The Tahoe backpack by Granite Rocx may be the best party pack ever devised. Designed to hold a beach chair, six-pack and towel, it makes cycling, hiking or strolling to a picnic an efficient and comfortable process. The Tahoe backpack cooler system is comprised of a robust daypack equipped with a clever arrangement of straps and compartments to be able to accommodate a chair that folds into a square, flat shape (a typical beach chair) or a tubular cylinder (such as a camp chair). A smaller insulated pack attaches to the front, kangaroo style, with squeeze clips, but also has a shoulder strap so it can also be carried separately, if desired. The cooler can hold two six-packs, two bottles of wine or a combination of cans, bottles and picnic foods.
I tested the Granite Rocx Tahoe backpack cooler during a week in Hawaii and found that it worked well for a number of different uses:
Travel pack. I used the larger back to carry my computer in the chair compartment in the back to keep it protected from other items. My Kindle, magazines and toiletry bag went in the middle section, while my tickets, sunglasses, smartphone and other small items went in the front, which also has zippered pockets and compartments for pens, business cards.
- Travel shoulder bag. My husband used the smaller insulated bag on the plane to carry the things he needed easy access to, including his book, headphones and snacks. The insulating capability wasn’t needed but he appreciated the compact size as he doesn’t like to carry a bigger bag on the plane.
Grocery bag. We went to the grocery store to stock up on breakfast and snack items, finding that the insulated bag held a surprising amount of chilled items, including wine, carrot sticks, cheese, poke (marinated raw fish), milk, eggs and juice.
- Beach bag. We used the insulated bag to hold a water bottle, sunscreen, reading material, sunglasses and a sarong for spreading on the sand
- Hiking bag. I found the large pack to be a bit too large for a day hike so I elected to use the insulated bag once again, storing water, energy bars, camera and maps when we hiked the Judd Trail in Honolulu and the Napali Coast in Kauai.
I was surprised to find that we used the insulated bag every day for various different activities, ranging from shopping to hiking, but the compact size and convenient shoulder strap made it a better choice than the large pack, mostly because we elected to forego the beach chairs and just use our beach blankets. As one would expect the shoulder bag wasn’t quite as secure as a backpack on a long, 10 mile hike but the adjustable strap was long enough that it could be worn in several positions and was comfortable enough. The bag has a pouch on one side and stretchy pocket on the other, which was perfect for quick access to camera, maps and smart phone during some excursions.
There are a few events I attend each year, such as 4th of July fireworks and outdoor concerts, where I take a collection of folding chairs, libations and snacks for a group. The Tahoe backpack cooler system will definitely be pressed into service and the large capacity and ability to carry folding chairs will be much appreciated.
The larger backpack, in addition to the three main compartments, has a number of bells and whistles in addition to the places to store beach chairs. A bungee strap on the front can be used to affix a jacket, rolled beach towel or picnic blanket. Two side pockets can hold water bottles while a small stretch pocket on the pack strap can hold a mobile device. The bottom straps, designed to hold a cylindrical chair, could be used to carry a yoga mat or even a tent.
The main pack is quite long, which is necessary to accommodate a beach chair. However, without the need for a chair the pack felt a bit oversized for a day hike or short trip to the beach. To give you an idea of the dimensions, when my computer was in the bag there was a good six inches of extra space at the top. The pack is sturdy and comes with adjustable chest and waist straps so it is appropriate for longer treks with a lot of gear.
The Tahoe is the first product by Granite Rocx, a new company launched this year by Stephen Berei and Sophia Berman, who reside in the Lake Tahoe area. As Steve biked the beach one day with his gear precariously balanced he realized there was a gap in the marketplace for a pack that could carry all the outdoor paraphernalia he needed, and The Tahoe was born. The Tahoe, named for the largest lake in the area, is the father of future products, which will be named after other lakes in the area. Enhancements, such as different colors and a pouch for a hydration system, are in the works.
Pros: The small cooler is very versatile when traveling due to its compact size and insulating capability. The whole system is well-thought out.
Cons: The backpack itself is on the large size for a female frame, but is comfortable and holds a lot of gear.
The Granite Rocx Tahoe backpack cooler is a well-conceived, well-designed and well-manufactured system that can be adapted to many outdoor and travel activities where bulky gear and chilled food/drink are needed to enhance the experience.
Weight: 1.9 lbs (backpack); 0.6 lbs (cooler)
Capacity: 35 liters (backpack); 9 liters (cooler)
Material: 420d Ripstop Nylon
$65 through Granite Rocx http://www.graniterocx.com/buy-now/ or Amazon. Currently the insulated bag is not available separately but is included with the Tahoe backpack.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Granite Rocx Tahoe backpack cooler for free from Granite Rocx as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Retailer Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.
All photos by Steve Mullen except where noted.