Mile High Mountaineering is bringing some serious innovation to the backpack market

When it comes to packs, I tend to prefer big, simple bucket haulers. Keep everything inside with stuff sacks and the appropriate packing technique and hit the trail. The more bells and whistles, the more to eventually have to fix on the trail. In the rain.

But Mile High Mountaineering’s new line of packs could sway me in a whole new direction. The type of innovation their bringing to the market will without doubt create a scramble to emulate it from the likes of Gregory, Osprey and Deuter. While the video says it all, I’m a huge fan of the way their packs, in this case the Divide 55 liter, integrate features that to me, are critical. Specifically, the bottom stuff sack is freaking key, especially for people like me who are nuts about ensure the integrity of your down bag when on the trail.

There sure are a lot of buckles and straps and adjustable items which could jar loose or just present additional problems. However, that kind of flexibility is key as your load adjusts on the trail and your pack lightens as food and water disappear. There is little question that Mile High Mountaineering is led by guys who have spent a few weeks in the backcountry.

I’m seriously looking forward to the launch of this company next year. These guys, and their packs, should make a splash.

Mt. Rogers Recreation Area offers backpackers just about everything

If you need an Eastern version of the Absaroka’s vast, post-tree line ruggedness, I give you the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in Southwest Virginia. A unique “U” section of the AT drops through the region and is wrapped up in a twisting, loop-hiker’s paradise of perpetual weekend to week-long options for connecting to and from it, highlighted by dirty gray fins and craggy formations hanging on after eons of erosion to a section of the world’s oldest mountains. In few places can one gain access to such seemingly isolated backcountry from a multitude of easy access highways, major and secondary, providing those in the know with a number of ways around the more populated regions.

I spent my weekend on an AT/Crest Trail/Scales Trail loop that started from Massie Gap. We experienced consistent winds that were bold enough to push us into the tent before the fire got hot enough to stand its ground but also took in a night sky perforated with enough stars to rival its western desert counterparts, Milky Way and all.

For what one looks for in a weekend backpack, the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area is damn hard to beat.