Milestones, Media and Mud

10,993. That’s our total social following right now. For our 1,000th post I’d thought I would answer the question I get asked all the time, why Pack Config?

As we pass the 2 year mark, I wanted to take it right back to the beginning. It all started while I was monthly training for a 100km endurance hike called Trailwalker. I was part of a 4 man team that bonded together through our pain and, more importantly, our accomplishments. The blog was a place for me to post images of backpacks that I liked, but soon it became much more. I became interested in how the right pack or packing method could help improve my experience in the field, I shared my thoughts and you all listened.

Having trained for over half a year, when the day of Trailwalker finally arrived my friends and I were ready. Well… mentally at least. The days leading up to the event I got ill. Not too much of a big deal, but that and the excitement of competing meant I barely slept on the eve of the challenge. At 0600 hours, the combination of those things meant I could barely eat the traditional English breakfast laid out for us. Not a great start.

One thing that had plagued my training was blisters. I originally had some well broken in Magnum boots, but they were not waterproof (made clear during the training!) so I purchased new boots. Despite picking good boots and wearing 1,000 Mile socks, I don’t think the blistered areas of my feet ever truly heal for about 4 month before (or after) the event.

Another downfall was my knees. From the first training session I had issues. As we increased the distance, it got worse. Knee braces, medication, physio and even an intense stretching routine performed twice a day for months prior were not enough. After reaching the first checkpoint (1 of 10) I knew I was in for a rough ride.

Above photo credit: Aubrey Wade – Original.

It was rough. But mentally I was finishing this thing, so I pushed through the pain. Just before reaching the 5th checkpoint I was on the verge of passing out. The temperature had steadily increased over the day and the heat was getting to me. I’d been drinking plenty of water and electrolyte filled drinks, but despite that, after stopping by the medics tent I was told that I was severly dehydrated and needed to take some time to rehydrate to avoid getting into trouble. I knew that the longer I stopped to recover the harder it would be for me, and the team, to get going again. It was a timed challenge too, we couldn’t take longer than 30 hours to complete the course, and I didn’t want to hold up my team mates.

With the combination of everything I made the decision to pull out. Months of training; the proud support of my wife, family, friends and collegues; the energy spent raising over £2,500 for Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust (we were in the top 2% of fundraisers); whole days worth of time spend stretching my legs religiously; and at the forefront the support of my team, all made me desperately want to keep going. But in the end I was weak. My body wanted the blissful relief of stopping and I gave it just that. It was probably the most bitter sweet moment of my life.

I watched my friends, my brothers, re-group and walk off into the distance. It turned out that only one of our team finished. They were all worn down by knee issues and blisters, even the finisher had a bad knee for months after. Since that moment I made the decision to avoid being a quitter at all costs.

Above photo credit: Aubrey Wade – Original.

I also realised my packing method was not effective. I focused on being prepared for every eventuality and that meant a heavy pack. I’ve recently re-written the About section of Pack Config to reflect the mindset I had in deciding to take the blog forward. The vision is, and always was, “Improving your pack for the next adventure”. The lessons I learned on Trailwalker shaped this direction and have helped me in so many ways, including with various Pack Config ventures.

With our Facebook and Instagram pages about to reach 1,000 milestones; 10,000 Tumblr followers on the horizon and an overall goal of a 12,000 social following approaching, we’ve got some giveaways coming up. Our team is growing, with contributors now from Poland, Japan, England and of course the United States. We are also working on an exciting relationship between us and Carryology, so stay tuned, we have some great things in store for you all.

Thank you all for joining me in this journey. A lot of you have made it clear how much you like what we’re doing and I appreciate that.

People continue to comment on how useful it is to see other people’s loadouts, so don’t forget to share your own pack, or pack story, with us by either clicking here to read our brief guidelines, or click the link below to get started right away.

Nat Wagstaff Editor-in-Chief

While I was researching packs for a 100km endurance hiking challenge, my interest in how we organise our gear gave birth to Pack Config, a place that inspires its readers to improve their own packs. What I carry, either daily or out on a hike, is constantly being refined as I discover new methods and products. More…

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