Here's how to lighten the load of your backpacking pack, from what I've learned through my experience backpacking.
Hope they help some of you, and they wont all be "buy really expensive stuff".
Step 1: Split It Up:
One of the things we always do while backpacking is split up any shared gear. Tent partners split the tent and each carry half. One will have the stove while the other has their water purifier.
Step 2: Hammocks:
I received a pm from funkybassman105 suggesting that I added hammock camping to this list. He suggested it because it is far more lightweight. So long as you have sturdy trees available, and a good tarp, a hammock will make a wonderful shelter for the solo packer, or a member of a group that sleeps alone. They are far lighter than a tent, and keep you off the ground so you don't need a sleeping pad. You can also tent with just a blanket, or no other sleep gear at all if the weather is good enough.
Step 3: Leave It Home:
Pretty much a common sense thing here, if you don't need it, don't take it. If you have carried it in the past and you haven't needed it, or could get by without it, you can leave it home. If it's a luxury, consider if it's worth it's weight. Like the fuzzy purple bathrobe pictured above, do you really need it?
Step 4: Lighten Up Your Cooking Gear.
Well, obviously there's the route of "go titanium", which I'd love to go myself, but not all of us can afford that.
The first thing you can do to help lighten your cooking gear, is to minimize what you bring. If you can, only bring one pot, unless your food requires more.
Bringing only a spoon as a utensil is another thing you can do. At Philmont, that's all we needed to eat with. less to carry, less to clean.
The next is to get lighter cookware, ie; converting to aluminum or titanium pots, lexan or titanium utensils, et. etc. Cast iron = NO.
( I know, Titanium this, Titanium that, blah blah blah titanium)
A lighter-weight stove can help. you can make a lightweight alchohol stove, or even use an open fire. (depending on availibility of wood, and the regulations of where you are hiking)
Step 5: Lighten Your Food.
Food is heavy. that's a fact. however, it doesn't always have to be. If you'll be in an area where you can easily get water, freeze-dried meals are a good option.I absolutely despise those mountain house meals, however. Some people swear by them, it's really up to you. I buy freeze-dried ingredients in bulk, then mix up my own meals from them.
Take minimal cans. Not to say you cant take a can or two, just remember that they are heavy, and you have to carry them out. (LEAVE NO TRACE!!!!!)
for good recipes on backpacking food you can make at home, try:
Note: These pictures are definitely NOT lightweight backpacking food. this is just how we roll :) The beans were pretty good though.
Step 6: Clothing
Clothing can get pretty heavy as well. I recommend against denim. it's almost useless when wet, takes forever to dry, and weighs a lot.
Consider re-wearing your clothes. I hiked the Philmont Scout ranch this year, and for an 11-day hike, I only took 2 pairs of clothes (one of which I was wearing), plus one pair for sleeping in. Socks, however, are one thing that I feel you should never skimp out on, although i have seen guys only bring 2 pairs of socks, and just switch out.
Wool, albeit heavy, is a good option.
For reducing weight, synthetics are a great option, but can be expensive. Our crew had synthetic wicking t-shirts, and they are amazing to have. Easy to wash, don't hold a smell to badly, and dry super fast. (we only got showers once while on the trail).
Step 7: Extreme Lightening.
For some people, lightweight just isn't light enough. Some people will go so far as to shorten the straps on their pack, cut down their sleeping pad, precisely measure their fuel, etc. etc. I am not like this, but if you are really going the distance, or like to travel light, those few extra ounces lost can really help. Another useful tip is to have your buddies carry a lot of your stuff for you, haha.
Step 8: Suggestions?
Feel free to comment or message me suggestions for further pack lightening. In no way does this comprise all of my backpacking knowledge. (which is still plenty inferior to many other people's knowledge.) This just covers some of the basic things. I am always open to reasonable suggestions. If I get anything good enough, I'll edit the instructable to include it, and of course give credit to whom it came from.