|My new backpack with its valuable front straps.|
Earlier this year, I broke down and decided to buy a new backpack. I loved my old one, but its zippers were stripping, and the padding was crumbling away. Since I use my backpack nearly every day (either for my walk to work, a trip, or a hike), I definitely needed a good replacement that had versatility.
To make the purchase as environmentally friendly as an act of consumerism can be, my first instinct was to turn to Patagonia, the California-based maker of outdoor apparel that emphasizes environmental stewardship. Sure enough, I found a selection of backpacks made from recycled pop bottles. That made me feel better about making the purchase, but it wasn't the last good feeling I received from buying the backpack.
Considering Patagonia's sizable selection of backpacks, I had some choices to make. The choice I ultimately made taught be a good lesson. After narrowing the selection down to two possibilities, both of which provided great versatility, the final issue I had to resolve was one of price. One of the backpacks seemed like a great bargain at $89, and it came with everything I had been looking for. However, it lacked the straps that fasten in the front to secure the pack around the body. The other option, Patagonia's Jalama 28L, featured those straps but cost $30 more than its counterpart. After some deliberation, I decided the extra money might be worth it.
The first time I put my money to the test, I knew I'd made the right choice. I immediately threw my new backpack into action for a nine-mile hike at Mount St. Helens, and it exceeded all my expectations. With the straps taking pressure off my neck, shoulders, and back by securing the pack to my torso, I felt lighter and kept my legs fresh. With my old pack, which lacked the straps, I would end long hikes with heavy legs, so I was surprised by the feeling of having fresh legs after the Mount St. Helens hike. Subsequent hikes produced the same happy results, and I thanked myself for the extra $30 I had spent.
I may have paid a bit more for my new backpack, but the changes it has brought to my hiking are priceless.