Thanks for all your continued comments and conversation!
A few specific responses: Dwight, the photo was from Isle Royale, but I'm not sure if it was on the Greenstone after Ojibway tower, or if it was taken on the Minong not far out of McCargo.
Jedd and all: I do carry some "just in case" stuff. In general I pack with no tolerance for being cold, wet, or uncomfortable. I pack enough clothing to be plenty warm, I carry a cushy pad, complete rain gear, and so forth. I also know and accept that at some point my feet are going to be wet and cold, that there'll be a morning I have to wake up and put on wet clothes and go. But that's just not a big deal. A typical pack list is on the community gear lists. I do carry a survival kit and a fixed-blade knife, and some basic first aid conveniences.
My survival kit: emergency blanket, a couple large-ish pieces of aluminum foil, 40' of 250# spectra line, 25' of 500# spectra line, needle and thread, ferro rod, signal mirror, petro-jel cotton balls double-wrapped in foil, and a whistle. I can create shelter, start fire, boil water, and signal for help, and the packet is small enough to easily fit in my pocket. Along w/the survival kit I carry the Grohmann Boat Knife, great for all kinds of camp chores and getting fires going in wet conditions.
My current first aid kit is a couple micro tubes of superglue, a maxipad, a mess of assorted bandaids (I tend to get cracked fingertips on trips), a little antibiotic ointment, and that's about it. I do carry enough ibuprofen for 2 x 800mg/per day, and enough Benadryl for 4 per day. I also started carrying some antifungal powder in a small bottle, but that's more of a "toiletries" thing. I think that's about it; I can fabricate whatever else as needed.
Melissa, liked your feedback and thoughts on multiuse. David, like you said, it's ultimately more about efficiency than just weight. Actually, when I talk to people about carrying a lighter pack, I don't talk about ultralight at all. I just talk about it as backpacking. When you box things in too tightly people have narrow expectations. I just try to create awareness that you can carry less stuff, still be safe, warm and dry, and ultimately have more fun on the trips. In the shop I'll point out how cool technology has gotten... for example, you could carry a full-size 0.75" Z-lite, or you could carry a full-size, 2.5" thick mattress for the same weight and a little more warmth... and, oh, the thicker pad packs down about 5 times smaller than the z-lite. (The Neo isn't always the answer, just an example here!)
Some other thoughts I've had while reading your comments are that the Zipka light I used to carry weighed 2.3oz w/batteries. I never brought spare batteries, because the light would burn 120 hours on one set. I had the same batteries in that LED light for 4 or 5 years. My new light doesn't have such long run time, and I might bring an extra lithium battery, but if it comes down to it and my light burns out... no worries. I have a pack full of gear. I'd stay the night and hike out in the day. But then, I don't backpack when it's dark. Day hike/ski/snowshoe, sure. Or maybe an easy overnight in to a cabin, etc. But that's about it.
I'd also like to point out that I've met many BPLers, and have referred a lot of people to the site. Although many of our frequent forum posters might be in the 10# pack range, I know through personal conversations that many of the people following our discussions don't carry such loads... and that's fine! I regularly meet people who still have a 15-30 pound base, and those people do follow the things we do here. They take what works for them from the site, and apply it to their interpretation or end desires for their backpacking experience. So what if someone carries a 20# 3-season base? Maybe they cut back from a 50# base, and they're tickled pink at carrying such a light pack. There's room for all of us here, and we can all learn from each other's different perspectives.
Anyhoozit, cheers, all! Look forward to hearing some more of your thoughts.