1Voice Mapmaker Backpack: Day Tripping With a Charge

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Image: Karen Walsh
Image: Karen Walsh

Summer. The word strikes fear and excitement in the hearts of parents everywhere. Free time. So. Very. Much. Free. Time. For so many adventures.

Yes, that’s right. One of the biggest problems with summer fun lies in having no power connection for the multitude of electronic items that help me drive to new places and take pictures of my kid as we meander on these new-place adventures. I like taking pictures of my kid. He’s an only child. I’m a lawyer who likes to document things. So sue me. (See what I did there?!)

When the opportunity to review a 1Voice Mapmaker backpack complete with integrated charger arose, I jumped at the chance because what better way to make sure I never lose my GPS due to battery issues than a backpack that helps me with it, right?

Of course, since during the year, I pretty much go from work to home with outlets everywhere, I waited and waited for our first real summer adventure. With an evening that involves an hour and a half on the train plus a no-outlet location like a major league ballpark combined with my innate desire to take All The Pictures? It was the perfect trial for the 1Voice Mapmaker FYL backpack.

The first thing that you’re probably wondering is does a battery backpack provide anything over carrying around another battery pack in any number of pre-existing carrying cases? The answer is: it’s probably an interchangeable concept but for the fact that with the 1Voice you get a solid quality backpack plus a strong quality battery pack, which makes the price point of $159 for the Mapmaker a good decision.

As a Carrier of Many Backpacks, the quality of the 1Voice Mapmaker is pretty sweet. Not only is it a nice heavy canvas, but it’s also lined. This means that when my kid spilled a whole bottle of water on the ground next to my backpack, nothing seeped in. Considering I had both my iPhone and my pretty snazzy iPad sitting in said bag at the time? The double insulation that protected against spill was fairly important. Do I think pouring an entire water bottle on top of the canvas bag purposefully or assuming that long time spent near water (i.e. at the beach) is possibly the best idea? No. However, it does mean that, in my humble estimation, having a few minutes near liquid isn’t going to kill your electronics. As far as I’m concerned, this makes it as close to kid proof as possible without covering it in a waterproof tarp.

Second, what I loved about it is that the straps are super comfortable. The real key here is that not only did I wear this backpack for several hours straight, I had gone through a spinal tap a few days prior leaving my back and shoulders sore. The padding of the straps made me forget that I was wearing all the gear. As such, I can do nothing but recommend the Mapmaker if only for the comfort of the straps.

One of the niftier features of the Mapmaker is the side zipper. As anyone who carries around randomly heavy things in a backpack knows, all the small stuff that you really need sinks to the inner depths never to be retrieved when needed. Your wallet? Bottom of the dark inner depths. Your phone? Bottom of the dark inner depths. That batter pack? Bottom of the dark inner depths. With the Mapmaker, I give the designers solid credit. The side zipper gives excellently easy access to all the important things. By turning the Mapmaker on its side, you functionally get to open a laptop messenger bag that you carry like a backpack. This eliminates all that awkward rummaging at the concession stand when there’s a long line of people behind you. Oh, I mean, it makes it easier to find all those important documents.

Opening up the backpack using the zipper makes all the important technology easily accessible. Right near the zipper is the combined phone and charger pocket, which has a little snap that keeps everything where it needs to be. The laptop pocket that opens up would probably hold my husband’s laptop if I ever let him near my Precious. It has all the padding required to protect it from the jostling. In case you were worried about how much useless stuff can be shoved into the body of the bag? It was able to hold: my knitting bag (small sock project), my sweatshirt, and extra long sleeve t-shirt, my iPad mini, my iPhone, the charger, a collapsible water bottle, my wallet, my little clutch purse, my keys, and a comic book I thought I might read. I possibly could have scootched some more stuff in there if I had folded everything appropriately. However, I’ll give the Mapmaker credit for Day Trip Roominess.

If I was pressed to say something about it that falls on the edge of negative, I’d probably say that the shape for someone who’s short is a bit awkward and that the battery pack pocket being so near the zipper makes my inner neurotic a bit, well, neurotic. As someone who’s short, the long, camping style aspect feels a bit like I’m planning to sleep overnight in the woods. However, that feeling is probably more me than the bag. In terms of the zipper pocket and the easy access to the electronics, I feel it’s kind of a design catch-22. If you make the electronics hard to reach for safety, you also make them difficult to reach for the person who uses the back all the time.

As for me, now that I’ve kitted out my backpack with all my geeky pins, I’m enjoying it as a day trip bag. I like that it has the versatility to be both professional and casual. I will admit, that as far as longevity of the juice pack, I cannot entirely attest to its stamina. I used that for a short period to recharge my phone. However, the 50% charging of my phone didn’t really seem to put a dent in the 1V pack provided with the bag. I definitely think that for the quality of both the juice pack and the backpack, anyone buying the Mapmaker is getting a good deal with some solid quality and superior shoulder comfort.