Many are the methods that have been claimed as the "best" way to pack your belongings. There's the traditional square fold, vacuum-packed bags, rolling up individual items, folding boards to avoid wrinkles, ad infinitum. Which method you choose depends on what your goal is.
Do you want as much as you can fit in a carry-on bag? Business clothing that is smooth and wrinkle-free? Easy access to important items while you're traveling? I want it all – and now I think I can have it.
When my package from Gobi Gear arrived, I was pleased to discover that it fit through the mail slot. First rule of making efficient packing tools: make sure they are slim and lightweight. What good is a piece of gear that squooshes things down, but ends up taking up nearly as much room as it saves? Or adds unwelcome pack weight?
The only confusing bit was trying to figure out the best way to get everything inside. For some reason, I had assumed that one end of the roll would be closed, like the bottom of a sack. Nope! There are 5 chambers, open at both ends, with drawstrings and straps for cinching and squooshing. The straps are really clever in that they are not separated into two things you have to tug and grunt over, but are in the form of one handy loop for maximum leverage whether you are holding the roll down with one hand or a foot. They also double as a carry strap if you don't want to use an outer bag (note: this option not suitable for transporting tiny objects, as they might slip out of the ends).
My Hoboroll looked pretty small and innocuous when laid out on the floor. I was surprised at how wee it looked, as a matter of fact. I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to put enough stuff inside for maximum squooshing efficiency. For this test run I was not planning a 6 month journey to SE Asia, nor even a week long visit to Scotland. Instead, I was heading out to the beach with a friend and two rescue doggies. Still, I thought I'd go easy on the Hoboroll. I need not have worried.
I'm sure there are as many ways to pack a Hoboroll as there are to eat an Oreo cookie. For me what worked best was sitting on the floor, stowing gear in one chamber, then rotating the bag to start on the next one. Hence the "packing" and "rolling" part of the post title. (The rocking comes later.) Next were the drawstrings, followed by the cinching of the straps.
Besides handily fitting everything you see pictured (scarf, hat, camera and doggy accessories), it also fit a VERY fluffy jumper (aka, sweater/sweatshirt) – and had plenty of room left over. I probably could have fit one of the pups in there if I'd really had to.
Although not entirely obvious from this photo (unlike the pink umbrella), there was quite a bit of room to spare in the day pack. And this was just a regular old, book bag type pack – nothing special, no frame. Had I been inclined, I could have easily fit a lunch, beverages, and book or two, as well. Having packed up the fluffy jumper in this very bag before, I know how much room it usually takes up and how difficult it can be to manage getting at other items underneath it.
Ah, yes! Besides the compressing and saving of space, there is the accessibility bonus. Having things packed into vertical chambers made things SO much easier to reach. After letting the pups have a good splash and run, it was a bit chaotic back at the car trying to retrieve water dishes and towels without letting their wet and sandy selves into said automobile. While my pal threw his hands up in exasperation at the madness (and wagginess) of little dogs, I was able to one-handedly extract towels from my pack because of the Hoboroll. The car was saved!
Two good phrases for summing up the functionality of this lovely piece of gear:
1) "A place for everything and everything in its place."
2) "Bringing sanity to the masses."
Yes, now that I have fully tested my pretty green Hoboroll (did I mention it comes in green, yellow, or blue?), I am looking forward to using it on more strenuous expeditions. No, really – genuinely looking forward to it! One of my least favorite parts of travel is the disorganization that comes with trying to find things in a hurry. Now I don't have to worry. Rocking! (See? I told you that came later.)
Conclusion? Why didn't I have one of these sooner? …and yes, go get yourself one TODAY!
Thumbs up for the Hoboroll!
Update: after a few lovely trips with my original Hoboroll, one of the clips broke while I was packing it. I contacted the PR company to let them know, unsure of quite how to approach this review, since honesty matters. Some of me fellow travel bloggers suggested contacting the manufacturer and requesting a replacement, then updating the review to reflect how they handled the situation. Turns out, they were lovely and gracious. It's worth mentioning that this review is now a few years old. Looks like Gobi Gear has updated their design and materials quite a bit – the buckles are now made of anodized aluminum. They've also expanded their product line. Still recommended!
You can find more information and order a Hoboroll for yourself at the Gobi Gear online shop.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Hoboroll for free from Gobi Gear as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations.