Name: UncommonGoods Picnic Backpack
What it is: A backpack with a front pouch that includes two forks, two knives, two spoons, two plates, two wine glasses, two napkins and a bottle opener/corkscrew. The bigger pouch is an insulated area in which refrigerated food can be kept cold. One outside mesh pouch can hold a wine or water bottle, and another mesh pocket on the strap can hold a cellphone. The pack is 10 inches wide, 18 inches long and 9 inches deep.
How it works: Load up the larger pouch with your food, then store your utensils in the straps of the smaller front pouch. The sling-style strap wraps around your chest and back.
The good: I chose a picnic day that was particularly hot outside (more than 90 degrees) to see how well the pack would keep food properly chilled. My menu: two vegetarian turkey sandwiches, two sandwich bags of cheese squares, two sandwich bags of strawberries, two sandwich bags of apples, multigrain crackers and two water bottles (yes, I fit two). Then I hiked an hour and 40 minutes to a lakefront beach. The bag was no chore to carry, which surprised me considering the weight of the water bottles. On arrival, I opened the bag to see my still-chilled food, and everything still in its place. No mess.
The bad: Unlike some other picnic backpacks, this one didn't come with a blanket. Also, the cellphone holder is meant for a small phone (think of the size of a flip phone), so smartphone users will find it useless. The cellphone pocket could be used for keys or a small map, however.
Available at: uncommongoods.comCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun