Stuff We Need: The Evolution Of The Backpack

mindshiftI haven’t posted an installment in my Stuff We Need series in quite a while, and I’d like to think it’s because I’ve made progress in my effort to curtail my overall need or perceived need for stuff.

However, I LOVE hiking and traveling and other activities where I’m on the go and need to comfortably carry stuff that I legitimately need on outings — e.g. layers, water, food, guide book, wallet, keys, camera, etc. — and a backpack is still the best solution.

Yet, backpack design has remained remarkably static for many years. Oh, they’ve become lighter, more comfortable, and able to carry a wider assortment of items, but as anyone who has used one knows, for all of their convenience, they’ve always had one serious convenience flaw: In order to access the contents of the backpack you must take the pack off in order to access all of the good stuff inside.

Well, thanks to a post over at Gizmodo, I found evidence that backpack designers are finally trying to solve this problem, via three packs that address this access-to-stuff issue in three different, interesting ways.

First up, the Paxis, which has a compartment attached to a swingarm:


Very cool idea, I’m sure it uses aluminum to keep the weight down, but I’d worry about the hinge and/or the swingarm getting bent or broken. Accidents certainly do happen, and backpacks are usually tossed around a lot in transit and at camp.

Next up, a commenter at Gizmodo linked to a similar concept by MindShift Gear called the rotation180° Panorama:

91ASTQb - Imgur

Definitely seems like a simpler take on the same basic idea, with less bulk, less added weight, and no big aluminum parts to bend. It’s made specifically for photographers, but I don’t see why you couldn’t store things other than photo gear in the movable compartment.

Finally, Gizmodo found the Paxis at Gizmag, and the Gizmag post links to a very different concept, the Wolffepack:


I’d worry about the cord that the pack is lowered by, that it could get snagged, tangled, or cut, but the advantage of the Wolffepack is that you gain access to the whole pack, not just one small compartment.

Overall, these are promising out-of-the box ideas and evidence that backpacks are indeed evolving.

Eyecatchers: 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

NationalGeo12-croppedIf, like me, your family had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine when you were a kid, before you learned to love reading, one of the reasons you LOVED the publication was because you didn’t have to read the articles to learn amazing things about the world beyond your neighborhood, town, city, etc.

Reason: The photography was mind-blowing — pictures are worth a thousand words, as is often said — and one could dwell on these pictures, could dwell IN these pictures, could get lost in these pictures.

One of the most popular posts I’ve ever published here at Fish & Bicycles, from July 2012 and titled Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles, featured the photography of one of the magazine’s most acclaimed photographers, and the images I included in that post serve as fine examples of how photography can tell us so much about a place and its people, people in places we’ve never been or may never visit.

In addition to teaching us so much about the planet we inhabit, National Geographic has inspired millions of people to try their own hand at photography, and a fitting testament to how inspirational the magazine has been to so many is their annual Travel Photo Contest, where anyone, amateur or pro, can submit photos for prize consideration.

This Eyecatchers installment, was inspired by a selection of 2015 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest entries handpicked by The Atlantic, and features my favorites from this selection. (Please be sure, though, to visit The Atlantic in order to read the very informative captions to each photo.)

If you’re busy and have a lot on your plate, you might want to consider setting a timer with a loud alarm, as I will not be held responsible for readers getting lost in these photos and losing track of time. :)
















Fish & Bicycles Is Back!

Vacation in southern Nevada and Utah was awesome, and I hope folks enjoyed the photos I was able to post while I was on the road.

Needless to say, there was much to photograph in the canyonlands that my wife and I visited throughout the week, I’ve got one more for you today, from just west of Zion National Park, and followed by that, since we were still in peak hiking habit upon our return, and I was so pleased to see water and greenery after so long in the desert, a snapshot from the Chuckanut Ridge Trail, overlooking the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands, just a few miles from our home.


Salish Sea

Bacon, or Geological Formation?

Bryce Hoodoos


Reeds & Trees – Calf Creek


Zion Narrows Columbine