How many rucksacks do you need? Wrong question!

Cyclists have a very well thought out and balanced position on owning more than one version of a piece of equipment. When asked how many bikes it’s acceptable to own, the answer normally comes back “the number you currently own, plus one”.

As a concept, it’s a very good one. No one likes to have limits placed on them and let’s face it, if you fancy a new bike and you can afford it, why shouldn’t you? Well, there’s probably plenty of partners of cyclists of both sexes who could think of a lot of reasons but then the well established rule of thumb comes to your rescue and makes it all OK.

It’s the same for sport walking. With a sport scientific approach to walking – seeking performance benefits, focusing on technical functions etc – the opportunity to acquire an equipment arsenal with variants for different applications is immense and possibly the best piece of equipment to exploit the cyclists’ ‘purchase justification formula’ is the humble rucksack or vest (if you’ve made the full transition to ultra running gear style).

Yes, you quite possibly need different shoes for different applications and yes there are a few other pieces of kit where you can have one for each specific situation but with vests and rucksacks the opportunities are endless. You need a low volume vest or sack for short training walks, a performance vest for challenge routes and 24 hour walks, maybe a compact alpine sack for peak bagging challenge walks and then there’s the need for a higher volume sack for multi-day routes. You see the potential?

When you focus on performance, as is the case with sport walking, you don’t just want to have one sack that handles everything because that inevitably means compromise – if it’s just right for the challenge in hand that’s great but if not, it’s going to be either too big or too small, be too stripped back or have too many features. No my friends, there’s only one approach that will enable you to focus on performance and that is to pick equipment that is exactly right for your specific goal.

You may have five vests or sacks in the loft already but with sport walking, there’s always a new challenge, an opportunity to refine your approach or set a new performance objective and that means there could be a very good reason to make it six, seven, eight…. and because you’re doing it for a performance benefit, you don’t really need to be able to justify it!

Now, this may seem like a bit of a pointless article – what does it prove? Nothing. Probably the only argument in its defence is that you shouldn’t have to prove a need for equipment purchases. Need doesn’t improve performance, need shows that there is already a performance deficit. If you need something, then you don’t already have it and if this thing is going to be good for you then you obviously aren’t already performing as well as you could.

The argument here is to take action to help fulfil an objective. Be led by your objectives, your goals and choose the kit that will help you achieve them.  So, go ahead, get that new sack and if you still feel guilty, just nip round to a cyclist’s house and peek through the garage door. You won’t feel guilty for long!


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