Tuesday, April 17

Hip-packs & Picnics

With the unseasonable weather at the weekend I decide to pack a picnic and find a sunny quiet spot on Sunday. Rather than fill a day sack I adopted my usual hot weather approach and filled my hipbelt pack instead.

I first came across the benefits of this many years ago. An old bumbag, cheap and cheerful at the time but still in service today, was increasingly accompanying me on short local walks during the summer. It held sundry bits and pieces in lieu of my lack of any trouser or jacket pockets. With water scarcity at the height of summer I found myself increasingly overstuffing the bag, until I finally decided to buy the cheap alternative that you see here. (Cheap it may be. But please note there's enough compression strap options to hang myself if the whimsey takes me)

This is now my regular 'pack' for local stuff, carrying camera, food, water, book, map, mp3/radio, dictaphone, mob tel, Montane paclite etc etc . The trick is not so much the volume it will take, but more the overall weight load to ensure it remains comfortable on the hip.

Compared to a pack once it's on, it's forgotten. No sweaty back. No fumbling for things. I just slide the pack around from where I normally wear it, bag fitted at my lower back, and then I can help myself to things as I move along.

I'd not recommend it for a full day's outing, but for 3-6 lb loads it's a cheap and easy alternative to consider.

Last year I met an American (speed?) walking the Coast to Coast route above Patterdale. He was wearing a special yank customised version, which I felt at the time to be taking the ultralightweight thing a little too far bearing in mind weather and high level route.

I was carrying 3 litres of water due to the extreme hot weather. He had 1 bottle, little visible emergency gear, a GPS and a map. Travelling light. If by chance the weather did turn inclement I'm sure he could have quickly dropped down off the ridge to the valley.

But did I mention his poor walking partner trailing in his wake. I think there may have been a little bit of misshared loading judging by her backpack size. But that wasn't going to a lot of use really as the gap between the two was typically about 20 mins apart. More than enough to nicely seperate them if the route finding turned sour. Talk about hare and tortoise in action.

A question of balance and perspective?

I bought my no-namer hip-pack for less than a tenner two or three years ago, initially as an experiment. Today its still going strong and in regular use through the summer.

So next time your picking through the tourist shop tat or outdoor bargain bin, maybe you might decide to give a cheap version a try?

Personally I think I could manage to stow enough gear for a local fine weather bivvy, including cooking gear and food. A little spartan but this is a small/medium pack. There are a number of options if a little lateral thinking is applied.


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