Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gear Review: the Osprey Atmos 65

I suppose it's time to stop obsessing about food and get back to the topic of long-distance hiking. I want to talk a little about the gear I took with me, how it held up, how I liked it (or not), and what I would do different knowing what I know now.

We'll start with the pack, the Osprey Atmos 65.  Unlike most of the stuff I took with me,  I didn't get this pack until about 3 months before I started the hike.  I bought it to save weight; it's about 2.5 lbs empty, which was a big difference over the pack I used to get ready for the hike. You can see that I took the top compartment (some hikers call it the 'brain') off, mainly to keep myself from being tempted to carry stuff I didn't really need.

The Atmos held up amazingly well. Considering the punishment it took, it looks practically brand-new. The stitching on the adjustment strap for the left shoulder started to come apart (but didn't give out) and I chafed a little hole in the right pocket on the hip belt; you can see it in the last picture...other than that, it's still in great shape!

I did have a problem with it rubbing on my lower back on the right side, especially when it was fully loaded after a big resupply. It was a little weird, it caused a sort of phantom pain in my right hip which was nowhere near the pack at all. I used a small piece of blue foam (the stuff some hikers carry for a sleeping pad) to cushion the spot, which worked like a champ.

I also had a "saddle sore" on my right shoulder that developed in Conn or Mass and didn't fully heal until a few days ago, but I don't blame that on the pack. Most of us had, by the time we got to the 1500-mile mark or so, minor but chronic injuries or issues that probably would have benefited from medical attention beyond the neosporin-duct tape-ibuprofen remedies that we used to keep hiking. 

You can also see my old emergency blanket/ground cloth and the 3/4 length Thermarest pad I used...they held up great, too!

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