I probably did not express myself well in my first post in this thread, seems only Tom understood I meant.
And my only intention is for people to consider alternate approaches to backpacking if they make sense to you, not to accept how I operate as some sort of dogma. Do your own thing. And perhaps you may want to consider alternatives to how you presently operate. In the end, it is your trip, and only you can determine what you seek out of each trip and what you need to take with you. Each person determines what they want and what works for them.
Originally I said, "The less of "man" you bring with you, the more you can appreciate the wilderness." The thought is about less connectivity to our man-made world, the better. It is not about gear per se, but breaking the umbilical cord that can keep us connected the world we live in most of the time, versus what we can do when we are in wild places. To me that especially means cell phone towers, satellites, books and music.
I have a cell phone; an iPhone to be exact. I have also owned a couple Palm phones and a couple Blackberrys. And I maximize their features when operating in the man-made world. I am tethered to email, VPN, and often use the iPhone as a hot spot when I need to send documents via email from my laptop. My phone syncs with my corporate GroupWise, which is not an easy thing to do. My iPhone has 8.4GB of music, 2.3GB of photos, and numerous Kindle books. I bank with my phone, purchase things online with it. I can buy presents for my family and ship them to their homes with my phone. When traveling I load my itinerary, and even use it as an electronic boarding pass at airports equipped to handle it. I sometimes access and post on BPL with it. I have a program called Topo Maps on it. When traveling I use it to quickly find stores and restaurants near me. I sometimes use it as a GPS when traveling in a rental car. It makes me more efficient when operating in the man-world. I have taken it on a few backpacking trips, as an experiment, as I am not opposed to technology. But now it always stays in my vehicle at the trail head.
My wife (and previously my ex-wife) is used to me backpacking alone. She knows there probably is no cell phone reception where I go, and knows I will call when I get back to my vehicle and within cell phone coverage. She knows I am not going to take the phone with me on the trail. She knows when I am due back, where I have gone, and who to contact if I do not check in; which has never happened. That is being responsible.
Dedicated GPS. There is nothing wrong with them. Actually I probably used one before most BPL members, purchasing one of the early Magellan units in the 90s. I have owned two Garmins, an eTrex Legend C and an eTrex Vista HCx. Both Garmins were gifts, not something I asked for. But I know how to use them. I gave away the Magellan and Legend C. Sometimes I bring the Vista on winter snow trips, where snow makes it more difficult to see the geographic lay of the land, and white-out conditions make navigation more difficult. But I have never been truly lost (maybe off course and knew it), and can navigate with map and compass in any condition; something I learned to do in the military... where we often navigated with poor maps, at night, under the cover of forest or jungle. So the GPS is not necessary for me. Actually it is more of a toy to play with at night, when I should be doing more important things like watching for shooting stars, admiring Orion, or just general mind wandering. I would much rather have a 7.5 quad map and compass, than an itty bitty GPS screen where it is nearly impossible to see a larger area in detail. I don't want to bring back-up navigation, it is extra weight. And I don't like the idea of connectivity to the man-made world, via satellite. But that does not mean what I do it is better. Just works for me.
Books. For several years I carried a copy of "Abbey's Road" in my pack. Never got past the first chapter. I finally realized I really did not want to hear Ed's voice on my trips. Eventually I took it out of the pack, and read it at home. Over the years I have collected a few Field Guides, mostly as gifts. Took a few on trips, which became a burden and extra weight... trying to figure out the names/identity of some of the birds, plants, shrubs and trees I could not identify. Why not just admire it and move on? One can always look it up when back at home, if it is that important.
Music. I love music. I have an extensive collection. But in the wilderness I don't want Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz, the Beatles, et al mucking up my solitude.
Cameras. A double edged sword. When I was young, I was into photography. Even had a dark room and made extra money selling pictures. But in those days my cameras where heavy. A medium format TLR and a SLR with several lenses. Because of the cost of pictures using film, I spent too much time composing each picture. And picture taking became a burden, sucking up valuable time and my limited mental resources. So I started leaving them at home after only a couple of trips with each. In the 80's I bought a small compact camera for backpacking trips, but ended up never taking it with me. Just another complication in life when on the trail. So for most of 40 years I have no pictures, only memories. But who would I have shared them with? Did I really want to share anyway? At one time I started taking a journal with me, but I found that I didn't want to set aside precious time to record my thoughts, observations, travels; time better spent gazing at the patterns and eddys in a stream for hours, watching clouds navigate the sky, or even an afternoon monitoring the travels of ants and their anthill home; much more productive endeavors. The journal became extra weight. In hindsight, sometimes I wish I had pictures or a journal; but there is some satisfaction that I was not encumbered with them on my hikes. Today, I sometimes take a camera. Usually it is to write a story for my kids. If you have read some of my trips reports, they are usually linked to Google Documents and are written for my kids. Or I copied and pasted into a thread from the story I wrote beforehand.
Binoculars. I have never seen them on a BPL gear list. I wonder why. I used to take one all the time. Too me it is technology that can enhance a trip. At the end of the day, sitting on a large rock looking out at distance things, bringing them close... and finding things that just beg for a side trip to go visit. So this year I have started to include binoculars in my kit again, I can't remember why I quit taking them. It is technology, but it does not connect you the man-made world, it is the opposite... at least for me.
People. I stand by my earlier comments.
All in One -- the Smart Phone. My iPhone weighs exactly the same as my camera. But it does so much more... sort of. 3 MP versus 10 MP for my camera. Zoom of inferior quality. Topo Map app is much inferior for me versus map and compass. I don't need or want all the other stuff. For me it is a distraction, and worrying about battery life is extra weight on my brain. Just knowing it might be able to connect to a cell tower is annoying. The few times I have used it, it was my only navigation, my camera, and my watch. It just made me more disorganized and disoriented. Also it was not as rugged as my compass, my map, or my camera and I was constantly worried about breaking it and protecting it from the elements. Another heavy burden. Now if I were to do a thru-hike of a major trail, I might consider utilizing one. But I am not thrilled about doing a thru-hike. Too much connectivity to the man-world. But a thru-hike is on my bucket list, although it languishes at the basement of things to do. In my life I have done two major hikes, each about 6 months long. The wonderful thing about these hikes was that they had no defined destination, no advanced route planning, no defined timeline, very little human connectivity, and no one expected me back at any particular time and place. They only knew I was somewhere in the Sierras, and I would probably return home at some point in time. I highly recommend this type of trip. Not a responsible method if you have a spouse, significant other, or children at home. But they are the highlight trips of my life.
So this a long, rambling dissertation about how I like to hike. If it is of interest to you, great. If not, that is fine. Go out and do your thing. There is no right way, and no wrong way... other than you need to know how to take care of yourself and have a good time doing it.