Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gear Review: Boulder Pack Co. Backpack

As I've mentioned on here before and on various social channels, I'm writing a book! With that, its a task that requires gear, gear that needs to be hauled around comfortably and reliably.

Gear like cameras, lenses, maps, a stickered Nalgene, and most importantly- my journal that gets scribbled full of notes when I'm trekking down a trail or wandering through a campground searching for the best sites. It's been a bucket list goal of mine to publish a book and last fall I pulled the trigger on a passion project: a guidebook to all of Wisconsin's state parks, forests, and recreation areas. The purpose of this endeavor is to encourage more people to get outside and explore our vast network of public lands.

This task is a grand task, visiting each and every DNR state park property to camp, hike around, take a memory card's worth of photos, and descriptively write a chapter on each place. It's a lot of work and time consuming but I love it, and I'm so excited to bring into the spotlight all of these special areas that are open game for recreating in. 

For years I've used a tiny Deuter daypack I bought off the street when I lived in Vietnam many years ago. Truthfully, it was so cheap that I'm almost certain it's a knock-off fake. Anyways, trying to fit my Canon DSLR, telephoto lens, water bottle, occasional rain jacket, other essentials, and my journal, all in one small 10-liter pack was just at times not realistic. But now, I've got an excellent new solution and replacement - this dark blue foldable backpack from Boulder Pack Co. 
I recently received this product in the mail and tested it out last week on a trip to Badlands National Park, heavenly Buffalo Gap National Grassland, and finally Wind Cave National Park. Let me tell you how great this thing is and why you need to buy one ASAP.

First and foremost, anytime I can support a small, local Colorado-based company, especially an outdoor gear company, I gladly will. Second and of top praise, is how useful this backpack is. At 28-liters, this pack easily holds all of my must-have gear. In its main pocket I was easily able to stuff a full Nalgene of water (mandatory for a hot day of hiking through the dry, dusty Badlands), rain jacket, and my Canon Rebel with a EF-S 55mm-250mm telephoto lens. A medium-sized pocket up front revealed more storage for my travel journal, pens, wallet, and phone, while a little pocket near the top was the perfect place to put my car keys. Everything was organized exactly how I wanted it to be. But it doesn't stop there, Boulder Pack Co.'s foldable backpack wasn't done swallowing gear quite yet. 

With all of the listed provisions above tucked away, I noticed there was still more room to be filled. Curious to see if my DSLR's Lowepro case would stow away also...and it did! This was a wonderful observation, because I've always been paranoid about hiking with my camera loosely situated flopping about my pack. Now, thanks to this new pack, I could put my camera securely in its protected case, inside my backpack and still have room for other gear. Unzipping the main zipper and reaching in to grab the camera, shoot, and then return it to its case was never an issue. Same with swapping out lenses. 
There's even more goodies on the exterior of Boulder Pack Co.'s latest, like reflective striping on the handle, plenty of webbing for attaching things, water bottle pockets, emergency whistle built into one of the buckles that straps across your chest, and even a carabiner. Since the hiking fun doesn't stop once fall and winter arrives, all of the zippers are easy to grasp and open/shut thanks to durable finger loops weaved through each one. I imagine this being super helpful on a snowy Saturday spent snowshoeing (alliteration points right there), and not having to worry about taking my gloves off to open up the backpack. Brilliant yet simple ergonomics I appreciate.

While at Badlands, we spent a few hours hiking around, exploring this unworldly terrain awash in a palette of captivating earthy colors. The sky was pure blue above, allowing the sun to shine bright down on the dry ground below. Despite rambunctious winds, temperatures were a scorcher and hiking around with a weighted back can usually be an exhausting uncomfortable feat. But this wasn't the case at all with this foldable backpack from BPC. Cushy padded straps kept my shoulders feeling free of irritation or strain, even when hiking up the park's craggy Notch Trail. 
Hence the name, this quality 28-liter backpack folds flat into a desirable sized pouch, making it easy to hide in a larger backpacking pack, suitcase on a business trip, or your car. Unzip, unfold, flap it out and go. Folded together, it measures a compact 6-inches tall, 8-inches wide and 2-inches deep. Unfolded, the backpack is 18-in tall, 11-in wide, and 8.5-in deep.

The pack is available in five colors and on sale through Amazon for a welcoming, attractive $20.99. Plus, Boulder Pack Co. guarantees all their packs too, so if you do run into problems they'll replace it for free, no questions asked. I'm 10/10 impressed with this product and cannot wait to see what else they bring to the outdoor gear market.


Price: $20.99

[Photo credit: Brenna Kempf]
[Disclaimer: Boulder Pack Co. sent me this new backpack to review on my blog.]