Backpacking. My hubby thinks I’m nuts.  He knows I’ve always enjoyed hiking.  But long distances?  Overnights in the middle of nowhere?  In the shape I’m in?  Nuts.  Or maybe he thinks I’m having a mid-life crisis or something. But I’ve been talking about it so much for so long, it has kind of become my new obsession.  The THING I must do.  The THING I want to do so badly.  I think he’s reached this thought process:

I think you’re crazy for wanting to do The Thing, but I’m going to be a good husband and help you do The Thing, and even do The Thing with you, so I know you’re safe.

So, for Christmas, he bought us both packs.  I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself!  He even found me a purple one!  In case you don’t know me, it’s my favorite color.  It’s from Outdoor Master.  I’ve been exploring their website a little since getting this pack.  Their prices are all really affordable (I wanted to say cheap, but I don’t like the connotations and assumptions that come along with the word, as far as quality).  They don’t have a gazillion choices like most sporting goods stores do.  They have one 50L option, one 60L option, one 70L option, etc, etc.  But, what they lack in variety, they make up for in prices.  And, all their items have really good ratings – so far, I’ve seen nothing below 4 out of 5 stars.  Their mission statement says “We believe that everyone should be able to master the outdoors. We make nature accessible to more people by making affordable, highly functional outdoor clothing and gear.”  I like!!

outdoormaster-hiking-backpack-50l-purple-1Mine is a 50L nylon pack that, when empty, weighs 2.4lbs (~1.2kg).  I immediately loaded it up with some dumbbells to simulate the weight of gear, food, water, etc.  I know the dumbbells won’t distribute the weight the same as a loaded pack will, but I wanted to get a feel for the way it fit.  There’s zippers and pouches and pockets galore.  Some, I’m not sure what the intended use is. Some I’ve figured out: there’s a pocket for a water bladder with a pass-thru for the straw; straps on the bottom that will hold my sleeping bag; loops and bungees to hold trekking poles; a pocket on the hip that fits my inhaler perfectly; all the zippers have loops that I assume are for hanging things, although I wouldn’t hang anything too heavy because it will put stress on the zipper itself.  It has an attached rain cover that tucks away when it’s not needed (hooray for attached accessories! If it’s attached, I can’t lose it!)

So, now I have my pack and, after lots of reading and research, a list of things to fill it with.  And questions about where everything should go.  For instance, how do you keep your trekking poles really secure?  I’ve already tried out the loops and bungees and it seems like the poles bounce around quite a bit.  And those of you who are hiking photographers… there someplace particular you put your camera?  Or do you always carry it?  What about a tripod?  Someway to pack it?  Leave it at home?   Tell me your favorite packing tips, or hacks, or your favorite feature of your pack in the comments.

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