An Honest Review: The Channel Islands Essential Pack
A backpack for the light and (ill)prepared traveller.
Backpacks aren’t sexy, but a good pack is “essential.”
Recently, the kind folks at CI sent one of their Essential Packs for us to give a go. And, for me, “the tester,” it came at a good time. Christmas Break was upon us. And following the jolly holiday, I was setting out on an annual camp/surf trip up the coast (starting in LA) to eventually arrive in San Fransisco for an elongated New Years Eve spinner. On Jan 1, I’d wake up without making any resolution and a highly uncomfortable reaction to some poison oak I apparently rubbed all over myself while foraging for extra firewood (twigs) late one night in Big Sur.
New year, new rash.
In general, I’m unorganized. I treat my belongings like the bottom of my shoe – used, stomped, sitting on the edge of a fire pit. A crack in my surfboard ends up stuffed with wax and sucking water. At the best I’ll apply a quick Suncure job, not sand it down and take it back out.
I enjoy traveling with a film camera. But not like a basic Canon A1 or anything that requires higher knowledge than pointing and clicking the camera at a friend doing something they’d regret if they ran for office. Instead I’ll carry a disposable or cheap point and shoot because I tend to break them due to melted surf wax, sand, or spilt liquid. That will bring me back to why I like this backpack in a moment.
But, for someone going on 29-years-old, I live a life of wills nills. I’m the asshole who forgets his leash on a surf trip and borrows a more prepared travel partner’s extra. Only after our Dear Michael Ciaramella’s wax test that had every wax maker under the yellow sun send us boxes upon boxes of wax, have I ever carried much more than a small nug found somewhere deep in the nether regions of my bad. Nothing separated, just tossed in with a laissez-faire approach presuming nothing will go wrong, although it almost always does.
This pack caters to the unorganized. It even tells you what you should put in what section of the backpack. Phone goes here. Wax goes here. Fins here. Ding Repair here. It’s got a safe spot for the camera and so on. It can carry a good amount of beach or hiking necessities–towels and blankets, speakers, water, and on the back of the pack, there’s a compartment for your wetsuit. It’s waterproof, in the non-leaking all over your back sort of way. It also has a little hanger on the base of the bag that allows you to flip it upside down and drain.
The wetsuit compartment makes for a fine makeshift cooler, as well. Pack it with ice, beers, throw your wetsuit on top of it all. Go for a hike. Go for a surf and come back to chilled beers anticipating your thirst.
The pack’s pretty nifty. I used it for a week and didn’t break or ruin anything. And the wetsuit slot allowed any spilt beer to soak into my wetty instead of my camera, phone, wallet, speaker or any less-than-waterproof items. If I continue to use it correctly, it might just change the way I travel…
If you’d like one, you can shop it here.
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