I guess I am odd person out. I am never going back to center. Exception is snow camping, when it comes to added weight. I live in the west, so camping maybe a little easier. I hike solo, so I don't have to worry about someone else's comfort. I enjoy hiking all day, and want as little weight as possible. I eat because I have to, it is not a big production or earth-shattering event. I don't need books, iPods, or anything else to entertain me on the trail. The trail provides more entertainment than I can absorb.
I started BPing in the 1960's, so it has been a lot of years on the trail, and every single ounce is critical today. An extra 8 oucnces must reduce ounces somewhere else. I stay in pretty good shape, so my body doesn't need a lot of comfort. As I head into my 6th decade on earth, I just can't carry a lot of weight if I want to continue to cover the same number of miles in the same time. It is not about mileage, it is about not slowing down due to age. I just don't want to "grow old." Plus I need to do more miles to get away from the overpopulation in our wilderness areas.
In a sense, I did not start out heavy. Yes some of my gear was heavy by today's standards, but I did not start out with luxury. For many years my gear included a Kelty 3/4 external frame pack and a down bag (heavy by today's standards). These were my big money purchases, and I did not have much money for anything else. My gound sheet was a blue foam pad, and it doubled as my sleeping pad. I did not have a stove, because I did not know they existed. My cookset was a small aluminum pot and an aluminum mess kit. I still have them. I cooked over fires. Poncho/tarp was my shelter, because I could not afford a tent, and it worked. Food was oatmeal, Top Ramon, instant rice and candy bars. I did catch a lot of fish in those days. I hiked in boots. Running shoes had not been invented yet. Sometimes I hiked in high top Converse canvas shoes. Water was carried in the old green plastic quart canteens. Nalgene bottles were not sold, and bottled water came in glass.
Then in the 70's I was able to afford the new and improved gear. It really was heavy, and the marketers informed me that I needed them. My mess kit was replaced by a Sigg Tourist Cookset. My campfire was replace by a Svea 123 and metal fuel bottle. My sleeping pad was replaced by a nine-tube, nlylon covered Air Lift mattress. The lightest double wall tent replaced my poncho/tarp. Then I needed rain gear. Of course it usually didn't rain, so the heavy rain gear and tent stayed in my pack on most trips. Now I needed a pack that was larger than my Kelty D4, so I got a heavier internal frame pack, which was inconvenient to live out of. So then I got the largest external frame pack made. Some other gear that Colin Fletcher and marketers informed me I needed included a journal, pen, camera, thermometer, spare repair parts, a larger first aid kit, sleeping clothes, etc., etc.
In the 80's I found that technology was interferring with my outdoor life and hiking enjoyment. Too much stuff, too heavy, and just an all around pain in the butt. So I started to lighten up. I got a modern down bag, a Gaz Globe Trotter cookset with stove, a lighter poncho/tarp, a couple Nalgene bottles, lighter CCF pad, the lightest Italian hiking boots available, and dumped most of the technological "necessities" that were not necessary for me in the 60's. Now the Kelty D4 and the large internal frame pack were too big. so I got the lightest Mountainsmith pack I could find. I bought a used Pitney Bowes 15lb digital scale, my most important piece of equipment, and I pared down month after month, and year after year.
In the 90's I could do a multi-day trip with 15lbs base weight. Backpacking became a LOT of fun again.
And then I entered the Internet world in 2000. Started to find even lighter and better equipment. I remember my first visit to Ray Jardine's Website. At first I thought he was a fringe lunatic. Somewhere along the line I picked up his first book; enlightening. Didn't agree with everything, but stared re-thinking gear. Sub 10lbs was very doable. Then sub 5lbs was doable for a lot of trips.
Backpacking is pretty simple. We walk. We place one foot in front of the other, thousands of time a day. We just need need some food and water to exist. We ocassionally need to protect our bodies from the elements. Everything else is fluff.