Hi! I apologize upfront, this is a long blurb!
I first started backpacking in my early teens with the Boy Scouts, at that time my family I had NO CLUE how or what I needed.
Fortunately, my grandfather scrounged up a few things he used to use when he was younger, a small rucksack, a fixed-blade knife ,wool sweater, wool beanie, wool beret, canteen, military poncho and a light wool blanket.
I remembered the first overniter we did as a troop, and my Scoutmaster was furious to see how "in adequately I was prepared", nonetheless it was a summer outing, and he tentatively allowed me to go, with the promise that I would buy a more "serious sleeping bag" for the next outing.
As I recalled, it was a blast of a trip: slept under the stars, no pad, a moth eatened wool blanket that barely kept me warm, regardless, I was hooked!
After many more short trips, and a new second hand sleeping bag, (which my grandparents at that time thought was unnecessary!) I was soon bitten with the "gear bug", at that time my naive-self was envious of everyone else having nice gear like a top of the line framed pack, nice big puffy sleeping bags, inflatable sleeping pads, tents etc.
So as soon I could work legally, (high school), I started spending my money on big hiking boots, big framed pack, big sleeping bag, etc, at the same time big blisters, and big loads became the mantra for my troop.
After my first 50 miler with a monster load (55 lb load for a 110 lb individual at that time, I soon realized that carrying my older gear set-up I never had blisters, sore hips, etc, thus I was bitten, (like others who also recieved the "light") with the "UL bug" and started buying lighter stuff, high tech products, using tarps, bivies, etc...
After almost 10 years of UL (roughly 3 1/2 years ago from this date), I started to realize that gear, as cool as it was, it was either just too complicated, or too delicate, and saw myself more concerned about enjoying / fretting over gear for the hike, than enjoying the hike for myself. Thus started reminiscing on how simple my old set-up was (16 years ago), and how far I could walk, and how much I enjoyed the trip and not worried or thought much about my equipment.
Now these days I'm not so much a "gear bug" as I used to be, and my set-up has started going back to my old set-up I had used years ago, just modernized! Example: use a 35 degree synthetic or down sleeping bag instead of wool blanket. As the years go by, I find myself bringing less and less, relying on my skills, using more natural fiber clothing, or using cheap fleece.(down in winter) Even footwear, moccassins, or cheap water shoes. Some trips I bring my sleeping bag, pad(optional) sweater, (or fleece hoodie) beanie, hat, poncho, knife, first aid kit, bottle, food (no stove, or pot), on other trips I just bring my sleeping bag, poncho, food, water, first aid kit, knife.
Don't know how to explain it, weight yes it's nice to keep it down, using spinsilk, or thinner silnylon, is fantastic in keeping weight down, but what about durability? Yes some will argue, if one is careful, the gear is more than ample in durability. I guess the last thing I want to do is to worry about my gear and to be able to enjoy myself, even it means bringing slightly heavier / durable gear, a simpler system of not having to think about the system.
If one was truly ultra-simple, then just bringing a knife and a few tools is the ultimate way to go (I like my blankie/sleeping bag, first aid kit too much )
I am awe inspired when I hear people going on trips with nothing more than a few things in a fanny pack or their pockets, or nothing at all, and getting by fantastically!
So for all those out there! Shoot back, I would love to hear stories, tales, or thoughts on experiences with going minimal / spartan / simple!