Friday, July 23, 2010

Chopping the Pack

Photo courtesy Flickr

I thought I might increase my chances of survival in an emergency evacuation if I bought myself a Binford Weightmaster 4500 Pack. I fell for the color, installed quite a few dollars worth of gear in it, and thrashed around it in the back of the closet whenever I was looking for something else I don’t use very often.

Over the week-end I realized that it would be more elegant to fuse the pack and my rolling briefcase into one piece of gear that serves both purposes and is more likely to be with me. As the Seals say, “You never need it until you really, really need it.” At the luggage specialist downtown, I was happy to find that the first rolling backpack of the late Nineties has morphed into a model that weighs a third of the original, costs a third, is too small to carry more weight than I should, stows under a plane seat, and is not likely to attract pirates. My intermediate rolling backpack had a single handle that made it easier to tow but less serviceable for cargo-never could lash anything to that single strut. A double handle makes it easy to pile on extra totes and parcels.

It gripes me to have money tied up in slowly obsolescing inventory that I never use, and since I had something better to do, I pulled out the Binford, emptied it, and cast a cold eye on the design. I worked my way through the maze of adjusting cords and pulls and realized that I could separate the bag from the frame in a reversible process. Twenty minutes’ fiddling yielded a featherweight rectangular pack sack attached to a folding hand truck with lengths of Velcro. The sack has two horizontal battens top and bottom that hold it in shape, a wonderful surprise that makes me sorry I didn’t look it over sooner. I lopped off exterior dingbats and confusing interior pulls, and excised the internal baffles, a Navy Seal trick that makes any carrier more efficient. Now I can pack in a flash with zippered nylon cube kits or whatever else the day demands.

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