In order to make it through thousands of kilometers of hiking without my body totally failing me, I’ve adopted a lightweight philosophy to what I’ll be carrying. On the PCT, this worked out to ~14lbs of gear, plus water, food, and fuel for each section. I would guess that it averaged out to ~25lbs when I walked out of a town. Having gear this light enables me to walk 40-50km a day. It helps me stay relatively fatigue-free. It keeps me happy 🙂
The key to getting the weight of gear down is generally replacing “bombproof” gear with flimsier gear plus experience. I’ve discovered that I don’t mind being wet while I hike, so a waterproof jacket isn’t that important to me. I can carry a windbreaker instead that weighs half a pound less, and keep hiking to stay warm.
This principle is applied to almost every piece of gear I carry. The other main principle of my lightweight philosophy is to have multiple uses for many pieces of gear. Using my tent as an example, it doesn’t come with any poles. Since I use trekking poles, they are used at night to hold up my tent. Another example is using my backpack as a foot-rest, and not carrying a full-length sleeping pad.
Finally, I have a spreadsheet detailing what I will carry and I’ve weighed everything. Then I have gone through each item and tried to locate replacements that are significantly lighter. If you do this enough times over the years, you’ll end up with a) tons of gear, but b) a light pack 🙂 This has led to things like not carrying a full-sized lighter, instead I have a “mini Bic”.
I learned a lot from hiking the PCT, and have replaced bits of gear since then. I’ve learned even more from the internet, and specifically backpackinglight.com. This site takes a very scientific approach to reviewing gear, and it has enabled me to make better choices for myself over the years.