I've never been much of an ounce-counter when planning backpacking trips. Sure, I took measures to ensure I wasn't carrying a 50-pound load, but my gear always suited me well on weekend excursions or short overnights without stressing over a bit of extra weight. I was always able to push through sore legs and feet for a few extra comforts on the trail.
Planning for a thru-hike, though, has completely thrown me a curveball. A few weeks ago I laid out all of my gear for the Appalachian Trail and knew right away if I wanted to even make it through the first week I was going to have to overhaul my equipment and trim the fat on everything I intended to keep.
Do I really need this?
I've asked myself that question over and again, until I convinced myself if I wasn't going to use it on a weekly basis, it didn't need to come. Flint and steel? Not necessary. Extra rope? Can get that easily in town if I need it. Entire first aid kit? A few bandages and gauze pads will do the trick.
After hours of sitting next to a gram scale and removing or modifying everything I could, I got my pack weight to 21 pounds. Not ultralight by any means, but I'm satisfied. With four days of food and one liter of water, I should be around 29 pounds, give or take, which is manageable—especially when my weight before my gear-buying spree would've been more than 40 pounds.
Now if only getting into shape was half as easy (and fun) as buying new gear.