Me & Zuki At Raptor Ridge


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:

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.

Church Mountain Wildflowers


Out of Office: Zion & Bryce Edition

Bryce-Canyon-11Ok, I know, I just got back from a trip!

Well, it turns out that after having gotten waterlogged, diving in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean off of northern California a few weeks ago, I need to go to the desert to dry out and warm up.

Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks, here I come!!!

It’s also a milestone trip for my family, as it will be the first time my wife and I have traveled anywhere of significance without our son, whom, at 17.5-years of age, is going through a fairly typical, if hard to accept, preference for spending time with his girlfriend and other friends.

Things will be quiet here at Fish & Bicycles until after we return on May 23rd, so, while I’m gone, if you’re so inclined, please feel free to browse around in any of the following ways:

  • Tags: In the sidebar, under Stuff About…, you can click on any of the Tags and see all the posts I’ve done that have at least something to do with those topics.
  • Recurring Series: At the top of the page, hover over the Recurring Series drop-down menu and select from options like Celebrating Progress, which applauds businesses adopting sustainable practices; Eyecatchers, a collection of photos, graphics, and videos that have, well, caught my eye; Video Fridays, my favorite video of the week pick; and more.
  • Archives: Towards the bottom of the sidebar, select a specific month to see everything I posted in that time period.


Man’s Best Hiking Companion

The Chief Kicked My Ass

Fearless Son
Ok, true confession:

I didn’t make it to the very top of The Chief.

I don’t have a total fear of heights (I’m fine with flying in airplanes, looking out windows in tall buildings, even looking over a railing at someplace like the Space Needle, for instance), but I do have a tough time when there’s a lot of exposure.

For most of the hike up, you’re climbing a trail through shaded forest. VERY strenuous, but lovely. Towards the very top, however, things open up and there are sections with fixed chains and ladders, and as you get to a certain point you can start to see how high up you are, you (or maybe just me and others like me) lose sense of where the edge is, which drops off suddenly, hundreds and hundreds of feet down to certain death.

Well, I got up the second ladder and some chains and then there was nothing to really grab onto…or so it seemed. I could see the edge to my left and Howe Sound below and in the distance, and I just froze. Nothing my son and wife could tell me about how I was just a couple of hundred feet away from the summit, and how it flattens out and isn’t scary, could de-escalate my fear, fear turned to panic, and I scrambled back down to the tree line, found a nice spot with a view and a lot less exposure, and waited for my family to come down.

My wife and son have been with me before when I’ve been spooked on the trail, and they really thought I’d be fine on The Chief. At the top, there are all kinds of people going up and coming down, people who are not nearly in as good physical condition as me, and they make it just fine.

It’s not really a dangerous place, especially on a dry, sunny day like it was, I knew all of this and could see it right in front of me, no one was slipping on loose dirt and pebbles and falling off the top and then smashed to bits below. Yet, to me, it felt like if I made one wrong move, or even, as crazy at it sounds, if the wind was to suddenly kick up, gravity would grab me and pull me right over the cliff.

I hiked back down disappointed and determined to either: 1. Better avoid hiking in areas with a lot of exposure; or 2. Research various methods for overcoming this kind of fear.

The latter would be my preference, by far. There are a lot of places on this planet that I want to explore before I’m too old to do so. I don’t really have a desire for hardcore mountaineering, but I’d like to get to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite someday, for instance, and dozens of places like that.

My sense is that it will be a matter of finding somewhere nearby where I can spend some time desensitizing myself, taking up entire days creeping out near an edge and sitting there, breathing and meditating perhaps. Mt. Erie in Anacortes comes to mind. I’ll allow all the feelings of imminent danger to rise up, allow myself to continue to think of all the horrible scenarios associated with falling and crashing, but I’ll stay in that place, noticing at the same time, despite the feelings and terrifying thoughts, that I truly am solid and safe.

And maybe, just maybe, if I do this numerous times, I’ll be able to return to The Chief, and this time I’ll kick his granite ass.