For starters, I got an ultralight backpack. It is very lightweight. I tried on several medium capacity packs, walking around the store with a bunch of weighted pillows stuffed into them. This one was not only the most comfortable of the ones I tried on, but also the cheapest. Nice when it works out that way. It is very adjustable and has a pocket for a water bladder that my camelbak bladder fits into.
I found a decent 2-person tent that I was going to buy from them, too. It was on sale, but they had run out of them. After looking around, I was thinking of just using a bivy sack, but worried about bugs bugging me all night. That's when I came across this bug hut tent. It's very light and would be excellent in the summer as long as it doesn't rain. One of the employees there was telling me about how a lot of minimalist campers love this tent and build their own rain fly for it. For now, I'll just pack a small tarp for such an emergency.
I also got a JetBoil stove system. I've been wanting one of these for a long time, and finally decided to get one. I tested it out, and it boiled 2 cups of water in about 2 minutes or so. Minimal fuel was used, too. This will be great for all the dehydrated meals they have. I picked up an envelope full of dehydrated Chana Masala and rice. I plan on trying that out this week at home.
The final piece was an inflatable bed mat that was on sale. I wasn't really sure whether I'd want something inflatable along with me, but after laying down on one at the store, then on some plain foam, it was clear to me that the inflatable mat was the clear winner. I don't know if I would have bought it if it were full price, though.
The pack, full of everything I had bought, weighed in at just under 10 lbs. Adding 1.5 gallons of water will put this over 20 lbs. Limiting my random other stuff to 5 lbs shouldn't be too much of a problem. My goal is to keep the total pack weight under 25 lbs. The good part about hiking is that the more water you drink, the less you have to carry. At first, water by itself will probably weigh more than all other pack things combined (including the pack itself). This is very different from my childhood camping experience. I had a horribly fitted pack with an ancient cotton sleeping bag and no real waist support. We never had a tent, we just used tarps, poles, rope and creativity. We also slathered ourselves up with insect repellent to make it through the night. I'm guessing my pack weighed at least 50 lbs. Carrying it sucked. I hope to replace some lame camping experiences with a bunch of good ones in the coming years.