To all: Thank you for your help, i truly appreciate your time and comments.

I have made some more clear decisions in light of many of your comments and other research.

I want to focus as much as possible in immersing the hiker in nature and facilitate that experience and interaction. I want to keep some luxury items (in comparison to UL) available in terms of pack weight capability and shelter above the raw tarp. I am trying to keep things specific though, as I have only so much time and resources. If i am not careful, I will end up just designing my own dream camp, which is more me, than useful to many (industrial design is a mass market approach). I see the UL tarp and bivy set up work well, and again, there is little frame at base weight sub 10lbs... The needs of UL are so specific, it ends up as custom gear for the ONE individual. To be fully rugged, we could all be like Grandma Gatewood and cary a shower curtain and a blanket with some sneakers... but I see room for luxuries. I am young, I am quite comfortable carrying over 15lbs, but I see lots of benefit in keeping it all sub 30lbs. There are a enough of us who I feel would say the same.

Primarily I am looking to find a shelter and pack that complement each other and "integrate" as much as possible, while maintaining the full benefits of individual systems. The structural elements seem the most likely subject for dual use in the packs and shelters, while the shelter its more likely to be on its own. I most like the idea of a fully modular system that adapts to the trip the user seeks, within boundaries.

My obstacle is the user group... I see the all out ultra lighter/thru hiker demographic to be not as viable for this idea, as the extent of the minimalism negates benefits of my ideas (good points from many readers on this like trekking poles and delicate items). The hiker/camper/"I backpack sometimes" is also not in my interest for this, as I see the needs of that user not concerned as much on weight and unwilling to cope with the minimal approach.

I see room for a happy medium that I consider my ideal goal for myself, and I could see many adopting. One that is of a minimal approach with room for simple luxuries while longevity, durability is not lost so as to keep the gear adaptable to a variety of applications (solo weekend light, couples, week long--short thru hike, and such). Not a full UL approach, but a step above in the 30lb. max total weight. I think the modular/adaptive idea is very inviting, which will give the user say a simple kit, framed within tight guidelines, that let the user fine tune his/her self. This is the process of any avid backpacker, but the adjustments should allow scaling from solo short hikes, up to 2person week long unassisted (beyond a week, most thru hikes are assisted at least weekly). The brutality of the AT, PCT, and so on destroy gear, and long thru hikes are more of a lifetime goal for my user....thus the max test would look more like the Long Trail in VT or equivalent.
My final question is, is it so bad to have a 25lb pack over a 10-15 total? Many a fit person can handle such a load over more terrain the one has the time to cover in the busy schedules we have preoccupied our selves with. With respect to the UL purists (and one day i may join that camp) i feel a need to find a balance. maybe its a UL crossover training module? One that is specific, yet adaptive and flexible so that one may use other types of shelter to add comfort, or less weight for the trip at hand. To give people not so much a transition to UL, but to hit at it, and let it be a stepping stone to UL and a fall back for comfort when UL isn't felt as necessary. Any help drawing some boundaries to this would be great, I know its still a broad topic.

I will soon set up some sort of blog or site where I can post my progress, you all can follow along as you wish and maybe i can give back some advice as I learn myself. Thanks for all the support, it is quite encouraging.

P.S. I have a simple survey asking your personal background/views just to get a feel for what people want in backpacking. I hope I am not overloading this forum, I just finally get to do a project i can be fully passionate about. Thanks and HAPPY TRAILS!

Edited by Mike Scott (04/10/12 07:47 PM)