For the past two weeks I’ve been testing a new backpack from Skull Candy. This pack is perfect for anyone who is on the go because it integrates a hydration system and the ability to play your mp3 player (iPod/iPhone supported) through stereo speakers located on the pack straps! How did it all work? Read on.
One part of this backpack that I REALLY love is the integrated speaker system. Imagine heading on a hike/bike or walk and not having to worry about wearing headphones that might block out the sounds of your surroundings.
I do a lot of hiking and often find myself sharing the trails with bikers. I’ll almost always wear headphones when I hike and that makes it difficult to hear other hikers or bikers who approach from behind. Using the integrated speakers (which you can set as softly or as loudly as you like) I am enjoying the surroundings a little more because I don’t feel “sealed off” from the world with headphones.
The first question I had about this pack was whether I had to buy anything extra to make it work. Fortunately everything you need is included – there’s no extra connectors or accessories to purchase.
While the pack works with external speakers – you can also plug in your own earphones to an external adapter if you like.
I tested the MP3 connection with my iPhone. After connecting it to the included cable (pre-wired to a handy side pocket) I was able to control nearly all aspects of the phone – including skipping tracks (both forward and backward), controlling volume and powering the iPhone on or off.
Audio quality on the speakers was surprisingly good. The volume ranged from very loud (no distortion) to relatively quiet. I’d feel comfortable using these on a hiking trail with the sound low. The speakers are close enough to your ears so you can comfortably hear lower volume levels.
If you are not using an iPod / iPhone or iPod Touch – you still can connect your MP3 player to the integrated speaker system. You won’t be able to control the power on/off or skip tracks – but the volume controls will still work to adjust the external speakers.
Integrated into this backpack is a full hydration “bladder” system. Instead of carrying a big bottle of water, you can fill the included bladder with water. These hydration systems are very convenient because you can drink through a lengthy section of tube which clips to the pack strap when not in use. This means you don’t have to stop and remove a water bottle while exercising. The bladder is located on the inside back of the pack and insulated from the outside environment.
The water hose is a convenient way to drink without having to stop your exercising. Note how it stays clipped to the outside pack strap which prevents it from getting in your way while you exercise.
I lent the pack to my friend Jennifer Serra of Art From A Cart for a couple days for her to test out on a hike and these are her excellent observations (thanks!). She used a new iPod Nano to connect and test the speakers.
What I liked:
– well made, strong zippers and good pulls
– expandandable large center pocket
– lots of smaller pockets with places to hold keys, and small bottles, sunglasses, etc.
– lightweight, but sturdy
– well padded back and shoulder straps
– all straps adjust but not so easily that they slip from the comfortable size
– speakers are great, can hear music, adjust volume quickly and switch songs on the ipod
– when music is on, even loudly, you can still hear traffic, unlike earbuds
– hydro pack is removeable for easily filling, cleaning or leaving at home
– great for taking music to remote places, like beach, mnountain, hiking, etc
What could be improved:
– can’t use nike + chip that plugs into Nano
– rather small for a full day hike
– took a while to fully grasp the technological hook ups ( I know! it was just me) but I am not the only gadget challenged individual in this world!