I recently bought a new pack. While looking at reviews, I read lots reviews praising heavier pack materials for bushwhacking. Comments like, "great pack, but I need something in a hybrid-VX-dyneema-kevlar-spider silk-something that is totally water proof to 200 meters because of all the bushwhacking I do." Sounds like they drag their packs through cactus, slide down scree piles like Bear Grylls, and hack their way through jungles looking for Dr. Livingstone, I presume. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and bushwhacking seems like a ticket to a search and rescue mission that ends in a recovery operation.
The cynical side of me, and it is large, suspects this is like SUV or sports car syndrome; we want something that has capabilities we will never actually use, and are willing to pay a premium for that perception. I might WANT to bushwhack some day, or HAVE to bushwhack, and then I will be sorry I bought a wimpy silnylon pack. Then again, far be it for me to question what others want or need. I have read about bushwhacking in places like Alaska and Australia, where there are few trails. I read Roger Caffin's article on bushwhacking gear. I will sometimes go off trail, but it is usually in open county, like above the tree line. I have slogged through some pretty overgrown trails, and scrambled up some pretty rocky and steep trails, still my wimpy packs have done just fine.
So, if you actually bushwhack, where do you do this? Why do you do this? How far do you bushwhack at a time?