Musical Backpack

Musical Backpack

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Hiking

The Musical Backpack

You may have read about my use of the "Musical Backpack" in one of my trip reports. Well, here is a brief explanation of what it is and why we use it.

During an epic 7-day jungle expedition to a remote archeological site known as the Mirador, we decided to connect a set of speakers to an iPod (with a lot of AA batteries for reserve) and put the whole device inside the mesh pocket of a backpack. The tunes that the Musical Backpack produced set the tone for the entire week: it kept our energy high during a 15 hour push through relentless calf-deep mud on the second day, provided the impetus for a night-long dance party, and kept us smiling as we explored the ruins throughout our trip

Musical Backpack setup

Since then, the Musical Backpack has been toted along on treks in the Andes, carried up 14ers, and brought down a rafting trip on the Colorado River. Everywhere it travels people are impressed by its small size and big punch! I attach it to my iPod, which has around 80 gigabytes of music on it, so we can please almost any listener.

That said, it is often inappropriate to have music playing. It is important to mention that I never use it when there are other groups around. Also, I enjoy listening to the sounds of nature as much as anyone, but on big trips, or during tough pushes through inclement weather, the Musical Backpack can't be beat.

Here is the setup.


Musical Backpack speakers

We have a couple of different options regarding speakers.

The Musical Backpack in Use

Musical Backpack in use

Musical Backpack in use


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-14 of 14

BLong - Oct 3, 2009 11:54 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Very cool!

Thanks! It's pretty affordable too (assuming you already have an Mp3 player). I have always found how listening to music can help push us in the outdoors. For example, I have tried this big bike ride several times and was never able to finish it. Yesterday I did it with some rockin' tunes playing (through my headphones) and got to the top!


Smoove910 - Oct 4, 2009 9:06 am - Voted 10/10


Now if only there was a way to utilize a solar panel to power the MP3 player to save the weight of all the extra batteries. Good read!



BLong - Oct 4, 2009 12:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Hmmmm...

It's definitely possible. Then again, a few AA batteries will last a pretty long time. I use a rechargable I pod battery and then bring a couple of extra sets of AA batteries for the speakers, depending on how long the trip is. Even on our 18-day rafting trip I think we only went through 3 sets of batteries.


byates - Oct 4, 2009 5:44 pm - Voted 4/10


Don't camp or hike around me!!


BLong - Oct 4, 2009 6:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: obnoxious

Right! That's why I specifically noted: "That said, it is often inappropriate to have music playing. It is important to mention that I never use it when there are other groups around"


hikinedd - Oct 4, 2009 7:31 pm - Hasn't voted

Good design, bad idea

I'm more than twice your age. I spent 20 years as a professional drummer. I love all kinds of music, particularly rock 'n' roll. But, if I heard that blaring in the wilderness I'd be seriously pissed. It may be motivation to you but it's pollution to me. That's what headphones are for. And the way sound travels in the wilderness, you never really know if there are "other groups around."

Sarah Simon

Sarah Simon - Oct 5, 2009 6:13 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Good design, bad idea

Ditto what hikinedd has to say.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would find encountering a team with this device to be annoying, offensive and nerve wracking. Sound carries more than might be appreciated in the back country. This device could annoy folks who you weren't aware "were around."

Get some headphones. :)


FelisConcolor - Oct 5, 2009 4:55 pm - Hasn't voted

Not cool

Please keep your tunes to yourself.


rkymtn - Oct 6, 2009 2:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Out of eyesight doesn’t mean out of earshot

Out of eyesight doesn’t mean out of earshot. Furthermore, in practice with LNT (Leave No Trace) philosophies, which we should all be practicing as stewards to the wilderness, noise is considered a stressor for animals and annoyance for other visitors. While the speakers are a unique idea, headphones are the way to go.


Haliku - Oct 6, 2009 4:27 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Out of eyesight doesn’t mean out of earshot

Maybe in griz country but otherwise LNT for me also. Of course cranking some tunes on a dig is a long observed custom as you have to keep the shovel bums happy.


chicagotransplant - Oct 6, 2009 5:40 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Out of eyesight doesn’t mean out of earshot

I agree, stick with the headphones. From LNT's website:

"Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises"


taxinvestor - Oct 6, 2009 6:56 pm - Voted 1/10


Maybe if your rig was waterproof, solar powered, and shockproof it might be interesting - but even with all that aside, there is no information in this article. I mean, you plug an ipod into a set of speakers and carry it around it your backpack?

C'mon man! Give us something we can use :)


BLong - Oct 6, 2009 11:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Huh?

You guys are funny. Honestly I had not intention of this article making the front page of SP (and I am not sure why it did...). I just wanted something to describe what the musical backpack was because someone had asked when they saw it in a trip report.

I'll write a decent article next week that will hopefully make you more happy taxinvestor.


rlshattuck - Oct 7, 2009 12:50 am - Hasn't voted

keep the bears dancin'

this sure would eliminate the need to make a lot of noise in bear country . . . no more whistling, or calling, 'here bear' or wearing the silly bells . . . but I'd sure be hoping that your loud music enabled mr & mrs. bear to sneak right up and eat your head off. I can understand the pump one might get from listening to music, but . . . there's music enough in the hills . . . there was a guy on whitney a while ago. Had his headphones up loud, off his ears and he was on his phone, yelling . . . I thought, if we just pushed him over the edge, how far would that sound travel . . . as they say, hike your hike . . .

Viewing: 1-14 of 14