I’ve owned a small backpack for 20 years or so. It’s been my faithful companion … in the Rockies, on the beach in Cuba, and in the gym. If an inanimate object can be a friend, this is it. But my maroon and grey Bruce attachment is showing its age. The rubberized coating on the neck of the bag is pulling away in big messy globs. Plus one of my beloved liquid black pens gave up the ghost a few months ago, spilling ink over big parts of the exterior.
I decided today to replace my pack with something bright and new, and give the old one to Goodwill. It’s not like I’m recycling a person, of course. I would never do that. This is an object, and I’m willing to let it go, with sadness. So many adventures we’ve shared.
So off I went a couple of hours ago to Mountain Equipment Co-0p to see what 20 years has wrought in the world of daypacks. Turning down an aisle, I was welcomed by countless packs of every size, hanging proudly on their hooks. My eyes fell on a bright red jobbie – my favourite colour. The salesman owned this exact model and waxed poetic about its virtues. On MEC’s website, here’s what I encountered:
What sets this full-sized daypack apart from the rest is the unique Aircomfort suspension system. A powder-coated steel frame tensions a mesh back panel between the pack’s body and your back. The result is a narrow air space that allows continuous ventilation and airflow, which leads to greater comfort for the wearer. The pack also features two sets of zippers and an internal bag divider that can be quickly removed. This means that you can access the bag from the top or bottom and retrieve items without unpacking the entire bag. It’s a great size for long day-hikes.
Who am I to argue with such praise? Maybe with the price, though – $160.00. Ah, what the heck? It’s an investment. I grabbed my red treasure and headed to the till. When what to my wondering ears should appear, but a totally unexpected dollar figure – $49.00. The supervisor told me that my choice was “on clearance” because of the colour. People didn’t want a red pack. They were all for Granite/Black and Forest/Emerald though. How strange, I thought. Red is so passionate. Granite/Black is so trendy. I’ll take passionate any day.
The salesman told me that there was one more of these red packs in the store. Another $49.00 and it would be mine. First I said no. “Let someone else buy it.” Even if I intended the second one to be a gift, the double purchase seemed excessive, another example of knee jerk consumerism. Planning out my future. Making sure I have enough. But that’s wrong. The second one’s not for me. It’s a gift for a special someone in my future.
So I paid the guy $98.00 plus tax.
I now own three daypacks. One will always be in my heart. One will be on my back tomorrow and will gradually work its way into my heart. And one will help someone else move through the world.