My backpack has jets!

Columbia River Trail

My new backpack arrived last week 🙂  Due to a rough few days, I wasn’t able to put any weight in and try it out but – on Sunday – I was finally able to do just that!  It’s fantastic and carries the weight so well that I just don’t feel any extra weight on my back and was able to motor along…as if my backpack had jets…

I am so excited:  it’s a brand, spankin’ new 2015 Gregory Deva!  I absolutely love this pack 🙂  In fact, I actually loved my old, 2007 version so much that I was planning on just sticking with it.  It’s super tough, carries weight really well, has survived serious bushwhacking, and after multiple river dunks and continuous days of rain was able to keep my stuff dry (in spite of having no rain cover); plus I’ve never experienced any type of rubbing or chaffing on my skin which can be a common ailment.   Apparently I raved about it so much that the kind folks over at Gregory thought me being an ambassador for them this year would be a good idea:  so it’s official!  I’m a Gregory Mountain Products Brand Ambassador.  I’m really stoked and have no problems singing their praises!

All of you ultra lighters out there are probably cringing and I can hear you:  “A Deva?!  Those things weigh a ton!”.  Yup, they definitely do.  It is most definitely not an ultralight (or even a light!) pack.  There is no hiding the fact that the Deva weighs more than most other packs but weight has never been my primary concern.  The Deva feels amazing on me.  I love it and it has performed so well for me.  I carried over 30 kg (~70 lbs) last summer in it with no complaints (although I better not have that much weight in it this year!).  The last couple of days, I’ve been hiking with around 9-10 kg (20-25 lbs) and I barely even register it’s on.  I notice it less than my small, day-use camel backpack I have for mountain biking.  It’s just that comfortable.

That being said, obviously weight was weighing (haha!) on my mind as I did choose to upgrade my 2007 version to the 2015 version.  My thought process was fairly simple and revolved around water carry.  With both the drought in California (and likely most of the West) and the increase in numbers of people this year,  I do not wish to rely on the kindness of strangers stocking water caches, I don’t know what the increase in numbers will mean on the limited water supply, and I expect that some of the water sources that are normally available will likely be dried up.  This means I need to carry more than the 5-6L I had been planning on and, quite frankly, a drop of nearly 2 kg means an extra 2L of water I can carry without noticing that increase.  The little extras they’ve incorporated into the 2015 version are a super huge bonus for me; including a water bladder holder and hip belt pockets.

My pack was one of the “Big 3” (also called the Big 4 as usually people incorporate sleeping pads), as they get referred to:  tent, pack, sleeping bag.  When looking at upgrading gear, these 3 combined items can really have a huge impact on the weight your carrying and your comfort level.  Thanks to Powderhound Sports, I had already significantly reduced the weight of the tent and sleeping pad.  I also scored a sweet clearance deal on my sleeping bag last summer so my whole “sleeping system” reduced significantly in both size and weight (seriously, my sleeping pad is Thermarest’s NeoAir and it packs down teeny!).  My pack was the last major item to consider for upgrade.  With this acquisition, I think I’m done for my gear now!  I’m sticking with some (unconventional) gear that I know and trust.  Not having the emotional or mental strain of wondering if my gear will work under extreme conditions means more to me than some grams off of my weight.  It’s not everyone’s style but it is mine and I’m comfortable with that.

To provide some comparison, a lot of people try to aim for that 5.5-6 kg (12-13 lb) base weight.  What is a base weight?  It’s everything you’ll be carrying excluding your consumables:  water, food, fuel.  I anticipate I’ll be around the 8 kg (17.5 lb) mark.  Most of this difference is in the physical pack (but as I will be carrying my DSLR camera, I may end up being bit more than that).

Oh! a bench: perfect for some tea and a snack.

Choices, choices:  what it ends up coming down to is what are you comfortable with and what comfort means to you.  Some don’t carry a pillow, some prefer to only have tarp, and others still may choose to carry large books.  Everyone has their comfort levels and it’s about figuring out what is most important to you.  I will have extreme comfort using gear I’ve tried and gear I can trust…especially now that it’s in my new backpack!!

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