You Know You’ve Been Backpacking a Long Time When…

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable You Know You’ve Been Backpacking a Long Time When…

Viewing 20 posts - 51 through 70 (of 70 total)
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  • #3708658
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Regarding externals/internals: re, Rex’s post, it just goes to show that our bodies are all different and one size doesn’t fit all.

    I grew up with the mantra, weight on the frame, frame on the hips. The notion is to carry pack weight with your legs, which are by far the most powerful muscles in our bodies. My experience with internal frame packs is the mirror image of Rex’s: I can’t get a frameless (or nearly so) pack to be comfortable. I find they require that I use my body’s skeleton and muscles to act as the frame; and I have trouble transferring weight to my hips. I really hate carrying the pack on my shoulders and with my back muscles. Heavier internal frame packs with solid frames and hip belts do allow weight transfer. but then…they may as well be external framed packs. There are no weight savings.

    For me the real clincher is having to carry a bear canister. Hard to make those comfortable in an internal frame pack.

    Ian H
    BPL Member


    Loving the heavy nostalgia!

    I’m an Aussie so not sure if disposal store H frame packs were a big thing in the US. Mine was a steel frame with a canvas body, about 5 or 6kg. Filled with a fibrepile sleeping bag, jeans, wool jumper, tinned food etc, and my first multiday bushwalk was 40kg 12 year old me carrying about half my body weight.

    Summer in the Blue Mountains and I ended up unconscious with heat exhaustion.

    Took the pack to the UK as a 21 year old backpacker in 1980, it was still too heavy, so ditched it for a Berghaus Cyclops Zappelli (less than half the weight). The Zappelli is still in service as my shopping bag when I buy the 15kg dogfood bags, but primitive by today’s standards. The hip belt is basically seatbelt webbing, and the shoulder straps have a bit of old Ensolite or similar in them.

    John “Jay” Menna
    BPL Member


    Locale: 30.3668397,-97.7399123

    Does anyone actually still carry a Sierra Cup?

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Found this classic film can from the 60’s, which my Boy Scout troop made into “10 essentials” emergency kits 50 years ago: 2 band aids, 2 iodine pills, matches and striker, 12” x12” piece of folded up aluminum foil for widescreen and flashing light at rescuers, bright orange streamer for the same use, signaling instructions, razor blade, fish hook and 15’ of line.

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    @GearMaker – That had to be a fun find!

    Sierra cup?  No way for all of the reasons already cited.  A couple of years ago my sister gave me a titanium Sierra cup as a birthday gift.  It’s lighter than the steel ones, but still worthless!

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    At one point in the late 1970s, I was going to get Rich, Rich I Tell You, from selling hand-painted Sierra cups.

    Painted a few with themes like bootprints, pine trees, and mountains. Realized how little money I’d make while breathing paint fumes all day. Gave up.

    They’re long gone now.

    — Rex

    Cameron M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Los Angeles

    @gearmaker  Your 10-essentials kit reminds me of my homemade snake-bite kit, which included a few things like a razor blade and a straw carried in a tin box. At the time we were told to slice the snake bite across the fang holes in two directions and the suck the poison out with the straw. I am glad that it was never employed.

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    @cameronm-aka-backstroke: I remember that bad old advice for snake bites and glad I never needed to try it. Same with the 10-essentials kit – glad I never needed to use it.

    Michael Kirby
    BPL Member


    Locale: Whatcom County

    I grew up in Bellingham, WA, and my mother drove me several times to the original REI store in Seattle. I have fond memories of walking through that maze of a store. I still remember the smell.

    We also shopped at the Eddie Bauer store located in downtown Seattle. This was the Eddie Bauer of expedition climbing and safari hunting. You could buy an elephant gun! Their down clothing was some of the best of its kind at the time. At my insistence my mother bought me a pair of Lowa Alpstize (spelling?) boots. These boots were way to heavy and stiff for anything I needed. I even tried to rock climb in them.

    I waited months for Larry Penberthy’s first stove to come out. I went to his location near Paine Field and bought it in person. I may have met him; I cannot remember for sure. I still have one of his famous orange ice axes!

    Now, at age 64, I walk the trails in tennis shoes, easily doing 14 to 20 miles a day if I want. At 17, I would have thought this impossible.

    So, my thanks and gratitude to those of you have made lightweight backpacking possible. You have allowed me to keep doing an activity that I love.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    “I grew up in Bellingham, WA, and my mother drove me several times to the original REI store in Seattle. I have fond memories of walking through that maze of a store. ”


    I grew up on the other side of the lake from Seattle; I also have fond memories of that store. And the fall ski swap! People would line up for hours before opening hoping to get a deal. My mom outfitted me there with a cheap tent and rain pants and jacket so I could go work in the Hoh rain forest and Cascades after high school. And…it all worked!

    Sam E
    BPL Member


    My first pair of good boots in the mid 70’s was a pair of full grain Lowas.  The advice back then for fast break in was to fill them with water, let them sit for a few hours, dump them out, and then go for a looong walk.  Ideally, you would wear them until dry.  Despite following this advice and trying many combinations of socks, they never fit me well.  I remember getting layers of blisters on my heels.

    LOL – somehow I convinced my mom to buy these as my “dress shoes” since they were brown leather.  On Saturday nights, I used to cover the scratches with wax (Sno-seal?) so they would be “presentable” for church.

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    My mom bought me these Red Wings in 1968 when I turned 12 and joined the Boy Scouts. Vibram re-soled numerous times. I wouldn’t want to use them on a backpacking trip, but still in use today as work boots. When I go to any Red Wing store they oil them for free.

    The old codger in me wants to say “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”

    Elliott Wolin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia

    “People would line up for hours before opening hoping to get a deal.”

    Hours?  Surely you jest!

    The record when I lived in Seattle, mid-70s to mid-80s, was a full week!  Yes, some guy camped out in the lower parking lot in the original REI store on Captial Hill for a full week.  I think they let him have a few minutes by himself in the store to grab whatever he thought was worth waiting a week for.

    In those days they sold rental gear, seconds, blems, discontinued items, etc. really cheap, but only once per year.  Later they held multiple large sales per year.  And I recall they implemented a signup sheet so no one would have to camp out in the parking lot for a week.  A friend who lived nearby signed a few of us up really early, I think I was number 4 in line and I showed up about half an hour before the sale began.  I got a woman’s Lowe Latok (for my wife) at a really large discount if I recall.

    Jim W.
    BPL Member


    Locale: So-Cal

    In 1982 I was 17 and my base gear (not including tent):

    7.5 pounds Lowe Alpine 7500 cubic inch internal frame pack.  It was made of 11 ounce Cordura with a double bottom.  It was also the most comfortable pack I had carried to that date.

    7 pounds Snow Lion 0 degree F Polarguard sleeping bag, Long (because it was on sale).  It had much more insulation on top so for summer I flipped it over and it was pretty comfortable.

    2 pounds First-generation Gore-tex 3 layer rain coat.

    2 pounds day pack.

    5 pounds Asolo Yukon boots.  They were great boots but unfortunately my feet grew a little after buying them so they were a bit tight.  The last trip I brought them on I had a pair of the brand new Nike Lava Domes as camp/dayhike shoes.  I wore the Asolos until lunch on the first day and then carried them the next 9 days.

    3 pounds? Pentax ME Super 35 mm SLR along with a telephoto lens, mini tripod, padded bag, film.

    3 pounds? Primus stove (similar to Svea 123) with Sigg Tourist cookset.  Plus a cup, a bowl, knife, fork, spoon, cook spoon, lighters, matches, extra matches, probably some priming paste.Sigg Tourist Cook Set

    Most of the remaining weight of my 30+ pound base was just extra junk.  1 pound first aid kit.  3 ounce knife, ice axe midsummer, gaiters, changes of clothes, etc.

    I remember getting ready for a 16-day, no resupply trip.  I stripped my base weight down to the bone and got it to 24 pounds.  By that time I had a “lightweight” 5.5 pound sleeping bag.

    My hiking partner carried a full spare “Ten Essentials” kit including emergency bivy in his day pack.  Even though he had at least 2 spares of all those essentials in his main backpack.

    40 years later my back still remembers.


    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I picked up this bag back in my ski bum days about 1992 at a close out sale in Santa Cruz CA for $200. My main adventure buddy got one and called to tell me about the sale.
    More than once he and I drove to Tahoe after work on Friday when weather reports said snow was coming, pulled off on a side road near the freeway, threw the bags on CCF pads on the snow without a tent, and slept through the snowstorm.7 lbs, Goretex shell, 5+ inches of loft. Don’t know the fill power of the goose down but check out the fill weight – almost 3.5 lbs!

    John Dickson
    BPL Member


    Ah, memories you have stirred up!

    Yearly car camping and horseback camping, for a week, in Oregon and Washington, (Elk Lake, Spirt Lake, Aneroid Lake, et al) from about age 6, with my parents. No worries about gear, either the sort or the weight. Canvas tent, fiberfill sleeping bags, cot, Colman white gas stove, and lantern, cooler for food, and a rowboat on the lake (father brought an old Evinrude outboard, for fishing) all packed up in the family Chevy station wagon.

    Usually asked my neighbor, my age, to accompany us.

    Marvelous days!

    Sent to camp in the summer at age 12, with weekly camp outs, for overnight to five nights. Fiberfill sleeping bag, with all equipment rolled up inside and affixed to light pack frame.

    Cooking over wood fire, usually beside salt water. Came to despise the Boy Scout cook kits invented by Satan to torment impatient adolescent boys, which blackened on both sides and required a couple of hours with an SOS or Brillo pad to get down to bare aluminum

    Returned to the camp for 11 summers as a counselor. By this time, had graduated to a Trapper Nelson pack and frame, and carried a #6 GSW cast-iron skillet purchased at Hudson Bay in Victoria. Together with a #10 can meals were considerably improved

    When I moved to Seattle in 1969, I took a mountaineering course from Bellevue Community College. Gear changes included freeze-dried food, Kelty pack and frame, down sleeping bag, Svea 123., Sigg Tourist, and miscellaneous other light gear replacement. Weight saving with that lighter gear was blown away by the addition of rope, slings, chocks, pitons ice-axe, crampons, et., etc.

    Hiking and camping in the 20’s and 21’s. Packed weight down to 12 lbs. (however, never could cotton to frame-less packs.

    Unfortunately, my hiking days are over with development of CHF (at 78). But I have had a good run and I remember.

    A Dream of Mountaineering

    Po Chu-I (772-846)

    At night, in my dream, I stoutly climb a mountain,

    Going out alone with my staff of holly-wood.

    A thousand crags, a hundred valleys–

    In my dream-journey none were unexplored

    And all the while my feet never grew tired

    And my step was as strong as in my young days.

    Can it be that when the mind travels backward

    The body also returns to its old state?

    And can it be, as between body and soul,

    That the body may languish, while the soul is still strong?

    Soul and body–both are vanities;

    Dreaming and waking–both are unreal.

    In the day my feet are palsied and tottering;

    In the night my steps go striding over the hills.

    As the day and night are divided in equal parts–

    Between the two, I get as much I lose.

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Beautiful. More power to you.

    Sundance Key
    BPL Member


    Thank you all, what a great hike down memory lane!

    I lean minimalist in general so purged my oldest gear long ago but have always kept an old blue SNO SEAL can. One sniff takes me straight to the porch of my college apartment, where I sat to “waterproof” my first bona fide hiking boots.  It was the mid-70s, and Vasque had started making boots in women’s sizes!  When I began backpacking in high school, nobody made rugged boots for women, much less girls. Boys’ work boots were “the” option. The soles wore smooth on my first pair, from JC Penny, fairly quickly; my next pair, from the Red Wing store, proved of better quality; but getting the Vasque boots was a thrill.  I never questioned that my “wonderful” new boots weighed twice as much as my Red Wings and caused many more blisters than the Red Wings….

    Hmmm.  Do we all, still, have similar blind spots around new gear?

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    Paul McLaughlin
    BPL Member


    Ah, the good old days. I had the Trailwise frame pack – actually still have the pack, sort of. Originally, I bought the frame with shoulder straps and hipbelt and made my own packbag for it. Later on, I cut the frame down a bit and made a new, lighter bag and replaced the shoulder straps and hipbelt. Still have that version, last time I remember using it was taking the family backpacking when my boys were 2 and 7, I had to pack a lot of family gear , 4 man tent, lots of food, diapers, plus an inflatable boat. I think around 65 lbs.

    What I really wanted was a Jansport frame to put my own bag on – but they wouldn’t sell me just the frame, so I got the Trailwise. My buddies got Kelty frames and made bags – I just had to be different I guess.

    First down bag – Fairy from New Zealand. Cotton shell, no zipper. Next was a Snow Lion Ultralight.

    First tent was MYOG, a tight squeeze 2-man with mosquito netting canopy, using fabric from Kelty I think, and poles from North face maybe? Then a slightly roomier, stouter tent with vestibule for snow camping, using poles I bought from Frostline and fabric from the reject bin at the Sierra Designs factory in Berkeley.

    Ah, but here’s the best thing. In about 1971 or 2, my friend’s mom knit me some mittens out of acrylic yarn. Those, I still have and still use on every snow camping trip.

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