I adhere to the principal of ultra light hiking. Every thing that is not a real must have is left at home. I have a rather light simple rucksack / backpack, a rain poncho that doubles as tarp and a 3/4 torso length inflatable sleeping pad, use freece dried food and a really small alcohol stove. This allows me to walk with less than 6 kg plus food und water when being out on longer paths.
I would not start a walk without my hiking poles. In addition to several sets of walking shoes I have worn out one set of poles.
Where ever possible I stay outsite over night; whether under my tarp or i shelters / lean tos. Of course, this is more difficult in Central Europe then in Northern Europe or North America. The next best are (youth) hostels and Friends-Of-Nature houses.
Guides and maps used are noted at the respective path. Additionally as a last resort I can use my Nokia mobile phone with its maps and the installed AGPS to find my exact location. Maps of every country in the world are downloadable for free of charge.
I have now switched to a SonyEricson Xperia arcS mobile / cell phone. I have installed the APP BackCountryNavigator which allows downloading maps covering basically everywhere on our planet. This worked great while hiking PCT as well as in Europe. In case of need I can use GPS to fix my location. Together with the solar panel Arctic C1mobile it gave me enough power from town to town where I recharged my phone. This setup allowed me not having to carry any paper maps thereby reducing my weight.