It hit me like a ton of bricks as I walked across the slippery rocks on the shore of Lake Huron last December, "I need a bigger pack". Three of us had made the trek from Toronto to Manitoulin Island, and had to deal with many parts of the highway being closed due to ice. By the time we got our packs on, we had about an hour of sunlight left. Within that time we had to find a suitable place to set up our camp on crown land and that was proving to be difficult. The forest was too thick to walk through quickly, and the route we took on the shore over slimy rocks was only slightly more palatable.
The three of us all weighed our packs the night before out of curiosity and a healthy dose of pride. I think the lightest pack came in at 63lbs. We had a few extra things in our packs to be ready for the cold, but unfortunately for me that meant my 50L Large ALICE pack wasn't going to cut it. An extra bag weighing 40lbs, came with us that we ended up calling the "K-19 Widowmaker". Normally 100lbs wouldn't have been out of the question, but the slippery rocks and puddles, coupled with the urgency of finding spot to sleep before the sun went down, made things pretty treacherous.
We were traveling at a snails pace, and took our packs off a few times to scope out some potential sites. The rough and uneven terrain was proving to be a difficult place to find a spot for a tent as you can see from the photo above. After our fourth try we did find a small patch of moss and rock and set up our tent in a damp puddle. We quickly made a fire, and began filtering some water. That night, rain and fog rolled in with high winds to reduce visibility to about 5 meters. While I filtered water in the dark and contemplated the next 10 days, I made a promise to myself to get a backpack suitable to longer trips.
When I got back to the city, my instincts told me to look at Arc'teryx. I did some research, and of course looked at Kifaru, LBT, Kelty and lesser geardo choices like Gregory and Osprey. None of them really offered the capacity, features and ruggedness I was looking for. I had looked at Mystery Ranch in the past and laughed when I saw the prices, but the harder I looked, the more I found amazing reviews. Not to mention they were the only company that offered a pack with the capacity I wanted, MOLLE and high level of versatility. One of my friends already had the 7500, and one of my readers contacted me and highly recommended the 6500. One thing led to another, and after a few shenanigans, I got myself a 6500 and NICE frame. So far so good! I haven't put it to the test yet, but so far it's the most impressive pack I've ever had my hands on. I'm looking forward to sharing what I find in a First Impressions review soon! Until then stay safe, and let me know what pack you like using for your outdoor adventures!