A week into our hike, it was obvious my old backpack and rain jacket had seen better days. The aches and pains and chills that I didn’t need to have came from a source that could be replaced. And so it was that we spent my birthday gear shopping.
I knew a new pack was in order. Having tried several on at REI I knew what wouldn’t work. Virginia carted us to Ellijay to meet Travis, who runs North Georgia Outfitters. Based on my descriptions, he’d set aside an Osprey Aura 65, which fit just right. Unlike my circa 1999 pack, it’s optimized for organizing long distance hiking, with my favorite feature an external pocket for rain gear.
Other replacements included a new rain jacket, dry bags that stay dry (Walmart ones did not) and a Thermarest for John – the old Ridgerest is now in pieces serving as sit-upons curved perfectly to cover logs. We picked up a folding water bucket to make water filtering easier, and it double duties as a carryall.
Yes, new gear costs money, and thus my reluctance to upgrade until it was obvious that gear failure could endanger us. Back on the trail with the right gear, the hassle and pain factors caused by gear are gone. Now it’s the non-gear-related physical and mental weariness we can focus on.