Welcome to my Gear pages. Those wondering exactly what I pack for certain trips can check here. My goal for 2016 is to have a base kit that goes on practically every trip, with variations depending on the event. For example, I may combine a BIKE/HIKE/SKI trip where clothing choices will have to be adaptable. I have found that there is no combination that is static over 3 seasons or all uses, which is why (for me) it is important to be able to select from a "quiver" of gear and clothes, choosing appropriate kit for the trip at hand. I am no longer a sponsored athlete and I gladly pay full price, or an advertised sale price, for all my gear. With this in mind, let's delve into the closet.
My wife and daughter make fun of me for "getting another pack." I have a closet full of old Gossamer Gear packs dating from when I was a trail ambassador for them. Ethically I can't sell them so I keep them on hand, but with the constant reassessment of gear and usage requirements they simply gather dust. I have some specialty packs for skiing, a ski modified HMG pack that is robust and cavernous, and a Millet pack that I use for day trips. My favorite custom pack maker is Chris Zimmer at Zimmerbuilt. My daughter now exclusively uses a pack he made for her last year and I've been so pleased with some modified packs from Chris that I ordered what I call the "Ultimate Pack System" this year. This is a 3 component system, a back pack, an add on food bag, and a front pack. Good for Chris, but not for me, is an explosion in his business where he is making packs basically out straight, especially in the high season. He was able to make the back pack and the food bag for me, but unable to devote the time at the moment to the custom front pack. I will make do with my existing Zimmerbuilt front pack and/or the shoulder pouches he made for me this year.
Ultimate Pack System
The limiting factor for my smallish packs has been lugging food. I could manage up to a 3 day trip with my packs last year but it was really tight. The backpack on my system is wider, taller but thinner (4 inch depth) than my previous packs, with built in hip belt pockets. No mesh pockets, no side pockets, no daisy chains....a very clean pack made out of XPac material, so rugged as well. Since the pack is so thin, I had a full length center zipper installed vice an opening top. One of the problems I've encountered with front and back packs is digging through the contents to get what I need if the item is at the bottom. This way I can access the entire pack contents without having to take anything out. Then I addressed the food, and even water carrying problems, with a detachable custom food bag. This is also made of XPac material, a brighter blue color for ease in retrieval, that is also 4 inches in depth so a bit rectangular shaped. This allows the bag to lie and attach to the backpack without sticking out more than about 8 or 9 inches total. This still keeps the center of gravity for the pack closer in but area wise can accommodate a lot of food. With two attach points both top and bottom and a roll top design, it fits securely to my pack without sway and can be hung like any food bag. I also have female attach points on the backpack in case I want to use 3 straps to further attach gear (clothing) or cinch the whole shebang down tight. So far I have used this system on one trip with my daughter to the Channel Islands and even she was no longer teasing me, seeing the merits of this separate system. I have also used the pack on a day biking/hiking sojourn involving off trail gyrations and it sits squarely on my back with no movement. So far I am quite pleased. Click here for a review I did last year on Zimmerbuilt packs.