Ah, the foolishness of youth: I’m not entirely sure that I enjoyed it all that much at the time, although I’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing quite like experiencing nature at first hand… If only it could be done without having to do all that tiresome mucking about with tents, primus stoves and sleeping bags, or having to tramp for hours through swamps and cowpat-infested fields!
I did try though, and I owned that most essential piece of kit that the outward-bound traveller requires – a rucksack. This was in the days when a rucksack meant you were serious: Or was a massive, dayglo orange thing, with loads of zip up compartments and an aluminium frame – essentially, it was designed to enable you to carry tent, sleeping bag, primus, change of clothes, kitchen sink, portaloo, rations, enamel mug, chainsaw, portable generator and Swiss army knife, and had a clip you could dangle a Silva compass from, even though you had no idea how to take a reading from it!
If I was to take it out today, no doubt it would elicit a few laughs, but at the time it was the last word in rucksackery. Since then, rucksack – or ‘backpack’ as it has has nw become – design has evolved – not only have they become smaller and more hi-tech, but they’ve also become the ultimate utilitarian, non-fashion statement… Everybody has one of the bloody things!
Businessmen and women, teenagers, shoppers, old and young from all walks of life – it seems that everyone has one of these dreadful accessories slung over a shoulder, strapped to their back, or dangling from some or other part of their body, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. And, it turns out, they are the perfect excuse to be totally obnoxious: I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been obstructed by an obtrusive shoulder attachment, bashed in the face by the canvas hump of an unheeding modern day Quasimodo, or had to stand while some lump of a bag occupies the only available spare seat. Grrrr!
Not me though.
Although, I will admit to being guilty of that particular sin in SL: Only when I do it inworld, I’m far, far worse than those amateur baggage handlers of the real world! Too be fair though, my virtual rucksacks don’t really get an outing all that often, but I do have quite a variety that I like to flaunt on the odd occasion, however they’re not quite the happy camper version that I grew up with in my childhood. You see, along with the obligatory skateboard, strapped to the outside, you’re also likely to find the odd rocket launcher, pack of stun grenades, and high power crossbow complete with vanadium-tipped high explosive bolts! Either that, or you’ll find me equipped with some sort of hi-tech, futuristic cyberpunk accessory kit, glowing with neon attachments, built-in vapour mask, and a variety of tubes, conduits and gadgets.
Then, there’s my post-apocalyptic desert survival kit – probably the closest I’m likely to come to my youthful dayglo rucksack. With its seamless integration with stillsuit and breathing tubes, deployable heatshield and sand shelter: In short, everything I need to evade death and desiccation in an inhospitable environment. So, you see, if have to carry a rucksack, then I’m going to make sure that it’s going to be far more useful than being a handy way to carry my sandwiches to work – when I carry a rucksack, I mean business!
Which isn’t to say I can’t have a bit of fun too, because I own another rucksack inworld, and I think it’s probably my favourite. It’s my panda pouch, complete with it’s own supply of bamboo shoots, and panda-sized laptop computer… because, well, why not?
It’s knowing that your door is always open
And your path is free to all
That makes me tend to leave my reggae bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch
Pat Sandy – Gentle On My Mind