Well if it isn’t *officially* Backpack Day, it should be. On this day, ten years ago (OMG is it really ten years) I got my Osprey Aura 35 delivered. Fresh from the outdoors shop, from Osprey’s new range, ventilated and panel loading and state of the art. Time was of the essence; in three days I would start climbing up the (little did I know exactly how) steep hill towards Orisson on my first long walk. I had tried Everything Else – in shops, unseen from internet shops, second hand from Ebay – and this was last resort. Would it fit my oddly shaped curvy back and ample bottom? Would it be the Perfect Camino Pack?
Reader, it did. And it was.
It was attraction at first sight, giddy crush at closer inspection, deep and enduring love from the moment I put the fully packed Aura on my oddly shaped back and it. all. fit. Want to see this marvel for yourself? I know you do. Stunning.
Though I never really had time to do a lot of practice walking with it, the Aura performed impeccably from the first moment until the end in Santiago. Sadly, as some ventilated rigid-frame packs do, it developed a creak. A persistent, loud one. I sent it to Osprey hospital, but there was nothing they could do. And this is the proof of how good that pack was – when given an option to pick a replacement pack under Osprey’s Almighty Guarantee, I picked the same again! Aura #2 and I also went for some wonderful adventures, notably in 2014 when I couldn’t stay away from the paths of Galicia anymore and started an annual Zen top-up tradition walking from Astorga to Santiago. And though #2 also got a case of the creaks, I could never fault the design, features, bells, whistles or above all comfort. Sadly Osprey decided to discontinue this model, and though they are using the name again, the recent Auras are not the same. (Some would say better, I say bigger and heavier, but each to their own.) And so started my search for the second-best or hopefully even-better pack.
In fact, it now seems I have found an Aura lookalike for my latest adventures, the Gregory Juno. And as this is now unofficial Backpack Day, I would go so far as to call it a homage, a hat-tip to my beloved Aura, untried and perfect, that saved my first proper camino and will forever be sadly missed. What’s that? You want to see this new marvel too? Well yes of course. It is Backpack Day, so bring out the backpacks!
How similar is that! Just goes to show, when you find something good, hang on to it. If you have found The Pack For You, you should celebrate your immense luck, and what better day than today! Bring it out of the wardrobe, give it a shake and a hug (and a wash if needed) and take it for a spin down Memory lane. If you are still searching, don’t give up – The Right One is out there somewhere (but it might be in a colour you didn’t fancy, or have features you didn’t know you would learn to love). If this post makes you think that it is time to replace yours, best of luck with your search.
To all the trusty packs out there – thank you for your loyal service, hauling all our (sometimes superfluous) stuff up and down hills, along dusty plains and in the wind and rain. Thank you for providing pockets for our water bottles, protecting our stuff from the weather, gently hugging our shoulders and hips and never getting annoyed when we talk about your weight in front of other packs. Thank you for your included rain covers and built-in emergency whistles! Thank you for your bladder sleeves, pole holders and those perfectly placed mesh pockets we can reach without taking you off. Thank you for your ventilation, your padding, your clips and zips and hip pockets with that cereal bar we’d forgotten and for always having room for that last-minute thing we probably should have left at home. Thank you for tolerating our tempers and tantrums, enduring being dumped on cold floors and wet grass, forgiving us our wear and tear and occasional gaffa tape. Thank you for your reflective patterns keeping us safe in the morning darkness, your compression and drawstrings giving us flexible volume and your zipped panel designs keeping us from overpacking! We couldn’t have got there without you ❤️
Happy Backpack Day, everyone!