Did you ever realize what a lifesaver the backpack is? Think about how many vitals the average wilderness pack transports on a given trip--food, clothing, shelter, hydration. If you need it, the backpack holds it.
To a point. If you happen to need something completely oblong, large, heavy or awkward, the average backpack might not be able to help you out. If you're trying to shove 50 lbs. of camera equipment or a few fishing rods into your pack, you might be out of luck. Unless of course, you have one of these specialized packs.
Clik Elite Packs
Let's face it, as much as I love to write, I'd be nowhere without a couple of pictures to illustrate my tale. Words alone just can't do the outdoors justice. If you're the type that likes to bring home footage of your every escapade, and like to do it on something a little more substantial than a $120 8-megapixel point-and-shoot, you've probably noticed that carrying a camera body and lenses around isn't the most comfortable thing to do.
Clik Elite makes it a little more comfortable and streamlined with a line of sport-specific packs that hold camera equipment and the other essential tools of the trade. They have backpacks, lumbar packs and chestpacks designed for pursuits like skiing, running and hiking. The packs include special compartments and straps to keep equipment like camera, lenses, battery packs and tripods organized and accessible, letting the photographer's lifeblood flow freely. The packs include hydration sleeves and storage for other essential gear of the sport in question. As a snowboarder, I'm naturally drawn to the Contrejour, but you can find one for your specific needs.
Glacier New River Pack
Could you imagine trying to shove a fishing pole, wet waders and dirty wading boots into your average backpack? Your gear would be a tangled, soaking, muddy mess of hooks, fishing line and sheer mayhem. Plus it would smell like worms, minnows or whatever bait was the flavor of the day. Not cool.
Now imagine sliding your pole into a hard tube, attaching that with the specially designed strap on the side, throwing your wader boots into a mesh compartment designed for that very purpose, placing your waders in a holder designed to dry them, and keeping the rest of your gear and clothing clean and protected in the main compartment. Much better? Much better.
The New River Pack costs $150.
Granite Gear Rat Packs
More than just a whimsical name, these packs are the perfect accessory for the weekend warrior. You want to be out backpacking the Continental Divide, but instead you're stuck in the rat race bike commuting to work each day. But the weekend, that's all yours.
That's why the Rat Packs transform from standard briefcases designed to hold laptops and papers and such to hydration-compatible backpacks. Why buy two big hunks of nylon when you can get by with one.
Built on Granite Gear's Vapor frame, the packs include stowable shoulder straps and hip belts and a removable pad to protect your laptop. Features that will serve you well both in the forest and on the subway include ear-bud pockets, tough Cordura build and external zip pockets. The Rat Race (pictured) runs $190, the Rat Pack $200 and the larger Rat Patrol runs $250.
And if you're more of a full-week warrior, consider Granite Gear's new Nimbus Core to fend the grizzlies off.