Starting with the second Big Three, I chose a Thermarest Alpine 35 degree sleeping blanket (I call it my quilt) since in a typical sleeping bag you crush the loft below you, greatly reducing its insulation capability. Loft is what keeps you warm in a sleeping bag. I decided I didn't want to pay for that crushed layer of down, so I went with the quilt which is open at the bottom. It does snap closed around my feet and has draft tubes along the sides. Even though I move a lot when I sleep, my moving around has not left me cold. This weighs about 1 pound and is unfortunately is no longer made. There are many other sleeping quilts out there. For 3 season ULBackpacking in the east, go with a 35-40 degree quilt. For trips out west or winter camping, look into a 20 degree quilt or a lower temperature rating. The Sleeping System includes the quilt, the sleeping pad and any clothing you sleep in, inflatable pillows, bags to carry stuff in, etc.
Sleeping Pad - I have tried inflatable pads before and liked them very much. Here I wanted to try a simple air-free pad again and the Z Pad Lite Sol small (51") was my best choice. It is called a Z Pad because of how it folds up. It has a silver side, which is to reflect your body heat back up at you in cooler temperatures. It is also a little thicker than the other pads I tried, and is just thick enough to work for me. It fits folded into a U shape inside my pack. Mine weighs 10 ounces.
Water Filtration & containers - Hands down the Sawyer filter is the best yet and it beats my hand pump filters in every way. The newest model is one ounce lighter than mine and the bag it comes with is supposed to be an improvement also. In all the years I have hiked outdoors, I have filtered water by either chemicals, by boiling, or by pumping. Now I do it by just passing unclean water through this filter. Mine weighs 3 ounces, the new ones 2 ounces. Save your chemicals for a backup. As mentioned in a previous article, I carry two 1 liter Gatorade water bottles, two 1 liter Platypus soft water bottles (rolled up in my pack) and the 1 liter collection bag with my Sawyer filter. 5 Liters will carry enough water for a day. Any containers you use to collect or carry water would be included here.
Cook kit & stove- My wife bought me this awesome titanium cup at a local outfitter for a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I am still very pleased with its light weight. My cook kit includes this pot with my cup and stove below packed inside it, photos below. Weight 4.8 ounces. There are many lightweight aluminum pots & stove kits available that won't cost you as much and weigh about the same.
My Esbit stove is not sexy or sleek, but is is light enough and with some home-made foil wind protection it works very well. It also carries 6 Esbit tabs inside of it and folds into my GSI Insulated cup (no longer sold) which fits into my pot. Weight 3.25 ounces and it cost me under 10 dollars. Other items not pictured; a cozy to keep my freezer bag dinners cooking and a long handle titanium spoon.
Headlamp - This Petzl Tikka2 headlamp has worked well for me, and is lightweight and easy to use. I would prefer one lower light setting, but otherwise, it is easy on batteries. This headlamp goes in my daypack also for emergencies. Weight is 3 ounces.
Blog story on Spares Kit that I wrote a while back. The only item I have added to my kit is a mini disc for signaling for help.
Pocket knife - My blog on Staying Organized is a highly read one and includes my ultralight pocket knife, a mini compass and all the stuff I carry on every outdoor trip. My knife is a Gerber LST and it weighs 1.2 ounces. I like it because it fits my hand well and it feels like a 'real' knife. Everything in this kit goes with me on all day hikes or backpacking trips. The red bag keeps it in my view when packing so I don't forget it.
10 Essentials - I have already covered the '10' in a post here and I won't go into how important is is to carry your own 10 essentials on every outdoor trip, even on short hikes. If you have not yet learned how to take care of yourself outdoors, maybe you should take a class taught by a first responder, as they should be able to convince you why you need to carry this stuff. Here is a link to REI's 10 Essentials.
All of my ULBackpacking gear also translates into canoe or kayak camping and bicycle touring. I would substitute the backpack for water-proof bags in the boat on the water, or lightweight front panniers on the back rack of my bicycle.
A lot of my outdoor knowledge came from my time in Boy Scouts, both as a boy and as an adult training boys to be leaders of men. The rest of it came during camping, backpacking, canoeing, and bicycle touring trips from the 1970's to now. I have learned and unlearned a lot in those 40+ years.
And that is how it can be there for you too, by going out there and doing it. Nothing teaches you better than failing a few times on your own. The idea is to go with someone who knows how to ULBackpack and is someone who won't leave you there to suffer alone. The main point is to just go.