It was 28°C (83°F), and the humidity was up. My back had been a little bit off of true for the last year (sneeze-and-your-knees-might-give-out sort of pain), and while I had been looking forward to a nice wilderness hike, I dreaded the consequences should my health and fitness not meet my needs on the trail. By past standards, it was a relatively easy hike of less than ten kilometres (6.2 miles) a day, but it would be my first real exertion since my previous trip, in November. With my back and the broken terrain in mind, I packed quite lightly, and was looking forward to testing a new piece of kit that seemed quite appropriate — the Ribz Front Pack from Ribzwear.
Read the full review
I occasionally wonder if I talk too much about the woods. I probably do, but that doesn’t deter me in the least. It warms my heart to see evidence of that sort of passion elsewhere, too, and makes me feel less like a deviant.
I’d like to share a recent example of just this type of thing.
I have two friends that have recently become backcountry hiking partners. They’ve both taken quite readily to the outdoors, and are as passionate as I am when it comes to hiking and canoeing and, if it can be believed, gear. One of them recently got married, and the other was a groomsman at his wedding.
I submit, for your pleasure and perusal, his wedding toast:
Looks like there’s a new pack in the works [update: The pack is now available for purchase. If you know of anybody who has tried it out, please don't hesitate to add your thoughts to the comments below]. It may be a bit on the pricy side, but some might not mind paying that much for a pack, if it delivers on its promise, and can last them a lifetime. I expect no less from any quality tool, and a pack is just as crucial a tool for your comfort, organization, and mobility in the woods.
Whether it lives up to the hype remains to be seen, since past Ray Mears products have seemed a tad silly (like the ~$50 luggage tag, or the ~$100 belt). I don’t doubt that the products are good quality, but the premium pricing seems to bank only on the celebrity name association, while not bringing any extra value to the table.
By the description of this pack, however, there seems to be promise. I’d be very interested to see this pack in action.
- Total volume: 90 litres
- Volume of main compartment: 58 litres
- Volume of side pockets: 10 litres each
- Weight: 1.8 kg
- Fabric: Waterproof 1,000 denier Cordura Nylon
- Colour: Olive Drab
- A bespoke item, produced in small numbers
- Designed by Ray Mears
- Exclusive to Woodlore
- Made in Great Britain
- Large main compartment with PU Nylon snow valance and drawcord closure
- Spacious lid with elastic trim and buckle closures
- 2 x fixed side pockets with buckle closures
- External front pocket with lockable zip closure
- External, slim-profile pocket on lid with lockable zip closure
- Concealed, slim-profile pocket on underside of lid with zip closure
- Drain holes fitted in the main compartment and side pockets
- Heavy-duty YKK zips used throughout
- Contoured and padded shoulder straps with adjustable top-tension buckles
- Adjustable chest strap
- Adjustable, heavy-duty waist strap with extended padding on hip area
- Lightweight internal metal frame, housed in fabric sleeves
- Breathable and padded mesh-lined back panel, for improved comfort and air flow
- Sturdy grab handle
- 2 x full-length internal storage sleeves on back lining, perfect for SAM splints (not included)
- Velcro loops for tidying away excess shoulder strap webbing
- Embroidered Ray Mears Bushcraft logo on front pocket
See the full product page and details on the official Ray Mears site.
Gear: Fit is everything. Good gear selection comes from knowing what you want out of it, and a large part of finding that out is by knowing what it’s like to deal with an inferior product, or having to improvise to fill an unanticipated need along the way.
I wrestled with myself for quite a bit before deciding how to approach this article. I’ve wanted to write a “getting started” guide for a while, but this post has – like the gear list it touches on – evolved into a direction all its own.
Over the years, I’ve collected and invested in a fair amount of gear, some of it quite expensive, some of it ridiculously cheap, and some not at all used for its intended purpose. With all the gear on offer by outfitters, it can be overwhelming for new and experienced outdoors enthusiasts alike, both from a choice and cost perspective.
So how does one maintain balance? How do you decide what to buy, beg, borrow or build. And then, what to bring?
I came across an article on this subject from the Ontario Parks Insider enewsletter. It’s a quick overview of the main tasks to think about when you’re squirreling your gear away for the off-season, or just to give your gear a good clean after some hard use.