Whether your call then backpacks, rucksacks or day sacks these are a very useful item of equipment to have along on any caravan or RV holiday.
The term backpacker brings it’s own understanding and connotations of ultra efficient, slimmed down travelling. As caravanners we have probably grown a little fonder of having a few more things around us that will bring greater comfort rather than setting off for weeks on end carrying everything we own in a bag. That being said a backpack is surely a useful piece of equipment to have around, especially if you like to cycle. I use mine all the time for daily trips to shops near the campsites. Even if you are only cycling to the campsite shop to collect your fresh bread and newspaper, slinging on the backpack can increase your chances of arriving back safely without falling into a little heap of groceries, with you on the bottom and a bike on top with its wheels spinning. That is to add to their usefulness in taking refreshments along to the beach, to a picnic or on a longer hill-walk.
Like tents and most other outdoor gear these days there is a bewildering array from which to choose. As a starting point I will begin by writing about the two that own, as I use both for taking along on caravan holidays. Each serves me well and are used for different purposes.
The first is a large waterproof bag made by Killtec and bears the title Killtec Sport. It has one large main compartment that can be accessed as standard from the top. In addition to this you can get at your stuff from a zip half way down the back. The main opening on top has an internal cover which can be closed against the rain using a drawstring. Inside, at the rear of the main compartment it has a useful vertical compartment which I use for keeping a folder containing ferry ticket printouts and camp-site booking confirmations It has two handy side pockets both accessed from the top. The lid, for want of a better word, has two compartments that can be used for smaller, flatter items. The compartment on the inside of the lid has a mesh cover allowing you to see what’s inside and is useful for maps and documents. The second is just under the skin of the lid and can be accessed from outside the back of the pack without opening the main zip.
All of the fabric is waterproofed, inside and out, and the zips are overhung by good strong waterproof fabric which causes water to flow over them rather that through the zips into the bag. This makes the zips sometimes difficult to access, however this is a very small price to pay for being able to walk or cycle with dry kit.
Two padded shoulder-straps hold it comfortably in place and a handy hip belt helps to stabilise it, making it very useful for cycling.
The other one is made by Targus and is very useful if, like me, you travel with a laptop and all sorts of other radio and multimedia gadgets. The Targus company make bags for laptops and mine is extremely useful for taking gadgets and some items of clothing along, especially on shorter trips.
It has two main compartments divided by a padded center piece and each contain all manner of useful inner pockets. A total of five pockets exist happily here, one of which is a well padded laptop compartment secured with a Velcro strap. This however is only the beginning as the designers and manufacturers have included a further ten sections consisting of compartments, pockets, drinks holders and places to keep you pens. There is even a secure internal clip for your car keys, which ensures that they stay where you can find them rather migrating to the very bottom of the bag, requiring you to empty it onto the pitch before you can get in and get the kettle on. It also has a useful grab handle on top which I use for slinging it in and out of the car and caravan.
A popular bag for general use is often known as a day sack. A useful guide to what constitutes one of these is to pick something that will comfortably hold a a4 folder or notebook; the kind of notebook with pages that you can write on with a pen rather than the usual laptop! This limits the size making it a useful, tidy size, and a bit lighter to haul around. Most of them have two shoulder straps and a hip belt, however some come with one strap and they are carried over one shoulder or across your back. Some of these will have several compartment and others are simpler with only one compartment into which you can pack everything. It really depends on what you want to bring along and how you want to organise your cargo.
If you like to do specific outdoor things like hill walking or drive a motorcycle you will also find this kind of bag very useful. It is not too big and you can get versions that are waterproof, streamlined and with longer shoulder straps to allow you to fit them over protective layers like waterproofs or leathers.
Look for light-weigh construction, comfortable bits that come into contact with your back and shoulders, and something that will keep you property safe and dry. Some have air channels built into the rear of the bag where it rests on your back and this is a real benefit if you are going to use them for longish periods.
Manufactures of backpacks include Vango, Exped, The Healthy Backpack, Oxford, Golite and Ortlieb. There are of course many others and if you would like me to provide some more specific information about anything just pop along to the contact me page and drop me a line.