I Heart Backpacks

20130721_112704Back when I was in high school, I took a walk with some friends to a Tim Horton’s a few blocks away for lunch. I was the only one who took his backpack for the trip. One of my friends asked, “Why did you bring your backpack? Like, do you feel safer with it?”

“I guess so,” I replied. It struck me then that I did carry my backpack most everywhere I went, no matter how long or short the expedition. And yes, it did provide some sense of safety, like I was prepared, somehow, for the unexpected. It’s not as though I carried a tent and first aid kit in my backpack, but I felt better having it with me. I also felt better knowing that I had the ability to carry stuff while keeping my hands free, and I felt more comfortable having my keys, wallet, and other crap in my pack, rather than my pockets.

For the first six weeks after my release from hospital, I was barred from lifting heavy (5-10 lbs.) objects, and I shied away from strapping on my backpack for my walks, even if it felt light, fearful I would develop a hernia. Now it would be cool if I could just throw on a t-shirt and shorts, lace up my sneakers and go for a walk. But in my post-op state, I needed a few more things even for trips around the neighbourhood. In case of emergency, I had to carry my cell phone, to ward off dehydration (which can come on quickly for us folks who are sans-colon) I had to carry a water bottle, in case I had to unexpectedly empty my ostomy bag I had to carry some tissues, and in case I needed additional liquids or a snack, I had to carry a little cash.

Overall, it’s not a grocery list of items to carry, but there was another twist in the plot. My pelvic wound made it uncomfortable to wear anything that didn’t have an elastic waistband. My utilitarian cargo shorts were unwearable. So, instead of carrying a wallet, I used a large paper clip to clasp together my health card, debit card, and a folded five-dollar bill. I kept my big ballin’ money clip in one pocket of my black Nike shorts, a Kleenex slim pack in the other. I held my phone and water bottle together in one hand. Now do you see the beauty of backpacks?

Now that I’ve survived six-plus weeks since my release, I feel comfortable wearing my beloved backpack again. I’ve been slowly regaining some of my long-lost fitness, making longer excursions from home. So now in my backpack you’ll find my phone, my full-sized wallet, tissues, a water bottle, and what I call my Oh Shit Kit (patent pending). That kit holds my backup ostomy supplies: pre-cut flange, scissors in case I need to make an adjustment, mouldable adhesive ring, pouch, gauze pads, powder, Cavilon wipes, hand sanitizer, and a disposal bag. All my supplies still leave the backpack relatively light.

I feel safer with it, and I can venture out for little trips around town, and doing so makes me feel more like myself. Thanks, trusty backpack!

About rasheedclarke

Award-winning author. Marathon runner. Exceptional dresser. I'd like to be all those things.


  1. I only stopped wearing a backpack because of ‘fashion’ … Hell, I’d probably use a fanny-pack regularly if I weren’t embarrassed. Backpacks are so much more useful and comfortable than every other carrying solution. The only drawback I’ve ever found is that they make my back sweaty when I walk, but I solved that by not walking anywhere.

    • The back sweat can be an issue, but I’d take that over having to carry things by hand or subjecting one shoulder to carry a heavy load. The only fashion problem with backpacks that I see is that you can’t wear them with a suit; it looks odd. But otherwise, they’re a pretty stylish means of carrying your shit.

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