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In December of this year, just after I started working with my High Performance coach, I set some big goals. Big because, in the midst of all the travel, challenge, change and new experiences of this year, I committed to making this the year where I get into the best shape of my life! Lofty goal? Maybe. Especially since I’ve spent the 3.5 years prior to this experience aiming for just that and…haven’t gotten there. But I’m kind of over half-assing things. Especially when it comes to my physical fitness and my physical capabilities.
In making that commitment, bringing a travel gym with me would be crucial. At the time, my game plan was simple–Beachbody On Demand workouts ($99/year baby!!) and portable travel equipment like resistance and strength bands and my sliders. What I did not expect would be stumbling across perhaps the best travel fitness solution that has ever come into existence.
A couple weeks before Christmas, I saw the EmPack from Evolved Motion on Instagram. It was a pretty innocuous looking backpack, but the more I scrolled through the posts, I realized that this would be the perfect solution. Why? Because it makes weight training while traveling accessible. Not just accessible. But practical and possible. Without having to fill up a sandbag (seriously – how is that even practical!?! How am I gonna find sand?!?). Without having to go to a gym. Without having to solely resort to running, yoga, or other equipment-less workout options. Without having to commute to get my workout on, which I’m always a fan of! Plus, it allowed me to save my money for experiences, and my maybe some bomb ass meals, not spend it on gym fees or fitness classes.
After getting it for Christmas this year, I have now been using the Empack for a solid 5 months and, honestly, it’s become so freaking integral in my travel fitness routine! It’s really difficult for me to put into words, but I’ll try to anyway!
This bag is so legit! But I’m not going to stop there! Let me tell you more about why I’m so fricken obsessed with this bag!
THINGS I LOVE:
- Workouts on the go! #duh. The biggest reason I love this pack is because it makes weight training accessible anywhere, without needing to have access to a gym, a bunch of weights, etc. How does this work? Well, it works using the Evolved Motion sleeves or reservoirs. These sleeves collapse flat, which is perfect for travel, but what makes them so perfect for working out on the go is, unlike sandbags, you can fill them up with water or sand. That’s what I love! No matter where you are, you always have access to a sink and water, right? But the coolest part of this weight bag is how customizable it is. Yes, it’s a backpack, which you can use almost like a weighted vest, but you can take the backpack straps off and use one of the 6 double-reinforced handles to use the bag for weight lifting. You can see some of the different weight-lifting options in the video to the right. Plus, you can fit so much weight inside this pack! Each reservoir/sleeve holds up to 15 pounds of water and each EmPack holds up to 4 sleeves. That’s 60 pounds of water weight! Crazy, right? And you can get even more weight in it if you fill the sleeves with sand!
- Such a great travel bag! As you can see to the left, this pack, for me started as my carry-on for my Remote Year travels. Not only is the bag a perfect carry-on size (ie. it isn’t too oversized), butit has the perfect amount of room for all the carry-on essentials of my digital nomad life right now–some clothes, toiletries, laptop, noise-cancelling headphones, Kindle, planner and notebooks, etc. Also, I really love the dry bag-esque closure at the top of the bag. Security is a big deal when you’re traveling and one thing that always made me nervous about walking around with a backpack is the ease with which a thief or pick-pocket could just unzip a pocket and take something out of my backpack. With this pack, there really isn’t that option. They would have to loosen the cinches at the top and unroll the top of the pack – not exactly easy for someone to slip into your backpack unnoticed, which is such a bonus with this backpack. Lastly, you can use this bag as a daypack for hiking or touring the city, which I’ve definitely done on Remote Year.
- All-in-one fitness and professional pack! This is probably my favorite thing about this pack – it’s versatility. We’ve already talked about its functionality as a weight pack and in fitness and if there’s one thing that’s crazy obvious with this pack on social media, it’s that it is wonderful as a fitness tool. But, what I think is probably the coolest part of this product and this pack that is a lot less talked about is it’s functionality for digital nomads as a professional laptop bag. As I’ve highlighted in the slideshow to the left, the ease with which you can take this pack from a fitness pack to a laptop bag for trips back and forth to the office is unreal. All it really takes is taking out the sleeves and re-attaching the backpack straps and you have a laptop bag in a cinch. That is so freaking invaluable for someone that is a digital nomad. When you’re a world traveler, there is only so much stuff that you can bring with you on your journey. Having a weight pack, laptop bag, hiking backpack, etc. isn’t really practical at times. I’m speaking from experience on this one. So, having a bag that serves so many different purposes is so freaking invaluable!
- EXTREME Durability. One of the biggest things that was important to me as I was choosing my gear for this experience was that my gear would be durable and would hold up to the wear and tear of 12 months of travel and day-to-day use. Especially because I planned on using this pack daily in my workouts and because, starting in April, I ditched my other laptop bag in Medellin and started using this bag 100% of the time as my laptop bag. Basically, this bag needed to hold up. And it has! Beautifully! You legitimately wouldn’t know that it gets used and abused as much as it does. It’s made of Military Grade 1000D Cordura. This is one of the most durable fabrics right now and is known for its strength and tear resistance. Basically, this sucker is built to last and I don’t have any doubt that it’s going to last me well-beyond this year.
- Laptop sleeve that fits a 15″ laptop. I do not have a small laptop, let’s just get it out there and say it. And it’s always nerve-racking when something says “this product fits most 15″ laptops” that your 15-inch laptop will be one of the laptops that might not fit. Well, good news, my sizeable laptop fits in the laptop sleeve. But, I actually find that I use the other sleeve behind the laptop sleeve much more. It’s a little bit bigger too. So, what I’m saying that if you have a 15″ laptop, you’ll probably be good to go, which is important for our digital nomad selves and the necessity that laptops play in our lives.
- The uneven weight when you’re using water! From the fitness-perspective, this is something I am obsessed with about this system. With traditional weights, your weight is stable. Stationary. Each time you lift, your muscles know exactly what they’re doing. But, the cool part about using water as weight is that the weight is unstable. The water moves as you use the weight pack, so you’re muscles are constantly adjusting and readjusting to the sloshing water. And that really helps take your workout to the next level. And, in conjunction with regular weights and resistance bands, that is a huge diversity of different ways to challenge your muscles! Such a win!
- So much support, videos and tips from Emily Schromm & Evolved Motion! Seriously, they have a whole website of how-to videos just for how to use the different aspects of the EmPack. But that’s just scratching the surface of all the resources and tools that exist from Evolved Motion and for using the EmPack. Plus, between Emily Schromm’s Instagram account and the EmFit Challenge Instagram account, there are so many tools, suggestions, and workout programs that are specific to the EmPack.
- It packs completely flat! This feature! Aghhhhh I love it! Okay…so I’m kind of a backpack queen. You know that comment I made above about traveling with too many bags? Ya…that. Especially in my travels this year. I literally have 3 different backpacks with me and I’m about to have a 4th (hey hey Empack Nomad…I see you!). They all kind of serve different purposes, which is why I have so damn many. But, when it actually comes to transitioning between the different cities we’re traveling this year, or when we’re flying to different cities, having so damn many bags is kind of problematic. That’s why it’s so perfect that this bag packs completely flat. At first I thought it would be problematic that this bag kind of doesn’t have a lot of structure, but actually that’s been one of the most important aspects of this bag and for my ability to haul it around with me this year. It slips right into my suitcase without much fuss or hassle. And that is so damn important!
- No water bottle pockets. This is periodically kind of irritating, but honestly, it’s so not that irritating. In fact, it probably makes me drink more water because I don’t have a pocket to slip my full water bottle into. I just chug my water and throw the empty bottle into my pack. So, though it can be irritating, it’s so not a deal break.
- No hip belts, sternum straps or extra padding on the shoulder straps. Now, this isn’t a deal break. Not in the slightest. But, if you’re someone who is a stickler for the extra support in a hiking pack, then it’s worth noting. This bag works perfectly fine as a daypack, but if you’re going to be doing longer or difficult hikes and you really need that extra support, that’s something to consider. In fact, Evolved Motion’s EmPack Nomad might cover that. Read on to hear a little bit about that at the bottom of the post.
- Not hydration-sleeve compatible. Again, if you’re a hiking aficionado, this is something that you’ll want to know about. You can put a hydration sleeve in this pack, but snaking the drinking hose out of the main pack is a little bit tricky (read…not super practical). But, that’s where the EmPack Nomad comes into play…
Bonus: The EmPack Nomad…
THEY JUST LAUNCHED A NEW VERSION OF THE EMPMACK ON KICKSTARTER – THE EMPACK NOMAD!
What’s pretty awesome about the new product is that it’s more gear toward the hiker/backpacker. It has the cushioned backpack straps that the original EmPack is missing (Note: This has been updated in the newer models of the Empack!), as well as a hipbelt and sternum strap! Plus, instead of just housing water reservoirs, this one has a special water bladder for day-hiking! It’s lacking the 15″ laptop sleeve, but that’s okay! Cuz it’s meant for a completely different purpose! And, of course, it can still be used as a weight pack with all of the awesome weight pack features of the original Empack! Check out the Kickstarter campaign here, which I would just like to note was fully funded within it’s first 2 days. Seriously, that’s how happy us customers are and how much we love these products! Or head to Evolved Motion to pre-order your Nomad here.