Why? (It’s so gross to spend my time that way, and I have other, decently pressing things to do.)
I am particular. I was gifted a pretty advanced backpack a couple years ago, and unbeknownst to me, my backpack sophistication increased. Now that I’m shopping for a replacement, I realize all the features my current bag has that I want to retain. There are other, new features I want too. Feature avarice.
I came in with a particular aesthetic goal. I articulated the aesthetic I think i want to manifest this year, and the bag should reflect that. I’ve written up my style thoughts for this year already (maybe I’ll add them to this blog), and I want my backpack to manifest them.
I ended up finding a thread on Reddit about someone finding their ‘goldilocks’ bag. It’s no longer sold, and was only sold in Japan. It’s not super rare and it’s not perfect, but I really like it, and none of the English review sites have anything to say about it. I found it on eBay; hopefully I’ll win the auction tonight.
The overall shopping experience is horrendous — surfing the web to find the right thing is so hard when there are so many things. The number of review sites etc makes it harder too — I don’t trust any of them in particular, but it seemed like the best resource. There are so many “professional curators” today compared to the early 2010s, “professional curators” with their “lifestyle blogs” and their “affiliate links.”
By the end of the hunt this afternoon I had all of this pent up “purchasing energy” that I needed to use — I bought some shorts and pants too. A few other misc things. All adding up to way more than the bag.
I also wanted the bag to reflect my values in some way, but it’s so hard to get something outside of the norm–the norm aisle is so big now. I feel like I just stood in the toothpaste aisle for an hour, then kinda gave up and walked around the corner to find a-whole-nother aisle filled with toothpaste. I wasn’t just in a toothpaste aisle, I was in a toothpaste Costco. I don’t exactly feel bad (as in guilty) about it, but it’s not a happy thought.
Part of me worries that the story I can tell about it — that I searched and searched and found a very specific backpack no longer sold and only advertised in Japan, that there are no English language videos about it, and I needed to get it off eBay–that this story is what I needed from the backpack, that this story was the “killer feature” I needed my backpack to have. Only once I found a backpack that could give me this story, was I confident that the backpack I’d get would be unique enough for me — not only in a superficial, ‘no one else will have this bag’ way, but also in a deeply superficial ‘the only backpacks for me are backpacks that are rare’ kind of way.
If there’s a silver lining, I do think I’ve built up a better sense of what a backpacks is now. And what it could be. I’ve gone through various states of understanding them. I have a feeling this “wisdom” will continue to develop over time, whether or not it’s important. My new backpack will open me to a new way of moving through the world, of attaching objects to myself, of presenting. I’ve thought/wondered if a backpack for me is a miniature home — if, as I think about home, and life and wife and future, if buying a backpack is a miniature playing out my future, like when you browse houses on Zillow in different states that you don’t plan to move to “but just maybe…”
I’d like this point to be more ironic. Or sardonic. Or sarcastic. Something that’s a little more beside myself, more demonstrably, or more easily identifiably “meta”-style — but I can’t go there. I now am 15-hours-of-backpack-searching older, “15-backpack-brain-hours” wiser and more sophisticated. I now know the state of the 2018 to 2019 American backpack market, and, while that knowledge will diminish over time, this time will forever be a part of who I am.