Ode to Bertha

Bertha is the mom who ends up carrying everyone else’s things because they’re too tired to carry it themselves.

She’s the mom who always seems to have remembered to pack an extra sweater for the person who forgot.

She is the mom who always has an extra arm to lend a hand or hold down the fort while you’re off adventuring.

Her arms are always open wide and you fit perfectly in her embrace.

She is protective.

Sleeping on Bertha at the Yogyakarta airport.

She is big and comforting and — oftentimes — the pillow and bed holding you tight in a strange, unfamiliar, place.

Bertha is a three-foot tall, two-feet wide, 65-liter backpack.

Once, while on a plane from Canada to South Korea, a man asked, after watching me struggle to fit Bertha in the overhead compartment, if I thought she was worth it. He was considering getting a pack for his daughter for graduation, and wanted to know, how I liked the big, bulky bag.

I love it.

Yes, she is sometimes too large for the overhead bin and flight attendants glare at me with impatience.

True, she can get heavy and force me to slouch over while walking.

No, I would never actually hike any mountains while carrying Bertha, in the normal state I usually pack her.

But I love her. She has now carried me (or vice versa?) through nine countries and we will be adventuring to two new ones this month.

Her many pockets expand, fitting anything and everything I could possibly need. Her waist straps are cushioned and perfectly hug my hips, taking all stress off my back and shoulders.

And yes, when stranded in airports, train and bus stations, I have slept with her on my back. It’s like sleeping in a large, squishy recliner when propped against a wall and it’s quite comfortable.

At her largest, I have fit over seventy pounds inside. When empty, it’s maybe five. So, yes, I would highly, highly recommend to anyone: find a Bertha of your own.

Invest in the pack.

P.S. Bertha was one of the cheaper options of her size available at REI at the time, and I have never regretted this purchase for a moment.

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