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Introducing Chairpack to My New Friends

Building the chairpack at lunchtime, Elise Wortley with Dave Sear

It surprised me just how perfectly my homemade chairpack slotted into an Exodus Travels kit bag. With a few clothes and emergency waterproofs tucked round the sides it managed to survive the journey to India, without so much as a screw coming loose. Amazing really as it was constructed in quite a rush by me and the lovely Dave from work (well mainly Dave) in the bike shed on our lunchbreaks.

It all seems a bit ridiculous now when I think about it this simply; here I was, heading off on a trip I’d organised myself with people I’d never met before. I then presented them with a backpack I’d made out of an old chair. It can’t have filled them with a huge amount of confidence, and looking back now I’m surprised none of them ran a mile at the sight of it.

Chairpack and other items ready for the mountains

As we entered Sikkim and the day of our trekking departure was drawing nearer, my confidence in the chairpack started to dwindle, and I began to feel embarrassed every time I looked at it. It had seemed like such a good idea in London. Maybe I should have taken it for at least one test run before I left. I felt uneasy having to explain it to everyone and I just wanted to hide in a hole whenever I caught a glimpse of it. Was it ridiculous, or was it genius? I’m still not sure.

To combat this shyness I’d developed around my chairpack, I decided that the best thing to do would be to show it immediately to anyone as they walked into the room, so that I could explain myself before they started wondering and making up their own minds. “I made it myself” I shouted at Jangu our trip leader as she sat on the bed, struggling to get the ropes over my shoulders and spinning round to give her a full 360 view of the thing. “I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s gone” I told Manayla the chef, “I’m definitely sure it will hold, I think I’ll be fine, don’t you? It’s made out of an old chair. All I need now is a basket to go in it! I made it myself!”

Elise Wortley showing off chairpack

Once the insecure verbal diarrhoea had passed each time, most people agreed that yes it was a nifty piece of handy-work and it did look sturdy, but the inevitable question always came - “You’re going to walk ALL the way? With that? With a chair on your back???”

“Umm, yes…..”

Elise Wortley walking through the mountains with chairpack


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