I Bought a Pack

10 04 2013

I’ve recently been doing a fair amount of reading about Alaska. Not because I’m sick of the Florida heat (it’s only JUST begun! 😉 ), but because I’m planning a trip there! This summer, I’m going to spend about a week in the Last Frontier, hiking the famous Chilkoot Trail.

Chilkoot Trail

During the Klondike Gold Rush, the Chilkoot became one of the main routes of transportation to get to the Yukon River. The stampeders, as the gold hunters were called, would start in Skagway, head up to Dyea, and then make the make 33 mile trek up to Bennett, in hopes of finding gold. Unfortunately, few found gold and many others gave up on their dreams because the journey was just too miserable. Today, the trail is like a living museum- there are discarded tools and other artifacts still laying by the side of the trail!

chilkoot historic image(source)

I’ve never been to Alaska, so I’m super excited (though I’m not too stoked about the flight). I’ll be meeting Bill out there and we’re going to hike the trail together. 🙂 We’re still working out all of the details, but since the trip is only a few short months away, I’ve got to get a move on getting my gear!

Well, first things first- I actually got my learn on. At the recommendation of the owner of Adventure Outfitters here in Tampa, I purchased the Trailside Guide: Hiking and Backpacking.

Trailside Guide

Being that I know virtually nothing about backpacking, this book was perfect for me. It gave me lots of really basic but important information about hiking and backpacking. If you know even the slightest bit about hiking, this book might not be a worthwhile read for you, but if you’re looking to learn some foundational knowledge, I’d say go for it. I also bought the book because I didn’t want to rely solely on Bill’s hiking knowledge (though extensive!).  I wanted to learn on my own and bring a little something to the table.

One piece of gear I knew I’d need was a pack. I probably could have found a pack to borrow from someone, but I’m hoping that hiking/backpacking is something I’ll do more of, so I decided I wanted to buy one. I also know that fit is really important, and finding someone who has a pack that would fit me just right might be a challenge. In my book, I learned about the different kinds of packs and how to properly stuff your pack:

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I also learned about the different sizes and weights of packs- and how even just a few ounces matter. So when Bill and I went to a few different hiking stores this weekend, I knew I didn’t want a “Monster” like Cheryl Strayed’s pack in Wild but rather, something that would be light and fit my needs. Bill was recommending a 40L pack, but all of the 40L packs were over 3 pounds. (Who knew >3 pounds was “heavy”?) Then we stumbled upon the Granite Gear Blaze 60. The 60L pack weighed 2lb, 14oz, which was lighter than any of the 40L packs! And even better, it fit me well and was surprisingly comfortable! We stuffed it with about 20lbs of gear and I walked around the store for a little while- btw, if you aren’t used to walking with weight on your back, 20 pounds feels a lot heavier than you think!

I decided that this would be my pack for the Chilkoot. 🙂

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Now that I’ve got my pack, my next step is to buy some footwear and then walk around in them with my pack on and stuffed. I’m currently on the fence about what kind of footwear to get. Bill thinks I could get away with some running sneakers. I looked at the Saloman Mission XR trail running shoes and I kinda sorta fell in love with them. My biggest worry is that these won’t be enough shoe for the trail. Anyone with experience want to chime in? Should I get a more substantial boot (a light to mid) or will I be okay in trail runners?

I’m getting really excited about my trip, even though it’s 4 months away. Once I get my footwear, I’ll be ready to “officially” start training-aka walking around everywhere in trail shoes and my pack!

Who’s got backpacking tips for me??

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