Introduction: Backpack Hack - Beach Cooler Carrier
See if this scene has played out on your summer beach trip - Children running on the beach, flip-flops flying behind them as they run toward the surf...Mom in her big floppy hat, carrying her beach bag containing her book and sun screen.....eventually followed by Dad carrying all required items for a day of fun on the beach - looking more like a llama ready for a trek into the Peruvian Andes than a person relaxing with his family on vacation. Worse yet, he is stuck pulling (dragging) either a cooler with woefully undersized wheels, or a Red Flyer wagon whose wheels are acting more like sand anchors that rotating anti-friction devices.
There had to be a better way... and there was. Step one: Declare in all your paternal glory that "If you can't carry it yourself, then it stays here!!!" Step two: Apologize to mom for saying something so obscene. Step three: Build your own BACKPACK BEACH CARRIER!
Step 1: Re-Purpose an External Frame Backpack
Find an External Frame Backpack - this one happens to be one I used to get into the hobby when I was but a wee lad in Cub Scouts. It's important that the Pack is an External Frame so that we will be able to remove the fabric and connect the hardware to something sturdy.
Step 2: Remove the Fabric
Most external frame packs have a Pin/Loop type connector which is easy to remove. Observe the pin prior to removal to ensure that no other part of the suspension system is using the same pin that attaches the fabric - if it does, then make sure you reconnect the part of the suspension system back to the same hole once the fabric has been removed.
Step 3: Hardware
For this I wanted to keep the attachment method simple, strong, and flexible...flexible in the sense that I could attach a multitude of items to it without further modification. A quick trip around my local big box home improvement store and I was looking at U-Bolts and J-Hooks.
Consider the diameter of your pack tubing when looking at the U-Bolts. My pack had 3/4" tubing, which I think is pretty common. You don't want to go smaller than your tubing, but it is alright to go larger since we won't need to tighten the U-Bolt all the way. Next find a J-Hook with a matching hole pattern to the width of the U-Bolt. The hook size is less important than the spacing of the holes, but it may be worth considering what you intend to tote with this device to ensure it will be hooked with the size hook you purchase.
Step 4: Test Fit - Success!
Determine what is the highest priority to carry down to the beach. In my case it was a device designed to both keep bottled water cold, as well as keep my sanity partially intact - a cooler. The height of the handle of the cooler perfectly matched to one of the cross members of the pack. Simply thread the U-Bolt over the tubing of the frame, then put the J-Hook onto the threads and tighten the nuts to secure. I added some thread locker to make sure that I didn't loose my nuts.....wait.... yeah that's what I meant. You can use clear fingernail polish in the event that you don't have any thread locker laying around.
As you can see this leaves enough room to bungee towels, chairs or toys to the remaining height of the pack frame. This is demonstrated on the main picture by the mesh bag full of rope tied to the top of the pack. The nice thing about using the mesh back is that it doesn't hold sand as bad like the fabric pack material would. You can just rinse everything off in the shower once you exit the beach.
It's worth noting - that any amount of sand on your shoulders will be immediately noticeable when making the return trip to the condo. Therefore either wear a shirt or make sure that the sand if thoroughly removed prior to loading up the backpack carrier.
That it - now it's time to strut your stuff on the beach making all the other Paternal Pack Mules green with envy!!!