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“I Know It’s Just a Backpack, But…”


A backpack is, in its simplest form, just a way to carry your stuff. But there is a moment when it becomes more. It becomes a connection to the larger world, a memento from adventures past, a ticket for trips to come.

 

“It was like a switch. I put on my backpack…I knew I was going to go do an adventure.”

One day, Steve Gadecki decided it was time to retire his backpack. After all, it’d been fifteen years since he got the pack and even though it was still in good working order, his trusty companion had definitely earned a rest… but something stopped him. Fifteen years. And not just fifteen years – fourteen national parks, too. And twelve new states. 104 mountains. Five ex-girlfriends. Four years of college. Two new countries. The memories all came flooding back, and Steve realized that to him, it wasn’t just a pack anymore.

Backpack

 

“L.L.Bean doesn’t make gear, they make memories.”

That was in 2011 – and the only reason we knew about it was because Steve sat down to write us an obituary for his backpack. Along with the letter, he sent us the pack itself. “After everything that has happened I couldn’t just throw my pack out,” he wrote. “Please take care of it.”

We were touched by Steve’s story, and we decided his pack—with all the sights it had seen, and the lives it had touched, and the memories it had helped create – belonged in our archives. If it was time for the pack to retire, the least we could do was give it a comfortable place to spend the rest of its days.

Steve in the woods

 

Thanks for the Memories

Everybody knows what a backpack is: two straps and a bag. But that simple description doesn’t quite capture the feeling you get when you hit the trail with your pack on your back. So what makes it something special—when does it stop being just a backpack?

When it takes you somewhere. That moment could come when you’re disembarking in a new country, or crossing into a new state, or summiting a mountain.

The moment is out there somewhere. Half the fun is going out to find it.

Backpacker

 

Where will your backpack take you?




  1. joe | August 5, 2014 | 8:38 am

    Very cool story…everyone should own a backpack!

  2. Sue | August 20, 2014 | 12:33 pm

    Thanks for your memories. I know exactly what you mean. My backpack is 41 years old. It hasn’t crossed my mind that it is time for it to retire. I have wondered if the new style internal frame might be more comfortable, but how much more? Would it be worth it to trade for my trusty friend who has been with me up and down the Adirondack Trail, bushwacking in the middle of the night in Pennsylvania down a dry creek bed to get away from momma bobcat? How about climbing Mt. Marcy or my lone but not lonesome treck up Table Mountain and overnight hike in the Tetons? The white out in Colorado. My best friends silently stepping. I really don’t think I could part with my old friend. She has aged beautifully and I still trust her with my life.

  3. Kevin R | August 29, 2014 | 12:11 pm

    I, too, still hang on to my old external frame. It has accumulated many patches from scouting to trail maintenance projects – all good memories. I have slogged many miles during our time in Utah and will always hold such memories fondly.

    Though I no longer trek as far and wide, I still enjoy humping the pack on day trips and cannot envision a day when I transition to the fanny pack. Thanks for the chance to express myself.


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