Backpacks, travel packs


It was a bright orange canvas pack mounted on an external, aluminum frame. It had a beige hipbelt that fastened around my then-slim waist with a toothed, steel clasp. It was not a quick release, and if I had been unlucky enough to fall into a lake while wearing this backpack, I surely would have sunk to the bottom immediately. My overloaded pack would have been impossible to remove before I drowned. The only consolation was that my body would have been found quickly, thanks to the gaudy, orange color of the pack.

That was the pack that I took on my first trip to Europe in 1974. I was 18 then, I had long hair, Levi bell-bottoms, a copy of Michener�s “The Drifters” and the same attitude that is still de rigueur for teens.

Thankfully, I survived the acne and fashions of the time. An orange backpack was the height of fashion then, and merely wearing it would cause �no vacancy� signs to light up at hotels wherever I went.

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This was before Lonely Planet guides, long before lightweight packs made of rugged Cordura� nylon, coil YKK zippers, carbon-fiber internal stays, proper form-fitting dual-density hipbelts, cleverly shaped shoulder harnesses and comfortable sternum straps with quick-release nylon buckles.

I don�t know what ever happened to my old orange backpack, I must have lost it during one of my moves at college. I do remember that its aluminum frame was broken before the end of my trip, it was snapped in half underneath an errant VW bus being driven by some hashish smugglers in Morocco.