I bought a new backpack, then tried to remember the last time I had a brand new one. Probably 1977, when I got one of the first internal frame Jansports. Wore that pack out as a wilderness ranger, and subsequent years exploring the northern Rockies. Later, I was given a pack as a gift, but it never fit right. I’ve used lots of packs that belong to my employer. I’ve been ready for something besides the big old Lowe Alpine that I use to haul work gear. It’s like a giant bucket with straps. And small day packs just don’t have the suspension I need now that that I have so many miles on me (I had written old and crusty here, but decided to backpedal).
So I drove to Olympia to get this pack, and I cannot say enough nice things about Alpine Experience at 408 Olympia Avenue. First of all, there aren’t many distributors for Bergans packs in the US. I was looking for comfort and durability, and this brand was highly recommended. Next, the personal customer service at Alpine Experience is outstanding. The young man who helped me showed me all the pack’s features (built-in rain cover!), answered my questions, and adjusted the fit. We discussed the current trend in lightweight gear, and agreed that it’s not well-designed or constructed for people who use their gear a lot. Trail crew people insist on outside pockets–you need to be able to find the tool you’re looking for without deconstructing your whole load.
So it was a lovely retail experience. Go to this store and buy stuff from them. The alternative is a huge Seattle-based outdoor store that Jon declared has gotten “foofy”. And I think they’re awfully corporate, expanding and trying to be all things to all people. Don’t feel like they are interested in serving outdoor professionals. There are plenty of outdoor retailers online, but sometimes you want to go to a real store, try on real stuff, and talk to real knowledgeable staff. Check ’em out:
My new pack is so clean that I don’t want to inaugurate it at work. So a solo trip to the mountains on my own time is definitely in order…