A week before I was injured, I realized my backpacks, which were stored on shelving in the garage, were mildewing. I decided to make room in the top of a closet to store them where it would be drier, but first the needed a bath. Upon cleaning up my old Kelty D4 and why it was drying in the sun, I did a little reminiscing.
My first backpack was a Kilimanjaro that I purchased at a department store. With an exotic name like that, I expected more. I took it on a couple of backpacking trips and the contraption nearly killed me. On the last trip, a freezing two-night trek on the Uwharrie Trail in early January 1976, which the nightly temperature dropped to zero, the cold didn’t compare to the anguish that came from the pack. It didn’t come with a waist belt and my makeshift one didn’t work well and the shoulder straps pulled tight and dug into my shoulders. It was misery. I’m amazed that I continued to hike.
Notice reserve pins hanging
and the 2000 miler AT patch
Shortly afterwards that fateful trip, I brought a Kelty D4 pack from REI. For the next twenty-five years it would be my main overnight backpack and it is still in remarkably good condition. I have replaced the shoulder straps a couple of times and am now on my third waistbelt (the original one was eaten by a conveyor at an airport and the second one wasn’t a Kelty and didn’t last). Even when I changed the waist belts, I kept the old stainless steel cam lock on the waist belt which is one of the best buckles ever made (a lot better than the plastic ones that seem to break when it most inconvenient). I also added an extension bar to the pack which can be extended six inches and allows one to carry a lot of extra material. This bar enabled me to use this pack on extended backpacking trips along the Appalachian and John Muir trails. I later purchased a Kelty internal frame pack that was set up for skiing and snowshoeing and held about 3000 cubic inches. It was a great pack for heading into the backcountry, but also for one and two night backpacking trips and was the pack I took around the world. I have also used a larger a large internal frame Kelty Redcloud 5400 for backpacking, but it hauls more than I need. My favorite pack is still the old D4.
I wonder how many miles this pack has hauled whatever I need on my back. It has been the full length of the Appalachian Trail (and a few sections we’d done more than once). It has also hiked the John Muir Trail, Laurel Highlands Trail, Ruby Crest Trail and did miles on a number of other trails in places including Bryce Canon, Zion Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Point Reyes National Seashore, Great Basin National Park, along with the the Sawtooth and Beartooth Mountains. This pack and I have done well over 3000 miles together. God-willing, I’ll put some more miles on this pack before I’m done with it.