Designed for lunching daypackers, beachgoers and picnickers, The Tahoe from Granite Rocx is a backpack system that I think would play well on any college campus, too. I was given one* to review and, although it has a couple of drawbacks, my impression of the pack is largely positive. I think yours will be, too.
In its concept of The Tahoe, Granite Rocx was picturing a user that wanted to carry some gear, some snacks and some beverages to a place and sit for a spell: the backpack comes with an onboard 12-can cooler and a compartment/strap system that the manufacturer claims “carries any folding chair”. This is great for a trip to the park, but what does it do for a college student?
Let’s start with the pack itself. It appears to be sturdy, stitched to carry the load of a chair, a full cooler and the gear in the pack. It’s also a good size, big enough to handle several textbooks, snack, etc. Mesh pockets on the side are roomy enough for a standard water bottle (fit my 25 oz. Hydroflask just fine). A shock-cord pocket on the front of the pack (which the cooler sits loosely over) can easily handle a jacket or sweatshirt for those fall days that require you to carry layers.
Frugal students can use the onboard cooler to pack a lunch on a class day away from the dorm room. I managed to get three .75 liter bottles of soda and a can of Arizona Iced Tea along with around 4 lbs. of ice into the cooler. There will be plenty of room for a day’s worth of snacks and drinks on campus.
One of the drawbacks is that the cooler does sweat pretty badly — and tends to drip onto your legs while walking. This is also a problem if you tuck your sweatshirt too low in the pocket beneath the cooler. Keep it higher up on the pack to avoid getting it wet.
The shallow back pocket on The Tahoe is designed to accommodate the rectangular shape of folded frame chairs. As it turns out, it also makes a great laptop sleeve for computers as big as 17 in. Moreover, if you unhook the buckle at the top of the pocket — this is something I discovered a little by accident, and from what I can tell is not exactly a prescribed use — the back folds down, supported by two webbing straps.
I used it at a baseball game as kind of a stadium seat unto itself. Not only can it carry a chair, the Tahoe can become a chair in a pinch, say if you’ve got some time to kill between classes and want to sit on the grass but still have a little back support.
My biggest concern about the pack is durability. I didn’t get to test it for too long, but given it’s intended uses, I imagine that The Tahoe should hold up to getting tossed around and sat on at a college campus. All-in-all, I think it’s a cleverly designed system for it’s intended picnicking, daypacking use. And I think it can easily be adapted to a daily use backpack and laptop bag for a college student.
* Disclosure of Material Connection: I received The Tahoe for free from Granite Rocx as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Retailer Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication