Among the changes that my summer brought was a marked decrease in cycling. I still pick up my son from school by bike, but that amounts to about two miles a day. My commute to the book mines had increased to 16 miles a day before I left. A big change for a dude in his filthy forties. I was worried that I might start packing on some pounds if I didn’t do something, so I did what any geek does to solve a problem: I bought a gadget.
For years I have been using an extra backpack that I had laying around for all my day hiking. It’s a sturdy old Timbuk2 bag and works fine, but it is heavy and lacks a chest strap or any of the other features that a good daypack might have. I’ve been a fan of REI’s Flash series for years. I use an old model that I got on the cheap for backpacking. My hiking buddy uses one of the small Flash 18 packs for his day hiking. I wanted a bit more in the way of features so I decided on the Flash 22.
I really enjoy gear. I like to spend time comparing the merits of different brands and analyzing the performance of the kit that I take out on the trail. I might be a fetishist, yet I think that many hikers would agree that having good gear can make all the difference between a miserable slog and an invigorating hike. Gear can also be the only thing that stands between an inconvenience and a disaster. As such, I am always on the lookout for good books about gear. Trail Tested was written by Justin Lichter, who probably wears out more gear in a year than most people ever own. He hikes thousands of miles a year and he knows a thing or two.
I continue to love my Fivefingers. I’ve been wearing them more and more on my regular days about town. Since it has been a cold and wet spring so far, I’ve been wearing my Bormios, a leather ankle boot. Their treated leather is fairly resistant to water and warmer than my Treksports.
I’ve been doing more walking lately and I’ve been enjoying it. Sadly, much like my experience while hiking, my shoes have been pretty unfriendly to my feet. In an effort to keep my feet happy I have been wearing my Fivefingers more. Though I originally bought them for hiking and the outdoors, I am using them more and more for walking about town.
I’ve started to firm up my plans for backpacking next year. I have a pair of loops that I want to do and I have the months picked out. The next thing is to start revisiting my gear. I’ve backpacked with a buddy before, but I want to be prepared to do these trips solo. That means that I will need a few necessities that I don’t already own. In addition to that, I have a couple more ‘luxury’ items that I would like to have.
It’s starting to get cold here in Little Bay Root and that means that I have to start thinking about how to keep warm on my commute. In the summer I have it easy, wearing light shirts and 3/4 length pants. As the seasons progress, I add layers. More in the morning, when it is coldest and fewer in the afternoon in a effort to stay comfortable on my bike.