When deciding what gear to bring on an extended hike or camping trip I used to have the dilemma of trying not to over pack or load up the car with gear I don’t really need. In the past, I tried to pack for every contingency or possible weather condition. This reached an unheard of level of absurdity when I found a heavy duty winter jacket stuffed in a backpack I had loaded up for a mid-August trip.
Now I bring only what is required for the trip, plus some secondary pieces of equipment for variety. A trick that a friend taught me was bring the large, heavy duty, classic backpack to the campsite, but carry a smaller pack for excursions away from the camp. Seems simple in retrospect, but it was something that I never considered.
One of my favorite secondary backpacks is the Packable Waterproof Handy Lightweight Travel and Hiking Backpack by New Outlander.
I was looking for a collapsible bag that could easily fit into another pack for transport. The New Outlander travel backpack, when folded, comes in at 7.4 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches in size. This was a great size for my needs. The version I purchased was the 30 liter model. There are other sizes, but I figured the 30 would be fine for my needs.
Some of the other features include:
• Bottle holder on the both sides – This is a nice, simple design feature that puts a smile on my face. I feel like a real adventurer with my water and sports drink sloshing on either side of me.
• Breathable mesh shoulder straps – This feature shows up on a lot of gear. Still not sure how valuable it is. My shoulders don’t sweat. Would have preferred more padding, but realize that would make the light back pack that much less light and packable.
• Pack-in pocket that doubles as an inner pocket – Always appreciate any extra pockets or dividers that help separate the contents. Nothing too elaborate here. Just a nice touch.(click here for more backpacks like this)
My model of the backpack came in a darkish shade of red. Looking over the web, I’ve seen other colors available such as purple, blue and green. The backpack itself is nothing extraordinary to look at once unpacked. That’s not a negative or a knock on the backpack. It’s just that a backpack is going to look like most other backpacks. There is a basic form and most packs will stick to it. From a cursory inspection everything looked solidly built. My pack had no busted seams or errant threads/stitching. I always take these as a good sign when inspecting new pieces of equipment.
When using the backpack as a secondary pack, the New Outlander has performed well. Since I have been trying to discipline myself on not over packing, I make sure to take only the essentials for my hikes. Since I’m usually hiking with friends, we can share supplies so that helps reduce the load by a good amount.
For solo hikes, the 30 liter backpack might lean towards a bit small if you pack a lot, but it has not been a problem for me (yet). Of course, for all I know a more experienced hiker might look at my hiking needs and burst into tears of laughter at my inexperienced ways.
I had a couple of instances of getting caught in the rain and the waterproofing seemed to hold up. None of the contents got wet, so that test was passed. Someone told me the surefire test was to throw the pack in the stream. It’s funny how they shut right up when I asked if I could toss their camera in the creek to test its waterproofing.
So far so good. All the straps and zippers are hanging in there and still work fine. The only sign that the bag gets use is natural scuffing from hitting the ground or sitting in the grass. It has gone through the standard routine of getting hit by branches or snagging on good old fashioned New England thorn bushes. There are no tears or rips in the backpack after some heavy usage. That’s impressive because I really think those thorns could tear through most anything made on the planet. I hate them. There are times when I’m pulling the thorns from my clothes that I imagine Superman complaining about them.
This is a very affordable pack. Depending on where you shop, you should find it for less than $50. Truth be told, even though I do my best to support local businesses, I bought this backpack online from a hiking supply site. Speed and convenience beat out local retailer support this time. Don’t hate me. I bought some extra supplies locally to make up for it.
I find the New Outlander one of the better backpacks for auxiliary usage when camping. It has held up well for my hiking trips. I want my gear to be basically invisible when I’m using it. There is no worse fear than walking through the woods worrying that items might be falling out behind you. This fear comes from a past experience where as I hiked my pack felt lighter and lighter. Stupidly, I thought I was getting my second wind and started picking up my pace. Nope. My crappy backpack (manufacturer’s name redacted) had split along the side seam and some of my gear started slipping out. Luckily, I just followed the trail of fallen items to pick everything up. The weird thing is I had no sharp objects in the pack. The stupid seam has just come undone.
As for the New Outlander, I picked up a second one just to have as a backup in case one of my hiking partners needs a smaller backpack for one of our shorter trips. Better to be prepared than listen to my friend moan that his pack is too big for what we are doing.