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Re: boots, packs, etc

I have a Gregory Wind River (retail just under $300 or so) and I like it a 
lot.  I had the chance to use it on the AT for a week before buying it,so 
I knew it was the right pack for me.  It is a top and panel loader, so it 
is easy to get to my gear quickly.  It is also huge, which might be a 
downside.  I like the rigid hipbelt, I have narrow hips, and the 
rigidness prevents it from slipping down.  
Also, the old design, where the top came off to be a daypack by attaching 
the shoulder straps was _way_ to difficult.  I don't know anybody who has 
actually been able to do it sucesfully (I gave up after 20 minutes of 
frustration).  I was happy to see that they have just made it into an 
independent fanny pack on this years model.

The Gregory models that are "for women" (like the Lowe Sirroco, which 
women tell me is much more comfortable than the womens packs that were 
just small mens packs) are similar, but the hipbelt actually has a brass 
screw (you have to take off the padding to get to it) which has 3 
settings of flare for womens hips.  On all Gregorys, the padding is 
velcroed to the straps and is infinitely adjustable (this really helped 
me avoid chafing, when one part of my shoulder starts to get sore, I shift 
the padding so the weight falls elsewhere.

I also find I get very good transfer of weight to the hips.  I think the 
higher end Gregory packs might have an intergrated CamelBak type drinking 
system, with a bladder attached to a tube you can drink from w/out 
stopping (I don't know if this feature is worth the extra $$)

I think that the lack of a sleeping bag zipper on the Arc Teryx is a 
carryover of an Alpine-oriented pack design philosophy (remember they make 
very good climbing gear, and their packs started out as climbing accessories).  
The idea was that zippers just snag, freeze, etc, which can be 
disastrous at 14,000 feet hanging off a cliff.  I forgive them, and 
still like the packs, but it might not be the most convenient for an AT hike.

I have heard great things about Osprey, also worth checking out.

Good Luck!


PS - as far as $$ goes, my philosophy is that it is worth the extra one 
or two hundred bucks to get a pack that is going to make my hiking more 
enjoyible for the next 5-10 years.  You would spend that much more on a 
better couch, why not your most valuable piece of gear?  Again, just my $.02

Jeff Mosenkis,                                                   
University at Albany - Psych, Anthro, Judaic Studies             

"Welcome to the psychotherapy hotline.  If you are obsessive-compulsive, 
please press '1' repeatedly.  If you are co-dependant, please have someone 
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