After a highly successful Kickstarter that created quite the buzz, we got our hands on a Lunchbox to see if this hydration pack stands up to the test.
Having seen many Kickstarters crash and burn, overpromise, or be delayed significantly over the years, I always take them with a grain of salt and prepare for the worst. So, I’ll be honest, when Lunchbox first started promoting their Kickstarter that showed off what effectively was the perfect festival backpack, I was entirely skeptical.
The mission that the Lunchbox team had set out to achieve is a noble one as it addressed some of the biggest problems that plague the festival scene today: keeping attendees hydrated and preventing theft from occurring. I wondered if this was just a pipe dream, something that would never really see the light of day, but after they got fully funded, my interest was piqued. I wanted to see what the buzz was all about and if a Lunchbox would replace the CamelBak that had served me well for years.
So, in the lead-up to Beyond Wonderland SoCal, a package arrived at my door that contained a neatly packed Lunchbox. Feeling the material the bag was made out of, testing the zippers and clips, and figuring out how it all came together were the first things that I did. And, well, I was impressed. The feel of the bag was there and it was clear that a lot of thought went into every aspect of the design.
Included was an instruction page that showed how to add the EL Wire and highlighted some other features, and I quickly went to work customizing it to my liking. While the one that was shipped to me had a standard black “skin”, the included info stated that more would be available in the future and I can’t wait to see what the community draws up.
Exploring the pockets a bit more, I quickly came to appreciate the lack of access anywhere on the crowd-facing side of the bag.
Much like many photographer backpacks on the market, most of the zippers lie directly on your back but are recessed to not cause discomfort. In fact, one of my favorite things that I noticed immediately was the liner on the lower pocket that holds the bladder, which is the same insulation material used on coolers.
My biggest concern was actually the size of the internal pockets themselves, and if it would work for a long-haul festival experience. The only other things I was a bit wary of were the cellphone pocket (it does stretch) and the size of the bladder for water. All of these would need to be tested in the field, though, so I strung up my dual green EL Wire strands and set the bag aside, waiting for the weekend to come.
Flash forward to Beyond Wonderland SoCal and my first time using a Lunchbox in the field.
Security gave me zero problems and the only delay was really the fact that I had to unzip the bag myself. One of the security guards even commented on how it would’ve deceived them entirely as they couldn’t find the zippers themselves, and the two large pockets made for a quick search.
After entering the festival I headed over to the water refill station and in a few moments I had successfully replicated the ease of access their promo video showed. It does take some time to get the hang of the small clip and slide on the bag, but I was on my way to a stage soon after.
This is when I noticed the benefits of having a Lunchbox, but a drawback, as well.
First, let me just say that after years of attending raves and festivals with a wide variety of bags, this was the first time that I was EVER in a crowd and felt that my items were secure. Even though I’m not typically found inside a crowd, I did head in during Beyond SoCal and I never felt the anxiety that comes with someone touching my bag.
The peace of mind alone is probably worth the cost for anyone who stresses about things like that, and it actually made for a huge boost in my happiness throughout the festival. I also noticed that all the essentials I needed throughout fit nicely inside, although I would have enjoyed being able to stuff my hoodie somewhere.
The drawback that I encountered was that in exchange for the security I just mentioned, the ease of access was also diminished. This meant that if I put my phone or wallet in the Lunchbox, that every time I needed to use one of those items I would have to take the entire bag off. A minor annoyance, but I did find myself keeping at least my phone in my pocket (or snug in that outer pocket on the bag) for most of the night.
My concerns about the size of the bladder were also answered, as well, over the course of the event. I was just carrying water for myself and I was also having a drink or two, so I really never needed to fill up more than once. I’d say that for one or two people, you wouldn’t need to fill up more than once or twice each day. If you’re carrying for an entire group your mileage may vary, though. Also, don’t forget to rinse it out ahead of your first use to make sure that you remove the plastic taste that plagues all bladders and water bottles!
Overall, I would say that the Lunchbox is one of the best festival bags I’ve ever used.
After attending countless festivals and events over the years and using a variety of different bags, the Lunchbox has been one of my favorites. The sense of security I felt when in a crowd was unmatched, the build quality was durable and felt strong, and the customization is a nice added bonus.
The 100oz CamelBak MULE that I’ve used for years is still a step ahead when it comes to storage capacity for long haul experiences like Burning Man, but more often than not, this bag would be a perfect companion. If you’re a solo attendee or if your crew is very self-sufficient, I definitely recommend grabbing a Lunchbox as it would be a solid addition to your gear for most festivals.
Want to own a Lunchbox of your own? Head over to their website and order one today!