What’s the best backpack for me, and other mysteries.

A funny thing happened on the internet the other day…

No, seriously, for about three hours people stopped talking about gay marriage (now just called ‘marriage’), shark attacks (wait, sharks live in the ocean and might eat people sometimes?), and the Confederate Flag (actually, the Northern Virginia regimental battle flag, since it’s not really the flag of the Confederate States of America at all) and talked about stuff that might actually have a point in the every lives of average people. Unless your Average life involves getting married to someone of the same sex, while wearing Confederate Flag bikinis/swim trunks standing waist deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina.

I’m talking about hiking, of course.

Someone recently complained on one of the myriad hiking groups on Facebook about “snarky comments” that people use as replies to basic questions. Example:

“Hey what do you do if it starts raining?”

Within about 5 minutes there were several comments basically saying the same thing: “You get wet”.

Such is life on the Hiking groups. There were some complaints from the non-snarky commenters about “be nice to the people asking questions, we want to help them”. But sometimes you just can’t help it. Logging onto Facebook and scrolling through the groups, often you see the same questions OVER and OVER and OVER again. Facebook is a TERRIBLE medium for this type of information, simply because Facebook is designed to keep people updated with the latest goings-on in their friends lives, or the events surrounding whatever a particular company is promoting. Its not designed to be a wealth of information that is searchable.

So the same questions repeat over and over. Spend any time on a hiking group, like maybe a month, and you’ll know everything there is to know. Then watch it repeat itself.

Some of the top questions:

1. “What kind of stove should I buy?” Otherwise known as the YASD (yet another stove discussion). This is often the limit of information group members get. That’s like walking into a car dealership and asking a random person “what car should I buy?”

Hell if I know, dude. For stoves, like cars, what is your budget? You can buy really nice ones. You can also (unlike cars) build a simple one for 58 cents. Add $3 if you have to buy the hole punch. Subject the 58 cents if you know the neighborhood “crazy cat lady”. Are you cooking for just yourself, or a family of four? Do you want to just boil water or do you really want to cook stuff in a pot and simmer things? Is time important to you? Do you want to blast your water for thirty seconds and have it ready, or is it okay if you wait seven minutes for a full boil?

Even worse is the “What stove is best?” question. That’s like walking into a trailer park and saying, “Hey guys, what’s best, Ford or Chevy?” Shirts are coming off and someone’s going to lose some teeth. Or find some nerds and say, “What’s the best phone, iPhone or Android?” Odds are no one will lose teeth, but someone will probably walk off sulking after just a couple of minutes.

See the above discussion, and ask instead, “Here’s what I plan to use it for, what stove do you think might fit ME best?” After all, the best stove is the one you don’t have to carry, but instead borrow in camp. “Hey, you mind if I get some hot water for my coffee?”

2. “What size backpack do I need?”

For what? Even if someone adds a little info, like maybe, “I want to hike the appalachian trail”, generally this is a shit question. Sorry, but there’s no way else to put it. Thus begins a debate very similar to the “which is better, Ford or Chevy?” question. Answers are vastly different, from size “45 liters! 55 Liters! 65 Liters! 3300 cubic inches (there’s always the one weirdo in a crowd)”, to weight, “Get what fits! Go ultralight! Under 3 pounds! Under 4 pounds!” even to price, “Spend what you can afford, it needs to last! Get something cheap, you can always replace it! I have one for sale, buy mine!” to brand. “Get an Osprey, they’re the best! Go with cottage vendors, support the little guy! Kelty sucks! Kelty doesn’t suck, you suck! No you suck, I dare you to say that to my face!”

There’s usually one bright guy in the bunch. “Hey, take your crap to the store, and try stuff on”. Because there’s really only one way to know if a pack is right for you. Put it on with all the crap you plan on lugging through the woods for days on end. Of course, few stores let you lug a bunch of stuff in, so you might have to buy something, try it at home, and then take it back.

3. “What do you do when it rains?”

Get wet. Seriously, that’s what you do. Oh sure, you put on a rain jacket. Then you walk around in the rain carrying thirty pounds on your back in a coat designed to not let wet stuff in, consequently keeping your wet sweat from getting out. So unless you have somewhere to STOP and be STILL while it rains, you’re probably getting wet any way. Stop and put up a tarp or find a shelter if you’re lucky… but it still means staying put until the rain passes.



Author: theosus1

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