My backpacking friends and I often sit around after a long day and discuss pack weight. It seems that among my friends and I there is no consensus on the best way to drop about 10 pounds of pack weight.
Assuming standard gear (45L pack, 3-season sleeping bag, two person tent, bear-safe food storage, water filter, stove, and 1L water bottle) what are some suggestions?
As others have said sleeping system, shelter, and pack are great places to start. I did exactly that withmy36 lb load and brought it down to 26.
The next thing to consider is your kitchen. It is easy to have too much kitchen stuff. Your decision about water filtration, chemicals, UV, or boiling and whether you use alcohol, butane, or wood all involve trade offs that you should consider.
Finally, avoid hauling extra trinkets and electronic gadgets. Your phone, camera, gps, spare batteries, charging equipment, spare flashlight are heavy and they add up fast. An extra knife isn’t required, etc. Multiuse items are the key and your contingency items should find other useful roles.
a coupla thoughts on the CDT comments (I tried to answer down there, but got error message)
I believe the base weight refers to everything in your pack, not just 'the big 3', but minus food/water, as a base weight of 15lbs of just pack/tent/sleeping stuff is off. (example Osprey exos 2.5lbs, zpacks duplex 1.5lbs, 20F bag/quilt 2lbs) so the big 3 would be 5-8lbs (?) does that sound right?
Also, I find many people bring too many clothes. I recommend one set of clothes to hike in - EVERY DAY and then something to change into when and if those become wet when at camp; presumes putting the wet clothes back on each day and hike until dry/warm. Bring some extra socks and wash as necessary. Don't try this in winter.
I've struggled with lightening my load for years. The biggest culprits for adding to pack weight for me are: