Travel Must-haves: The North Face Hot Shot Backpack

Product Review: The North Face Hot Shot Backpack

If you have decided that traveling will constantly be on your life plans you need to start investing on quality travel gears and accessories. Obviously the first thing every traveler need to personally own is a backpack, hence the term backpacker. You can borrow a luggage or suitcase and even a camera but it is best to have your very own backpack.

My criteria for a good backpack are the three F's. Fit, Function and Features. I would like to say that I have scoured every travel store in the metro in search of the perfect bag. I did not. I went to one store and got out with The North Face Hot Shot backpack. Yep that simple, I came, I saw, I try and then I paid. When I tried out this baby I didn't hesitate one bit and just immediately bought it because it met all of my criteria. That and I was running out of time.

The North Face Hot Shot
front and back of The North Face Hot Shot

Fit and Adjustability

According to The North Face's product description the Hot Shot is inspired by hardcore hiking packs but it is versatile enough for city travelling and to a great extent in school. It is lightweight and compact but has a capacity of 33 liters. It is essentially a day pack, small enough to carry during a day trip but still spacious for 3-6 days on the road depending on how light you travel.

I bought this bag specifically as my carry-on luggage and my day pack whenever I'm out exploring the city. Unlike the typical backpackers who carry around gigantic backpacks that extends from their butt up to their heads I still prefer to carry a rolling suitcase. I like to think that one day I can travel like those guys but I don't totally buy the idea.

As you can see on my photos I am relatively short, only around 5'1. I don't want to mention my exact weight but I can say that I have a small-framed body. Finding the perfect size backpack wasn't that all difficult for me. It was actually the easiest criteria to meet.

The North Face Hot Shot
while trekking Tangkuban Perahu

Features and Accessories

I didn't care much about the added features the newest models of backpacks have like hydration packs and bungee cords. Obviously the more accessories it has the heavier it gets and unless you intend to spend majority of your time hiking or trekking I don't think it is all that necessary. All I cared for initially was two mesh pockets on the sides for easy access and storage of water bottles. Two main compartments with a laptop sleeve and comfortable padded shoulder straps. The North Face Hot Shot easily gave me those and more.

It has two mesh side pockets where I usually store my tripod and a small umbrella. Also, as you can see there is an adjustable strap on the sides that you can lock and release to contract or expand the bag.
The North Face Hot Shot
side pockets
The main compartment is really spacious. It has a padded sleeve that can fit up to 15 inch laptops. I usually just leave the laptop at the hotel when I head out for the day but I usually carry with me the passport holder, a sarong and an extra t-shirt.
The North Face Hot Shot
main compartment
The secondary compartment is still big and with added organizational pockets. Below are a sample of things listed on my day pack checklist: comb, chapstick, cellphone, pen, sunglasses, travel notebook, maps and tour pamphlets.
The North Face Hot Shot
secondary compartment
The material used for the back is really terrific. It is lined with an Airmesh back panel for comfortable padding and at the same time lets your back breathe and limit excessive sweating. There is a sternum strap on top that is equipped with a nifty whistle that sounds pretty loud. It is a nice feature to have when you get into a sticky situation and need to attract immediate attention. The hip belt is for added security which is stowable on a hidden pocket on both sides.

The North Face Hot Shot
straps and whistle

Function and Versatility

When shopping for a new travel gear it is important to keep in mind its main purpose as well as its versatility. If you are planning to buy something expensive might as well go for the one that's serves a lot of purpose. The Hot Shot served me well all-throughout my trip whether I went trekking up the mountains, exploring the ancient ruins and just leisurely sightseeing around the city.

I carried it with me all the way up to Mount Bromo.
The North Face Hot Shot
It was a great companion when exploring the marvelous Angkor Wat Complex.
The North Face Hot Shot
It keeps my hand free when riding horses or motorbikes.
The North Face Hot Shot
I even use it as a pillow for a quick power nap whenever I need to recharge.
The North Face Hot Shot
On your first trip out, you are only gauging the value of your new gears like the backpack, shoes, sunglasses, cameras and whatnot. When you travel for a second time you prepare the same gears and gadgets and that's when you'll realize which of those items provided you more bang for the buck. You might not bring that chunky hiking boots anymore because you realize you are not the trekking kind of guy or that classic Ray-Ban aviators that looks cool but oh so fragile.

Basing on my previous trips I came to realize that a quality backpack is definitely one of the few things a traveler must not go stingy on. Sure, buying something worth $100 for a rather small backpack may seem too much but as you travel more you will recognize its actual value.

The first time I realize I had a gem of a backpack was halfway through my three week Southeast Asian trip and second when I was packing for my next trip out of the country. I always stored it on the back of my closet upon arriving home only to be used again on the next trip. Whenever I take it out again it always felt like seeing an old buddy, it makes me smile and fun memories overflow instantly.

Now I realize this thing have been my constant travel buddy. It has been to as much places as I have and will continue to accompany me for as long as I want it to be. Unlike shoes, glasses and clothes it will never go out of style. It will provide me the same convenience and security no matter how dirty, old, and beaten it become.


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