Review: Gregory Jade 50 Pack – Women’s

A lot can get lost in translation while I’m traveling. For instance, when I’m traveling you get to see the beautiful sites through the lens of my DSLR, but you usually won’t see the 30lb pack strapped to my back.

Well that’s all about to change. I’m starting this series on the gear that gets me around the world. Because a) I love sharing what actually works and b) you deserve to know what’s out there! This week I’m starting with one of the most important things when backpacking: your pack.

When I first started backpacking I bought one of the cheapest packs I could find. This wasn’t because I didn’t want a nicer pack (duh.), it was because I was broke as a joke and just needed to get out there. I didn’t care about comfort, or if I my spine would scream at me the whole time I was wearing it. What mattered was that I had something I could throw my stuff in.

16998718_10211083498456765_4211689326354528057_n
Old backpack, meet new backpack. This was right before I switched all of my patches over to my new pack (right).

Things aren’t quite the same, now. I have a full time job, and I’m no spring chicken. It was time for me to invest in a pack that would allow my back/body to breathe, while allowing my essentials to be easily accessible. Last year the answer came with the Gregory Jade 50 pack *insert heavenly music*.

The Jade pack is amazing, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision to purchase it, even though it meant saying goodbye to my other pack that had been with me for three years, through thick and thin (and living in France, which is a whole ‘nother story).

Want to see it in action? Click below:

So what’s so great about my new pack? Well the “LTS suspension” which is a fancy way of saying air can reach your back while you’re sweating like a sinner in church. Because that’s a huge reality, and not one that gets caught on the the other side of my Nikon. Carrying 30 lbs on your back makes you sweat. Like a lot.

The great news is that it isn’t as much of a problem with this Gregory pack because the back portion of the pack is shaped to support your back, while giving you the proper aeration.

This pack also has a multitude of pockets. Like, so many. In fact, there were so many that I didn’t even use some. Which is huge, because I usually stuff every possible tiny pocket. This pack also has an expandable front bucket pocket, which you can see in the photo and side and bottom compression, which is perfect for when you’re losing weight (#snacks) or gaining weight (#souvenirs).

One of my favorite features is that the zippers are welded, so they’re actually water proof. Which means if it rains (which it will) there isn’t water seeping into your pack. Glory.

The pack is also just incredibly comfy, which is saying a lot for having pounds and pounds of living supplies on your back. The handles are padded, and the fit system includes a pretty great harness, so that you don’t feel like you’re going to fall backwards…or down to the earth’s core.

In short, this pack is everything a pack should be. It’s intuitive, organized and easy to love. I’m not going to lie, I was reluctant to move on from my last pack…but this one won me over.

Cheers to the next adventure.

16938438_10211083498256760_679143018358291963_n
See those flag pins on the top? Those lasted all of two plane trips before I had to take them off.

 

Ten things I thought I knew about Bangalore, India

7727_1211888250752_709181_n

It’s easy not to know what to expect when you travel internationally. When I went to India I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. And, despite my feeble attempts to prepare myself (I listened to a lot of MIA before flying out), culture shock would be a minimal way of saying I was a “deer in headlights” when I got there. There were some things I learned while I was there, though. And, in the end, I left with so much more knowledge and experience than I ever thought I could gather in one place. So here they are, 10 things I thought I knew about India (specifically Bangalore, where I stayed).  7727_1211892690863_2734341_n

1. Language: A majority of people in major cities speak English. I tried to learn Hindi for months before going to India, which was completely unnecessary (although, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy learning it).

7727_1211168592761_4285015_n

2. Dancing: Bollywood dancing is damn. hard. It looks easy in the  movies, but it will kick the butt of even the most in shape person. I would highly suggest trying to find a class if you travel to India. It was so much fun and a memory I’ll never forget.

3. Sickness: You actually CAN get sick from street food. It’s no joke. Several of my travel buddies got “Bangalore Belly” from eating the street food that looked/smelled so good. I’m not going to go into detail, but we’ll just say… you get sick in EVERY way. Indian street vendors do not hold to the same requirements when preparing their food as most do in the US, and tourist’s immune systems aren’t built to be able to withstand the same things as natives. Be really careful if you decide to try some.

5609_1211168352755_2260474_n

4.  Music/Hollywood: Kelly Clarkson and Lindsey Lohan were names I heard EVERY TIME someone found out I was American. I really think it’s funny that those are the two people who get associated with the United States. While I’m ok with the Kelly obsession, it mildly broke my heart that our international rep lies on the shoulders of Lindsey Lohan.

5. Social System: The caste system is real, and people abide by it. This really shocked me, because I thought that stories about castes had always been exaggerated. It was such an eye opening experience to actually sit down with people and hear their perspectives about what it means to be Indian and live in whichever caste they were born into.

6. Food: Indians take EXTREME pride in their traditional food. Once I sent back a barely eaten plate of food and the chef himself came out and asked me what was wrong with it. Nothing had been wrong with it, except that my mouth was on fire from how many spices were added. He was so upset. I finished my plate of food from that day out – spicy or not.

7727_1214502796114_3452237_n

7. Hang out spots: Hookah bars are like Starbuck coffees in Bangalore. When someone first casually asked me to hang out at one I thought, ” Wait. Can’t we just get coffee or something?” Little did I know they hold a completely different meaning and atmosphere than they do in the US. There were so many on every street that I got used to the idea. But, I’m still a fan of coffee shops.

5609_1211165032672_7276221_n

 

 

 

8. Animals: One of my first thoughts when I got to India was, “Why the hell is there a cow in the street?!” The traffic in Bangalore was pretty on par with a big city in Seattle during rush hour (except more rickshaws) and, yet, there she was. Not caring who was around, there was a cow crossing the street. Dogs were another animal that roamed freely in the streets, belonging to no one in particular. It was kind of fun to make friends with some of the dogs, but there was also always this thought in the back of my mind to call and report a missing animal.

9. Affection: Ok, so this one I HAD been “warned” about. It was fairly common to see men walking holding hands or with their arms around each other. In the US this would probably suggest some kind of romantic relationship, but in India? Just good (good good good) friends.

5609_1211169832792_4949570_n

10. Our Impact: I couldn’t help feeling like the whole time I was traveling I needed to apologize for the US. We have so much more of an impact than we can imagine in countries like India. People dream about running away to where we live. People know our music, our movies, our tabloids. The US has so much more of a global voice than I ever had realized. What are we doing with it?  I think traveling to India really made me become more aware of how I live and what I support. Just think of it this way – over a billion people are watching.

Do you guys have any good culture shock stories out there!?  Leave a comment and let me know!

5609_1211166992721_6308895_n
Rickshaw rides AKA rides of constant near death experiences.