To contributing editor Larry Pynn, this grainy colour slide from 1986, taken in remote northwestern British Columbia’s Mount Edziza Provincial Park, is proof that outdoor equipment has come a long way, baby.
“I’m shown wearing a tasteless yellow-and-white baseball hat, bold-striped shirt, wool army-surplus pants and, gather ’round kids, an external-frame backpack.” With every step he took, that aluminum frame knocked against his head.
“I remember a lot about the first big hiking trip,” he adds. “My sleeping bag rolling down into a crater, a July snowstorm so thick we had to make camp where we stood, and wading through a chest-high swamp because we took the wrong valley coming down off the Mount Edziza plateau. But you know, I can’t remember a thing about that crappy little external frame backpack [aside from the head bumping]. Maybe gear isn’t the be-all and end-all of a great hiking trip, after all.”
Agreed. Though dare I suggest that our intrepid “Outdoor Advisor” might have looked just a bit happier in this photo had he been sporting a modern internal frame pack with cushy straps, ventilated panels, and weight-transfer technology?
Larry examines such modern features as applied to the day pack–which has evolved alongside multi-day packs–in the Fall 2011 issue. See “Day pack buying basics” for his tips on choosing size, panel configuration, hydration compatibility, material, and more.