacket, and it’s awesome, although the hood could use another inch in length/height. For rain pants, I added a gore-tex cuff with a velcro closure to a set I found on sale somewhere, which works well enough.

    • john

      Also… 6’9″… Im assuming ULA Backpack is working out for you?? Im looking at there Catalyst… definitely need it to be comfortable up to #40… How is yours at #35?? Leaning towards Seek Outside Divide 4500 or Elemental Horizons Aquilo…

      More importantly. Tarptent Rainbow… Well how does that work for you??? I can almost guess… you make it work… Length ?Condensation ?….

      If you respond… Thanks,

  • Tall Bob

    I’m 6’8″ and recently started using a Lightheart Gear SoLong Solo tent. I have been very happy – the first tent I fit in without sleeping diagonally or having my feet up against the tent wall.

  • Andreas

    Hi, in Europe we have Meier Sports who does clothing for 6.8 and taller. The sizes you have to look for are 106-122. For example a 114 is 40 waist and 36 length. Deproc is another company. Backpacks Deuter has Extra Long series. You can order most stuff under 3s sports de

  • Anonymous

    I am 6’8″ 295lbs. I sleep in a Hennessy hammock tent. Absolutely love it. I would like to find a sleeping bag that is light. Mine is 4lbs.

  • Chris

    I have had good luck ordering carharrt from their website. Moisture wicking short and long sleeve t’s are light weight and their light weight rip-stop cargo pants come in 36″ lengths and aren’t bad hiking pants. All their rain gear is heavy unfortunately.

  • Dr. Who Post author

    Thanks for the great site. I’m a 6’8″ 270 to 230 (depending on how far i’ve gone on the AT) pound guy with 38 waist and 16 feet. I hiked the complete AT in 2018 and will be headed back in 2020 for a repeat adventure. The gear I used was incredible from start to finish. The tent was a SoLong from Leightheart gear…absolutely amazing tent with unbelievable amount of room! Recommend it in Silpoly PU4000 when and if they finally make one in that material. The feet were covered in size 16 New Balance 481 v3. Combined with the Orange Superfeet insole, I was able to hop along the top of the sharpest Pennsylvania rocks with ease. Each pair was good for 700 plus miles! Trek poles were the Leki corklite DSS which I flexed to extreme arches with no issues. I did however fall 14 feet off a cliff, landing on my backpack busting one of the poles…the top of the lower section (replace by Leki with one phone call and no questions asked…nice). Other items like Patagonia baggies and Darn tough socks go with out saying. Sleeping bag custom by Enlightened Equipment was a 30f Convert in extra tall extra wide…one of my favorite purchases! Backpack was from Elemental Design. Extremely tough and light at 3 pounds for the tall 70+ liter pack (also survived the fall unscathed…thank God I landed on it!!!) All these items will accompany me again in 2020…Look for ‘Dr. Who?’…I’ll be there somewhere!

    I would not change ANY of the items I brought…Happy Trails! Dr. Who?

  • Renee G (wife of tall man)

    OMG! Thanks You for this post! My husband is 205.7cm and I’m currently trying to upgrade his hiking gear… so the ZPacks product reference above is much appreciated!!!! FYI I recently upgraded our hiking tent for a family of 4 to the Big Agnes UL 4. We haven’t used it yet, but it was pretty much the only product I could find on the market that could comfortable fit him and the rest of us! Plus give him a little head room.

    • Tall Life Post author

      Yes, Tim did a great job on this guest post. Given he’s 6’9″ (same height as your husband!), this should be the perfect resource for you.
      I’m only 6’7″ but also plan to get a Big Agnes UL I think. Thanks for writing in!

  • Green Giant

    Hey thanks for the post… tall hiking is definitely a struggle with gear. I’m 6 8, 250#.

    Bag is hyperlite Southwest. Tall options. I love the bag but added my own load lifters.

    Kuhl makes a good convertible pant in 36 36. Renegade.

    Tops are a struggle… under Armour has a threadborn shirt that does decent. Also I’ve had luck with Arkteryx. Wool base layers good luck. I went through about 5 different brands before settling on a best option. Smart wool.

    My tent is the Hyperlite Dirango (I’m sure I butchered the spelling). Its barely a fit for me. Works okay with the head and foot guy lines tied at a slight elevation.

    I’ve had luck with the nemo disco sleeping bags. 15 and 30. It’s tight for me but it works. Not the lightest bags but decent price tag.

    Shoes for me has been altra lone peaks. Won’t go back to anything else. Toe box and weight is fantastic. 4.5 model got a little tighter. If you can find 4.0 in your size get them. How’s up to a size 16. Not great on wet rock. I’ll wear keen low top boots on the higher elevation climbs with rougher terrain. 16 and 17 wide options.

    Socks are Injini toe socks. Again spelling?? They have a wool blend (newwool) ankle sock that I literally wear everyday. Haven’t ever had a blister since wearing them. On longer hikes they can get a little steamy. I switch out in the middle of the day and rewear when dry. Try it!

    A couple of brands I really like… Shelta makes a great trail hat. Appalachian Mtn Gear specializes in Alpaca fabrics and is a great company. No special sizes but the few pieces I’ve ordered are good length. Rei has some decent private label stuff; rain gear, sometimes pants. They’re not super consistent with what they offer though.

    Rain pants try a kilt! Super lite weight and decent enough to cover the lower half. Easier to put on also. Z packs makes a couple.

    • Tall Life Post author

      Green Giant, thanks for your thorough input! The only item you mentioned that I own is the pair of Lone Peak shoes. Well, actually, I have the 4.0 boots. I’m sad to hear they shrunk the toe box for 4.5 as the main reason I went with Altra in the first place was the wide toe box for my humongous great toe! Though zero drop is another useful thing for tall people who don’t care to be even taller. I was about to get some 4.5 shoes and now am reconsidering it, thanks for the tip.

  • BigMike

    Ok, it’s great to know the struggle is real. Trying to find hiking/backpacking gear for tall people is insane difficult. One area I’m really struggling to find something in my size is a sleeping pad. There’s none long enough, so I’m hoping some of you might have an idea on what I can look for. I was going to get the Nemo Cosmo 3D, but it looks like they are out of stock everywhere.

    If any of you have any ideas, please let me know, as I’ve searched all the big brands, and no one has anything over 78”x25”.

    • Tall Life Post author

      Hi BigMike, this is a topic I want to look into at some point but not sure when I will have the time. If you do find a solution, please let us know here, or maybe even consider doing a guest post 🙂