Backpacking @ 50

I remember my first experience camping with my family, the kids were very young and, just to be safe, we drove only a few hours away from home. We were fully equipped, stove pots and pans, etc. We stayed at a nice campground, electricity on site, bathrooms and hot showers nearby. That was our idea of roughing it out, ha ha!

Now, 20+ years later, the experience promises to be different, mainly because everything I could possibly need is in my backpack. I always traveled light, but this is one of those things that takes the minimalist approach to a whole new level. Luckily, I am heading out there with Zorro, an experienced hiker whose dream is to hike through the full  Appalachian Trail, 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. I have never seen him more excited. He is like a little kid going on a field trip. I can imagine him hiking on the mountains of Guatemala.

How do you prepare to rough it out for a few days? Well, buying a good backpack is a “must”. It seemed easy at first, style and value – I thought. But then you realize that you need comfort, capacity, quality, and all those come at a price. You are definitely willing to pay a little more and forget the stylish looks. After searching online and at the stores, we found a great deal at Dick’s Sporting Goods (it is one of our favorite stores and this is not a paid review, just want to put this out there for our readers). Online shopping is not for me, especially for something I will put on… I needed to try it on and get a feel for it hugging my back, chest, hips, and shoulders. My main concern is a pinched nerve on my mid-back that can cause extreme sharp pain up and down my spine. So, this purchase was not so simple.

Here is my pick:  The North Face, Terra 55, Internal Frame
  • Size: Large enough with three separate compartments, two external side pockets. Easy access to main compartment from side, top, or bottom.
  • Weight: About 4 lbs. with capacity to 55 lbs. although I only intend to carry up to 30 pounds.
  • Comfort: Extremely comfortable on my back and hips. Weight is evenly distributed. I tested it for two hours fully loaded and no issues were reported.
  • Quality: Top quality materials and well built supported frame and adjustable suspension straps.
  • Price: Great value at $119

An unexpected benefit is that it helps me keep a good posture, which helps my back. However, this is just a preview after a 2 hour test hike. I will give a full review once it has been tested on the Appalachian Trail… stay tuned!