Woman carrying heavy backpack

Sometimes you just need to carry a bunch of stuff, or realize that bringing a briefcase to the gym simply will not do. Unless you don’t mind drip-drying as people say, “Hey, there’s the wierdo who escaped from the 80′s and brought a briefcase!” But simply shouldering a burden is for regular folk, which is why we’re bringing five fun and functional options to your attention.

Solar Panel Power

Why should plants be the only ones to get free energy falling from the sky? Those silly green things don’t even text (and “green” is now the only color you can mock without getting a letter from HR.) Voltaic Systems lives up to its impressively technical title with the Converter Solar Backpack: an always-on emergency power system.

Voltaic Systems Solar Backpack

(Image: Voltaic Systems)

The whole point of the pack is that you’re going to be carrying it around, often outside, and the solar cells will be soaking up energy the whole time. Be it a business meeting in a coffee shop or flinging frisbees with other people lucky enough to have that much free time — simply set it solar-side up and you’ll get free energy.

So far, so silly-sounding, but Voltaic Systems aren’t messing around with eco-awareness or other ineffective idiocies — this pack is designed to be a true emergency power station. The storage battery can also be charged by USB connection or direct AC current, meaning you’ll always be able to switch to Emergency Power. Normally reserved for starship captains, and now — with the included adapter set — you can use it on anything you own.

Solar Adapters Voltaic System

You could probably connect to a hedgehog with this kit. (image: Voltaic Systems)

The Livepack

Anything, anywhere, online and in high-definition: that’s the promise of the Livepack. Rent the one-man operation from Electronista and the appallingly powerful high-definition camera will livestream any event through a dedicated server. Ethernet and USB connections allow direct wiring when it’s possible, and six 3G modems — for an incredible total of 18 G’s — simply punch your signal through the air when it isn’t.

Livepack High Definition Camera Pack

(Image: Electronista)

Understand: with this equipment, if you can phone friends to tell them what they’re missing, you could instead be showing them in higher resolution than a CNN crew. An entire month’s rental is only $2,500, meaning that if you’re uploading a wedding for those who can’t make it (and your own future selves), you can capture the stag night and honeymoon as well.

Whether you’d want to is another matter.

The Setgo Transport

Part portable solution, part zen riddle, the Setgo Transport is the backpack without the pack.

The Setgo Transport Electronics Carrying

(Image: Setgo)

Ideal for the electronically equipped urban warrior needing nothing bulkier than a batch of beeping boxes to succeed wherever they go, the Transport is a great gadget bandolier. Every item remains easily accessible, ready for quick-draw (instead of a frantic pocket-patting digging expedition timed to take precisely one second too long before they hang up), it even solves the headphone-cord-control problem.

The Map-Maker

The UC Berkeley team behind Google Earth technology have decided that merely mapping the entire Earth isn’t enough — there are still all those inconvenient buildings they can’t see inside. That’s why they’ve built a backpack which turns you into a single-man Street View squad, laser-scannning everything you pass and helping humanity simply move the entire world online.

Berkley Mapping Pack

(Image: ABC7News)

The laser pack, and we’ll repeat that, laser pack scans its environment and builds an entire — and accurately textured — 3D model of everywhere it goes.

Mapping Pack Schematic

You may also feel like a Ghostbuster when wearing it. This is entirely normal -- and awesome. (image: UC Berkeley)


Let us be very clear: you want one of these.

R2D2 Backpack

(Image: Geekologie)

You couldn’t conceive of a cuter backpack without training a troupe of kittens to cling on and carry your belongings. Fussy fans might point out that it’s C3PO who should be back-packed, but that just proves how pedants miss the point of everything fun.

Image credit: muratseyit / iStockphoto