This past week, Tiana and I went backpack shopping. We spent an hour or so at REI trying on backpacks, putting weight in them, being fitted for the right size… etc.
We lucked out. The guy helping us, Anthony, had attempted an AT thru-hike the year before, so he had a lot of advice to give.
He helped us understand the difference between hyperlight, ultralight and regular backpacks. He talked to us about interchangeable hip belts and making it to trail days for new gear or repairs to old gear.
Before we met Anthony, Tianna was leaning towards an ultralight pack from Zpacks, the Arctic Haul. I was looking at an Osprey Renn.
Anthony had nothing but good to say about the Zpacks backpack. He did warn Ti that it has a very strict weight limit of about 25 pounds. After that, you risked tearing the bag. The Osprey Renn also got decent reviews from Anthony, but REI doesn’t carry it, and he said it was a low end pack with a lot less features. Neither of us liked those restrictions.
After talking with Anthony, we both settled on an Osprey Ariel 65 liter pack in medium. It’s a great pack that sits well on my hips and carries weight well. It has a removeable ‘brain’ that turns into a daypack for slackpacking, a separate compartment for easy access to your sleeping bag, and enough contact points and contraptions that makes carrying gear externally very easy.
It even comes in three attractive colors.
It also comes with a hefty price tag of $310 new. I walked out of REI thinking about how long I would need to save to afford that. It might be a couple of paychecks.
On a whim Monday, I went on ebay to see if anyone was selling one in good shape. I found several brand new ones for under 210, but they were shipping from the UK and shipping would be prohibitive.
Then I found the holy grail. A gently used Osprey Ariel 65 in my size… in a very nice gray color. The seller had a 100% approval rating and she described the bag as in very good condition, only used about four times, with a couple of small stains on the interior mesh.
All for the low price of $199, or best offer. Best offer, hmmm? So I made an offer of $155. She countered with $180. I took it.
So, as soon as it arrives, I am the proud owner of a hiking backpack for just over half price.
Now if only the bedding system I wanted wasn’t brand new, I could find it on ebay as well. Oh well, I’m so happy with this purchase I could scream, so I won’t bemoan paying full price for the bedding.