Here are the basics of what youll need:
Pack: Four thousand cubic inches ought to do itmaybe 4,500 if you take a lot of camera gear. Gregorys new Baltoro ($269; www.gregorypacks.com) is just the ticket with a 4,300 cubic-inch capacity for the medium-size pack, excellent suspension, lots of pockets and storage areas for extra camera supplies and fast access. Keltys Storm 3600 ($145; www.kelty.com) is a little smaller, but has enough room for two-night trips and offers a lot of value.
Tent: A solo tent should be fine. I really like REIs Chrysalis UL ($159; www.rei.com), which is light (just over three pounds) and offers lots of room for one person. And Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight ($170; www.sierradesigns.com) is a classica compact two-person tent thats palatial for one. You have to stake it out, but in return you get a sturdy tent that weighs less than four pounds.
Boots: These will be key, of course, so make sure you get a pair that fit as opposed to buying what I or someone else recommend. That said, L.L. Beans Cresta Hikers ($169; www.llbean.com) are a reliable choice for weekend trips. So too is the Asolo FSN 95 GTX ($160; www.asolo.com). Montrails Torre GTX boots ($165; www.montrail.com) are a third solid choice. All of these are mid-weight backpacking boots that are perfect for weekend trips with a moderate load.
Sleeping bag: I think Marmots Arroyo ($249; www.marmot.com) is about the best all-purpose bag out there. Its rated to 30 degrees, weighs just one pound, two ounces, and packs down to about the size of a softball. If the price is a bit steep, then the Mountain Hardwear Switch is a good choice in a synthetic-fill bag ($100; www.mountainhardwear.com). For either, the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite pad ($50; www.thermarest.com) will work great.
Cookwear: This can get a bit complicated. Jetboils Personal Cooking System ($79; www.jetboil.com) is light and efficient. For more flexibility, a traditional cartridge-fuel stove such as Colemans Exponent F1 ($45; www.coleman.com) is great. GSIs Hard Anodized Extreme Mess Kit ($34; www.gsioutdoors.com) takes care of dishes, pot, and pan.
Clothing: For a typical weekend in decent weather, Id start with a set of light long underwear (REI Lightweight MTS runs $28 for bottoms, $24 for a T-shirt). Pack some light nylon shorts (Lands End Outrigger Cargo Shorts are great and cost $29; www.landsend.com). Then a mid-weight fleece jacket (L.L. Beans Knife Edge jacket works well for $79; www.llbean.com). Then a light rainproof layer, such as Marmots PreCip Jacket ($99) and Pants ($70). Add gloves, hat, and other accessories to suit the weather and your own needs.
Extras: Headlamp (Petzl Tikka$26; http://en.petzl.com), handy tool/knife (Swiss Army Camper$27; www.swissarmy.com), first-aid kit (Adventure Medical Personal Essentials$38; www.adventuremedicalkits.com), compass (Silva Guide 426$20; www.silvausa.com), sunglasses and sunscreen, and youre all set!
And the Light Shall Inherit the Earth: Click here for Away.com's guide to building the perfect 20-pound summer backpacking kit.