I stumbled across this video while checking out Jack Brauer’s Mountain Photographer website and blog. Jack designed my website and he’s a great person to work with if you need a photography website designed. Anyway I LOVE LOVE LOVE this video. You should too.
I feel really lucky lately. Granted, my life is not all sunshine and rose petals, but all in all, I have little to complain about. I live in a wonderful place, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family, and I get to do things I love on a regular basis.
I’m a passionate person. I work hard, play hard, live hard, and love hard. I crash hard too. For the most part, many of the things I do, I do with all my heart and soul. My life is generally one big euphoric cloud of adrenaline and enthusiasm, and most of the time, I’m riding high on a big white puffy cloud of positive feelings. The thing is, the higher I get, the harder I can fall. Yet never once in my life have I fallen without someone to catch me.
Never once in my life have I crashed alone, and because of that, I’ve never crashed for long. My crashes are momentary bursts of emotion that tend to be a mix of sadness, loneliness, confusion, sometimes anger, and always incredible amounts of love. Even in the depths of my lowest lows, I always love the world.
I just got back from an amazing amazing trip to Acadia National Park with members of the North American Nature Photography Association. Acadia is one of my favorite places, and every time I go there I fall more and more in love with that place. I also always seem to meet really fun and interesting people there, and this trip was no exception. Despite the foliage not being quite at peak, the uncooperative weather, and limited shooting I did, I had an absolute blast because I was with incredible people. My co-leaders were probably the most inspiring group of pro photographers I’ve had the opportunity to work with, the participants were pleasant, positive, talented, and a whole lot of fun, and the others I met who don’t quite fit into the first two categories were simply exceptionally awesome people. I couldn’t have shared this experience with a more wonderful collection of individuals.
So when the good-bye hugs were shared, the “see you laters” murmured and car doors shut for the last time, I felt a sense of loss. This is not unlike other trips I’ve led, and I’ll admit a few or more tears were shed as I once again began to contemplate my whole life and what do with it. Internally, I felt my two halves – the one the yearns for a life of stability, security, and familiar roots vs the one that craves a life of constant inspiration, adventure, and exploration – tug at me. Part of me wanted to dive into the wilderness and not come out for a while. Part of me just wanted to get a massive hug from a friend.
I could go on and on about how these intense and immersive trips take their toll on me, or about how I have an amazing assortment of friends scattered all over the world, most of whom I see in person not more than a few times a year, if that, and how I wish that were not so much the case. Sometimes I feel like my heart can’t handle it anymore, being fragmented into so many pieces that have been broken off and given to various gypsies or homebodies whose home just happens to be a different place than mine. But then I realize I was gifted with massive heart, and no matter how many times I love I will always be able to love more because that is who I am.
I like who I am most of the time, and it’s possible for me to be that person because of the many kind and wonderful people who have been a part of my life, particularly those of you who have assumed an ongoing role. I’m a very independent person, but I thrive on human contact and interaction, and as much as I enjoy my moments of solitude, the truth is, I can’t be who I am in isolation. I need people. I need you.
So this note is really a thank you to all of you. This is a thank you to the NANPA folks and other environmental photographers who inspire me and get me excited about the work we do. This thank you goes to my friends who are just a phone call away when I need someone to share good news with, to unload emotions on, or just to entertain me on a long drive. This is a thank you to the people who make me smile, who challenge me, and who remind me of who I am at the core of my soul.
So many people have touched my life, some only briefly, and some who have anchored themselves with roots that will continue to grow as the years go on. My mom has been my biggest supporter since the moment I came to be, and my adopted family in New Hampshire make a state I’ve lived in for only a couple of years feel like home. While biking across the United States in 2009, strangers took me in, fed me, and gave me a warm shower and a clean bed. I get messages and emails from kind strangers offering words of encouragement and support, and sometimes glowing compliments from people I’ve known only briefly, but whose comments touch me deeply.
I don’t know if it’s possible to adequately express the gratitude I feel towards all of you using words and the limitations of the English language, particularly via such impersonal and electronic means as a blog post. I mean to say thank you, and I mean it to mean something, but I’m imperfect and I don’t always know how. The truth is, you all make a difference, and I know that part of who I am is just because that’s who I am, and part of who I am is because of who you have allowed and enabled me to be.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been living life – teaching, going rock climbing, and doing other things that keep me plenty busy. Photography went on the back burner for a while because I needed it to, but now I’m having fun with it again.
I’m currently in Acadia leading a regional event for NANPA, and I’m really enjoying myself. My co-leaders, Jerry Monkman, Paul Rezendes, and Tom Blagden, are all amazing and the participants and others involved are a blast. It’s so refreshing to be around photographers so passionate about photography and nature itself. While the weather hasn’t been cooperating all that much, I’m having such a good time that I’m hardly aware of how few shots I’ve taken, and since I’ve eliminated the pressure on myself to produce good material, I’m genuinely just enjoying being here. It’s not hard to love being in Acadia, but the good company and being able to help other people explore and enjoy this amazing place has made this trip special in its own way.
For me, this is part of what photography is about. Sure, to me photography is personal and often private. I usually like shooting alone, and I probably do my best work when I’m not distracted by talking to others or competing for a good spot. But I’m a social person, and I like sharing the things I’m passionate about with others. Particularly when the shooting isn’t all that good, it’s a lot of fun to be with other like minded people.
Fun is important! I like being out in the field. I like scrambling on rocks and seeing the sun rise. I like early mornings and long days of being in nature. Sometimes I like exploring alone, but sometimes I like having others to share my adventures with. The recipe isn’t always the same for fun on an given day, but as long as photography is fun, I’ll keep doing it.
At one point in my life, I dreamed of being a photographer for National Geographic. I think it was around the time I was 14 or so, before I had picked up a DSLR and even gotten serious about photography. I dreamed of traveling to far off places and photographic exotic people, animals, and landscapes. I had little notion of how dangerous some of those places could be, how inhospitable and desolate, how lonely and isolating. I didn’t think of what it would be like to leave loved ones at home, or even to leave home itself. I was naïve. My notions of being a globe-trotting photojournalist were romantic ones, not realistic ones.
I’m now 26. In the past six years, I’ve held 15 jobs in five states. Next month, I’ll start three new jobs and add a sixth state to the list of places I’ve been employed. I’ve had assignments that have taken me abroad and to even more parts of the U.S. Sometimes I sit behind a computer for hours on end, other times, I’m in an area so removed from civilization that even satellite phones fail to work and days pass without seeing other people. My life is always in flux and constant change has defined who I am.
One day, I’ll have a “real job” I say to myself. One day, I’ll grow up and be responsible and independent and self sufficient. One day I’ll work constant hours, have a steady paycheck, and reliably be able to pay all my bills AND save for my future. One day maybe I’ll even have my own house and a family. One day. Some day. In the future.
My mom says times are tough. I’m not the only one suffering through this, she says. Jobs are hard to come by, full time jobs even more so. Employers don’t want to pay benefits, she says. It will all work out, she says. Follow my heart, she says. Follow my dreams.
Dreams change. People change too. I’m only 26, and I’m tired.
I’m tired of sitting at the computer doing things that don’t really make a difference. A little computer time is fine. A bit of lazy self-indulgence is healthy. But hours and days at the computer spent editing and emailing is not how I envision a life well spent. I’d rather be out and about, discovering the world that never fails to remind me that I’m alive. I’d rather be with people. I want to make a difference.
I no longer want to be a professional photographer. Not for National Geographic, not for Kari Post Photography, not for anyone. I don’t want to be forced to photograph, to write and edit, to promptly answer emails, and to market my images because they are what pays my bills. It’s not fun! Frankly, it sucks! I just want to take pictures because I love taking pictures. I want to write because I love to write. Feeling obligated to do either takes the fun right out of it.
I’m not willing to turn something I love into something I hate. I’m not willing to turn myself into someone I feel sorry for. I’m not desperate. I’m alive, and I want to live a full life.
So I’m tossing in my towel as “pro photographer.” I never liked that title much anyway. It’s time that I turned photography back into a fun hobby. I no longer want to feel dread when I return from an amazing trip or weekend with friends because I know I’ll need to spend the entire day catching up on emails and other online projects. I want the computer to be a tool, not a trap. I want to define my photography, I don’t want it to define me.
I already know who I am.
I’ve spent most of the past week up in Acadia National Park, scouting for the NANPA Regional Event I’ll be co-leading there this fall. Jerry Monkman, one of the other leaders and NANPA president-elect, invited me to tag along for one of his photo workshops so I could get a better feel of the place and check out some of the locations I was unfamiliar with prior to the workshop.
One of the locations I’ll be taking a group to is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, and it was one of the spots I had never been before. So I made it a point to visit the lighthouse one gray and rainy morning to scout it out, making sure I knew the terrain, noted any safety concerns, and found where to best direct participants.
On my last evening in Acadia, I had planned to shoot at Jordan Pond, but it was windy, I was tired, and I didn’t feel like getting to bed late. The next day, I planned to wake up for a sunrise shoot at 4:30AM and then drive the six hours home. I was on my own at that point – the workshop was over and the other photographers whose company I had enjoyed had mostly headed home – so I changed my plans and decided to shoot at Bass Harbor Head instead, as the lighthouse was much closer to where I was camping at Seawall.
I got to the lighthouse around 6:30 or so, more than an hour before sunset, to set up and get a good spot on the rocks. When I arrived, I was met by no less than a dozen people already at the lighthouse, perched in various spots I would have preferred they not be. I frowned on the inside a bit. I chatted briefly with another photographer on a nice flat rock and scrambled to a nearby sharp and pointy rock where I was sure I wouldn’t be in his way. I set up my tripod and wedged my bag in a nice safe spot in the rocks. Then I waited.
And more people came. Photographers – there were at least a dozen with DSLRs, more with point-and-shoots, and at least six tripods, including mine. Spectators, many who wanted their photos taken in front of a completely backlit lighthouse obscured by trees. People who climbed on the rocks right below the lighthouse. Why? I have no idea, you couldn’t possibly get a good look from that angle. A bird watcher with binoculars. Families with kids. More people came, some people left, and of course no one was sitting still enough to make it possible to include any of the sightseers in my composition. I was irritated.
Patience is a virtue, I thought to myself, so I waited. I was pretty sure if I waited long enough I would get my shot. While I waited a bald eagle hunted for fish and some porpoises swam offshore. At least they made the waiting a slightly less frustrating experience.
As the sun started to set, most people cleared away from right in front of the lighthouse, so photographers could get their shots. If I had felt like using a different lens, that probably would have been ok with me too, but I envisioned a wide angle shot, with jagged rocks leading the viewers’ eye into the frame, towards the lighthouse, rimmed in the colors of the setting sun. People were still in my way. So I took a couple boring frames and kept waiting.
From experience, I know that the colors at sunset and sunrise are often the most intense when the sun is about 20 minutes under the horizon. So for sunrise shoots, I always try to get to my location and be set up a half hour before sunrise. During sunset, I stay even when most think the show is over.
And if I’m smarter than the other photographers, and willing to wait longer and work harder for my shots, I can get the place all to myself. I often do. And then, I can reap the rewards.
Once the sun set, people dissipated quickly. One photographer even said “Well I got what I came here for” and left just as the colors were getting more intense – obviously more pink and more saturated – right before his eyes. Others began wrapping up and started to complain about the mosquitos, swatting at invisible demons I hadn’t even noticed yet. Within 15 minutes of the sun setting, I was the only one left.
And I got the shot because of it.
This is a hand blended combination of seven different frames. I don’t like HDRs, so I bracket my exposures and then combine them in PhotoShop using layer masks. Just processing this shot took at least a couple of hours, but the waiting game was really won in the field. This photograph is the result of being a smarter photographer, one who knows the subject, and who is willing to work harder and shoot longer than the others, not to mention better tolerate uncomfortable rocks and pesky bugs. Mostly it’s because sometimes the one who plays the waiting game best wins.
1) Jerry probably knows more about Acadia than just about any other photographer currently shooting. In fact he and his wife Marcy wrote the bible of it, The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia National Park, along with two other books about Acadia and other titles of interest to New England area nature and landscape photographers. Jerry is also a super stand up guy who does great work as a photographer working on various conservation issues in New England. I recommend Jerry and Marcy’s books (I own three now) and suggest you buy direct from them, as they get a slightly higher cut of the proceeds that way: http://ecophotography.com/books/.
2) The NANPA Regional Event in Acadia National Park is being held October 4-7, 2012. Myself, Jerry, and two other photographers will be leading groups to various photography hotspots throughout the park, and it’s sure to be a fun event. Spots are still available, so please visit the NANPA site to learn more about the event and register. I hope to see you in Acadia this fall!
On occasion, I get fed up with photography. Not so much the taking pictures part, but the everything else (editing, processing, printing, marketing, social media, business management) part…
I often tell people I’m a horrible business person, and it’s true. Because I don’t care very much about the exchange of money (despite realizing that it is an important fact of modern life in the US) and I don’t care very much about out-competing other photographers doing work similar to what I’m doing. I photograph because I like it, not because it’s getting me anywhere…
I don’t like the term “pro” photographer. Because it implies that photography is my business, that it is a career for me, but not that it’s my passion. I’d rather still be considered a hobbyist than called a professional, because to me photography is about the love for creating and capturing captivating imagery, and about being out in nature. I don’t need or care for the street cred that a “pro” label provides. I think my images speak for themselves…
I’m an educator. I love to teach. I enjoy interacting with other people and enjoy sharing my passions with others. It’s important for me to feel like I am making a difference and that I have a purpose…
I’m a collaborator. I love working with and bouncing ideas off of other people. I’m an independent person, but I often have more fun working with others (competent, compatible others) than working alone. While the conceptualization of imagery and actual act of taking a picture for me can be very personal, the research about and exploration for subjects, refining and mastering photographic techniques, and creating and collaborating on a project is, I find, often much richer experience when it is a team effort…
And because of all this, I don’t think I’ll ever be a full time professional photographer. Too many other things matter to me for me to focus all of my energy on working in isolation from other people, dealing with all of the headaches and technicalities of running my own independent business, and using my creative energy to fulfill someone else’s vision. I’d rather be out shooting and teaching, focusing my energy on what matters to me and makes me feel happy, than spending countless painful hours at the computer and worrying about all of that needlessly stressful extra stuff. Leave that to the pros.
It doesn’t feel like summer should be halfway over. Didn’t the fun just start?
I spent the 4th of July up at Squam Lake and got a chance to play with my new 15mm fisheye lens. I got to test out a copy of the Sigma 15mm f/2.8 DG Fisheye at Florida’s Birding and Photo Festival in St. Augustine this April, and thought it was a ton of fun. I finally just purchase one and it arrived at the beginning of the month, just in time for the holiday.
I did a little shooting, and came up with this image, which I think captures the whimsical feeling of a summer that goes by too fast. What do you think?
Eric Bowles of Atlanta, Georgia is the winner of my 2012 Nature Photography Day Photo Contest. I asked photographers to get out and shoot on Nature Photography Day (June 15th) and then send me their images. I received a diversity of different photographs, ranging from leopards to damselflies to birds, but in the end I could only pick one and Eric’s close-up image of a sunflower not quite open was the winner!
I liked Eric’s photo for the precise focus, excellent detail, pleasing colors, and unconventional (but very effective) centered composition. His image showed the ability to think clearly about how the subject related to his camera, and also a mastery of the technical skills and understanding needed to create a quality image. Great job, Eric!
As the prize for his winning photograph, Eric can choose between an 8×12 print of mine or a $50 gift voucher for another print or canvas.
To see more of Eric’s photography, including a bunch of other great flower images, visit his website at http://bowlesimages.com/.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been out shooting quite a bit lately, and it feels AWESOME!
In between shooting, I’ve been doing some exploring and a little work too. But mostly, I’m loving being out in nature again, being active again, and feeling a little more free.
Here are a few shots from the past week. I’m been going around New Hampshire, exploring familiar places and new ones. Gosh I LOVE this state. I’ve been posting a lot to my Facebook page and my website too, so be sure to check those out! I’ll definitely have more photos coming…
This loon was photographed this morning at a pond in southern New Hampshire. Loons are easily one of my favorite subjects; they are such cool birds. I’m planning on working on a project about loon conservation, so I’ll be photographing them a lot this year trying to work up promo material for funding and then even more in the years to come.
Sugar Hill, New Hampshire has a Lupine Festival every year to celebrate the areas GORGEOUS lupines. Check out this view! Ahh, so sweet!
Here’s my home away from home. Squam Lake is super cool; it’s still got a bit of a wilderness feel to it and old time residents have done a good job of preventing it from becoming too developed. This view is from Squaw Cove on the north end of the lake, where motorboats are not allowed.
And of course, waterfalls. This set of falls is actually located in my backyard – pretty sweet, huh?! This is from last Wednesday, when I took advantage of a little rain and forced myself out of the house. It was the start of a good thing.
Today’s mood: Feeling good and LOVING the Granite State!
PS: You can click on any of the photos above to be linked to the page on my website, where you can buy prints if you so desire.
This is a minimalist’s pack. If that’s a problem for you, get over it. You’ll love this pack anyway.
I’m a photographer, backpacker, naturalist, guide, and overall adventure enthusiast. I’m not a gear junkie, but I like good gear, and if I can’t find a use for something, it doesn’t get used, end of story. I’ve tried and tested enough packs to know which ones I like and which I’m happy to give back or retire to my closet until I can hand them off to a new owner. There are a treasured few I keep, and the Brooklyn Outfitters Wolfjaw 16L is going to be one of them.
To be honest, I didn’t really need another pack when my BKO Wolfjaw arrived in the mail, but I was excited to test it out just the same. I finally got a chance to do so a few days ago and after putting the bag through the paces in one of my favorite outdoor playgrounds, New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, I can say this pack is here to stay.
Straight out of the box this pack is, dare I say it, pretty. The craftsmanship is top notch; the pack is simply designed, but expertly constructed, and the materials look as if they are built to last. Unlike many lightweight bags made of thin and fragile materials, this one seems durable enough to withstand some serious bushwhacking, rock scrambling, and other less tame pursuits unscathed. Since all of Brooklyn Outfitters’ packs and gear come with a lifetime guarantee, I suppose it doesn’t matter if the pack survives all the torture I’m bound to put in through, but it’s nice to know that a company stands behind its products, and I can rest assured that this pack won’t fail on me in the middle of a summit attempt or halfway through a tough day of hiking.
The Wolfjaw comes in two colors and one color scheme; black with red accents or red with black accents. My bag is “Midnight Black” and the bit of red on it gives it just enough pizazz to make me feel hip wearing it. I know that sounds pretty shallow, but when you are in the woods, sweating, swatting flies, and stinking like a horse’s rear end, anything that makes you feel less uncivilized is welcome. The black does blend in way more than red, so if you aren’t worried about misplacing your pack in the trunk of your car or tucked away in the woods, and want something discreet but still stylish, go with black. The red color on the other hand, is super flashy. It looks awesome in photographs, stands out against just about any landscape, wilderness or urban, and won’t get so easily lost when you place it down to use nature’s facilities. Wearing it, you will also look like you are ready to rescue your fellow adventurers and provide medical assistance at any time; the color is called “Ski Patrol Red” for a reason. Fortunately, the black accents keep the bag from being obnoxious and instead, make it the perfect accessory for completing that “bomber in the backcountry” look of all those attractive and fit hikers you see gracing the cover of Backpacker magazine.
As handsome as the Wolfjaw is, looks would mean nothing if this pack didn’t perform and it does. My first test of the Wolfjaw was on a short hike up East Rattlesnake Mountain, which overlooks Squam Lake in New Hampshire. I had hiked the trail up once before, and knew the view at the top was impressive, so I loaded my pack up with some camera gear, a DSLR and two lenses plus filters, extra memory, and a spare battery, a rain jacket, map, and headlamp, my iPhone and sunglasses, and my tripod. Because the pack is a simple by design, there aren’t a ton of places to put so much gear, but I found it easy to place my smaller items (map, phone, headlamp, and sunglasses) in the zippered outer pocket, and stuff my extra camera equipment in a Clik Elite Camera Capsule zippered pouch inside the main compartment along with my rain jacket. I used the compression straps on the outside of the pack to attach my tripod, and carried my camera with one lens attached on a neck strap slung over my head and one shoulder, and my water bottle in hand.
The compression straps on this pack are really well designed and work exactly like compression straps should. Because they wrap all the way around the pack, they actually compress the bag evenly when tightened, and its possible to carry a load hug snug against your body, for maximum balance and comfort. On many bags, I’ve found the compression straps only tighten the sides of the bag, as opposed to the entire girth of the bag, and I think the method that BKO uses on the Wolfjaw is far superior.
The bag also has an extensive daisy chain of webbing running the length of it, punctuated by a single ice axe loop at the bottom. The daisy chain provides a number of attachment points for extra gear, so you have options, even with the bag’s minimalist design. I didn’t have to use any on my hike up the Rattlesnakes, but I could see myself clipping on rope, climbing shoes, or any number of other accessories onto this pack in future use.
The hike up East Rattlesnake is only about 0.7 miles from the trailhead up to the overlook, but the trail gains about 700 feet in that short time, traversing a number of switchbacks. The mosquitoes were out in droves, and they magnified in intensity any time I stopped, so I beelined it to the overlook quickly, burning through some calories on the way up. The Wolfjaw handled beautifully. It hugged my body without feeling too tight, and perhaps because of the frameless design, I had less problems with my shirt riding up in the back than I do with other compact daypacks. There is some padding on the back on the Wolfjaw, but nothing designed to aid ventilation, yet I found my back to be no more sweaty than with any other pack.
Lightly padded shoulder straps, with webbing for attaching accessories, balance the weight of the pack’s contents easily. A sternum strap and waist strap, each made of webbing with a sturdy no-slip buckle, hold the bag securely to the body. A loop at the top of the pack makes it easy to hang, and the roll top closure provides secure protection with easy access to the bag’s contents.
The Wolfjaw does have a hydration sleeve, which I could have used instead of carrying a water bottle. I forgot to pack a bladder though, and upon investigating the bag, I can’t figure out where the hose is supposed to exit the pack. Because the Wolfjaw has a roll-top closure, like a dry bag, feeding the hose up through the top of the bag does not seem practical, but neither does cutting a port for it in the side of this water resistant bag design. There is also a little clip inside the bag above the zippered pocket where the hydration sleeve is, and I have no idea what this is for. If I had to pick one thing to complain about in regards to the Wolfjaw, it would be this whole hydration sleeve system thing. Mostly, because I’m sure it makes sense to the guys who designed it, but I don’t get it!
The top of this part of the bag also felt stiff on the back of my neck, but only when I first put it on, and only for the first time I wore it each day. Within a minute of having the bag on, I couldn’t detect the stiffness at all, and the bag felt super comfy.
Once I reached the overlook, I started snapping photos almost immediately, first with my camera, then with my phone, then with my camera again. I also grabbed my rain jacket out of the bag and put it on, despite the fact that I was warm, because the constant assault from the biting mosquitoes was a bit more than I could bear at the moment. After resting at the overlook for a bit, I decided I had enough time to try for the adjacent peak, West Rattlesnake, and still make it back in time to the East Rattlesnake overlook in time for sunset in case the views over there weren’t as good.
The Wolfjaw is made of a durable, lightweight, water resistant Cordura material. It means water doesn’t get in very easily, but it also doesn’t get out easily either, a thought that occurred to me when I put my now sweaty rain jacket back in its place inside the pack. Overall though, I think the extra protection the material provides makes me feel more comfortable using this pack in challenging weather conditions than some of my more breathable bags.
As I scrambled over to West Rattlesnake, I found myself thinking, “Wow, I really like this pack.” Usually, I avoid frameless packs whenever carrying camera gear because I find them uncomfortable with camera equipment, but the Wolfjaw changed this for me. It felt light and moved with me, and carried all my necessary gear (probably about 15 lbs in total) easily and comfortably. I enjoyed the freedom of not feeling weighed down, something I love when I hike without a pack at all, while still being able to shoot, something I often miss when I go camera less into the backcountry. Now, I can have the best of both worlds.
The 0.8 miles between East and West Rattlesnake went quickly, and when I reached the overlook on the western mountain, I was instantly glad I decided to push further. The view was outstanding, and from a photographic standpoint, almost overwhelming. So many viewpoints, with rock faces, gnarled and twisted pine trees, and stunted shrubs, all overlooking beautiful Squam Lake, surrounded by mountains and dotted with islands rising from the water, created opportunities for multiple compositions, and I bounced back and forth on the mountain, leaping up and down boulders, and winding my way in and out of paths, shooting multiple angles. The pack’s compact design forced me to stay very organized, and made going from one location to another easy. I liked it so much I even bothered to snap a few shots of my new pack enjoying the view.
After the sun settled behind the mountains, I began my trip back to my camp in the fading light. The mosquitoes had stopped biting and the hike back was pleasant. Despite the late hour and having a few miles already under my feet, I felt alive with the energy and excitement of my amazing sunset hike with an awesome new pack.
For the hiker who wants to carry just what they need and nothing more, the Wolfjaw 16L is the perfect companion. All too many people often venture out into unfamiliar territory poorly prepared, so the Wolfjaw’s simplistic design is perfect for those who would prefer to be carrying nothing at all. There is more than enough space inside for rain gear, safety equipment, food and water, and the bag’s lightweight, comfortable design makes it seem as if you are hardly carrying anything at all.
Purists too, will appreciate the pack’s no-frills design and excellent quality. It doesn’t have anything it doesn’t need (except for maybe that pesky inner clip near the hydration sleeve) and it really doesn’t need anything it doesn’t have. One small change I’d like to see considered on future iterations of the pack is an integrated whistle in the pack’s sternum strap buckle. Ultralight and minimalist hikers love gear that is multipurpose, and adding a built-in whistle to a buckle that already exists will ensure that those going light don’t skimp on safety.
I’m already looking forward to my next adventure with this pack, which is conveniently, tomorrow. The Wolfjaw and I will be trekking up the Hancocks with my friend Brett who is more than halfway towards conquering all forty-eight 4000+ foot peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He’s also a blogger, naturalist, biologist, and serious outdoor enthusiast, so my original plan was to have him test out the pack for a second opinion. However, I like the Wolfjaw so much, I might have to reconsider and keep it all to myself!
To learn more about Brooklyn Outfitters and to purchase the Wolfjaw pack, visit their website at www.brooklynoutfitters.com. Brooklyn Outfitters offers guided outdoor trips to various destinations throughout the northeast, catering to the weekend warriors of New York City. They also sell 100% USA made, hand-sewn packs, such as the Wolfjaw 16L and its bigger sibling, the Wolfjaw 34L.
Also, check out The New England Nature Blog, where Brett writes about, you guessed it, the nature, ecology, and wild places of New England. His writing is really fun, and I always learn something new when I visit, so be sure to stop by.