Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back Packing in Red River, New Mexico

Pushed my nephew in this sweet off road stroller.

I have been going to the Red River, New Mexico area to hike for close to 20 years.  My grandparents took my parents, and my parents took my siblings and I.  We have hiked a lot of trails in that time!  However, I had never camped out over night.  This year, my wife and I were going to hike to Lost Lake, make camp and spend the day at the lake just relaxing.  The following morning we would summit Wheeler Peak, come back to Lost Lake, break camp and then be on our way back by late afternoon.  I wanted to use this opportunity to work on skills that I do not normally get to put into practice, such as making a fire, setting up camp, loading my pack correctly, reading the topo map and compass settings, etc.

Well, unfortunately, that did not happen.  We only had 3 full days total and there was Larry Joe Taylor's Cool Mountain Nights, Hot Chili Days events that we were going to try and attend as well.  We simply bit off more than we could chew.  We only were able to do one all morning hike up the Old Pass Trail to the signage noting the elevation at 9854 ft.  I decided to still back pack with the same load that I would have carried to Lost Lake to get a feel for it.  Prior, I had only hiked Kansas terrain with it.  Not exactly the same as the mountains!

I have to say that I am glad I did this "test run" with the pack in mountainous terrain.  The first thing I noticed was that my pace was definitely slower!  I was not used to carrying the extra equipment for an over night stay.  Not that it was incredibly heavy, but it did make a difference.  I believe my pack weighed about 30 pounds.  I also noticed that my ITB band was starting to act up like it did last time I hiked Wheeler.  I need to start stretching more and foam rolling.  My endurance and strength were good otherwise.

I was validated in my pack choice, the Kelty Redwing 50.  This pack is so comfortable for the amount of weight you can haul.  I had never had a pack with load lifters or a really good waist belt and those two features alone made a world of difference.  With the belt, my hips actually felt like they were helping support the weight.  The load lifters on the top of the shoulder straps helped get the pack off my shoulders a bit and definitely left them less fatigued.  I had read a lot of reviews that praised this pack and I can now see why.

So, I suppose the takeaway from this post for you, Dear Reader, is to give your gear a test spin before embarking on a grander adventure.  You may save yourself some headache or bodyache and you will be able to revise your selection accordingly.

Do you have any anecdotes or lessons learned from gear that did not quite live up to what you expected?  What about skills that you may not have anticipated needing to know on your trip?  Any pointers that you would like to share with other readers or myself?


  1. Looking at Kelty's site, it seems the pack is compatible with a hydro bladder. How big of a bladder can it hold?
    Also, where is the bladder positioned in the pack?
    I currently have a T.H.E pack, and the bladder placement (as well as the lack of proper fit/attachment for it) is BS.

    Although frankly, I loaded it (THE) up with some stuff to take onto the range at a class, and the overall fit when loaded seems a little lacking (actually that's kind of an understatement... lol). May try the stiffener frame- most folks seem to say that's a "must have" if you intend to actually carry anything in it. But the water bladder placement still sucks up against the back like it is.

    1. I'll be honest, I haven't ran my Camelbak (100 oz) in it yet. It will definitely accept it though. Best way to describe where it is positioned: Open the main compartment, and at the back of the pack, there is a divider with what I believe are hangers above to attach the bladder to. Directly behind that is the packs internal frame (some nylon material covers the internal frame itself).

      I am almost positive that the back pack's thick breathable pad that contacts your back would keep you from noticing the bladder, even when full.

      It's funny, because I just read Max Velocity's post about hydration concerns. I still like drinking out of canteens and bottles so I just haven't got around to trying out the Camelbak in the Redwing yet.

    2. I see- so still pretty much against you back when the pack is on?

      Yeah, I just read Max's latest as well. Pretty much meshed with some of the ideas I have had concerning water carriage. Still can't figure out the canteen on the padded belt thing though. To darn heavy to not flop and sag the belt.

      I think you will enjoy the convenience of the water bladder carriage system. I started using one (an el cheapo walmart special) back when I used to play paintball, as it fit in the vest I wore, and haven't looked back since.
      Although, I think I prefer bladders from Source. After years of muddling about with a non-handsize opening in a standard bladder, getting a Source with the ability to open the whole thing up was like *lightbulb*! LoL
      And they use some seriously thick material too- plus you can unplug the water tube without the water in the bladder spraying out all over the place.
      //shameless plug. :D

    3. Yup, basically still against your back.

      Max may wear suspenders with his belt. That might help with the sagging.

      I'll definitely try the bladder in the Redwing at some point. I would be foolish not to give it a whirl.

    4. Yes, I've gotten some of the Emdom suspenders, and attached them to the HSGI SGPB I'm using.
      They help with weight overall, but since the canteen is in such a small area, it just pulls down at that point, which is what's making it sag.
      But then, it could also be the maxpedition canteen pouch I'm using with seems to be a little less than awesome...