Re: Backpacking Equipment
Andrew Hagemann (hagemann@VISI.NET)
Fri, 26 Dec 1997 16:15:49 -0500
Ben Pharr wrote:
> What size backpack does everyone have? Do you wish it was any smaller or
> bigger? Do you prefer backpacks to have lots of smaller pockets, or a
> few big pockets? Do you prefer internal or external frame? What is your
> favorite brand of backpacks?
I've been using an external backpack that I bought from the Cabela's
Catalog about ten years ago when I went on a two-week-long backpacking
bow-hunting trip in the mountains of Virginia. At the time (many years
before I became a Scout leader) I just had to have a camouflage colored
pack, and this was the only one on the market. Fortunately, it turned
out to be a really great design and ruggedly made.
Even though I don't care for the camouflage color now that I'm a Scout
leader, I still like the design of the pack. If you don't like
camouflage-colored backpacks, this pack is very much like the Kelty
"Super Tioga" (Campmor, $140) and the Camp Trails "Omega" (Campmor,
$180). I've got a Scout in my Troop who's been pestering me to sell him
my pack, so when he comes up with the money ($50, I'm a soft touch when
it comes to my Scouts), I'm going to buy a Kelty "Super Tioga".
I'm partial to Kelty backpacks, but over the years the Scouters in my
Troop have been using Lowe Alpine, McGregor, The North Face, Jansen, and
Camp Trails. Each guy swears by his pack, so take your pick. Only one
of these guys uses an internal frame pack, and he doesn't backpack camp
at all. I think there is a message in there, Ben!
My first good-quality pack was an aluminum-framed Kelty
single-compartment pack. It's in great shape after 25 years of regular
use. I've thrown away the web hip belt that came with it and replaced
it with a foam-padded one (of little-boy-waist diameter). I loan to my
newest Scouts who need to borrow for a bit.
This Cabela's Alaska II model I use has 4670 cubic inches (when fully
expanded) of well-thought-out space. It has proven to be the right size
for everything I do. When I'm on a two-nighter with my Troop, I have
lots of space left over. When I go backpacking, I have enough room for
my share of the food and water. I did have to accessorize it a bit
since it didn't have any water bottle pockets, but the good ole Campmor
catalog solved that easily. I bought a pair of add-on water bottle
pockets that I put on my hip belt. I like the pre-curved shoulder
straps and the placement of the chest strap. This pack is comfortable
to wear, even when loaded with 40 or 50 pounds of gear.
I don't like packs with lots of pockets. I've had them in the past and
I tend to forget what I've stowed where. A few good-sized pockets on
the outside help me quickly reach first aid gear, butane lighters, and
flashlights when I need them right away.
I do like divided main compartments, and won't buy a pack that doesn't
have a removable main compartment divider. Although I have never
removed the divider, I can see how I might use a large single
compartment at times, and want that option.
I prefer an external frame pack because it's easy to lash either one of
my two sleeping bags (three-season and winter) and my Therma Rest
Camprest sleeping pad (the biggest one Therma Rest makes) onto the
external frame. None of these three pieces of gear fit inside an
internal frame pack. I've tried unsuccessfully to put them into various
large-capacity internal frame packs. And I don't like the way I had to
lash this gear onto the outside, either. The Camprest was always too
wobbly up there on top the pack, and the sleeping bag hit my butt as I
walked. I've also tried putting both items on top, but no pack's top
lash points have never been robust enough to suit me.
I don't think I'll ever use any pack's sleeping bag compartments,
though. I prefer to stow other things in there; things like my BP
stove, fuel bottles, and extra water when I'm backpack camping. My
winter weight, Quallo-Fil II filled sleeping bag won't stow in anybody's
bottom panel anyway (too bulky, even when compressed), but my
three-season bag would if I wanted to put it there. I prefer to lash my
sleeping bag onto the bottom of the frame, using a waterproof
compression sack to protect it and make it easier to stow.
My Alaska II pack has three side pockets (one real long one for carrying
a spotting scope, and two decent-sized ones on the opposite side). It
also has two pockets on the back, one sewn in front of the other. The
smaller one comes in real handy for stowing my leather work gloves, and
the other one is great for holding my mess gear and such. The top of
the pack is also a large pocket, and I put my rain gear there to keep it
close to hand.
I hope this helps you. Buy a large capacity external frame pack.
The Scouting Blacksmith,
Andrew Hagemann <email@example.com>
SA, New Scout Patrol, Troop 6 (Colonial Virginia Council)
A "Charging" Buffalo, SR-158 / Jamboree '97 Metal Work MB Booth
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City