Q: I use a tote box for my gear because I can’t afford a backpack, but it doesn’t fit in my troop’s tents. What do I do?
— Henry, Greenwood, Indiana
A: First, kudos on your resourcefulness. Second, you’re going to have to be a little more resourceful, because it’s impractical to drag around a bulky tote box, especially on backcountry treks.
Check online for deals on gently used gear. For new packs, search around the end of the year when discontinued models go on clearance. If you can’t wait, take a look at technical packs, which typically are bigger than a daypack but smaller than a traditional backpacking pack. A few I’ve looked at are:
- BattlBox Spartan ($119, battlbox.com)
- Mardingtop 40L ($46, mardingtop.com)
- OutdoorVie 80L MOLLE waterproof backpack ($75)
The BattlBox, which you can buy separately or as part of the company’s monthly gear box subscription, features a full mesh back for breathability and a thick padded hipbelt. It can hold 32 liters of gear and has interior pockets, including one for a hydration bladder.
The Mardingtop holds 40 liters and includes three front pockets to put away your gear inside and plenty of adjustable straps for hanging gear on the outside. It has a couple of side sleeves, which are great for sliding in a water bottle or flashlight.
The OutdoorVie bag is the largest, with 80 liters of storage. It also has a few exterior pockets and some MOLLE webbing to attach accessories.