Ultralight field office carries digital nomads deeper into the wild
The past year has really blown up the work-from-home and work-from-anywhere lifestyles. With that, we've seen some new product designs aimed specifically at today's generation of untethered, adventurous worker bees. The all-new Tactical Field Office from Helinox is the lightest, most portable solution yet, packing a mini-outdoor workstation into a hard-framed carry bag that weighs less than 5 lb (2.3 kg). Even when the road ends, the journey can still continue.
Previously, we thought that mobile office vans or folding chair workstations were the most versatile, convenient products for working from the road, beach or forest. But Helinox takes workplace mobility a step beyond those previous designs, creating a workstation light and compact enough to travel by foot over miles worth of wilderness, packed comfortably next to a laptop, bagged lunch and other workday essentials. Should you want to experience working from a scenic overlook or remote slice of coastline reached only by singletrack, Helinox's field office seems like one of the best possible ways of bringing along a desk.
Helinox's design starts with an aluminum-tube frame-surrounded 15-L cargo bag that looks like it could double as a handy piece of carry-on luggage. The table secures to the frame and serves as a hard face when folded up for transport. Upon arrival, the table folds out and can remain attached to the cargo bag frame to create something of a mini-desk or can detach and stand on its own.
With a 4.6 lb (2-kg) base weight and 23.5 x 15.8 x 9-in (59.7 x 40.1 x 22.9-cm) packed size, the Tactical Field Office isn't quite light or compact enough to tag along on a multi-day trip that involves a backpack loaded with food, water, sleeping gear, extra clothes and other essentials. It's more a way of carrying a convenient mobile office to the park, along a river or down a trail for a day, perhaps two. Should you want to spend the night, the 15-L cargo bag can accommodate clothing and other essentials next to your laptop and work provisions and includes MOLLE-style webbing for lashing additional items to its exterior. An optional shoulder strap makes for easier transport than the grab handles.
Given that Helinox makes some of the lightest, most packable outdoor furniture out there, we're a bit surprised it stuck with a bulky, fixed tubular frame for this particular design. It seems the frame could benefit from the fully collapsible aluminum-pole construction that allows its Chair Zero to pack down to roughly the size of a 750-ml bottle of wine. It also seems like Helinox could eliminate the frame altogether and just make a collapsible table that secures to the side of the cargo bag, but we suppose that might not feel as much like a "field office."
Helinox's Field Office is certainly lighter and more easily carried than other mobile workstations, though, and seems like an interesting option for pushing one's workday further afield. The new Tactical lineup is billed as a more durable, military-inspired breed of Helinox product. Helinox launched the lineup in North America this week, and the Field Office prices in at $199.95. Buyers can add on compatible accessories like the $29.95 shoulder strap, $29.95 laptop sleeve and $24.95 inner divider for organizing clothes and other loose items.