Our transition to lightweight backpacking began when we finally admitted that two days of sore shoulders and backs on a four-day outing did not make sense. Then in BACKPACKER Magazine in February 1998 there was an article "The Ray Way". And the rest is history. We are Lightweight, not Ultralight -- we still like our music tapes, books ... and booze.
We first decided try and give up our hiking boots for running shoes. Our first major test was on our annual Boulder Grand Traverse Hike when we both went with our running shoes. We were both blister free after 10 hour, 16 miles and 6000 feet of altitude gain. In addition we cut 1 hour 15 minutes off our previous years Hike. We do not and will never hike for speed, it just happened because of the weight reduction. See our Shoes section for more detail.
It was on our October 1998 trip that we "tested" our total approach to going lighter. We both decided to go without tents. Doug resurrected an old custom-made combination rain poncho/bivy (from past mountain climbs), that could be zipped up to provide protection from rain and, to some degree, cold. I choose the combination a standard rain poncho and a trap. We both choose to go with flannel sheet sleeping bags in anticipation of the temperatures we would find on the Tonto and at the River.
Both of us made major changes in our approach to clothing. I even gave up on my external frame pack and went internal.
Resources we have used:
The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook by Ray Jardine
Power Pacing by Tom Ridley
The Backpacking Light Website