Cannonballs for Backpacking
Cannonballs for Backpacking
Imagine we are preparing for a big hike. So we study an entire pile of backpacking magazines, reading the articles (biased), the learned reviews (biased), and looking at the full-page glossy advertisements (biased). In some of those, we learn about the many important advantages of cannonballs, and why every serious backpacker should carry at least one, preferably more. Mind you, these are not ordinary cannonballs. They are specialty backpacking cannonballs, designed by computer and manufactured of the latest space-age materials to enhance the backpacker's wilderness experience. Naturally, some are more featured than others, according to cost. But even for the budget minded there are very simple yet practical models.Many of the photos depict beautiful, happy hikers proudly toting their cannonballs. And the more serious backpackers are carrying much more sophisticated and expensive ones, and of course more of them. Because we are new to hiking, naturally the idea of cannonballs seems a bit strange. So we visit our local backpacking store and talk at length with an exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable salesperson (biased). The gentleman directs us to the store's cannonball section, and shows us some of the many different models. Some are quite large, some fairly small and compact - or so we are told (they all look large to us). Some are green, some blue, one is chrome, one almost scintillates in sparkeling bands, one glimmers like a great diamond, one sort of ...vibrates. Invited to try out some of the more interesting ones, we notice that all are, well ... heavy. Even the ones labeled "featherweight," and those labeled "Ultralight." They feel like they are filed with lead. But the salesperson assures us they comprise unimaginably exotic materials born of nano-alchemy. He then begins explaining certain key features. For instance, depending on the model and degree of sophistication, the backpacking cannonball is designed to stabilize the load within the backpack. Because of its inertial dampening capabilities, it reduces the side-to-side sway, the up and down jounce, and the back and forth hesitations. Equipped with cannonballs, we walk steadier and therefore with less chances of injury. On uneven ground we are more sure-footed. Also, the cannonballs even and distribute the muscular and cardiovascular workout through all parts of the body, thus relieving and in many cases entirely eliminating accumulated stress in certain critical areas such as the knees, legs and feet. One type of cannonball contains a battery of microchips that resonate on the molecular level, and when placed in proximity to the third chakra it markedly enhances arterial and vascular circulation. This is an obvious benefit on any backpacking outing, especially at higher altitudes such as along the PCT and CDT. Another type has powerful rare earth magnets aligned in certain polymorphic ways to promote mental acuity. Students will no doubt soon be toting this type in their book packs. The sales pitch continues, and we listen ever more enrapt. We have to admit, it does make sense! The salesperson then suggests that as beginners we might consider going with something reasonably priced; then after we have gained experience we can add more sophisticated cannonballs to our collection. So after deliberating long and hard to insure that our buying choice is the most thoughtful, we decide on a certain one. Yes, this one feels right! Paying for it dearly, we lug it excitedly out to our car. The long awaited morning arrives, and we drive to our chosen trailhead. Since we had loaded our backpack the previous evening, it is ready to go. And of course our new cannonball has assumed its rightful place inside our backpack. Thanks to the reams of hype, we are quite certain it will prove of inestimable benefit, despite its size and fifteen pounds of weight.