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Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Backcountry Solutions Geek Pocket > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Backcountry Solutions Geek Pocket

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - May 19, 2012

Long Term Report - October 16, 2012

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 58
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 230 lbs (104 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking background locales are a combination of Minnesota where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona where I moved to take a new job about three years ago.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I carry a fair amount of electronics into the backcountry including camera, GPS, iPod and often a cell phone, and I'm always looking for ways to make the gear easy to carry and protected, yet accessible.

Initial Report

Product Information

The Backcountry Solutions Geek Pocket is a clip-attached carrying pouch designed to hook onto a strap of any kind (as long as it is of the allowable width).  For hiking and backpacking purposes it augments the storage of the hiker's pack, typically attaching to a pack shoulder strap or perhaps a narrow belt.  It is targeted primarily for carrying electronics such as a radio, camera or GPS.

Manufacturer: Backcountry Solutions, LLC

Geek Pocket

Photo courtesy Backcountry Solutions

Model:
Geek Pocket
Year of manufacture: 2012
MSRP:
US $ 22.95
Manufacturer website: http://backcountrysolutions.com/
Color tested:
Black, the only available color
Materials:
Canvas exterior, Polartec Windpro fleece lining
Size tested:
Only one size available
Weight:
Listed: none listed

Measured: 47 g (1.66 oz)

LotsapocketsThe features listed by the manufacturer include:
  • Soft fleece lining to protect lenses or screens from scratching
  • Attached with two Annex clips, one fixed, one that can slide up and down the back of the pocket to accommodate interferences on the strap it is being clipped to 
  • Hook-and-loop strap closure with finger tab for easy access
  • Strap size and placement allows protrusion of electronic gear antennae, carry straps, etc.

The exterior is designed to be waterproof, but I'm not sure how much good that would do as the top is open save the strap, and rain and snow can easily fall into the pocket.

Initial Inspection

Quality: the Pocket appears to be very sturdily constructed - the canvas exterior seems abrasion-resistant and the fleece lining is nice and soft.  The webbing straps for the clips and the closure strap are both quite strong.

Size: the manufacturer lists the size as 1.5" deep x 2.75" wide x 6.5" high to front edge (38mm x 70 mm x 165 mm).  My GPS fit just great, but my Canon SX120IS digital camera was just a little bit too deep :(

Finish: I did find one untrimmed seam thread, but no big deal.  Upon inspecting the fabric I did see one minor sewing issue where the thread went right to the edge of the seam tape, but it looked like it would hold just fine.

Operation: the hook-and-loop strap is easy to open and close.  I am not anticipating any issues accessing my gear.

Care Instructions

This looks to be a no-maintenance item.  There were no care instructions, but I might throw it in the laundry if it gets sweat-stained.

Trying It Out

clipped

I got out my Black Diamond Axiom 40 pack (see my review on this website) that I currently have under test and clipped it to the only accessible strap - see lower left of the above photo.  Above the Geek Pocket is a shoulder strap with no webbing of the appropriate width to clip it to.  In the right side of the photo is the accessory case that I have been using for quite some time that has a strap that wraps around the shoulder strap and thus can attach even though there is no webbing.

The only spot I could clip it to is pretty much under my armpit, and I'm afraid it is going to interfere with my arm swing in that spot.  Hmmmm, this is going to take a little experimenting to see where/how I will be able to use the Geek Pocket.  I may need to clip it to a belt.

As a side note the Geek Pocket is almost double the weight of my other accessory pocket in the photo, and my camera fits in that one.

Summary

I am interested in getting the Geek Pocket out into the backcountry to see if it is a real solution.  Some initial reactions include:

Kudos:

  • Easy to attach to a webbing strap
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to open/close
  • Protects the screen of my electronics

Concerns:

  • Too small for my camera
  • Heavy
  • Doesn't clip easily to packs that do not have an exposed strap at the right height


Long Term Report

Test Conditions

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Terrain/ trail type
Weather
Altitude range
Carried
in Geek
Pocket
June 10, 2012
Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain Unit
Sweetwater
7 miles
(11.2 km)
Rocky high desert canyon and ridge lines
80-90 F (27-32 C), sunny and dry
2700-3900 ft
(820-1190 m)
GPS
June 15-16, 2012 Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, Arizona Samaniego Ridge
8 mi
(13 km)
Sky Island ridge line Sunny, 60-85 F
(16-29 C)
5000-7100 ft
(1520-2160 m)
GPS
June 21-23, 2012
San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona
Mt Humphreys
25.6 mi
(41.2 km)
Forests to mountain peak tundra
Sunny, 50-80 F
(10-27 F)
8050-12562 ft
(2450-3830 m)
GPS
July 27-28, 2012 Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, Arizona Vault Mine Trail
5 mi
(8 km)
Sky Island canyon Partly cloudy, 60-85 F (16-29 C), rain at night 5500-7300 ft
(1675-2225 m)
GPS
September 23, 2012
Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, Arizona Pima Canyon Trail
7 mi
(11.3 km)
Sky Island canyon Partly cloudy, 78-91 F (26-33 C), 15% RH 2700-4200 ft
(820- 1280 m)
GPS

Sweetwater Trail

This day hike was my first opportunity to test the Geek Pocket.  I clipped it horizontally to the hip belt of my pack and loaded it up with my GPS:

Geek Pocket in Saguaro NP

Hmmm, looking at the photo now I can see from the strap lettering that it was actually upside-down, but there was nobody else out on the trail that day anyway!  My first thought was to clip it to the belt on my shorts, but as can be seen in the photo that is not accessible either.  I wonder if Geek Pocket is bucking the trend of recessing straps (perhaps to avoid snags?) by designing a product that requires an exposed strap?

The pocket worked just fine to carry my GPS once I had it properly positioned as close to the front as possible to minimize interference with my arm swing.  It made my GPS very accessible while hiking.  Problem is, I don't often access my GPS while hiking.  I'd really like to put my camera in it, but it doesn't fit :(

Samaniego Ridge

Samaniego RidgeThe Samaniego Ridge trail is one of the less-used paths in the Catalinas, as it is poorly maintained and has a reputation for difficulty which is well-earned.  The northern trailhead is also notoriously hard to get to as a high-clearance 4WD vehicle is required.  Fortunately my Jeep Wrangler is up to the challenge, and I arrived at the trail head late Friday afternoon.

The backpack I used on this trip has small hip belt pockets, too small for my GPS.  The shoulder straps do not have an exposed webbing strap, so I attached the Geek Pocket to the hip belt webbing.  It is visible in the photo at left in the middle of my waistline.  My GPS rode along safely and unobtrusively at this spot.  I was a little concerned when I set off that it would be bothersome there, especially if it bobbed up and down, but it did not.

My GPS was nicely accessible whenever I wanted it: I just had to rip open the hook-and-loop strap and pull it out of the Geek Pocket.

Visible on my left shoulder strap (right side of the picture) is my other accessory pocket with my camera.  I sure wish I just needed one of the two!


Mt Humphreys

Geek Pocket on Weatherford TrailThis was a 3-day 2-night backpacking loop hike consisting of the Kachina, Mt Humphreys and Weatherford trails in the San Francisco Peaks, including a summit of Mt Humphreys.  The photo at right was taken on the Weatherford trail with Mt Humphreys in the background.

Once again the Geek Pocket rode on my hip belt right at the front.  I like the accessibility of this position, but I don't like the way my GPS gets handled when I take my pack off and drop it on the ground.  The hip belts naturally hang down, and with the Geek Pocket containing my GPS as an anchor it hangs down even more and is the first thing to hit the ground when I drop my pack.  It is a good thing that the Geek Pocket is somewhat padded and very protective, as so far my gear hasn't sustained any damage.

I'm finding it is somewhat of a hassle to undo the strap and extract my small GPS from the pocket.  I seemed to access my GPS less than I would have liked due to the awkwardness of the operation.  I'd prefer to have the Geek Pocket on my shoulder strap in easy reach as my camera is in the photo.


Vault Mine Trail

This was a 2-day/1-night backpack up to the Agua Caliente Saddle.  It was the first time the Geek Pocket had to deal with rain in normally sunny Arizona.  It didn't rain while I was hiking, but it poured during the night.  The Geek Pocket got pretty well soaked in the rain, but by the time I was packed up to go in the morning it had dried out completely.  When I put my GPS in the Geek Pocket, it did not feel squishy with water, just slightly damp.

Pima Canyon Trail

This was the first time I used the Geek Pocket with my lumbar pack.  I attached it to the waist belt, which unfortunately was too wide to easily accommodate the clip, so I had to fold the belt in half to use the clip.  This actually worked just fine, and it extended the space in my small lumbar pack nicely.

Summary

The Geek Pocket has proved to be a versatile accessory, as it has been capable of adapting to use on a day pack, backpack, and a lumbar pack.

Things I like:

  1. Versatile: attaches to pretty much any strap quickly and easily.
  2. Protective: the thick fabric prevented my GPS from damage when dropping my backpack to the ground.
  3. Ease of access: no problems getting to whatever is in the pocket.
  4. Weather tolerant: held up well in the Arizona sun, and dried out quickly when it got wet in the rain.
  5. Sturdy, reliable: I had no problems with the unit detaching from a strap despite being bounced up and down mountains.  After four months of use it looks pretty much the same as when I received it, though a bit dusty and dirty from the trail.

Room for improvement:

  1. Limited to attaching to an exposed webbing strap.  It seems like fewer backpacks, including my current favorite, have an exposed shoulder strap.  I had to be a little creative in using hip belt straps as the attachment point.
  2. Limited width of items I could carry in it.  The Geek Pocket is not made of stretch material, and has a limited width.  I was not able to carry my point-and-shoot camera in it, and this is the piece of gear I access most frequently on the trail.

Many thanks to Backcountry Solutions and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

Read more reviews of Bakcountry Solutions gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Packs > Pack Accessories > Backcountry Solutions Geek Pocket > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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