I’m a bag person.
I love a good bag–any kind: Tote Bags, lunch bags, pencil bags, nice paper bags, and especially backpacks of all sorts. I have a deep appreciation for daypacks, book bags, tear-drop bags, extended-day packs, even full blown hiking backpacks, though I don’t have a use for one of those anymore.
Bags are a weakness. I can’t be sure, but I think it’s because I’m also a guy who likes to take his stuff with him, and I have a lot of stuff. Going to school, for example, involves at least three bags on any given day. Fortunately, I have a good selection of bags to choose from.
I’ve got my book bag with my computers and associated paraphernalia, as I’m an itinerant elementary-grade science coach. I’ve got my lunch bag that’s actually a large tote bag holding my smaller lunch box (soft-sided) and my beverage bag. That last one holds my thermos and my water bottle. Finally, I’ve got another bag or two carrying whatever I need for my current project. That might include cameras, microphones, lab equipment, or supplies for activities and experiments.
Bags are a major part of my hiking trips as well. I know people have to wonder why I’m normally wearing a daypack on a trail that most folks hike carrying only a water bottle, if that.
Well, if you need water, of course I’ve got a bottle. Again, most folks do. But, what about a snack? I’ve probably got one of those in my pack. Lost? I’ve got a compass, just in case I need to know the general direction of the trailhead. My phone does the heavy lifting with navigation, but it’s good to be prepared.
Want to see something small? I’ve got a magnifying glass or two. Want to take a picture with a size reference? I’ve got a folding meter stick. Flashlight? Of course I’ve got one, although I didn’t that time I finished a hike by the glow of a flip phone (it’s been a while). Need to start a fire or make a sling in an emergency? There’s a lighter and a small hank of rope in my pack. Sam Gamgee knew the value of a bit of rope, and so do I.
Seeing me with a largish daypack, you might ask, “Why not a smaller bag?”
That’s where I cross the line, arguably, from need to want. Coffee, anyone? I’ve got either a thermos that’s full, or–if it’s a long day out–a small stove and the pot to boil water. Those longer days require a small coffee press, so that’s in there, too. Of course I’ve got all the fixings, as well as a few plastic sheets for my wife and me to sit upon.
For better or worse, I think the bag thing might be genetic. My wife and I gave our granddaughters daypacks for Christmas, and we’ve done our best to see that they have opportunities to use them. We gave them to the girls a few days early, and since then we’ve been on the trail twice.
Yesterday we picked them up for a short excursion, and as we prepared, we gave them their snack bags (small drawstring bags containing a cup, a few pouches of hot chocolate, a spoon, a snack, and a napkin).
The oldest said, “I’m not sure I’ve got room for that.”
With smiles on our faces, we opened her pack to find two stuffed animals and at least a dozen small plastic toys with their egg carton-like container. This was all surrounded by a good amount of Christmas gift detritus.
“Are you sure you’re going to want to carry all of this?” It was a silly question, but it had to be asked.
“Okay, but you have to carry your snack.” As it turned out, there was room. Not a lot–we had to strap her sweatshirt to the outside of the pack halfway up the trail–but there was room.
She was a trooper, and carried that pack on her seven-year-old back for more than three miles without a complaint. I’m proud of her, though I’m sorry if I’m responsible for the bag thing.
One of yesterday’s grins came as we were passing a family on the trail. We were just getting started, and they were headed toward the parking lot. A young girl, just about my granddaughter’s age, was leading the way, her arms swinging freely. Her mother, though, was carrying a large stuffed animal that I suspect wasn’t actually hers. My unspoken thought: “Shoulda given that kid a backpack, too!”