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Amputee Outdoors isn't just for amputees, any lover of hiking, backpacking and camping will find value in this site.  But, if you are an amputee, I hope the videos, advice, and gear reviews educate and inspire you to enjoy the beauty of nature.
 

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Ever had a conversation with someone and realized you’re both using the same word, but defining it differently? This has happened to me a few times when talking about hiking, backpacking, and camping. This blog post isn’t going to be the definitive definition for those words, in fact, it might cause a few arguments, but here goes anyway.


Hiking

The word "hike" is believed to have originated from the Old English word "hican," which means "to walk" or "to move quickly." It is thought to be related to the Old Norse word "hikja," which has the same meaning.


The word "hike" first appeared in the English language in the early 16th century, and it was originally used to refer to a quick, energetic walk. Over time, the meaning of the word "hike" has evolved to refer to a long walk or journey, particularly one taken in a natural setting such as the countryside or mountains.


Today, the word "hike" is commonly used to refer to a long, leisurely walk or trek, often undertaken for enjoyment or exercise. For some, if the trail is under a mile and there’s little elevation gain, it’s a ‘nature walk’ and not a hike. For others, any stroll in nature counts as a hike. So, there’s some subjectivity to the word. Going a little further into the rabbit hole of definitions, some folks will use the word 'hike' to mean any trek that includes an overnight stay, and 'day hike' for those trekking adventures where you return home at the end of the day.


Backpacking

The word "backpacking" is a combination of the words "back" and "packing," which literally means "carrying a pack on the back." This term originated in the early 20th century, and it was first used to refer to the act of carrying a pack on one's back while hiking or traveling.


The use of the word "backpacking" to refer specifically to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, is believed to have originated in the United States in the 1960s. At this time, the term was used to refer to a style of outdoor recreation that involved carrying a backpack and camping in the wilderness for extended periods of time.


Today, the word "backpacking" is commonly used to refer to outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and traveling, in which the participants carry all of their equipment and supplies in a backpack.


Again, there’s some subjectivity here. Many of us call any walk in nature where you return that day, a hike or day hike. If you spend at least one night out, you were backpacking. And there's the definition of 'hiker' as opposed to 'backpacker'. A backpacker spends at least one night out in nature, a hiker returns to the trailhead at the end of the day.


Camping

The word "camping" is derived from the Old French word "camp," which means "field" or "open space." The word "camp" originated from the Latin word "campus," which means "field" or "open land."


The use of the word "camping" to refer specifically to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping is believed to have originated in the United States in the late 19th century. At this time, the term was used to refer to the act of setting up a temporary shelter or dwelling in a natural setting, such as a field or forest.


Today, the word "camping" is commonly used to refer to outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and traveling, in which the participants set up a temporary shelter and spend time in a natural setting. It is also used to refer to the act of staying in a campground or other type of outdoor accommodation.


Here’s where things get interesting. There’s car camping, where you drive to the location and set up your tent/hammock/lean-to within a few yards of your car. Going a step further you have camping where you stay in a pre-built structure. Leaving civilization behind, there’s backpack camping where you carry everything and set up a shelter you bring with you for the night. Finally, there’s bushwhacking where you build a shelter using the materials found in the environment you’re in.


I don’t think it matters too much what we call our outdoor adventures. A rose would still smell as sweet by any other name and nature will still be grand regardless of how we experience it.




Now don’t get me wrong, putting thought into how you can reduce your pack weight is a good thing to do. Having said that, I’m of the opinion that you can go too far.


Ultra-light backpacking, carrying minimal gear and supplies in an effort to reduce weight, can be a useful strategy for certain types of trips and activities. However, it's not always a good idea, and there are some potential drawbacks and risks associated with this approach


One of the main drawbacks of ultra-light backpacking is that it can limit your ability to cope with unexpected situations or emergencies. By carrying minimal gear and supplies, you may not have the resources or equipment needed to deal with unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather, injuries, or equipment failures. This is especially true in the wintertime and shoulder seasons up in the mountains. Fast-changing weather, colder temperatures, wind, downed trees, etc., can all create situations where more durable, but heavier, gear is needed.


For example, if you are caught in a severe storm while ultra-light backpacking, you may not have the necessary gear to stay warm and dry, and this could put you at risk of hypothermia or other health problems. Similarly, if you are injured or become ill while ultra-light backpacking, you may not have the supplies or equipment needed to provide first-aid or seek help.


Another potential drawback of ultra-light backpacking is that it can reduce your enjoyment and comfort on the trail. By carrying minimal gear, you may have to sacrifice certain amenities or comforts that can make your trip more enjoyable, such as a comfortable sleeping pad, a stove to cook with, or a shelter to protect you from the elements.


For example, if you are ultra-light backpacking and are forced to sleep on the ground, you may not have the necessary gear to create a comfortable sleeping surface, and this could lead to a restless and uncomfortable night. Similarly, if you are ultra-light backpacking and are unable to cook your own meals, you may have to rely on trail mixes and other minimal food options, which can be less satisfying and enjoyable than a hot meal.


Overall, while ultra-light backpacking can be a useful strategy in some situations, there remain many situations where ultra-light is the wrong strategy.


Oh, how we love our backpacks. And how backpack manufacturers love to tinker with them. Everything from backpacks specifically designed to be theft-proof, to sections that rotate around to your front, to backpacks that stay stationary as you hike, and backpacks with built-in umbrellas. I've collected a few samples of innovative backpacks for your review and entertainment. One thing to keep in mind, all of these backpacks are pricey. Innovation doesn't come cheap you know.


Note: Some of these are available from Amazon and as an Amazon Affiliate I will get slightly compensated if you buy one of them.


First up we have the 2in1 Built-in Sun Umbrella Backpack from Mavigadet. Its advertising claims, "Waterproof. Rain cover and back anti-theft pocket. UV protection protects the sun and rain from the outdoors".

Read that out loud. Considering the backpack retails for $499.95 you would think they could afford a proofreader. Aside from the umbrella attribute, this backpack doesn't offer much more than standard backpacks this size. And considering you can buy an umbrella that's larger and clips onto your existing backpack for $32, I'm not sure this is worth the cost.


On the more functional and affordable end, we have the Tenba Solstice 12L Backpack. This starts at $155.95 and is designed with photographers in mind. What's unique about this design is that it opens fully from the straps side of the backpack. If you take off the straps while wearing it and swivel the pack around from the belt strap, you can open it up with the pack in front of you.

It comes in three sizes, 12L, 20L, and 24L, and I can see where even for those that just use their smartphones for capturing nature's beauty, this would make a convenient day hike pack.



Next up we have the Mystery Ranch 2 Day Assault Backpack. Mystery Ranch has produced a lot of high-end backpacks. And this interesting pack is right there with them. This will cost you $217.98 but considering its lineage, probably money well spent.

The pack has all the usual features you'd expect, but what makes this pack stand out is the three-way zipper setup. Instead of the usual plebian method of opening the backpack from the top. You can open the top and front of the back to get full access to the contents of your pack. The advertising says that it's designed for "Everyday urban missions" but you can probably take this out into the woods too.



If you're looking for a pack designed for a very active

day, then you're going to want something like the

Ultimate Direction Fastpack 40L Daypack. This pack

has four pouches on the front straps for small water

bottles, snacks, phones, etc., and is probably a little

more exciting than this guy makes it seem. It's a roll-top backpack with a side zipper to access your gear. This front-loaded pack comes in three sizes, 20L, 30L, 40L, and will set you back $194.95. (Maybe that price is why the guy looks so glum?)


Similar to the Tenba, is the Upranger from Eberlestock. This pack has a hard plastic back with the designed intention that you put that side down in the mud and dirt and then open it up from the strap side. This is no lightweight day pack.

It weighs in at 6.45 lbs and is designed for use at the outdoor gun range, or other events where your hike is short, the conditions are messy and you don't want your gear getting muddy. The pack costs $329 and only comes in tactical colours. But it's Eberlestock and for those familiar with that brand, neither the price nor colours are a surprise. I can see where this pack would be favoured by those that have outdoor work, linemen, surveyors, and loggers.



Probably one of the most innovative backpacks in recent years is the HoverGlide backpack. Initially, this was a pack developed for military use, but the Department of Defence dropped it and the developers have gone private since. This pack bounces on up and down on your back and is supposed to reduce impact forces on your back by 86%.

The HoverGlide uses a combination of pulleys and bungee cords to prevent the weight of the pack from pulling down on your shoulders. A unique idea and the videos on their site do a good job of explaining the mechanics of the system. However, with all those moving parts, I'd be a little concerned about its durability. Sand, dirt, moisture, etc., would likely cause mechanical problems over time. Nonetheless, of all the backpacks in this article, this is the one I'd most like to try out. But at $599 for the smallest pack, I don't think that will be happening anytime soon.


The Paxis Shuttle Pod backpack is similar to the Tenba in that it allows you to access some of your backpack gear without taking off the pack. Unlike the Tenba though, you don't have to take the should straps off. Just swivel the lower part of the pack around to the front.

The pack retails for $225 and apparently, sales are good as the more expensive models ($325) are sold out. I do a lot of filming and photographing on my hikes and would definitely make use of this clever backpack. Like the HoverGlide, it has moving parts and again, dirt, sand, moisture may be a problem if not addressed properly. It's a small backpack designed more for day trips and hikes. I wasn't able to find any information on the weight of the pack but I'm guessing that with the swing arm, pack frame and padding in the section that swings out front, it's probably not a lightweight pack.


For men and apparently, for men only, we have L.L. Bean's Men's Technical Upland Vest Pack. I looked for a woman's version but to no avail.

This pack is designed sort of like a vest, but with its large lower storage on the back, it has the capacity for a day hike gear. This is one of the most affordable backpacks in this article at $149. One interesting feature of this pack is its "Large, lined bloodproof game bag." The pack is designed for hunters and the like but that doesn't mean a casual day hiker wouldn't benefit from its design. You'll notice in the photo that the majority of the weight is low on the back. This will help keep your center of gravity close to the hips and reduce the pack exposure to branches and the like if you're bushwhacking.



Finally, we have the VITAL GEAR 2017VTGRJMMLORG Modular Travel Get Home Backpack. Selling at $349.95. This pack also comes in two gender-specific harnesses and is designed more for the traveler and not the hiker. Nonetheless, I can see this pack being very functional for hikers or overnight backpacking trips. With dimensions of ‎22 x 13 x 7 inches, there's plenty of room for your gear. And with more MOLLE straps than a squad of Marines, there are plenty of ways you can add to this pack and carry more gear. Another interesting feature is how it opens. One big zipper that goes all the way around three sides enables it to open up like a suitcase.


The outdoor recreation business is a billion+ dollar a year part of our economy. With that much money going around, I don't think we'll see an end to folks trying to build a better mousetrap to snare us. That's fine with me. :)

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