This is the second part of a two-part blog post, and with this post, I want to reveal my backpacking and hiking evolution from a child to the mature adult I am today.
My evolution of hiking / walking for enjoyment and the experience of the tranquil bliss the trail offers has been accented with the newest gear I have come to love, and I mean genuinely love.
There is and possibly will be forever an ongoing debate about backpacks, hiking shoes, tents, sleeping bags and gear in general. However, the current focused is “ultra-light-weight” of a filled backpack whether you are hiking, backpacking or touring on a bicycle. I have become shocked as everything, and I mean everything has become lightweight and the backpacks pictured above are apart of the new wave of lightweight packs of the backpacking world.
My curiousity about the word ultra-light-weight had me researching hikers dating back to the ‘1940s, 50s 60s and 70’s only to discover a generation who wore heavy, sturdy clothing, called dungarees, with rucksacks weighing over 5-lbs without anything inside, a canvass tent or shelters halves, and sleeping bags you could bench press for a workout.
Most of todays backpackers are carrying completly filed backpacks weighing under 30lbs, however the backpacks can cost between $200-$500 or more. The new light weight sleeping bag can cost $300-600 along with 1 or 2 person tents can creep past $500. Yes, you pay the premium for less weight.
Now, as a wisdom filled aging hiker/bacpacker, you will not find me speeding along the trail unless chased by some large animal, but my current backpacking camping chair pictured above is a loving essential part of my trail comfort.
Many hikers carry lightwight packs to put more miles in a day that cannot be completed with a heavier pack while giving up the comforts that can be enjoyed during a break or at the end of a day .
However, one aspect every hiker will encounter on the trail is everyone is excited, in high spirits, filled with a sense of adventure, and with tales of encounters with the people on the trail, their clothing, the numerous insects encountered, and the various types of animals seen while hiking.
Although the current debate deals with how much weight one person should carry with people weighing each individual item that is packed into their backpacks.
It has become a competitive challenge to see who can carry the lightest.
The focus of a hike should not be about the weight of a filled backpack, many hikers and backpackers should appreciate the tranquility and patience, nature brings to their heart and soul and the enjoyment of the trail.
As long as the earth spins on its axis, rotating around the sun, I’m sure the hiking trail is not concern about humans competing for the lightest packs or to race past the beauty that surrounds them.
If the ultra-light-weight backpackers new the evolution of “Ultra-light backpacking,” they would emulate a 67-year-old woman named Emma Gatewood, who in 1955 through-hiked the2-thousand plus miles of the Appalachian trail.
She wore canvass Keds tennis shoes, carried an army blanket, a raincoat, and a plastic shower curtain in a homemade denim bag slung over one shoulder. She ate Vienna sausages and wild berries and plants along the trail. Oh, how I bet she would have traded in some of her items for what is available today?
So with today’s technology advancements in convertible pants, perspiration wicking shirts, comfortable wool socks, lighter weight tents, sleeping bags, prepackaged food items with cook systems that can heat water in less than two-minuets, should any hiker or backpacker ever struggle through any pains of hiking or backpacking?
So, my hiking and backpacking has evolved from when I carried 60 to 70 pounds backpacks as a Boy Scout, to half the weights in my new Deuter backpack.
I have rid myself of multiple days of clothing, a four-pound mess kit, a three-pound (empty) water canteen, and replaced them with comfort items that I cherish, like my backpacking chair. I have a built-in 3-liter water reservoir, reusable plastic water bottles, and a combination mess kit and cook heating system, weighing less than 5- pounds with water included.
From the organic dehydrated foods I carry made by Harmony House, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner items sealed in individual plastic pouches within a bear-resistant canister when hiking in bear country, it is truly the only bulky item I carry.
My down, filled winter jacket for cold weather conditions, with one extra set of clothing, along with one extra pair of underwear and socks and to keep clean, I used baby wipes, I pack out from the trail, I secure inside ziplock sealed plastic bags until I reach a trash can.
My sleep system is, a two-pound, thirty-degree down Big Agnes sleeping bag, with a compact inflatable pillow, and an REI self-inflating sleeping pad, that feels like a sleep number bed, because I can regulate the air pressure. Lastly is my two person tent that is realy made for me and my backpack, a Big Agnes Frying Pan SL2 Tent with Footprint, that weighs 5-pounds 5 ounces.
Oh, how I love the evolution of technology!
So in the end hike you own hike is an essential phrase for all and hiking comforts are personal decisions for each individual hiker.
As I mature, I’m discovering the wisdom to calm my anxious excitement to cherish every moment of my travels.