When we first discovered El Camino de Santiago, we learned right away that we needed packs. The walking pilgrim carries all his clothes. All his accessories, like shampoo or medicines, and his bedding. So we knew we’d need packs to carry sleeping bags, clothes, and such little sundries as a compass and a map and a cat-hole trowel. (In case of emergency miles away from any bar or gas station.)
We stopped at the REI in Georgetown and told our story to the nice young man in the backpack department. He looked at us, measured, and suggested a pack. For me, the Deuter Ladies’ model, ”45L+10” it says, and with only a slight adjustment of the movable harness in the back it was fine. Mine turned out to be green. For my sweetie, another Deuter, a 40+10 men’s model, which turned out to be red. I think the “+10” refers to filling up the little top bag full of stuff.
I have learned that, while I still think my pack is wonderful, I don’t want to fill the little top bag full of things, because between that and the carry loop, it gets in the way of my hat brim. I keep having to fold the hat brim up at the back. I guess I could just wear a gimme cap—my green John Deere cap with the pink doodads and rhinestones would work—but I did buy that hat on purpose. It’s an Outdoor Research one, with a reasonably stiff brim that doesn’t flop down in front. They say it will float, too. And it has a string—what the Western rider sites call a “stampede string"—and that keeps the hat from blowing away in a stiff breeze. I can’t decide if I should just get used to having the hat brim folded up in back or give up on wearing it.It does keep the top of my ears covered.
The other thing I need to figure out about this pack—which I learned on May Day this year—is that it rests—well, the strap rests—on top of my bra strap on one side and hurts at the collarbone. And I need to figure out what to do about that. (My sweetie says I should just go unsupported. But, really, do I want the market to sag that much? So to speak.) Maybe I just need to loosen the bra strap a little, or move it to one side.
I will see the next time we walk with our packs.Which because of their padded, stiff straps and molded, padded, stiff hip straps will need a container (duffel) to go on the plane. Otherwise the straps will get snagged on something in the hold and be torn up. Or off altogether!
I was thinking about options. The Army style duffels are heavy. Make that HEAVY. They’re made of cotton canvas. I don’t want to drag that all over Spain on my back. And I’m not excited about tossing them onto the abandoned-stuff table at Biarritz airport or the first albergue. I thought about making bags to put our packs into. But I’ve never sewn this type of project before, and there is very little time left. So I think we’ll end up buying the REI pack duffels, which are light weight, won’t have to be tossed, and come with a little stuff sack into the bargain.