I have been getting down into it this past week or two, and wanted to share some thoughts. Shoobe01 came up with an excellent topic for discussion, about how light is too light, or the limits to this new light weight stuff, but I wanted to encompass several more things in with that.
To begin with, what are we looking at when we design a piece of gear. Well, besides the obvious, like how it fits the widget that goes in it, we are thinking about what kind of materials and hardware, what kind of closure, what kinds of construction techniques, and how/where it will attach. In regards to the new light weight initiatives, we have seen new, lighter base materials, "new" sewing techniques that minimize the use of binding tape, smaller sized webbing and hardware, replacing webbing with hypolon, and in general, just minimizing the use of webbing, hardware, and other stuff that adds weight. This not only takes weight off, but keeps it off, when the gear is soaked.
And this is a good thing. If you shave just 5 lbs off your kit, that 5 lbs becomes 10, or even 15 lbs when you're totally smoked. So the concept is sound. But, how does it apply to you. Some factors are: WTF are you doing? Military, LE, armed citizen. How long are your typical missions or training evolutions. A couple of hours, all day, several days. What kind of shape are you in. Young stud, "pretty good shape", old dud. Terrain, weather, environmental factors. Suburban, or woodlands. Mountains or jungles. Hot or cold. Dry or wet.
If you are doing training evolutions of a few hours duration, you may not see any ROI in light weight kit. It involves a considerable investment up front. It requires a lot of time and/or miserable conditions to really see it's value-add. And it's durability, not to mention comfort in some cases, may be in question.
But, if you are on deployment, with multi-day missions and training exercises, then this shit starts to shine. The cost no longer matters (or let's just say the cost is on a sliding scale with function). You have been out long enough for the light weight features to kick in. If it wears out, fuggit, get another when you get back (or at least it's available). And you are probably young enough to not be worrying about, or I should say be effected by, some lack of comfort.
So to Shoobe01's question: can we get too light weight, or really, what is the right weight for you. Well, in an optimum situation, where you are a member of a team, with unlimited funding, your support equipment can be optimized for your terrain and situation. It can be light weight, but also very durable, with the use of expensive, cutting edge materials and technology. As long as it lasts a deployment cycle (or a specific mission really), it's GTG.
At the other extreme, you may be with a group, with very limited funding or access to critical support equipment. What you have, is what you have, and you just have to make it work. Light weight may not even enter the conversation. It has to last, or you go without, because there is nothing else available.
In between are all the other areas where we all live. Be it Mil, LE, or civvy; we have typical training evolutions, we have our daily lives and threat levels, and then we have potential threats and events. Your daily training/duty schedule may/may not require it, but you foresee potential bad times on the horizon that definitely will.
If you decide that light weight is for you, pay attention to the details. If materials, webbing, and hardware is down-sized, or replaced, make sure it is done right. VM, 1st Spear, and others would be the standard here. Someone making quality mil-spec stuff. As opposed to even the Gucci civvy stuff, where I think compromises are made for the sake of ultra light weight. Be very wary of that gossamer weight shit. They baby that shit in ways that would be incomprehensible to the average grunt.