Today I would like to share our travel secret weapon. It is a simple but invaluable addition to our travel arsenal, the humble adventure backpack. Now this in not a simple satchel or side bag. It could come in a variety shapes, sizes or colors, but is a must for any outing that is more than just a trip to the store. Containing food and refreshment, sun and wind protection, first aid, medication and a little bit of magic it is invaluable in keeping “Hangry” at bay and stretching out the fun of any adventure.
Our particular adventure backpack is $20 model from Field & Stream that I picked up at Walmart. It has all the features I look for in an adventure backpack. I don’t know as you would be able to find this exact model, but there are some features that I think should be on all adventure backpacks.
Must Have Features:
Wide, adjustable carry straps. At a bare minimum you need to have a nylon carry/hang handle and two wide, comfortable shoulder straps that will adjust to fit your smallest Sherpa, or your hardiest adventurer. Our pack additionally has a waist belt that allows for stability across the hips. If you run with the pack it keeps the load closer to your center of gravity for a more comfortable carry. The shoulder straps have an adjustable connecter/spacer that keeps the shoulder straps at a set spacing apart for enhanced comfort. The ends of the shoulder straps are also sewn with thumb loops so you may nest your hands and hang your thumbs to rest your arms on longer adventures.
Exterior access water bottle pockets. We regularly attack the Magic Kingdom, NASA Installations, Beaches, Parks and Mountains. With three of us, hydration is an important element in keeping adventurers happy and healthy. Having two available beverages that the wearer can readily grab and pass to anyone in the party, without taking the backpack off, is amazing. The pockets will hold everything from a small child’s chocolate milk bottle, all the way up to the imposing 48oz wide mouth silo bottles, the pockets can do it all.
Under hanging straps. The under-hanging buckleable strap is an unsung hero in this bag. On questionable weather days you can bundle windbreakers, raincoats or blankets to the underside of the backpack with quick release buckles. If the day heats up too quickly, long sleeves and outer layers can be shed and stowed on the under side of the pack. Like the water bottle pockets, you should be able to reach these without taking off the pack. This feature moves the Sherpa from pack mule to MVP in the adventure team.
Shoulder rings. Be it for hanging suntan lotion, car keys, hand sanitizer or sun glasses, the indispensable shoulder ring puts some of your most needed items at your fingertips, even when you’re carrying the pack. We have clipped carabiners to the rings and hung additional shopping bags to increase capacity on the carry frame. In the past we have hung everything from portable cooling fans to lights for nighttime safety, bug spray and suntan lotion and more recently in the time of Covid, our ever-present hand sanitizer supply.
Multiple exterior small pockets. Having multiple pockets that can be accessed while wearing the backpack from the outside is beneficial. We have four, that are usually segregated into first aid, snacks/food, keys, wallets, phones and cameras and one larger interior holding section that is split by a divider. Being able so segregate items and group them for easy access and communication is essential for adventuring.
On a beach adventure we might pack a change of clothes for three people, towels, lunch, drinks, snacks, suntan lotion, beach toys, shoes, bags for collected trash, shells and treasures and are still able to trade the bag off between team members.
If we are attacking a theme park we might pack rain coats, extra outer layers, lunch, snacks, drinks, cameras suntan lotion, hand sanitizer and still had spare room to carry out all the souvenirs and extras that you pick up on such an outing.
For air, train, or car trips, Adventure Backpack becomes our go to carry on. Electronics, moist towelettes, empty water bottles that we can refill after passing a security checkpoint, snacks, keys, inflateable pillows, headsets and portable fans are the usual suspects. Its small enough to fit under cabin seating and roomy enough to contain all of the essentials a family might need on just about any trip.
All in all the adventure backpack is our unsung hero, the fourth member of our three person pack, our designated hitter, our closer, our secret weapon. If you don’t have one, I would recommend looking into it. They can be worth their weight in gold.
Got your own adventure pack? Show or tell us about it in the comments below!