Standing in Walmart, rows and rows of similar packs hang on the wall in front of me. All the choices overwhelm me. What do I want? How does one decide? I don’t want to buy the cutest or one that is too big or too small. But what is just right? Reading the labels, I can eliminate half the selection because they don’t have the water bags in them. It is more beneficial to buy a pack with the hydration system in it. Water is half of what I want to carry on my hikes. There are packs that only hold water, ones that have about double the space as the water bag, and ones as big as a school backpack. The small ones are too small; I have a few things I want to take on the trail with me. I know I can carry a heavier bag because I carry a book bag or two to school every day. But, this will be for longer periods of carrying time. I eliminate the big bags on principle. So I am down to two styles, and I choose based on the water capacity and the carrying space. It is the middle most bag in size. I can choose between red and blue. The blue is bright so it will be seen but not stand out too much like the red. I have an issue with my colors standing out too much, and looking at the red bag, I have visions of Katniss in the Hunger Games trying to camouflage her bright orange bag.
At home, I spend several weeks worrying that I have purchased a bag that is too small for a properly stocked day-pack. I haven’t packed it yet, but I still worry. Will it hold all the important hiking paraphernalia? Whatever that may be. I have only hiked with my water bottles so far, but between needing to get used to packing a bag with me and for being prepared, I need to carry more. Besides, having a hydration pack will certainly be better than having my hands full with my water bottles.
The night before my planned hike, I gather the items that I have and know I need and pack them into the bag. I clean and fill the hydration pack breaking the mouthpiece open as directed. The bag is heavy but not as heavy as my daily school bags. It also has room if I decide I need more items. I just have to add my fruit, ID, and phone on my way out the door. I don’t think I would be able to throw in a light jacket, but that is something I can hang off a strap or wrap around my waist. At this point, I feel good about my choice in packs.
At the trail head, I slip on the day-pack and fasten the straps at my chest and waist. Feeling the weight, I wonder how it will be in an hour or so. At least the pack sits nicely in the middle of my back and is easy enough to slip on and off. Taking a sip of water, I head out on my first lengthy hike. Even returning to my car at the end of the hike, the pack feels comfortable, and drinking water was much more effective than the water bottles that I tend to spill on myself as I try to hike or have to stop to drink. I think I have made the right choice in a day-pack.