Why I’ll Never Stop Exploring with The North Face

As I was packing up to leave work Friday afternoon, I grabbed my North Face Recon backpack from the corner and threw in my personal belongings – reading glasses, portfolio, Hydro Flask – along with my work laptop. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of excitement welled up inside me. Maybe it was the anticipation that Friday afternoon brings or maybe because I was watching “Congo” when I wrote this or perhaps The North Face does that good of a job with storytelling, but I felt like I was preparing to head back into the field on some important mission, grabbing nothing but the essentials and hurriedly stuffing them away. When I finished zoning out, backpack zippers in hand, it occurred to me that I’ve now owned this pack for over ten years. Queue the nostalgia…

When I graduated high school, my dad thought it was also time for me to upgrade my backpack. The old, trustworthy JanSport still had some juice left, but my dad and I both felt like it was time for me to adopt a newer, mature companion for my next journey to adulthood. So, we took a trip to REI to purchase my first North Face backpack (and first TNF item for that matter). Combing through the aisles of myriad product and eyeing every hang tag, I couldn’t believe packs could cost that much; this was no longer a $30 trip to Target! Though I was but a naive teenager at the time, I now realize that it was a lesson in investing. Not only did this pack take me through college, it carried me through graduate school, a two year stint in Mammoth Lakes, numerous road trips and day trips, and 10 countries not counting the re-visits (that’s more than one country per year that I’ve owned the pack!) During the summer months, when it wasn’t serving as my book bag or carry-on, it sufficed as a beach bag. For the short getaways, my overnighter. Now, as a responsible adult and family man, it’s my office bag (but still a trustworthy carry-on). And to think, I considered getting something else for work. For shame…

Earlier I said this was my first TNF backpack, but it was also my last. In actuality, I haven’t needed another one. Sure, I’ve purchased a couple of different packs here and there, but they haven’t lasted nor lived up to my expectations set by TNF. However, a couple of years ago I purchased my second TNF pack – the Base Camp duffel. To a good extent, and sometimes to my wife’s discontent, I can be a brand-snob; I really care to buy products from specific companies. Maybe it’s my consumerist habits or that I worked for a company who taught me about proper brand management. In most instances, I simply appreciate quality – and the companies that “get it” and do things right, those that respect and help to progress the industries of which they’re a part. That said, I was very particular and intentional when purchasing this bag, so much so that I had to sell a heap of belongings, including an Ikea futon, at a local swap meet just to make enough money to purchase this specific duffel. And just like my Recon backpack, this bag has carried its weight (pun intended). It’s my go-to when traveling  – locally or internationally, overnight or week-long. Keeping with tradition, it now serves as the family beach bag in-between camping trips. I even convinced my brother to purchase his own, and I’m pretty sure his has been promoted from daily gym bag to Ragnar relay supplies carrier.

I hoped to write this letter in another decade, when 20 years seems more significant than ten, but I felt compelled to share my story and express my affinity for The North Face. I can’t say for certain that I’ll still own these packs by then, though with their track record I wouldn’t be surprised. Besides, all that’s been damaged to my backpack so far are the zipper tabs for the main compartment and the elastic draw chord for the beverage holders. No other rips, holes, or tears.

So, for the loyalty that my backpack (and, as an extension, The North Face) has shown me, I am grateful and hope to return the favor. In 17 or18 years, when my daughter graduates high school (and God willing any other kids we have), I hope to take her to REI to purchase her own TNF backpack. Maybe we’ll do it sooner, maybe not. Either way, I’d like to think that this little trip will act as a rite of passage where I, too, can teach my kids about investment, value, and quality – and to never stop exploring.

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Why I’ll Never Stop Exploring with The North Face

Do It For Her

My daughter is four weeks old today, and she’ll officially be one month old in two days. Even before she was born, many parents were telling me how quickly time goes by when one has kids. In one instant they’re born; then all of a sudden they are graduating high school or getting married.

The past four weeks have definitely gone by in a blur, much like my sleep pattern, and to say it’s been an adjustment would be an huge understatement. My baby isn’t too engaging yet and is really only operating out of biological necessity – eating, pooping, sleeping (repeat) – but I’m constantly learning – about her, myself, my wife, and my marriage – because of her. And because no one gave me any practical or specific ways to “adjust,” here are some helpful tips from one newbie dad to another.

Be engaged.

When you’re around baby put down the phone or tablet and be with her/him. One recent morning, I had baby in my lap while momma was still sleeping. I thought I could use this time to catch up on my news feeds (because, instagrams) until I came across the following post seconds later. Enough said.

Take some time to unplug from all the “digital distractions” and focus on your marriage and family. It could do wonders for your relationships and your overall health.

Posted by Marriage on Saturday, 3 October 2015

Be proactive.

Don’t ask your wife if she wants you to take the baby or change her. Just do it. Chances are she does and would appreciate it. Asking for her preference may imply that you don’t want to be involved or care for baby. Unbeknownst to you, it may actually reflect how you feel. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this, but I’m learning to get over myself and rethink how I offer to help. Instead of asking, “Do you want me to take the baby?” you can simply say, “I’ll take the baby for a little bit. Why don’t you __________ (fill in the blank with something momma wants)?”

Your own time may be important to you, but your time with baby is limited.

I can’t get enough of my baby. I love looking at her and kissing her, wondering what her voice will sound like, when she’ll start smiling at my lame dad jokes, etc. I also know she’ll grow into an independent teenager asking for my car. That’s why I’d rather postpone my morning run and help baby pass some gas. If I can’t help her with that, how can I expect to help her when she, God forbid, breaks an arm from snowboarding? Besides, I can double up on dad-time by taking baby on a run with me when I get home from work.

Give momma a break.

Even if it means holding the baby for 10 minutes in the dark hours of the morning, it could feel like an hour of sleep for momma. I experienced this first hand just a couple of days ago, and I actually enjoyed the morning stillness while I held baby. Bonus tip: don’t be expecting a high five. Give momma a break because you love her and know she’s at home all day caring for baby while you’re at the office writing blog entries.

Do it for her.

Leaving for work is hard and being at work is even harder, but I know it means I can still be of use to my family even if I’m not home to physically help. Picture messages of her snuggly face also remind me why I spend most of my day surrounded by grey walls and why it’s actually worth it.

Do It For Her