Backpacking With Aldi

Aldi is a German owned supermarket chain that sells some really random stuff. That random stuff happened to include an Adventure Ridge backpack. I found two of them on clearance for a mere $9.99 each. Its hard to pick up a cheap backpack for ten bucks. I found one with a hydration sleeve, padded waist straps, and 75 liter capacity.

This isn’t a full review of the Adventure Ridge backpack. There’s lots of in depth reviews available. Its more of a cautionary tale.

I love to be frugal and when I see a huge backpack for only $10, I can’t pass it up. I picked up two and we planned a weekend on the Tecumseh Trail.

The Jansport was a proper internal frame, well padded, adjustable, modular pack.

Before this Aldi pack, I used a Jansport Klamath 78. It was also too heavy and too big for my purposes. The Adventure Ridge seemed like a reprieve.

It had been several years since I was last backpacked. Life happens and my outdoors experience was largely limited to day hikes. We took a few practice hikes with the Adventure Ridge backpacks. They didn’t seem so bad.

The shuttle dropped off us at the trailhead. Only 42 miles back to the car. We started out feeling confident that crisp cool September morning.

The Tecumseh Trail isn’t especially difficult. We weren’t climbing mountains. We were embracing southern Indiana’s rolling hills. Still, I felt the need to adjust my pack. Then again. And again. I was constantly fiddling with it. The Adventure Ridge had all the appropriate straps and padding and adjustments that one would expect. It just didn’t fit right.

By the end of day one, I noticed the hip belt padding shifting. We were exhausted. I was out of shape (again: life happens). I was sore from the pack. The belt was wearing into me. We passed out in our tent at Yellowwood.

By lunch on day two, the padding was in the top of the belt. Most of the pack seemed durable enough. The straps held and the nylon didn’t rip. But padding shouldn’t move. This is the price of a cheap pack. Modern, high performance backpacks have molded, foam injected, cushiony hipbelts. The material doesn’t move. It doesn’t shift. It hugs your hips just like your favorite jeans.

But I didn’t die.

My dear readers probably expected me to nearly die in the Indiana wilderness, a quarter mile from the nearest farmhouse, all because Aldi let me down.

Aldi didn’t fail me though. I bought an internal frame backpack for $10! That’s incredible. I backpacked with it. The belt was rubbish by the second day but the pack mostly held up. Would I ever backpack with it again? No.

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