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The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack costs $200, holds a dozen or more modern titles

How big is too big?

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Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

The appetite for bags and luggage on Kickstarter is massive. Driven by military types and “preppers” of all stripes, it seems like everyone and their uncle is making a mint off sling bags with MOLLE straps and patch panels. But last year one campaign in particular caught our attention. A tiny startup out of Brooklyn, New York claimed to have created the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack. The pitch was so compelling that the project raked in more than $930,000 dollars.

There is a very special pain in carrying around modern board games. After a decade attending Gen Con, often with a trunk full of games crammed inside reusable shopping bags, it’s something I know very well. Getting them all into the hotel room is one thing, but it’s quite another to actually carry them around with you to an event. In the past I’ve relied on Think Geek’s Bag Of Holding. The shoulder bag expands to carry around a dozen role-playing books or a couple large board games. But hobby games aren’t getting any smaller. One of the most popular modern board games, Gloomhaven, ships close to 20 pounds.

So, the team at GeekOn devised an interesting solution. The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack relies on a massive internal “drawbridge” that swings out from the inside of the bag. Once extended, it’s capable of supporting a half-dozen or more of the largest tabletop games on the market. It’s so massive that it gobbles up Gloomhaven, with room enough to spare for Star Wars: Rebellion and a few other games as well.

Surrounding the main compartment are a host of other top-of-the-line features, including a pair of beer coozies, a dedicated pen pocket, and a padded compartment for your sunglasses.

I received a sample late last year, but with no board gaming conventions in the near future, I asked our Jeff Ramos to put it through its paces during his daily New York commute.

“This bag is wider than I am.” — Jeff Ramos
Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

The first time I laid on my hands on the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack, it took me a few minutes just to explore every pocket, holder, strap and accessory nestled in its voluminous body. There’s so much to explore that its creators even made a 7-minute video to walk you through it all.

But what’s it like actually lugging several board games around lower Manhattan for an afternoon?

Surprisingly, the weight distribution feels pretty even. I spent the last few years vacationing with just a travel-focused backpack, so I’m used to carrying heavy loads while running through airport lobbies, hailing cabs and walking through hotels. GeekOn built the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack with the ample padding, and included the kind of support straps I’m used to seeing on larger bags. Despite the extra width it added to my profile, dodging pedestrians and speedy taxis in New York City felt pretty breezy.

We packed this bag to the gills and it was still easy to wear
Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

Inside the expandable main compartment, the “drawbridge” extends from the back of the bag, downwards to the bottom. This gives my large board games a nice solid base to sit on, which also helps with stability. Despite being loaded to capacity, I never felt like the bag couldn’t handle its cargo. In fact, even with three massive board games inside of it, the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack still had tons of room. Our sample unit even came with all of the bag’s optional accessories, like its clever dice holder and tray combo, and it still didn’t seem overwhelming to wear.

One of the questions I did have about the bag after wearing it throughout the day was whether or not I could actually take it on a plane like I would with my other travel bags. I was shocked to learn that GeekOn actually did this research and yes, most airlines will accept the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack as a carry on.

You can actually take the The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack as a carry on for most airlines

For someone like me who often travels with large, carry on-compliant bags that can hold just about everything, The Ultimate Boardgame Backpack is interesting. There’s an odd satisfaction knowing that I can travel across the city — or the world — with everything I need to host a board game night. I’ve never had dreams of hosting a traveling board game night, but if I ever wanted to, now I know there’s a perfect bag for that.

You can get the Ultimate Boardgame Backpack now at GeekOn’s website for $199.

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