Earlier this year, we tested out the RucPac Hardcase Backpack Conversion (now known as the Standard RucPac) straps. What this interesting gadget does is turn any wheeled hardcase into a backpack by adding shoulder straps. If you have ever lugged a heavy hardcase by hand because the terrain was too rough to wheel over, you will no doubt understand what a great gadget this is. Strapping your hardcase to your back also frees your hands. Although we loved the product, there were a couple of issues with it. You can read about these issues in detail by reading our original review here. RucPac has listened to grouses from users and came up a follow-up product, the RucPac Pro. Does the RucPac Pro addresses all the issues of its predecessor? Read on to find out.
Firstly, the RucPac Pro is more of a 2-in-1 product. It consists of the original RucPac straps plus a separate cushioned padding that comes fitted with weight bearing waist straps. The original Standard RucPac had 2 problems and a limitation. Briefly, there is no cushioning between the hardcase and your poor back. Prolonged use can get rather uncomfortable. Secondly, installing the Standard RucPac requires disabling the roller wheels on the hardcase. Furthermore, the Standard RucPac only works with wheeled hardcases as the bottom straps have to go around the wheels.
Installation of the new RucPac Pro has been greatly simplified. No more messing with getting the bottom straps around the hardcase wheels. Instead, the center upper strap and the original bottom wheel straps now securely attach the RucPac to the new cushioned pad. The back of the cushioned padding is covered with Velcro fuzzy fabric (loops). Also included in the kit are two wide sticker strips of Velcro hooks. You slap these on the vertical hardcase surface and the padding attaches to them. For extra support, there are a couple of straps at the top of the shoulder straps that loop around the handle of the hardcase. Attaching and removing the RucPac Pro should now take no more than a couple of minutes. Since the new design no longer disables the wheels on the hardcase, it makes sense to just leave the straps attached most of the time. Like the original version, you have full access to the contents of your hardcase without removing the straps.
The add-on cushioned padding solution solves all 3 issues with the original design. You have a comfortable cushioned padding that protects your back from painful rubs and bangs. The additional waist straps provide extra support and comfort. The roller wheels are no longer disabled when the RucPac is attached and the straps now work with virtually any hardcase, both wheeled and non-wheeled. In fact, it even works with most if not all standard hard travel suitcases as long as it is not too large or heavy to strap on your back. We tried this out to confirm it.
On actual use, we find the RucPac Pro to be an excellent add-on for hardcase users like photographers or drone enthusiasts. Especially if you often find yourself traversing rough terrains with your sensitive equipment. Being able to easily switch between wheeling the hardcase and strapping it on our backs is both convenient and versatile. About the only problem we encountered during use is sometimes when bending over or twisting the body, we can hear parts of the Velcro strips tearing away from the padding. Although the padding has never fully detached from the hardcase at any time plus the top straps should prevent the case from actually falling off, the tearing sound can get a little unnerving.
However there is a drawback with the new design. You cannot transfer the RucPac Pro from one hardcase to another like the original design as the Velcro sticker strips attach permanently to the body of the hardcase. We have reached out to RucPro to find out if they plan to sell extra strips to enable this. They replied that while there are no plans to do so at the moment, they will consider it if there is a demand for it. Fortunately, there is an alternative solution for now. Detaching the straps from the cushioned padding basically allows you to use them like the Standard RucPac on another hardcase. Unfortunately, you lose the all the RucPac Pro advantages with the 2nd case when doing this.
Lastly, if you are a Standard RucPac user and wondering if you can purchase just the cushioned padding and update your standard straps to the pro version, unfortunately the answer is no. Perhaps you can write-in to RucPac and cajole them. Who knows? They might change their minds.
In summary, RucPac updated an already great product and made it better. If carrying around a hardcase is something that you do, we highly recommend the pro version over the standard RucPac for the extra comfort and versatility. On the other hand, if you already own the original product, whether buying the pro version is a good idea is debatable as the straps are not exactly cheap.
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