So I’m heading to Belize and
Honduras Mexico at the end of the month, and I need a new backpack. I’ve got a couple wheeled packs, and some large duffels which work well if you’re not moving around much, but I’m backpacking at least two countries this time, so they’re out.
The last time I was in Central America was for a 3 month backpacking trip a few years ago, and I took along a 70 litre pack. That backpack was far to big even for that extended trip, and it tended to weigh me down a lot. Unnecessary gear left and right.
Earlier this week, I noticed that my right knee was giving me problems again, and I couldn’t remember what had caused the knee problems at the time, but in thinking about it, I remembered that at one point during that trip to Central America I had ended up lifting the pack with all my weight on my right knee, and it buckled under the strain of weight. Thus, another good reason to find a smaller, lightweight pack.
I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of money, wanting to get it down around the $60 range for a descent 3000 to 3600 cubic inch pack. If need be, a friend of mine was willing to lend me his pack that he had with him when I met up with him in Nicaragua. It’s a pack he’s used over the last 12 years through many a backpacking trips around Asia and the Americas, and he’s no longer using it since he got a new one for Christmas last year. It was a definite consideration, and an offer I would have taken him up on if I couldn’t find one to suit my needs and my budget. Although it must be said that I prefer not to take anything with me that I wouldn’t feel comfortable parting with as a result of theft or some other unfortunate incident, and someone else’s gear is something I wouldn’t feel comfortable parting with, so the search for a new backpack was on.
I started looking on Amazon as well as a few other places (EMS.com, SierraTradingPost.com, and Altrec.com), and eventually I stumbled upon the Kelty Redwing 3100 pack, that was the right size and right price range. Basically exactly what I was looking for. The reviews for the pack were stellar, and I took note of the fact that a few of the reviewers had used it on 2 to 3 week backpacking trips in different parts of the world, so it would definitely work for my 2.5 week trip to Belize and Honduras. And unless you’re a glutton for punishment (as I was with that stuffed to the brim 70 litre pack), this medium size pack is perfect for almost any trip where winter clothing is not part of the equation.
I also noticed that this JanSport Wasabi Core Series Daypack in Cabesa Blue was on sale, something I came across while searching for travel gear and outdoor bargains for my deal site. Knowing that my other Jansport pack had one of the straps half torn off from abuse (jamming it full of gear, usually heavy books (replaced now with the Kindle)) I figured I’d pick it up too. My current Jansport could probably see me through this trip and couple more as my daypack with some extra care (not my specialty when it comes to gear), so at this price ($23) I figured I should pick it up as well, as I’ll need another good daypack soon enough. But after deciding on the wood green Redwing 3100 pack by Kelty, and looking again at the color of the Jansport Wasabi that was on for cheap, I noticed that the colors would be too contrasting. I’m not too concerned about being fashionable, especially when backpacking, but I don’t want to look like I’m color blind either. So I figured I should probably find a different daypack that was more color compatible with my new pack. The consensus seemed to be that the Kelty Redstart 1600 was an excellent daypack, it was about $10 more than the Jansport was, but the reviews were excellent, and it looked really good. I wasn’t able to get it in the same wood green as the other Kelty pack (a good thing), so the black would suit fine, as black can go with almost any other color.
Then it was just a matter of finding the best possible price. I notice while on Amazon that BackCountryEdge had the Kelty Redwing 3100 pack for a couple dollars cheaper, and I couldn’t remember if they were the store that offered an additional 10% off instant rebate at checkout, so I went to check it out. And upon loading up the BackCountryEdge page, I noticed that there was an even better offer for 12% off your first order (it’s RockyMountainTrail.com that offers an additional 10% at checkout plus free shipping on $35) if you signed up for the email newsletter, perfect. This brought the price of the Kelty Redwing 3100 Backpack down to $53, and it also brought the Kelty Redstart 1600 day pack down another $4 to $32, both with free shipping and no tax for me. Amazon would have charged me tax, as Amazon has a presence in North Dakota where I get my American orders shipped to since I’m in Canada. And most US online stores don’t ship to Canada, or if they do, it costs a fortune in shipping and often results in additional brokerage fees.
I placed the order in the wee morning hours, somewhere around 2 am, and this morning when I got up I noticed a BackCountryEdge email stating that the order had already shipped. Great turnaround time.
Having picked up the backpacks yesterday, the only thing left is to give the spanking new backpacks a pretrip workout. I’ll have to find some mud and gravel somewhere (kinda hard in -30 degrees Celsius weather, so I’ll probably end up making some in house) and give them a rubdown so that the don’t look so shiny and new when I’m hiking around Belize and Honduras. Nothing says I’m an easy target to would be thieves like a shiny new backpack, especially in a poorer country. Give it a nice rubdown of dirt, maybe throw on a few pieces of ducktape, and some coffee stains here and there for that extra travel worn affect.
Here’s hoping those sharks and stingrays are still hanging out in the cave at the split in Caye Caulker when I arrive.