It's been said that good design and functionality can't mix.
However, 4x4 leader Jeep have just launched a brand new collection of cleverly designed, high performance backpacks which prove that this is no longer the case!
I was fortunate to be in a position to road test one of the new Jeep Backpacks and when it arrived just a few days ago I had the perfect excuse for a planned day out with the family.
We decided we'd drive to Rostrevor, Co Down and then walk to a local sight-seeing point, the Cloughmore Stone, aka the Big Stone, before heading to Kilbroney Park for a picnic!
Having had several birthday parties recently and wishing to use up some of the left-over party food, I prepared a rather larger picnic than normal. To be honest, when I surveyed all the food I'd laid out in preparation for our outing, I really wasn't quite sure I'd actually manage to squeeze it all into my lovely new backpack - but thought I'd give it a try anyway.
Me and Back Packs
Now, before I reveal my thoughts on the Jeep backpack, I should point out that I don't think I've ever owned a proper backpack before. Thinking back, when I was a teenager, the closest I ever came to owning one was when I carried my school-bag, but that doesn't really count as mine were just a very basic green or black sort of canvas job.
As a student, I carried a few cheap, flimsy and rather awkward ruck-sacks that were mainly used to bring washing home at weekends!
As a mum, I carried around a few different nappy changing bags which although adequate, I soon outgrew once the children no longer required nappies, baby wipes and sudocreme!
So, for me to have a real backpack was going to be quite something!
Look and Feel
As it turned out, despite my initial concerns that I'd prepared too much food for the Jeep backpack to handle, it was actually deceptively larger than it first appeared; before long I'd nick-named it the Tardis!
To look at on an aesthetic level, the Jeep backpack is very impressive.
It feels incredibly strong, despite the fact that it weighs very little. The stitching looks like it would withstand a lot of pressure and the zips, of which there are plenty, are made from good, heavy duty plastic. The back straps are wide and padded and the bag also features a good tough carrying handle. Mine was a lovely coordinating light pink and grey, but if pink's not your thing, the bag is also available in several colour combinations.
However, in our house pink is good! So good, in fact, that on the day the bag arrived, it caused an immediate sensation amongst my two daughters, both of whom assumed it was a new school bag for them! As they began to bicker over which of them it might be for, I took more than a modicum of pleasure in announcing it was actually for me!
The Test Begins
The Jeep Back Pack is undeniably sturdy, made from waterproof, breathable fabric and given that I crammed it impossibly full for our picnic, I am confident it would take a bigger mum than me to actually cause any zipper damage to it!
However, Jeep actually make a point of providing double zips on each compartment so even in the unlikely event of one zip malfunctioning, the douple zips mean the bag could still be sealed shut. Even with the bag completely full I found all the zips operated easily without any sticking or tugging required. The zipper tags themselves are made from chunky rubber and feel pleasantly strong.
The base of the backpack is double lined and made to withstand extra weight, scuffs and tears should they occur and the tightly stitched seams offer added protection for even the fullest of bags!
The thing that pleased me most about the bag is the sheer space within it. Really, it is fantastic. Normally when we go out for the day the children want to bring along a multitude of toys, books and other bits and bobs which I usually end up carrying for them. It's also common for them to decide they're too warm and to all want their coats carried. However, with this bag, I can be sure everything will fit into one place!
Besides the main storage areas there are several smaller storage areas and I had a lot of fun deciding what to put where!
For once, I even left my handbag behind on our day out as there was space in the bag for my debit cards, mobile phone, loose change, some lipstick and my pen!
The main compartment is fabulously huge and easily contained my picnic rug, a large flask of tea, two mugs, three plastic beakers, 3 plastic plates, 3 plastic bowls, a 2 litre bottle of fizzy orange, 5 fairy cakes and 5 packets of crisps. In the outer compartment I carried four filled bread rolls, three sausage rolls, a packet of biscuits, several pieces of fruit and some sweets and mini chocolate bars. Like I said, it's deceptively spacious!
In addition to the main storage areas, the Jeep back pack has a nifty little iPod compartment with conveniently placed opening for earphones! Although I brought my iPod with me, I didn't actually use it because we were all having so much fun, but it's a great idea for anyone out walking alone and wanting to keep their music safe whilst close at hand.