"I think the real issue comes to carrying equipment that is not used every time we hike. I carry some survival items with the great hope that I will *never* need to use them. In my case that would be a whistle, space blanket bivy, some alternate fire-starting options, back-up lighting, and some larger first aid items--- maybe 4 ounces more than the more Spartan SUL gear lists, plus my choice of knife. IMHO, hiking without the essentials is foolish, particularly when hiking solo."
+1 Dale. In the backcountry for multiple night trips is no place to be w/o a few key survival items and the skills that make them effective.
On the AT, I carried a spyderco ladybug. It was fine for the uses I needed a knife for. I was never very far from a town, road, or another hiker. I emergency items were just as compact for the same reasons.
When I started hiking in Colorado, I changed up my kit a bit. I learned from years of hiking that cold hands don't work well with folding knives, matches, small shelter bits, ect. I use a mora fixed blade, either my clipper or miki, most times it is a bit more than my needs but is great when way out from a town or another hiker. Heetsheet, fero rod, tinder, whistle, and chapstick w/sp are now standards in my kit. Even with these additions my pack for 5 days w/ 1 liter of water is only 20 - 25 lbs bepending on the time of year. Yeah, I know it isn't a light as some on here, but I can easily handle it and it offers very safe margins when the weather gets wacky.
At any rate... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!