Actually, I think this thread has done a good job of laying out the extreme ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, you have the old-school, that's-the-way-we-always-did-it crowd, that claims ultralight gear is trash because you can't, as Phat put it, take it to Everest. On the other hand, you have the bleeding-edge, light-is-always-right crowd. Listen to the first, and you're going to be lugging around a 50-pound pack that includes winter clothing, even though you're hiking in Tennessee in August - "because you never know when it might snow in the mountains." Listen to the second, and you and your 10-pound pack might be seriously up s--- creek without a jacket some November day in Canada.
Fortunately for the rest of us, we can lounge around on the middle ground. I probably fall in the lightweight crowd, but nowhere near the bleeding-edge folks. Since I know my own limitations, have decided to limit my hiking to long weekends on-trail (in general terms, Appalachian Trail or similar conditions of weather and terrain), and am willing to pull the plug on a trip based on weather forecasts, I can generally go toward some of the ultralight gear. However, I also temper that with some comfort items, and I find a certain amount of durability is needed to put my mind at ease. End result: I rarely carry more than 23 pounds, and never have any serious issues come up.
If I were to change my limitations, you can bet I'd also be changing my gear.
So, to any beginners who are still awake and reading this thread: don't blindly subscribe to any particular style, and don't be afraid to change. Decide what kind of hiking you want to do, then pick the lightest gear you need for that. Of course, the lightest gear that fits your needs may weigh more than the lightest gear that fits mine - and you know what? We're both right!
Edited by Glenn (04/26/10 01:02 PM)