I bought my laptop in 2016. Actually, I bought my first laptop in 1996. In fact, in 1996, it felt like I paid a crap ton for a very mid-level laptop, a mini-printer, and a laptop bad that both would fit into. And I got it all out of Computer Shopper...which was how everybody I knew at the time got their computer gear. It was this super-thick magazine that was just page after page of ads and toll free numbers to order the gear. I think for all of it, I paid nearly $3k. I think it had like 64MB RAM and a giant 1 GB HDD and a respectably fast 24.4 modem. I think, back then, the top of the line laptops doubled those numbers. I used that laptop all the time until 2000, and the last time I remember using it was around 2006.
After that first laptop, I went through quite a few desktops starting in 2000. After all, I was trying to get into IT, and I needed a small test lab to learn how to do stuff. I think the most I had was 5 desktops at once all networked together, but, for a while there averaged 3 of them all hooked up to a couple of kvm switches so that I could line them up under the desk. I always had one designated as the one I use for everything, and it was either spec-ed out and built or bought off the shelf to be a good machine. The others I either bought or built on the cheap. Even after I got married, for several years, I ran 3 machines...2 under the desk and one in the little computer cubby in the desk.
That brings me to my first line. I bought my laptop in 2016. I kind of retired all the desktops and bought a laptop in 2016. Again, it was a good mid-level machine that had room for expandability. So, when I bought it, I, also, got a big HDD to put in it and I doubled the RAM. It was a great machine. Used it until just the other night.
A couple of days ago, I sat it on the little table next to where I work every day. I keep in there and turned on to keep up with email and, honestly, when things are slow, I put a youtube vid on or bring up my Amazon music and listen to tunes. When I set it down and opened the lid, I heard something pop, but didn't think too much about it. Got off work, closed it up and carried it over to the couch, and then I sat down to watch some Netflix and surf the web.
When I re-opened it that time, not only did it pop real loud, but the pop was accompanied by a loud CRAAAACK!! I spun it around and realized that not only had the hinge for the lid broken, but the whole bottom of the screen broke open. Taking a close look at it, there is no way to fix it without completely replacing the lid and screen.
Since the laptop is now (does the math: 2023-2016=7) 7 years old, I figured I should just replace it. So, balancing the screen very precariously, I spent the next couple of hours looking into laptops. Finally settled on a couple of different ones, and, out of those two, found one as cheaply at a local Best Buy as I could find online (actually $25 cheaper). About 11p, I went ahead and ordered it for pickup. Headed to the store about 11a the next morning to pick it up. Then spent the next 2 days trying to set it up. Which that will be another post on its own I'm sure.
Anyways. New laptop in the house. It's another mid-level machine. I spec-ed it so that I don't necessarily have to upgrade it, but there is an empty HDD bay in it, so I'm probably going to get one and drop it in. Other than that, I"m hoping to get 7 years out of it too. I guess we'll see.
This week, I'm going to tell you about the backpack that I use most often these days. It's the Teton Sports Summit 1500. It's one that I saw perusing the interwebs while just looking to see what might be out there. To me, it looked like it would be a good pack. When I initially tried to order one, they were out of stock everywhere and the Teton Sports website was backordering them. I eventually ordered one because I really liked what I was seeing. Then I made the mistake of hitting YouTube for reviews. By and large, folks on the Tube of You don't like this backpack, and they don't like it for (what I think are) stupid reasons. But I digress.
Also, once again, full disclosure. Most of the pics of this pack are ripped from the Teton Sports website. You'll know the one that I took.
I had started thinking about getting another day pack mostly because I realized that with what I usually carried, if I pulled my sweatshirt or jacket off and put it in, there was no room for anything else. So, if I was doing a long hike and carrying, say, a lunch, I didn't really have room for my jacket. If I stuffed my jacket in, the pack had no room for anything extra. So I started keeping an eye out for a pack that was a little bigger.
Enter the Teton Sports Summit 1500. It's a 25L pack. It holds a 3L water bag. It has 5 zippered pockets, including a couple that are in the lid. It's more narrow than a lot of daypacks I've seen, but it's taller. It also has a rain cover stashed in the bottom. So what are the features?
It has one big main compartment. No interior pockets or dividers except the sleeve on the back wall for the water bladder. It has a double draw-string closure that then clips closed. So, whatever you put in that compartment is going to be pretty well secured. It's not going to accidentally fall out.
On the face of the pack is a zipper that runs up almost the entire height of the pack. Inside that zipper is a shallow pocket that runs the width of the bag. I have found it perfect for trail maps, those brochure-sized ID cards, and the little notebook that I carry when I hike.
On the sides are the usual 2 mesh pockets that fit water bottles pretty well, and there are also 2 zipper pockets at the top that zip about half way down the pack. I've never tried to stuff these full, but have found that one is the perfect size for a bandana or small towel or gloves or things like that. The one on the other side is where I put my snacks.
There are 2 zipper pockets in the lid, one is on the inside of the lid, and the other is on the outside. The one on the inside seems like a good spot for all those little misc. items that I occasionally want, but (1) don't need often enough to put in an outside pocket or (2) don't want to have to dig around in the bottom of the main pocket to find. The one on the outside is where I stash my little trail first aid kit as well as wallet, keys, and stuff like that.
On the bottom it has trekking pole loops and on the top it has straps to strap something down. The loops are where my trekking poles live when I'm not using them. The straps work really well for my butt pad. As with the other pack, I have added a couple of grimlocks (plastic D-rings) and some shock cord.
The pack has those 2 cinch straps on each side, 2 cinch straps on the front for that tall zipper pocket, 2 more for the lid, and the 2 straps on top to cinch something down onto the top of the pack. In total, that's 8 straps on the pack. In fact, there was one vid that I watched after I bought the pack but before I had it in hand. The reviewer in question was complaining about "too many straps. You can't do anything on the pack without having to move straps around."
You can see in the pic above all the straps. Yes, there are lot. However, I don't think it's too many, and I don't think they get in the way all the time. Most of them have an elastic band on them to tuck the unused portion of the strap back onto itself to keep it tamed. I tuck the excess of the lid straps into the side mesh pockets, and the excess for the tie-down straps on top I have tied into a loop that keeps them up by the lid. I really like the fact that I can cinch the pack down as much as I can.
The pack has comfortable straps...once you get used to them. The first time I wore the pack, my shoulders were super tired. I couldn't figure out why. The next time I went hiking with it, I did just the opposite of what I thought I should do, and I loosened the shoulder straps up. That seemed to fix it. It's been super comfortable ever since.
The hip belt rides a little higher than I like, but it's tall enough that it does still carry some weight. Not that the pack is big enough to really need to carry weight, but it's nice that it does. On a pack as small as this one, I would expect that the hip belt is primarily to secure the pack to your back a little better. I've also added a couple of hip belt bags and hang my bear spray off the hip belt. And, yes, I know that there are no bears in my part of the country, but I carry it for hogs. The hogs down here are prolific and ill-tempered.
The back has that upside down T thing going on to help with ventilation on your back. The H2O port comes out on the right side (when you wear it) just under the lid. The sternum strap clip doubles as an emergency whistle if that is something you like your pack to have. The back does have an internal frame of some sort and is non-adjustable, but the straps adjust enough that, for a small pack, it all seems to work together to be comfortable.
There are a couple of things that I immediately changed on the pack. You can see in the pic just above that it comes with ice axe (I think is what that is) straps. I guess that makes the trekking pole loops to officially be axe loops. I've never actually even seen an ice axe, so I thought it fitting to pull those straps off and put shock cord straps on in place of them. That's how I secure my trekking poles now.
I, also, didn't like that there were no hip belt pockets. I'm still trying to find the perfect attaching pockets, and have been through several, but am still on that quest. I got some from Alps Mountaineering that I used for a while. They weren't bad, but I wanted to put a small pair of binocs in one, so I am currently using a set I bought off of Amazon. The ones I got I think are sold primarily to the survivalist crowd and probably usually attach to their bug-out bags, but they're working pretty well at the moment.
Other than those 2 things, for me, this is about the perfect day pack. It holds what I need, and it offers plenty of room to stow a jacket while still leaving a little room to carry something else if I want (like lunch or a book to sit and read along the trail). I love this little pack. It's built extremely well. It has plenty of room for short and long hikes. And in the world of backpacks, at $60, it's pretty dang economical. In my opinion, not only could you not go wrong with this bag, but it's the best one out there right now.
I like this pack enough that Teton makes an almost identical pack (the Summit 2800) that is 45L and gray instead of orange, and I got it for camping. It's pretty much the same, only bigger. It, also, on the bottom has an extra pocket for a sleeping bag. That sleeping bag pocket opens up to the main pack using a drawstring closure. So you can make the main pocket one big open pocket or one not quite so big pocket with the sleeping bag compartment underneath it. Also, the sleeping bag compartment is accessible from the outside. Other than those things, honestly, it's just a bigger version of the orange one.
Teton Sports seems to make a lot of good products that are quality without having to pay the premium associated with some of the high end brands. In addition to these two packs, my wife uses their Scout 3400 pack when we go camping or backpacking. I've also got one of their pop-up tents and their sleeping bag liners. Everything I've gotten from them seems to be good quality and built to last. In addition, I've talked to their customer service reps on several occasions, and they've all been super helpful and friendly. I'm, honestly, surprised that I don't see more reviews on Teton Sports and more people using their products. If you need quality equipment on a budget, be sure to give them a look. In my opinion, bang for the buck, you'd be hard pressed to find anything better.
This week I'm going to tell you about that Outdoor Products backpack. Over the course of the week since I typed up that last post, I actually found the name of the backpack. It's the Outdoor Products Trail Break pack. it has an 18L capacity, and came with a 3L water bag. It looks like Walmart still sells the black one online for $35, or you can get the green one on eBay for around $20. It hasn't been listed on the Outdoor Products website for probably a year, and I've been told by their customer service that they're not making it anymore.
Also, full disclosure. The professional looking pics I have below I stole off the Walmart website. I'll start it off with this one.
The back of the pack has the compartment dedicated to the water bag, and I'll get to that in a bit. The pack has 1 big main pocket in front of that one that I've always described as a school backpack pocket. You can zip it open from either side (2 zippers for this pocket). You zip it open, and it's just a big, open space. No dividers or internal pockets in it.
There's a secondary main pocket that only has one zipper to it. So it zips to and from one side. It's not as big and open as the main pocket, but it has 3 smaller pockets on the back wall. The smaller pockets are 2 different sizes, and one of them has a velcro clasp over it. I'm guessing that was intended to be a phone pocket or something...velcro it in so it doesn't accidentally fall out.
It has a much smaller zipper pocket on the face of the pack. That one is about the size of a phone, but since there's no protection in it, I always used it to throw a snack bar or small bag of trail mix. This pocket is, honestly, not really big enough for much else.
It has the pretty big mesh pocket on the face of the pack that you can clip closed. I always found that one handy for keeping a trail map or the little notebook that I carry when I hike. I'd also typically stuff my wallet and truck keys in this mesh pocket when I'd leave the ride.
Just below this mesh pocket is a zippered pocket that holds the included rain cover. I'm not a huge fan of rain covers. Sometimes they work with very dry results. Sometimes you wonder if it kept any water out at all. I used this one a couple of times in mist and drizzle, and it seemed to work well enough.
Then there are the 2 mesh pockets on the side that I imagine most folks use for water bottles. There's a cinch strap on either side of the pack just above the mesh pockets. There are no pole loops on this one, so I always carried my trekking poles in these pockets, and secured them using the cinch straps.
There are two "daisy-chains" on it just above the mesh pocket on the face. I put daisy-chains in quotes because on a pack this small, they're more like double loops. I have a couple of grimlocks (plastic D-rings) on those. That makes it handy for clipping something on the pack if needed. I strung a loop of shock cord between the two, and used one of them to clip my butt pad to the pack. I'd stuff it under the shock cord to keep it from flopping around while I was walking.
Rounding out the pack are the hip belts. There's a pocket on each of those, but they're small and tight enough that my wallet wouldn't fit, and my keys were a bit too big. I'd usually carry a small bag of trail mix in one of those.
Overall it's a great pack! At 18L, it's not so small that you're only carrying water, but it's not so big that you're carrying more than you would need. In addition to my usual load, I could stuff a sweatshirt or jacket into the main pocket, but that would fill it up. It's a relatively comfortable pack even though it's not adjustable. The only thing that bugs me occasionally (and it's more a preference and not a comfort thing) is that the hip belts are a bit high. They ride above my hips, so they help secure the pack to my body, but they're not carrying any weight at all. Then again, on a pack this small, there's not a lot of weight to be carried.
Now the water bag pocket, they used an interesting concept for it. After using the pack as much as I have, I'm still not sure whether I like it, but I know I prefer the more traditional approach better. Take a look at the two pics below, and then I'll describe it for you.
If you look on that back ridge of the pack in the pic on the left, you'll see a long zipper that appears to continue on down the right shoulder strap. If you look at the pic on the right, you'll see that zipper does, indeed, continue about half-way down the length of that shoulder strap. Rather than have the usual H2O port on the back of the pack somewhere, that zippered pocket is it. Open it up, and it's a very thin pocket where you hang the bladder. Then you run the tube the length of the zipper to where it exits on the shoulder strap.
It's an interesting way to solve that problem. It's, also, where my bag had an issue. I used it for a long time, and always had the bladder in it. Then one day I decided that I was going to use it without the bladder, and realized that they had not actually sewn in one side of the end of the zipper. So long as the water tube was run through the shoulder strap, the zipper would stop a couple of inches short of the end. When I pulled the bladder out and zipped that up, the zipper just came off the end, and, despite my best efforts, the zipper would not go back on.
The Outdoor Products warranty and customer service were both stellar even though the pack already had a lot of miles on it. I let them know I had an issue, they asked for pics, and they quickly covered it. The backpack wasn't being made at that point, so they gave me credit on their website. I already had my eye on the pack that I'll talk about next week, so I gave the credit to my wife to get one that she needed. Later on, I ended up doing some surgery on the bag to get the zipper back in place, and then sewed everything up so that it works again. Not long after I bought the bag, I replaced all the gray zipper pulls with bright yellow ones, so I used bright yellow thread on it when fixed the zipper.
I really like this daypack. I've used it enough that it's well broken in. I've personalized it by adding those grimlocks, changing the zipper pulls, and now it has the yellow stitching where I fixed it. It's relatively comfortable, and it holds enough to get you by for a day, but not so much that it's really going to get heavy. The back on it has that upside down T pattern that helps with ventilation. I've got no complaints about this pack. In fact, at the $35 that it is currently listed on the Walmart website, I don't know that you could get a better bang for your buck day pack.
Read today about a company that, at the conclusion of the interview, asks the interviewee to write a haiku about the interview experience.
Now I've heard that some companies will ask you off-the-wall questions to see how you think on your feet. Or they'll ask you how to do a simple task to see how detail-oriented your thinking process is. Or they'll ask you a question that seems simple, but want to see if you think outside the box and give the usual, easy answer. I've even sat through some of these kinds of questions. And in most cases I thought they were as ridiculous as they are. Truth is, I think most companies that asked them heard about the famous (or infamous) Google interview process, and they wanted to do something that seemed just as hip and trendy so folks would want to work there. So they just came across as copy-cats.
There were a couple of technical interviews that I sat through where the weird question was beneficial. Those two interviews were with different companies and a couple of years apart. They both asked the same question. How do you make a PB&J?
The first time, I answered the question, but I kind of stumbled on myself because I hadn't really thought it through. I gave some details, but realized when I left that I had still been a bit high level in my answer. I didn't get that job. I think that was more about me telling them I was trying to cut my commute down and then them telling me the job involved a bit of driving to field offices every day. But I digress.
The second time I was asked the question, I was ready. I went into mind-numbing detail. "Get your bread out of the cabinet, and be sure that it's sandwich bread. I prefer this brand and this variety for these reasons, but as long as it's sliced, you should be fine. Gently set the loaf of bread on the counter in a way such that it won't fall off. Now you can get your utensils out of the drawer. Go to your silverware drawer and pull out a knife. Not a sharp one, but one of the full-size table knives like they set next to your plate at suppertime. Pull that out of the drawer and set it on the counter next to the bread. Now let's find the jelly. I actually prefer jam, but that's a matter of personal preference..." The guy didn't even let me finish. I was five minutes into my answer and just getting to the point of putting the peanut butter on the bread when he finally stopped me and said, "sounds like you can definitely pay attention to the details when you need to." I was prepared to go on for another five or more minutes. Don't clown me with a question like that, because, according to Mrs Enfinger back in 6th grade, I got a PHD in class clown. That job I got. Or at least got offered. They didn't offer enough, and I turned it down after a week of trying to get them to increase the offer. They did, but just barely.
Anyways, most of the time I think those kinds of interview questions and gimmicks don't really serve a purpose. When I was on the other side of the table, I refused to ask those kinds of questions. Instead I'd give an actual example they might encounter, and then I'd ask them how they would respond. Details? I could tell in their answer if they knew what they were talking about. I didn't care if they could bore me with the tedious details on how to make a sandwich.
So I was reading this morning and saw this new take on this whole "who can ask the dumbest, most off the wall thing in an interview, and I think this one wins. Hands down it wins. Apparently, some company (they didn't say who) would ask, at the end of the interview, for the applicant to write a haiku describing the interview experience. I thought about it for a couple of minutes, and here's what I penned. And those that know me know that I'm just brash enough that this is what I would give them. I present to you, my interview haiku.
This is the dumbest
Interview question I've had
You’ll hire me or won’t
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. He believes chocolate milk made from milk that is anything less than whole milk is basically water and deserves to be dumped down the sink so nobody has to suffer through it. He hates having to shop for clothes. But he has a thing for really cool bags, and, consequently, has more gig bags than guitars and a closet full of messenger bags and backpacks. He still misses his dog who was taken by cancer years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.