Back when I was a ski patroller in Virginia, my carry was the Madden Mountaineering Patrol pack. Now, “ski patrol” + “Virginia” might sound like a punchline, and I’m not making any claims that it was dangerous or taxing or anything other than a fun way to spend time on the hill and get a season pass, but I did carry first-aid gear in my pack, and yes, there were Scooby-Doo Band-Aids and lollypops for the kids, but so what? I still had to carry stuff, I still had to help people, and the way I hauled everthing was in the ample but not overly so Patrol.
Of course, this was many moons ago, but late last spring, at a Portland outdoor design conference, I ran into a friend, who told me that he’d just helped bring an old heritage brand back to life. Yes, Madden. And yes, he said, they were making the Patrol with all the original patterns.
Struck by a wave of nostalgia, I promptly ordered one in navy blue with a camo interior (sorry, patrol red) and a week or so later it arrived, bringing with it fond memories and confusion as to why lumbar packs have dwindled in popularity. The Patrol is 600 cubic inches, measuring 15.5 inches by 7 by 4, which is big enough to carry lunch, rain gear, a field guide, lunch, first aid kit, and more. It sits nicely at the base of the spine, never bounces or jiggles (even when running), and leaves your shoulders and back free to ventilate. It’s easily swung around to the front to access a camera. What’s not to love?
If the Millennials who fall all over themselves for Topo Designs and Poler haven’t discovered Madden, they should. Built since 1974 in Colorado, it’s an original. But even if they don’t, here’s hoping everyone else does. Packs like the Patrol are incredibly useful, low profile, and functional, whether you’re carrying bandages you never use or, you know, lunch.