When we went backpacking last weekend, my friends said, "Dude, your pack is huge." In fact, it didn't weigh more than my friend Pinky's, but it's a large-capacity pack with a lot of pockets. Even half-empty, it looks like I'm carrying a whole lot.
Even so, I'm carrying a little more weight than I would like, and part of that weight is the pack itself. It's a 5500 cubic inch pack (90 liters) - that's expedition-sized. And it's not light even for it's class at 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Hey, I bought cheap, because I didn't want to spend too much starting out. My tent, sleeping bag, and pad together weigh less than the empty pack. Plus the pack, I start off with 13 pounds, 10 ounces, before I put any other food, water, or gear in.
So the first place to cut weight is the pack. I can easily shave three pounds off by buying a smaller, better-designed pack. Now I just have to shop around and find one I like. (No, I still haven't picked up a new day pack.) I have only a few requirements: External pockets for water bottles. Lid that doubles as a day pack. That's it, aside from requiring that the pack fits and is comfortable. Actually, I could give up on the lid if the pack itself is light enough.
The next improvement would be a lighter sleeping bag, since mine is 3 pounds 12 ounces, but that's not going to come anytime soon. I love my bag and am willing to make the weight tradeoff to carry it.