Low density aerogels have numerous unique properties which suggest a number of applications such as ultra high efficiency thermal insulation. However, the commercial viability of these materials has been limited by the high costs associated with drying at high pressures (supercritical), low stability to water vapor, and low mechanical strength. Normally, critical point drying is employed to eliminate the surface tension and hence, the capillary pressure, of the pore fluid to essentially zero. However, we show that by employing a series of aging and surface derivatization steps, the capillary pressure and gel matrix strength may be controlled such that gel shrinkage is minimal during rapid drying at ambient pressure. The properties (density, surface area, pore size, SAXS) of aerogel monoliths prepared from base catalyzed silica gels using this technique, supercritical CO2 drying, and supercritical ethanol drying are compared. An additional advantage of this approach is that the final gels are hydrophobic.