I just sent in my entry answers (see below) to Brian's Backpacking Blog to try and win a complete Kupilka Starter Kit (I believe today was the last day to enter and I just got the email off at 11:35 PM - cutting it close I think.) http://www.briangreen.net/2011/04/complete-kupilka-starter-kit-giveaway.html
My love of backpacking, and the rush one gets from being up in the mountains, started many moons ago as a Boy Scout. I was never very good at sports but, I loved the outdoors. It was a place of wonder and beauty. However, after making Eagle Scout, and for reasons I can't remember, I stopped backpacking. A good amount of time passed before I got the bug again and hit the trails. This time it was with one friend or another hiking bits of the Catskills and bits of the Adirondacks. Those friends moved on though and my equipment begun to collect dust again as it hung in the garage. Then the bug came again. My hiking buddy is now my 11 year old son. I may not be able to take him down the sports path but I can certainly take him down a mountain trail.
As far as "going lighter" yes, well, at 55 I think differently about the Boy Scout adage, "Be Prepared." To be prepared use to mean (to me any way) having everything I could ever need or want with me on my back. That kind of always made my pack pretty heavy (40 - 50 lbs.) And guess what, I never used even half the stuff I packed. OK, to the point, when I began to gear up again I learned about all this light stuff that actually worked. Wow! This is great! As far as restrictions, it is pricey! Especially for a father of four (LOL!) I'm not a gram counter but, I do try to lighten the load.
Right now I'm using a Eureka Forte Sq 2. I purchased this tent primarily base on price and weight. I found it on sale and squeezed it into the budget. It is reasonably light with room enough for my son and me and our gear. I do have a one man bivouac type shelter that I use if not camping with Aaron.
I live on Long Island. Right now most of my backpacking takes place upstate in Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. We usually hike during the Spring and Fall. My goal is to get up into the High Peaks in the Adirondacks in the near future. I did do some subzero camping way back when. I not sure that'll happen any day soon. It was a rush back than though (maybe 25 years ago.)
Our trips, so far, have only been over nighters. As time allows, that will change. There is nothing like getting away for a week or more in the beauty of nature! Away from it all. Not to mention it is a perfect way of spending quality time with my son. No T.V., no computer, no Game Boy, etc. if you know what I mean.
Camp cooking use to be hobo meals, mickies in the coals, s'mores, eggs and bacon, salami and cheese, gorp, etc. Now I try to go simpler. Yes, the salami, cheese and gorp still comes with us but, I also try to use more freeze-dried. It means less clean up, less time and less weight. It also makes for more time for better things like the trails. Mountain House has some pretty good stuff. I am still looking into this idea of freeze-dried since I'm concerned sodium and cholesterol. I do love to eat too so this still needs some thought.
The stove I now use is a simple MSR Fast & Light Pocket Rocket canister-fuel stove which I light with my SL3 - Fire - with Magnesium Fire Starter / Whistle. That almost sound like an advertisement doesn't it? This truly is a great little stove and it'll boil 1 liter of water in about 2 minutes, which is just enough for my son and I. It's quick, it's light, it's easy and it works! It sure allows for plenty of time for bigger and better things.
I use canister primarily for ease of use and ease of stowing in the pack.
To date I have never used a wood burning stove. That being said, I would love to try a Backcountry Boiler. As far as soot, I would think the storage sack would help with that. As you say, "it's a trade off for a readily available fuel source."
I can't say enough good about my GSI Outdoors Halulite Ketalist Cook set. Wow, does it ever perform really well. On the last hike we took we used it to heat up water to make hot cocoa and coffee, which I might add really hit the spot after a good day of hiking. We sat on one of the rock ledges in awe while we sipped our drinks. As I said before, it took only about 2 minutes to boil 1-liter water. It sure allows for plenty of time for bigger and better things like spend time with my son.