Yesterday I decided it was time to get a new day-pack. It's getting hotter outside so I need to carry a lot more water and my trusty pack of over two decades -- the Voyager from Ultimate Direction -- wont hold the larger water reservoirs and I don't want to stuff it full of bottles.
After looking at all the new packs at REI, I settled on their store brand REI Stoke 19 Pack. It's as light as a feather which means I can double the amount of water I usually take and still be lighter than my old pack. I never considered 4 pounds empty to be heavy but the Stoke 19 is about 1/4 that with a total weight of less than 20 ounces. They also have a Stoke 9 Pack which is substantially smaller and lighter.
The 1200 cubic inch cargo section has 2 zippered compartments and 2 mesh side pockets. The hip belt has two additional zippered pockets. Behind the back panel is an additional pocket for an optional 2 liter water reservoir. I had no problem fitting a 3 liter CamelBak reservoir into it.
As weird as this may sound, this pack is much smaller than it looks here, but when you actually see how small it really is, you realize it's much bigger than seems. Got that?
The only complaint I have is that it doesn't have any lashing points for attaching things -- like my hiking poles -- but then again it's wasn't intended for this type of use. My mother is great with sewing so when I go to visit, I might ask her to stitch on a few.
This morning I took it for a 7 mile hike and I found it to be a hell of a lot more comfortable than my Voyager and as unobtrusive as a standard hip pack. It was also a lot more breathable. One cute little feature that I didn't even notice until half way through my hike was a tiny whistle built into the sternum strap. How funny. I also didn't realize the height of the sternum strap could be adjusted so for the first few hours it was the hiking equivalent to having my shorts pulled up to my chin. All fixed now.
Today's hike was a combination of many trails, which actually marks the occasion that I have now hiked every single dirt trail in Usery Mountain Regional Park. There are a few washes left to explore, but I don't like to spend a lot of time in them because they're just a pain in the ass to walk through. Walking in deep gravel is not fun when trying to cover many miles.
While on the Meridian Trail segment, I ran across this nice little rattlesnake. She had 10 rattles and wasn't afraid to use them. Oh wait, she was afraid which is why she used them.
Contrary to what one might think, rattlesnakes make hikes a lot more interesting and enjoyable because you have to be alert and watchful at all times. Otherwise, as the miles pass it goes from being adventurous to just being zoned out trudging along until you're done.
One last random tidbit… just after I met the snake, I found a Mylar helium balloon that said "Congratulations!" How did they know so fast? If you're wondering, yes, I crumpled it up and tossed it into my pack as trash.