I'm the same way. I started out with what was readily available and then began to look for better ways. I'm a tall slim (very) guy and even though I have been used to taking a 45-60lbs. pack with me when I go into the backcountry for a week, I really don't like to.
So first I got what gear I could, then began educating myself on ways to improve it. I've spent alot of time on other DIY forums, but honestly, some of the guys on here Opie, Stormcrow, Shug, McIntire, the list goes on.., (sorry if you got excluded, there are too many to list) are some of the most curious and innovative people I have encountered.
So now I'm making custom slings and shackles, getting smaller and smaller rope. I'm down under 20lbs for my base gear. I am a little more after UL, but I have to have synergy: Ease of Use, Comfort, UL, sometimes I sacrifice one if it has the other two (shackles are a little more of a pain than metal biners, but the weight over all and the pure awesomeness of the idea more than make up for it.