Where are the large backpacks?

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I thought I had the perfect backpack, until it almost killed me. I wanted to be in love with it so much: a top notch pack that I had seen on many other hikers climbing rocks on the Long Trail, a 273 mile ridge path that stretches the length of Vermont. While this is a wonderful backpack in many ways, it wasn’t for me – a hiker hiking 100 miles of this same trail, carrying not only gear, but an additional 100 pounds of body weight. , most centered around my hips, thighs and behind.

I picked up my unnamed bag from The Mountain Goat in Manchester, VT, an outfitter that felt right at home, with the smell of new hiking boots and the rustle of people walking in and out of sleeping bags. The store clerk introduced me to the gray beauty, but I already knew her intimately. He adjusted the straps to fit around my plush arms and chunky waist. I loved the feel, even when he loaded it up with a simulated track weight.

My feelings for the peloton changed quickly when I took my first steps on the Long Trail from Hwy 140 northbound. I felt like there was a teenager hanging from my back in a piggyback position. The straps hollowed out under my armpits; my center of balance swung backwards. With each step, my butt shelf pushed the bag further and further north, eventually pushing my head forward. I was a turtle disappearing into my shell.

It didn’t help that it was already 80 degrees at 10 a.m. I stuck my sticks into the ground and sweat poured down my arm like rain. My nails were full of things: foam, dirt, sweat, breakfast. The black flies were in full force, so I doused myself with a homeopathic black fly repellant that I bought at the store. It seeped in like hot sauce. My core temperature has skyrocketed. My eyes blinked. I fainted. Spoiler alert: We bailed out that day and I never wore the backpack again.

Equipment, like clothing, needs to be snug in order for it to work. As a plus size adventurer, I have learned that there is no one size fits all. As outfitters continue to welcome plus-size women, who make up 67% of America’s female population, there is room to grow beyond clothing. That’s why Gregory’s new plus size backpack line, launched in summer 2020, is so revolutionary: the entire line is for people who typically wear 2x-6x clothing.

Grégory Arrio 24 Pack (Photo: Grégoire)

Trying both the loan for the night Amber 44 Plus and the Arrio 24 Plus backpack, I like that both have hip belts that fit all around the fullest part of my body. (Previously, I had to wear the hip belt higher around my waist, which made the rest of the fit completely unbalanced.) Other key elements of Gregory’s adjustable design: longer straps and more space between them. more generous angle straps. It makes it much easier to select the perfect fit and avoids digging into the shoulders and under the armpits. For the first time, with a pack that didn’t rise, wobble, or bounce in the wrong place, I was able to feel what a backpack was designed to do: balance the weight on my back in a way. that won’t hamper your experience.

The Amber and the Arrio are not perfect. I would like a more solid pocket game: the Arrio 24 only has one mesh pocket, which means I can’t pack a Nalgene on one side and store my poles in the other. On the larger Amber, I would have preferred a self-contained compartment at the bottom of the bag for my sleeping bag and pillow. Everything else (clothes, cushions, sleeping bags) is also bigger when you are a plus size hiker, which means sufficient space is more important than ever.

Still, this new line represents a huge step forward for the plus-size outdoor community. This other coveted backpack made me feel like an aspirant. These Gregory bags give me a sense of belonging, like they’re made for me the same way I feel made for the trails.

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About Adam Motte

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