It’s my goal as a DIY performer to only have to make one trip from the car to the stage for any gig, guitar in one hand and a small portable PA in the other. The problem is always the accessories- that extra bag that’s filled with a microphone, guitar and mic cables, a DI Box, tuner and other pedals. And a special annoyance is the microphone stand, the unwieldy pole that acts like a twirling, out of control baton as you try to make your way into a crowded bar without it becoming a lethal weapon.
D’Addario’s new Backline Gear Transport Pack made my gig life easier and let me consolidate and store all those accessories in one solid, well-constructed backpack, making for a quick, easy setup. And they figured out how to secure the mic stand for hands-free transport!
Now, even though my goal was one trip, having this Transport Pack as part of your gigging life will simplify and relieve at least a little bit of stress at setup and load-out time, whether you’re solo, duo or part of a band making more than one trip from car to stage. And songwriters who collaborate with other writers in the studio will find the Transport Pack invaluable, as you can easily store a laptop, tablet, audio interface and more.
There’s a lot to dive into, for something as simple as this product, so let’s start. And keep in mind, there are many possibilities- one doesn’t have to store microphones in the recommended microphone area, etc.
Show of hands- who’s unorganized and has a big ball of tangled cables in a beat-up, hole-filled cheap cloth bag? Setting up for a gig turns into a chore, doesn’t it?
The D’Addario Gear Transport Pack really has a wow factor of ‘Oh… OH… OOOHHH!’ as you unzip each section of the bag. It sounds like a ‘but wait, there’s more’ sales pitch happening, but each musician friend who saw the bag was inquisitive and surprised when they realized the possibilities.
The full breakdown of the specs and features is listed at the end of this review so we’ll focus on a few of the important parts that will see the most use by the typical performer. The accompanying photos will also give you some real-life scenarios.
The most ingenious section of the Transport Pack is their modular cable filing system section, located on the outside bottom of the bag. With the bag flat on the ground or table, the compartment opens up to a spacious storage area with six detachable dividers (seven individual sections) for storing guitar and mic cables. There’s ample space here and I was able to fit two smaller sized cables in one slot in two different spots. So, you potentially could fit nine or ten cables here before it gets too tight. Using cable ties to wrap the cables makes life easier too.
The Transport Pack’s top compartment, which measures 13” long and 5 ½” wide, has a flat section for storing a myriad of items, including capos, batteries, small pedals, tuners, batteries, a guitar strap… you get the picture. Of note is that I was able to fit a standard power strip here, an important item many performers often assume a venue will have.
This top compartment has a detachable base as well and opens up to reveal another ‘ohhh!’ moment. Four additional vertical storage sections, measuring 9” deep, for larger items: pedals, more pedals, an audio interface, a controller. I have to admit, when I first started looking the bag over, I couldn’t figure out why the middle section wasn’t being used, until I realized the detachable base opened up. I thought the power strip would fit here, but at about 11” long, it’s just a little long vertically. I did fit an extension cord though.
For the touring musician, the dividers in this middle compartment detach here as well, so if you’re on a quick overnight date you could tightly pack your clothing or travel essentials here. Or you could store your larger sized pedals here. I was hoping I could fit a small battery-powered PA in this space but that was definitely asking too much.
City musicians will make good use of this product, as it measures about 12” in depth, meaning it’s not like some camping gear or delivery bags I’ve seen that jut out and knock people over on the subway or in a line.
The back section where the straps are located, butting against your back, is padded and feels comfortable. A zipper around the padded back section opens up to reveal space for flatter items. Laptop, iPad, business cards, more cables, strings… your choice. Storing the laptop computer and iPad here is pretty smart too. It doesn’t get in your way or add much depth, and it allows the more expensive items you might have with you to be more secure against your body, in the event someone tries to pick pocket you, which could be of concern to musicians who travel. Note that there are no locks in place on the outside compartments, though I suppose it’s possible to add on your own.
There are side pockets galore of various sizes, for storing microphones or a water bottle if you choose. They even include an attached bottle opener. The zippers are colored red and feel solid, and zipper performance is as expected. The stitching felt secure enough that I didn’t feel it would be rip when full. The velcro on each divider grabs in place securely when you want to reposition it, though it does take a little maneuvering to get it in the exact spot you want.
As mentioned, the microphone stand is always a nuisance and D’Addario understands. There are two adjustable straps on each side which can be tightened and, lo and behold, the microphone stand stays secure! Hallelujah! I’m using a three-legged standard style boom stand which folds down to a manageable size. I wouldn’t recommend trying to secure a solid base straight stand here, though you could take the weighted base off and secure the pole only. You could also store two mic stands, one on each side, or a mic on one and a guitar stand on the other. That might start to feel cumbersome and unwieldy for some, though. But as I said, lots of options.
This Transport Pack is pretty lightweight and stands straight up without tipping over, which was an initial concern. There are straps for supporting it on your back and a sturdy, secure handle if you just want to carry the bag. Filled up with what I, and several other musicians, would use on a standard gig, the Transport Pack wasn’t too heavy and felt comfortable and manageable on the back.
Our first gig was an outdoor duo gig with overcast skies that turned into a misty rain while we were performing. D’Addario claims the Transport Pack is water resistant and indeed it is. The bag was on the ground for a good portion of our show and withstood the moisture, keeping everything inside dry and drying up on the outside over time without the material showing any wear and tear.
There are a lot of creative options here for organizing your gigging life. I can’t imagine anyone filling this bag to maximum capacity, but even if that were to happen, the instrument you’re using likely has storage space of its own for some of the smaller items, giving you even more options.
I’ve never really ventured into the world of backpacks but hiking friends tell me it can get very pricey to get a decent product. At under $200, this is an investment, but you get what you pay for.
It doesn’t make any sounds, it can’t help you write a song and it won’t book a gig for you, but the D’Addario Backline Gear Transport Pack will make the performing songwriter’s life on the road a lot easier.
Street price: $199.99
Manufacturer link: http://ddar.io/GigBag.AS
A lightweight backpack for audio gear
Stores laptops, tablets, FX pedals, cables, strings, setup tools, microphones, mic stands, and more
Tons of compartments and pockets for storage
Modular cable storage and accessory shelf can be custom fit for your gigging needs
Made from a lightweight polyester material
Water-resistant zippers with heavy-duty zipper pulls keep out moisture
Security pocket keeps laptops and tablets close to your back in transit
Headpack pedal storage: 5.5″ x 13″
Headpack accessory storage: 5.5″ x 13″
Laptop/tablet pocket: 12″ x 19″
Microphone pocket: 8″ x 11″
String/accessory pocket: 8″ x 11″
Water bottle side pockets: 7.5″ x 12″