Leaving aside the enormous attractions of wilderness travel in beautiful places (my core reason to backpack), when it comes to my gear what is most important to me is not the total weight of my pack, but the total experience of carrying and using my gear. When it comes to carrying my gear, which is about eight to ten hours of my total 24 hour backpacking day, then the weight of my gear is almost my entire experience of it (apart from the pack itself, which is the main piece of gear I am using while I hike). This definitely puts weight pretty high up the list of important factors, but it isn't the top factor. The top factor is functionality. Gear absolutely must fulfill its purpose.

If I have gear that functions poorly, like a shelter that doesn't keep me dry when it rains for more than an hour, or a stove that constantly balks and clogs, or footwear that causes blisters, then my hike is going to suffer no matter how light that gear might be. Additionally, if I carry gear that functions pretty well theoretically, but I never use it at all, then it is essentially non-functional gear, too. All it does is weigh me down to no purpose.

So, for most beginning backpackers, whose resources are predictably limited, the first phase of gear collecting is just acquiring basic gear that works and lets you get out there with a more or less functional set of tools. Everything after that are just further refinements -- seeking the elusive "perfect" balance of function, weight and cost. That refinement phase only ends when you lose interest in it.

As noted already, there is a tipping point with total pack weight, which, as you build up to it from below that weight, your comfort level declines, but rather slowly, and as you surpass that weight your discomfort under your load increases fairly rapidly. This tipping point weight gets lower as we age. Luckily for us oldies, our disposable income often increases as our bodies lose resilience, allowing us to become gearheads with expensive, lightweight gear to compensate for our decrepitude. laugh

Edited by aimless (01/16/14 04:15 PM)
Edit Reason: added clarity I hope