Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kissing Frogs

Preparing for a 500 mile trek across Spain along the Camino de Santiago takes much more than just walking and hiking.

Making sure you have proper foot wear is the first and most important consideration; which I addressed here.

Having the right backpack is also of utmost importance. And, considering that I will be walking between 5 to 8 hours each day, keeping that backpack burden down to a reasonable weight is crucial.

I have spent much time looking over packing lists, backpack recommendations, and other issues about what to carry and what to leave behind.

When I was told that "You don't pick the backpack; the backpack picks you." I didn't take it too seriously. I wanted to keep the weight to a minimum, so I went out and bought the lightest weight ultra-light backpack. I found out quickly that it wasn't working, as my shoulders were aching after walking for only a few hours. So I returned the ultra-light and started researching and learning more about backpacks.

They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Yeah, well, I found out it's the same type of deal with backpacks, when looking for a perfect match.

I went to the two biggest outdoor outfitter stores in my area. And they really do take it serious when helping find the right backpack for you. I spent hours with the experts trying on backpacks. They not only fit you for the pack. They load it with weights and have you walk around the store for an hour or 2, to make sure it is "Mr. Right".

When properly fitted, the backpack should rest on the hips and put no strain or pressure on the shoulders at all. The burden is carried on the hips, and it becomes effortless, just like carrying a baby on the hip.

Believe me, it wasn't love at first sight. It took me many visits to both outdoor outfitter stores before I found my prince. And when I did, I knew it the minute I put it on.

Meet Mr. Right. The Gregory Jade 35

So, I happily take my training walks carrying 15 to 20 pounds for 5 or 6 hours very comfortably.
And I learned a valuable lesson...listen to the experts.
Happy Trails


  1. Yes that helps, Rita... When we bought our hiking boots, we went to a professional place where they helped us get the best foot ware possible. It was more expensive---but those boots feel so good. We also paid a fortune for some great, heavy socks.

    Love your backpack. I think it's true---the backpack chooses YOU.


  2. Hi Betsy
    Good gear is more expensive, but it is certainly worth it in the end!! I haven't had a blister yet with my HiTech boots. And, my backpack really is perfect for me.

  3. I used the same pack that you have for the camino last year. LOVED it. Still do. I continue to use it for longer day hikes. Reminds me of the camino. I look forward to following your blog.

  4. Hi Mom! I googled to find your blog! Its great. I will bookmark it. Keep up the good work (I know you will!) Love, Susan

  5. HI Rita,
    Love your post title - it had me wondering! I hiked on Tues. with my friend who did the Spanish Camino. She is now planning to hike the French portion in the spring. Glad you found your prince!

  6. Hi Marjorie
    Well it's good to know that"my prince" has already done a Camino. He should hold up fine!! Hehehe.

  7. Hi Barb
    I am glad that I found my prince too :)
    It makes carrying all that weight so much easier with a well fit backpack.
    Less than 3 weeks and I will be on the Camino.

  8. Hey Sue Glad you found me!
    Love you, Mom

  9. Nice to know that you found the right pack for you, this is a big deal! Do you have the right shoes? This is all so exciting.

  10. Rita

    You're a real inspiration! We're proud to feature you on; September 1.
    We're following you and cheering you on!

    What an adventure!

    Beth and everyone at Adventure Woman Basecamp.

  11. Hi Tammie Lee
    My HiTec boots are wonderful. they fit perfect, no problems and I love them.
    Yes it is really getting exciting. Almost time to get on the road!!

  12. Hi Beth and everyone at Adventure Woman!!
    Thanks for all your encouragement and support.

  13. Your adventure sounds like it will be a great experience!! Looking forward to following along on my computer!


  14. Hello LLL
    Thanks for stopping by. Only 7 days before I am on my way to Spain, they say the pilgrimage is life altering. i expect it will be very interesting.

  15. Gregory makes perfect backpacks, I had one for eight years until I lost it in an accident. Nowadays I use a ULA Ohm which is "My princess" =)

    You got a nice and informative blog, and as I plan to walk the Camino next year or the year after I shall be following you closely and learn what I can!

  16. Hi Hendrik M
    I like the Gregory, it fits me fine and is very comfy.
    I hope you enjoy your Camino next year. Preparing for it is lots of fun. I have enjoyed learning and reading and buying my kit. It has all kept me motivated. Now in just a few days I will be on the Camino. It is like a dream!!!
    Buen Camino!!