Of the many skills a prepared person or group can master, I find that backpacking is the culmination of the preparedness mindset. You take everything you will need and throw it in a pack and take off into the wilderness to test your skills. We are taught to plan for every possible issue, but doing so while backpacking can cause one to be terribly overloaded. This leaves us to ponder what we can do to maximize our load with gear that is truly multipurpose and lightweight. I've been looking at Brian Green's backpacking Blog at http://briangreen.net/ for some great information on the subject. Another great place to look for info is on different blogs used to track the progress of hikers on the Appalachian trail. You can do a search anywhere to find useful information on what works and what doesn't from the people doing 10 miles a day every day for months.
In my limited experience, I've found that many rather economical items are more than serviceable. Over thinking the items you choose or over packing is a huge issue.The simplest items can be the best choices for overcoming a situation. Never leave the basics behind. Paracord, gorilla tape, extra clasps, clothes pins, lashings and extra lightweight tent stakes are invaluable when needed.
My economical lightweight packing list:
"The big 3"
-Ultralight hammock by Grand Trunk-$24.19 at Amazon
-6x8 lightweight tarp- $4.99 at Menards
-Stansport tree savers
-USGI surplus patrol sleeping bag-$16.98 from Arnygear.net
-cocoon inflatable pillow
-NC star VISM backpack- $28.72 from amazon
-Camelback bladder with Mil Spec attachments and big bite mouthpiece and cover.
-98% DEET bug spray
-Write in the rain spiral notepad and golf pencil
-old garmin GPS w/ extra batteries
-First aid kit
-Headband light w/ extra batteries
-Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter
-2 cup stainless steel camping cup
- Esbit folding camp stove with fuel tabs
- Aluminum mess kit
Mountain house meals
Tea & Coffee
Without extra scout gear and a backup water filter I'm sitting at 17lbs without water. Pretty good without going high end. With high end gear you can drop another 4-6 pounds.
I'm an adult leader with a local scout program and I personally set up the trek for this weekend in very rugged terrain. I handed out my heavier extra gear to some of the scouts that had none as well as my kids lightweight gear since they couldn't attend. The Friday night before we set out on our adventure, myself and the other adult leader tore through packs and dropped an average of 5 lbs from everyone's pack. It seems that every kid in the troop was packing for a weeks hike.
You have to get past that mentality. Every hike, every weekend trip, evaluate your gear. Drop what you don't need or use. Especially that big manly knife you carry. It's not often you will need anything longer than 2".