When a hiker decides to spend the night sleeping under the stars, he or she becomes a backpacker and is immediately confronted by a dilemma: How can I get the most comfort at my campsite while carrying the least amount of weight on my back?
Overnighting may require protection from the elements and the preparation of meals. Will you bring a tent? A sleeping pad? A cook stove? What about a water purification kit? An air mattress? A chair? A table? Just how far can you go with this?
A few times in the past I have opted for so much gear that I was forced to forget about an ordinary knapsack and found myself carrying all my necessities in a huge backpack attached to an aluminum frame, upon which numerous extraneous items were piled or tied, making me look like an itinerant tinker from the days of the horse and buggy. In the 1960s it was not uncommon for trekkers to carry from 20 to 30 kilos of gear on their back!
Over the years, the trend has gone in exactly the opposite direction: ultralight.