As a guy who has lived out of a backpack the last six years, I pride myself on traveling as a minimalist who only purchases gear when the old has worn beyond my meager sewing skills. My backpack, silk sheet, toilet kit, Keen sandals, and first-generation iPod have been with me from the start and probably should have been thrown from the moving train years ago; they would probably look better.
So, when I was approached by Gobi Gear to review their new Hoboroll — a packing aid for backpackers — I reluctantly agreed; the plastic bag I pack clothes in always worked fine before.
To be perfectly honest, even when the Hoboroll arrived, despite the professional packaging and little extras included, I was still hesitant to add it to my travel kit. Once unboxed, the Hoboroll simply looks like a piece of nylon with a few uninteresting compartments and buckles. I put it aside until the day I left home.
Packing with the Gobi Gear Hoboroll
It wasn’t until I began packing that I fell in love with the Hoboroll. The five compartments can hold at least three rolled-up T-shirts each; a decent sized pair of shorts or nylon pants occupies an entire compartment.
I filled the roll, pulled the two drawstrings – the Hoboroll is conveniently open on both ends – and then compressed the entire package with the two straps and buckles that go around the middle. I was astounded; all of my clothing for a year-long trip fit into a compressed, egg-shaped module that dropped easily inside of my medium-sized rucksack. The impossible achieved, the space that my clothing normally occupies in my backpack was reduced by at least 20%.
Even better, the lightweight nylon literally added no weight to my bag; only better organization. This thing is a new permanent addition to my backpacking packing list.
On the Road with the Hoboroll
I’ve now been carrying the Hoboroll for two months across Asia and like it more and more every day. Not only do I instantly know where to find all my clothes at any given instant, the module doesn’t even wrinkle T-shirts if I take the time to roll them properly first. I’ve been rained on a lot here and spend a lot of time in the sand; the nylon material provides a little bonus moisture and dirt protection to keep stuff clean.
The Secret of the Hoboroll
Unlike the multitude of other travel accessories and gadgets out there simply aimed at taking travelers’ hard-saved funds, the Hoboroll wasn’t created by a big corporation. The husband-wife team behind the product have hiked the Annapurna circuit to gather wildflowers for research. They regularly spend a lot of time in the field, so they know all about traveling light and what travelers really need – more so than the desk jockeys!
- The Hoboroll weighs very little.
- Packing is made quicker and more organized.
- Clothing gets a little extra protection from the elements.
- The compression creates additional bag space.
- The roll can be opened from both ends and can be customized.
- Although you have 5 compartments in the Hoboroll, it’s just enough for what I carry. If you carry more wardrobe changes than Lady Gaga it won’t have enough capacity for you! Then again, no one says you can’t carry more than one Hoboroll along.
This thing isn’t ugly at all and is available in several colors. Other travelers will more than likely ask you about it when they see it.
Where to Get the Hoboroll
The Hoboroll costs US $28. Startbackpacking.com readers get a 15% discount on the Hoboroll. Use the code HBROLL15 when checking out.
The Hoboroll comes with a 100% return guarantee.
You can buy the Gobi Gear Hoboroll here.
Material Disclosure: I got to keep a couple of these Hoborolls to test out for a while. I gave one away to a lucky reader in Asheville, North Carolina, via a contest on the Startbackpacking Facebook Page.