The Backpack: Home Away from Home

By Molly Herber

Jun 2, 2015

By Inge Davids


inge-davids-backpack-alaska Getting ready for the day. Photo courtesy of Inge Davids.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had the desire to explore. This drive eventually led me to a gap year in Norway, my first extended experience abroad and in the backcountry. For this daunting adventure I needed to acquire a great deal of outdoor equipment, the most important being a backpack.

The trip to my local outdoor retailer left me bewildered. The top-of-the-line Deuter backpack I was fitted cost more than I, a sixteen year-old outdoor novice, had budgeted. It also seemed to have unnecessary technical add-ons for the inexperienced backpacker I was. Why not simply purchase the look-a-like pack from the local outlet store, which happened to be very cheap and had just as many belts and buckles?

Big mistake. As soon as I ventured out in the Norwegian winter, it was clear that my wannabe backpack, whose belt buckle broke on the first day, had nothing whatsoever in common with the Deuter that the salesperson had so enthusiastically recommended. In short, my purchase was nothing more than an exceptionally bad fitting sack. I suffered my way through the multi-day trip and vowed to never make the same mistake again.


inge-davids-pack-only-alaska Pack's off for a rest. Photo courtesy of Inge Davids.

Three years later, I ventured on my next experience abroad, this time to New Zealand. Waiting for me on the luggage belt was my very own 70 + 10 L Deuter backpack. It fit me like a glove, and was ready for any outdoor challenges. That pack has been with me for eight years now, and has accompanied me on many wilderness adventures, including my NOLS course in Alaska. Flag patches proudly indicate all the countries I have explored with it, a small tear reminds me of that extreme bush walk in Alaska, and it has yet to lose any of its buckles.

These days, I often carry my whole life in my Deuter. I now know to never underestimate the importance of great gear. It can mean the difference between carrying a heavy and useless sack on your back, or your trusted home away from home.


Inge Davids is a NOLS alumni from the Netherlands. After graduating with a BA in Interior Architecture from an art academy, Inge traveled throughout North America for two years in pursuit of adventure. It was during this time that she found herself on a NOLS course, as well as working in Denali National Park. Inge now works at the NOLS Alaska branch, and previously interned for the school in Patagonia. During her free time she enjoys exploring and using writing and photography to share her stories of exploration.

Learn more about Alaska Backpacking and Sea Kayaking.

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Written By

Molly Herber

Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber

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