It happened inside a fluorescent-lit room in Ecuador. The man cupped my hands in his, moved a step closer and whispered in my ear, “You’ve made the right decision, you won’t regret it.” I took a deep breath and smiled back. Madonna’s lyrics ran through my mind, Like a virgin…
I’d had myriad uncomfortable experiences in the past and I wasn’t so sure this time would be any different. How wrong I was. Inside that air-conditioned shop, I was about to lose my Osprey backpack virginity, and it would feel amazing.
My previous luggage companion was so stitched up with dental floss, you’d have thought backpacks came free with every dental check up.
I’d spent close to a decade travelling round the world, often with rucksacks looking like they’d been attacked by an over-zealous dentist. “Use the waxed floss, it’s stronger for sewing canvas,” a Swedish guy had told me as I lamented over my cheapo week-old bag protesting at doing its job. As the months passed and the maverick straps received more stitching, I realised it was time to fork out a bit of cash.
Team Jane-Osprey Backpacks
As a broke backpacker, the thought of spending US$200+ on a new backpack nearly sent me into convulsions. “They’re the best on the market,” the Ecuadorian salesman said, “and they come in different sizes. This one will fit you.” I dubiously put the bag on, had the straps tightened, and just like that, I was converted. My Osprey backpack Kestrel 58 was the comfiest bag I’d ever worn. It went hiking with me in Ecuador, swung in hammocks in Colombia, and rested on beaches in Costa Rica. We were a team.
Back in Britain, we went on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast hike. I had shoved absolutely everything I didn’t need inside it and masqueraded myself as a bag with legs. “Bleedin’ hell lass! How can you carry that?” I was asked repeatedly. “It’s my bag, it feels a million times lighter than it is,” I replied as I hauled 19 kilos across England.
Now seven years from purchase, my Kestrel 58 Osprey backpack is still going strong without an ounce of dental floss in sight. We’ve hiked in the Himalayas (snow photo, top), completed Scotland’s Cape Wrath Trail and hauled ridiculous amounts of Christmas presents round the country. The super sturdy rip-stop material is magic. The zips are stronger than Iron Man. The straps have more padding than an NHS ward.
Osprey Backpacks to the Rescue
So when Osprey said they’d come on board for my 3,500-mile hike, I was grinning like a hiker who’d found an empty bothy. I chose the Kyte 66, the female version of the Kestrel, for its weight, pockets and comfort and we’ve been joined at the hip ever since. Due to having dodgy knees (that’s the medical term, obviously) which groaned after 650 miles, my backpack now sits on a buggy. This means my Kyte 66 has been scraped on the floor, thrown over fences, soaked in bog, and it still seems indestructible.
A Hiking Buddy
I’ll say just one thing; if you’re looking for a new bestie to go hiking with for a good few years, head to Cotswold Outdoor, get measured up and try on some different backpacks. Don’t just take my word for it, try ‘em out and see what you think. Once you compare Osprey with other brands, you’ll probably become a convert, too.
Oh, and just so you know, Osprey make the Kyte in 36, 46 and 66 litres and the Kestrel in 28, 38, 48, 58 and 68 litres.
In May 2018, Jane Batchelor finished hiking 3,500 miles through British history. She had her trusty Osprey backpack for company but discovered that conversations with it were rather one-sided.
Jane is a collector of Osprey backpacks (an Ospreyologist is the technical term, I believe), and owns a Kyte 66, Kestrel 58, Tempest 40, Mira 26, an Osprey laptop bag and the amazing and tiny Osprey stuff pack, along with Osprey dry bags and a backpack liner. And she’s one happy camper.