When I was a kid, I was intrigued by backpacks. The books about adventure that I read all seemed to feature the main characters slinging packs onto their backs and heading off into the wilderness, prepared for anything.
One of my favorites, Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman, pretty much had packs in every scene (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/333766.Banner_in_the_Sky). To me it was just all so very cool, and the pack itself was both practical and philosophically interesting. It held stuff that was vital to the adventure at hand but it also represented freedom i.e. load it up and your adventure could go on indefinitely. Who knows where you might end up?
In the intervening years my essential feeling about packs hasn't really changed. Somehow, every time I look at a pack (which is often since I work for a pack company!) I still feel the strong pull of adventure. Perhaps the years have simply reinforced my youthful impressions. Yes, that's it exactly! Packs really have equaled adventure! It's pretty much a one-to-one relationship: load up a pack, go somewhere mysterious, challenging or just plain fun.
One of the earliest packs I remember is my Dad's wood frame, canvas bag, Trapper Nelson. My very first adventure away from home on my own was a 10-day bike trip in the San Juan Islands with my two buddies next door. We didn't have fancy bike bags so I strapped the Trapper Nelson to the rack on my Schwinn Varsity and off I went, on adventure. Have stuff will travel. That pack most definitely strengthened my pack = adventure viewpoint. And we really did have an adventure. We were on our own and it was exhilarating, and I think I've measured my adventures against that very first one ever since.
It's hard to think of an adventure that doesn't involve a pack of some kind. Day hikes and backpacking trips pretty much require a pack. Certainly, mountaineering adventures can't happen unless there's a pack to put all that gear in. Backcountry skiing - necessary. Bike tours - well, bike bags. Canoe trips - portage packs. Even kayaking trips often include a daypack for island exploration. Caving? Yep. Canyoneering? Sure. Paragliding? How do you think they get those wings up there? Trail runs? Yes, for the longer outings. Travel? Don't leave home without a pack. OK, you get the point. Packs are, and have been for a long time, critical to the adventurous among us.
So I guess 2014 is especially exciting for me. We've doubled our pack line here in the USA and that includes some very cool additions. The waterproof Torrent 20 is a smaller version of the popular Torrent 30 and is perfectly sized for day hiking and everyday use. The Glissade 25 and 35 ski/snowboard packs represent the first snowsport specific packs from Exped. The new Core 25 and 35 are simple, no frills rucksacks that are extremely durable - excellent for a day at the crags. And finally, we've added the Mountain Pro 20, 30 and 50. These are the designs that got us into packs and have been influenced by the input of many professional guides from the Alps. Fully factory taped and designed from the ground up to address the needs of the alpinist without all those superfluous straps, zippers and pockets. The Mountain Pro packs have been in our European line since 2008 and spent years in development before that. Refined to the basics, as we like to say.
It's a banner year for pack geeks around here! A pack for every use and user and plenty of options for personal preference. Now I need to increase the number of days I spend in the wilderness with a pack on my back. But that's nothing new, eh?
Onward to adventure!
- Kaj (Team Exped USA)