The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday 30 October 2008

A Shiny New Backpack

During our trip to the Lakes at the end of August I had to conclude that my Osprey Aura 35 was not miraculously going to become comfortable. The 35 litre had been my summer short-trip pack and my winter day pack (I know it’s a bit big for the latter purpose, but in the absence of a lottery win, I’ve opted for a size which can reasonably be used for both purposes) but for reasons unknown it proved to be a lot less comfortable in use than the 50 litre model. Soon after that trip, the 35 litre was off my hands and I then sat back and did nothing about replacing it, having no need at the time for a pack of that size.

However, I did have a bit of a gap in my range of packs and with winter setting in I could no longer escape the fact that my 14-litre daypack is too small to carry the gubbins that I like to have with me for a cold-weather day on the hills, and my next size up (45lt) was too big. A new pack was in order.

I’ve considered various makes and models, but another OMM pack seemed like an obvious choice, as I’d got on so well with the fit of the Villain.

And the obvious supplier of such a pack was Not wanting to buy a pack without having a look and feel first, and with a couple of models in mind, a trip down to Malvern to play in Bob’s gear-room was called for, which is exactly where we went this morning.

After being greeted with mugs of tea, delicious still-warm-out-of-the-oven cake (you just don’t get that sort of service at other outdoor shops!) and having had a good chat it was time to fondle kit.

Bob was absolutely right in the advice that he’d given me on the phone and so I came away with the OMM Jirishanca 35RL MSC. It’s almost identical to the Villain MSC 45+10RL (with which I walked LEJOG), except that it’s smaller and has a different backpad (the Jirishanca is supplied with a folded pad which for the very-lightweight enthusiast can be used as a remarkably thin half-length sleep mat, which in turn can be velcroed to a second pad to give a full length mat).

With the backpack choice made, our attention turned to other toys.

The one item that I’ve wanted since I first saw it but couldn’t justify buying on its own was one of the little silk shopping bags. I got fed up on our LEJOG finding myself having to buy a big bag-for-life to transport groceries back to a campsite only to then throw it away. The silk bag is perfect for slipping into a pocket for such shopping trips: it’s minute and weighs nothing.

Mick couldn’t resist a purchase either. He came away with a pair of the Raidlight gaiters, which will hopefully reduce the time spent fishing grit out of his shoes.

Other interesting new items were seen too, including: the incredibly small and light walking poles; the lightweight hip-flask with built-in shot glass; the light plastic glass cases (a difficult item to find in my experience - I finally managed to track one down a few weeks ago)

With purchases made, and before we set out for a quick amble on the Malvern Hills, it was time to see the prototype of BPL’s new stove...

…which is a subject that deserves a post all of its own…

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