I planning a number of long backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics, as well as climbs of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ads, and Mt. Rainier this summer. Recently, most of my old gear was stolen from my car while moving. I still have a tent and sleeping bag, but I no longer have my backpack, boots, stove, or any foul-weather gear. Can you recommend the best all-around light gear that is not too expensive but can hold up to the demands of the Pacific Northwest? (Just so you know, I a small women—5'2" and 103 lbs—so I need to keep things light and small.) Michele Portland, OR

I 5 ft, 95 pounds, and have bad knees. I need a weekend backpack that's light but fits. What do you recommend? Donna Enumclaw, Washington

I’m an avid day-hiker, and now I want to do weekend and longer hikes. I have thought about doing the Appalachian Trail but need tips on light-weight gear. I was in the infantry in the army and spent time in the mountains of Afghanistan, so I know weight is crucial. Any help? Jeremy Carrollton, Georgia

My wife and I are trekking in Chile and Argentina next summer, so we’ve decided to exploit the circumstances and replace most of our equipment with newer and lighter items. Can you build the ideal shopping list for us? Yonathan Tel Aviv, Israel

The key to staying warm and stuck to the ice? The right stuff.

I have a massive backpack, and thus my hiking buddies load me up with everything (last year the record was 70 pounds). I need a much smaller pack that I can use on ultra-light weekends and leaning toward an Osprey Talon 44. Thoughts? John Pleasanton, California

Who makes the Marine Corps MOLLE system backpack? Is there a civilian version? Tyrone Aberdeen, South Dakota

I'm looking for a woman's overnight/weekend backpack for a friend. I’ll likely carry most of the gear, so I’m not sure of the optimal pack size. An Osprey Aura 50 was recommended, but it seems slightly small. What do you think? Andrew Seattle, Washington

I've been a backpacker for 30-plus years, and recently I've noticed my knees complaining after steep downhill stretches. I'm considering making a shift to ultralight gear, and I think a lightweight trail-running shoe is a good start. Can you offer some suggestions for someone making this switch? Kurtis Seattle, Washington

I looking for a real backpack, with a useful hip belt, that will also fit the dimensions for airline carry-on. Since European commuters are somewhat more restrictive about that, I would prefer something in the 21"x14"x7" neighborhood. Can you make a suggestion? Don Denver, Colorado

I’m looking for a weekend bag that will hold a two-person tent, sleeping bag, and a little food and clothes. I have a Mmut Direct 28 daypack and love the airflow on my back. Is there a weekend backpack with a similar design and comfort level? You're the best. Thanks. Jason Chattanooga, Tennessee

I am the project officer in charge of the design, development, and procurement of all Individual Load Bearing Equipment for the United States Marine Corps. We’re currently performing market research on backpacks with approximately 2,500 cubic inches of capacity. Durability and comfort is top priority. I would like to purchase several different styles of backpacks to study the best ideas out there. Which manufacturers and packs should I consider? John Quantico, Virginia

I'll soon be traveling around Ethiopia for three weeks, and I need a new pack for this trip and beyond. I travel mainly to third-world places on the semi-cheap. I need a pack that’s light, can take a beating, and doesn't take up much room. And I don't want an attachable day pack on it. Any suggestions? Herb Danbury, Connecticut

Once again I find myself kneeling at the altar of the Gear Guy, seeking truth, wisdom, and equipment bliss. After having lugged my Gregory Whitney to Rainier’s Camp Muir on two occasions, I looking to shave more weight. Do the load-carrying suspension systems in lighter packs measure up to what I getting with my Gregory pack? Please, enlighten me. Stan El Dorado Hills, California

I've done my research and will start to bag Colorado’s 14ers this summer. With all the choices out there, what pack should I bring? Tony Euless, Texas

I've introduced my three teenage boys to backpacking over the last few years and managed to get my backpack from 40-plus pounds to about 20 for four- to five-day summer ventures. What's a good lightweight backpack to haul 20 to 30 pounds? Steve Fishers, Indiana

I an avid outdoors photographer, but I’m tired of shooting the se things that tourists shoot. The solution: an overnight (or two-night) hike. I’m a newbie at this, so what type of pack and other gear do I need for these trips? Bill Pasadena, California

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