The other day I got sick of this fancy-pants winter day pack I’ve been using for the past few years, and decided to sell it. I won’t say what kind of pack it was for now– it was an okay pack, but heavy, and it didn’t really have much space. Since I’ve been using my Gossamer Gear Riksak for summer day hikes, I really only use big day packs for winter hiking, and the only reason I liked this other pack was because it had a nice snowshoe attachment system. But it didn’t pack well– even having a puffy jacket and a few snacks filled it to overflowing. No good.
The solution? Dig up the past!
|The trusty old Cragosaurus.|
Many years ago, I bought a Cragosaurus pack from Mountain Equipment Co-op, but I shelved it when I got the newer day pack. The only two items I own from MEC are incredibly simple, inexpensive, and as close to perfect as most of my other gear. Between my Silicone Scout tarp and this Cragosaurus pack, I paid less than $100, and they’ve each lasted me about six years. Why did I shelf the Cragosaurus, then? Carrying snowshoes in it just sucks.
|The lid strap and one side compression strap.|
Aside from the weak snowshoe carrying capacity, I’ve always loved this pack. It’s dirt cheap (it was $34 when I got it), has the perfect capacity (about 1800 cubic inches in the main pocket, with just a little more in the brain), is wonderfully simple (one main pocket, drawstring closure, and a single-pocket lid), and it’s rugged (I’ve carried up to 40 pounds of climbing gear in it without straining the seams or fabric in the least). It’s not the most comfortable or fanciest pack out there, but it gets the job done. It’s a reliable old beater.
|Fixed buckle on the compression straps. Must go!|
The new version of the Cragosaurus has a very nice snowshoe lashing system (similar to the pack that I’d gotten rid of), but mine just has a stuff pocket on the rear, held in place by two compression straps on each side. The compression straps are fixed in place, so attaching the snowshoes to either side of the pack was a pain. The stuff-pocket is much too small for snowshoes, as well. I lusted after the new version of the pack for a little while, but my gear budget is down pretty low already. Eventually, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
|The point of no return.|
|And a shiny new buckle!|
The snowshoe lashing system of the other pack was only better in that it had side-release clips, so that the straps could be separated entirely in order to pull them over the snowshoes. Side-release buckles are easy to find at any gear store as a replacement item, so I bought four of them, chopped off the buckles on my Cragosaurus’s compression straps, and sewed them back together with the side-release buckles.
|Not the prettiest pack, but it works.|
Voila! An hour later, with only two self-inflicted bleeding wounds from the sewing needle, and my winter day-pack is back from retirement. I used this new set-up in the White Mountains last month, and found attaching and detaching my snowshoes much easier than before. With the added bonuses that this pack already had, I’m happy to say that my older and less fancy pack won out over the newer one. No doubt I’ll get at least another six years out of this beast.