Regular readers of my blog will know that I like to travel light and minimal, as much as feasibly possible whenever or wherever I go. That could mean traveling to and from the office, to the gym, personal travel, a day hike, or a multi-night backpacking trip - I like to only carry what I will need and be able to organize it easily. I'll admit to being more than a little OCD about it.
And it's not only me. My minimalistic habits and approach to packing has rubbed off on my kids too, mostly Jack, but I have my fingers crossed it will catch up with Maggie too - so far she's more like her mom... uhmm I'm not going there. Jack, however, takes after his old dad and loves to take only what he needs and not much more, he's pretty darn frugal when it comes to packing and I love that about him!
A few months ago I was given the opportunity to test a new piece of gear called the Hoboroll that helps organize and compress luggage items for people who want to travel light and fast. It's not necessarily backpacking related, but it could be used for such, but I thought it would be right up my alley. The problem has been that my son took such a liking to the Hoboroll that I've hardly been able to get it away from him. So rather than struggle to get it away from him, I've solicited his help in reviewing the Hoboroll and showing me why he likes it so much - and a future gear reviewer is born...
The Hoboroll by Gobi Gear
The concept is a pretty simple one, wrap all of your gear up in a piece of material, cinch it tight and you're good to go. The reality is always a little more complicated than that obviously, but the inventors have managed to maintain that overall simplicity while adding one or two features that make it much more effective.
"It's like the compression bags and stuff sacks that you use for backpacking dad, but it has a handle right on it and doesn't need to be put inside another backpack. It's really easy to put all my stuff in it and squeeze it up tight." - Jack, aged 7
Jack is exactly right, the Hoboroll is part compression bag, part stuff sack, with an organizational feature that neither of the former have to offer. One of the downsides to shoving gear into a stuff sack is that there is no real organization to speak of, you just shove it in and hope that the you can find what you're looking for when you want to get something out. The more organized among us can work around this through careful planning and the order in which we pack items - but not many of us really do that.
The Hoboroll solves the organization problem through a clever series of internal compartments that run the length of the roll, similar to segments inside an orange, five compartments in total. The compartments can be used for separating and organizing your items and in return giving you easy access to what you need, when you need it.
Demo by Jack
Here's an example of how Jack used the Hoboroll to pack for a sleepover at a friend's house. In the photo below you can see the green Hoboroll on the left and all of the gear that Jack has picked out for his overnight - and yes, my kids really do pick out and pack their own clothes. The Mt. Whitney Marmot and Mr. Puffin are probably not "need" items, but Jack's still learning and he really wanted to show them to his little buddy!
He started packing his clothes into the end of the Hoboroll using all five of the compartments in an organizational way that was really only clear to him, but at least he was doing it by himself and having fun explaining it to me.
The end result was a big "rolly-polly' of stuff, as Jack called it. Everything he had laid out on his bed was now neatly packed into the compartments of the Hoboroll. Mr. Marmot says "hi!"
Once packed, the next step is to secure the two straps that wrap around the Hoboroll using the plastic buckles. Note that at this point the whole roll is still pretty loose. Now for Jacks favorite part...
Each end of the Hoboroll has a draw string with a black plastic cord lock. This is the part of the roll that reminds Jack of my backpacking stuff sacks. He's very familiar with using draw strings and cord locks, so cinching the ends is not a problem. The cord used is thick enough and long enough to make the task of pulling it easy, even for Jack.
Once both ends have been cinched tight so that nothing falls out, the next step is to tighten up the two straps that are around the outside of the roll. These are what reminded Jack of my sleeping bag compression sacks, not exactly the same but he's absolutely spot-on with regards to their purpose and function.
Tightening up the two straps can be done in one easy move because the two straps are connected into one piece creating a shoulder strap that can be used for carrying the roll as the actual pack. In the photo above you can see Jack bracing the roll with one hand while pulling on the strap to tighten both at the same time. He pointed out to me that he could also pull them individually if he wanted to really squeeze things up.
The end result is a compressed, but well organized roll of gear that can be thrown over the shoulder for Jack's trip to his friend's house. Jack is loving the simplicity of the Hoboroll for stuffing, compressing and throwing over his shoulder. All his little friends are asking questions too and he's loving be the only kid to have one - for now...
To see all of the photos that were taken as part of Jack's demonstration, visit my Flickr Hoboroll Set.
About Gobi Gear
The Hoboroll is made by a relatively new company called Gobi Gear, which is the brainchild of Chez Brungraber, a botanist who found that she was constantly on the road or traveling in some fashion. She came up with the Hoboroll to address her own luggage storage needs and in doing so ended up reinvented the compression sack for frequent flyers, adventurers, backpackers, and even kids on sleepovers!
- Colors: Blue, green, orange
- Exterior: Made using 840D nylon (rugged)
- Interior: Made using 210D nylon (softer)
- Dimensions: 15″ long x 10″ diameter (38cm x 25cm)
- Weight: 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
- Capacity: 19 liters (1160 cubic inches)
- Available: GobiGear.com
- Price: $28.00 (US)
Special Discount for Readers of Brian's Backpacking Blog
Chez and the super friendly folks at Gobi Gear have given me a unique discount code that will give anyone reading this a 15% discount of your entire purchase. If you're interested in buying a Hoboroll (or two) be sure to use the code 'BRIANB12' at checkout! Note: this is not an affiliate code and I don't make money off of this, it's just a great way for you to save money on quality gear :) ^BG
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Disclosure: GobiGear provided Brian's Backpacking Blog with a complementary Hoboroll for the purpose of this review, but it ended up being snagged by his son Jack.