When I went to Colorado with my boyfriend back in August, I immediately fell in love with the natural beauty of the state; as an aspiring photographer, it was as if everywhere we went was a potential canvas for shooting, and after just a week being there, I felt I still had so much left to see. So, a few weeks ago I went back to visit my friend who lives in Denver, and continue exploring.

Knowing I only had two full days, my friend planned for us to spend both of those days at two of her favorite hiking locations: Fort Collins at Horsetooth Mountain and Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. After looking at them both online, I was already imagining the types of photos I could get and started packing.

The biggest problem with hiking is trying to figure out what you need to bring, including products in case of an emergency, while also trying to stay relatively light. Last time I went, I used my camera backpack which is a Lowepro, that has a compartment in the back that stores my camera, and has ample space on top. It’s super handy and I use it all the time, but it is pretty heavy, and I remembered sweating a lot when we went hiking last summer.

Then I remembered that Matador sent me a Freerain24 Backpack around Christmastime, which is waterproof and packable. The forecast in Estes Park predicted snow, so I definitely needed something waterproof, and I could stuff the backpack into my camera backpack for the flight, since it rolls into a pocket-sized bag. (Don’t believe me? Check out the pic above.)

Admittedly I hadn’t even taking the backpack out of its compact bag since I received it, but when I did I was extremely impressed with how big the actual backpack was. According to its website, it holds 24 liters in its main compartment, but only weights 5.5 ounces, which is actually ideal for hiking. However, I was a little nervous to put my camera in there since it would weigh it down a lot, so I ended up just holding that the whole time, but all of my other things fit in the backpack and I had a lot of extra room.

I am really glad I brought this backpack for our RMNP hike, because there was a lot of snow, and since I only wore a pair of Nikes, my butt touched the ground just as much as my feet did. If I had brought my camera backpack, it would have been absolutely soaked by the end of the day, but the Matador stayed dry and kept all of my items safe inside.

I also really like the design of it – the shoulder straps are super light, which is usually rare in traveler backpacks, so I am anxious to use this backpack again this summer. There’s also a two side pockets for water bottles, a middle zipper where I put chapstick, Kleenex and other items I might need in a pinch, and the top part closes with buckles to ensure everything is secure. With all of its awesome features, Matador remains stylish and subtle, and I can totally see myself using it for many reasons.

I’m sort of kicking myself that I just recently discovered the usefulness of the Matador Freerain24 Backpack, seeing as I could have been enjoying it for nearly six months now! But with summer coming, and as I start getting more into biking, I can see Matador and myself becoming great friends.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.


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