You Put The Load Right On Me

For hikers, our packs our the center of our lives. We carry every single thing we have in our packs, and how much you like your pack can make your hike a wonderful thing or a terrible time.
I was talking with a very good friend of mine who is on her way to the Philippines in two weeks, and she asked my advice on her pack choice. She could either take her older external frame pack, a massive 80 Liter item, or a smaller internal frame 70L. She’s not really doing much backpacking, it’s more for base camp haul in/haul out – but she’s still worrying about it quite a bit.

So we talked about it – hikers can talk for hours about their gear. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to packs is to put all your stuff in it, and see how it carries the load – in other words you do the opposite of what comes naturally, which is buy the bag first and fill it up.

I hiked with a Granite Gear Blaze 60L pack in 2013 for over 2,000 miles. By the end of the trail, the back plate had broken completely once, was shattering a second time, it had a hole in the main compartment and water bottle web was completely gone. But it got me to the end, and I still use it today.

More trustworthy then the girlfriend

The spine is cracked as well in this picture

This pack took me all the way to the end. It never let me down completely ever. I didn’t always treat it as well as I should have, and it didn’t always treat me well either, but it was good. It shared my adventures and came with me everywhere.

Something my friend said though made me think.

I use the same logic when picking a mate. I see how they fit in my life and how they carry their load.

True statement. Finding someone to share your life with, and picking a backpack out are similar things if you think about it!

  • Packs carry your life when hiking long distances. Your mate carries your heart. Both are capable of damaging you if they fail in their duties.
  • Packs can be flawed of have a defect, just like your mate. When your pack breaks, you try and fix it – always carry your needle and thread, duct tape. Make-up sex and long conversations are the equivalent I think in relationships.
  • Packs can come with guarantees, showing how much the company is willing to stand behind their product. Your mate can come with a guarantee too – in the form of a life-long commitment to you – either via marriage, another social contract or just a promise.
  • You get to pick your pack, the same way you get to pick your mate – out of hundreds of other options. Some feel good, others don’t and you never really know if you’ve made the right choice until a hundred miles in.

In the end though, people out preform packs in one major area – they can grow and change. They may get worn out with you, but they don’t get thrown away – not really. Not the good ones.

But then I don’t throw out any of my packs either – I’ve sent a few off in Viking funerals, but I’ve never tossed one.

I have too much respect for my pack – broken or not

 

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About Doc Spice

I walked around 4,000 miles between 2012 and 2013 on the Appalachian Trail. A time of discovery, life, joy and pain. Now I'm a hometown adventurer, explorer of the alley around the corner, the national park up the road, the next long hike and the beautiful, intelligent woman I talk to a lot. I'm a little crazy. But I think that's ok.

Posted on 01/16/2014, in New Hiker Advice, Post AT '13 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I just spent all weekend trying to figure out why my pack wasn’t sitting right. I fiddled with all TEN straps and must have stopped a dozen times to mess with it. It wasn’t until three days later on my way to the car that I realized the adjustable torso length lock had slipped since the last time I’d used it. Fixed it and my pack fit like a glove again! Sometimes relationships and packs make you feel dumb and figuring out what the hell is wrong in the first place is harder than figuring out how to fix it. 🙂

    • Too true. During the whole discussion with my friend on this I was coming down on the side that my pack behaved better than the girl at the time – plus it had a better warranty :p

      Sometimes those torso adjusters start losing their grip too fast. Especially the Velcro ones. The glue will come off and peel, check it every few hundred miles.

  2. I’m still thinking of cutting off half of the straps on my pack. So the message is, I will know if this is the right pack in 100 miles. I’ll probably know a lot more about other things too.
    hoba caitbe

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