Gear Review #6 ~ Mountainsmith Zip-Top Hauler w/Cubes
It really helps my camping solo to have an easy way to throw things in the car, to unpack and set up camp, and to know where things I'm looking for are while camping. This organizer pack system from Mountainsmith does the trick well.
Pictured: The whole system~ Hauler with three cubes
It's essentially a system that consists of 1 large rectangular open pack with handles that accommodates 3 smaller rectangular, vertical zippered duffels with slide-in shallow visible envelopes on the lids that are different colors. These are thoughtful and useful engineering touches, so you can instantly identify the contents at a glance.
Pictured: I most frequently keep it as a unit - but it's flexible enough to divide and conquer
Each piece can be packed and then loaded and unloaded easily with the large handled container; they can then be removed and go different places. So if, for instance, one is dry foods (crackers, chips, oatmeal, crannies, coffee - it's important to know where the coffee is!!) that needs to stay in the camp kitchen area; and one has in-tent items like toiletries kit, book, flashlight, etc; and the third has camp-prep stuff like mallet, hammock, spare stakes, rainfly, etc; you can easily take and keep them where they are handiest based on contents. The large open-top one can become a large transport duffel for blankets, etc. All of them fold up to store flat in a small amount of space.
Pictured: This trip, the cubes were Breakfast, Dinner, and Lunch/Snacks
I've used it thus divided - or placed non-ice-chest groceries divided by meal in each color (which cuts down on the rummaging factor) and kept the whole kit on the picnic bench right by the ice chest. In that case, I've put index cards that say Bfast/Lunch/Dinner in the slots at the top, so I don't need to unzip each time. Whatever works for you, this system is flexible and accommodating.
The only think I wish is for the Hauler to have a sturdier, stay-flat bottom. I think that would make carting it around easier. I have at times added my own of gator board from work (the advantages of being a print/fabrication specialist by weekday.)
Mine is a few years old, the current version looks different but works similarly. At time of this writing, it's listed as "sold out" at mountainsmith.com, and no pricing is listed. Check back on their site periodically, or look for it at retailers REI, Gear.com, etc ~ it's worth waiting for!