Mesh Backpack vs. Custom Fan Cooled Backpack

The constant debate within the IRL community is whether fan-cooled backpacks are better than mesh backpacks. It all depends on one’s goals and streaming style to determine which is better, of course. I believe it ultimately boils down to preference, but let’s break down the pros and cons of both so you can decide which is more ideal for your own needs and style.

Mesh Backpacks


  1. Equipment stays air-cooled all the time.
  2. Lightweight.
  3. Inexpensive to purchase. Price range between $10-$30.
  4. Easy to travel with; can be dismantled and placed into a carry-on without taking up much space.
  5. Equipment is secured inside the bag, unlike closed backpacks where it’s advised to keep gear on the outside for cooling.


  1. Not rainproof. A separate rain cover can be purchased to wrap around the cocoon organizer.
  2. Mesh can be cut if unmonitored by the wrong person.

Closed Backpacks (with internal cooling)


  1. “Set it and forget it” mentality, reducing tech issues related to heat.
  2. More secure than mesh backpacks, especially for cables and protection from weather and pickpockets.
  3. Rainproof for most closed backpacks, although some still advise using a rain cover.


  1. Ideal closed backpacks can range in costs from $30 to $500, depending on style and custom building goals.
  2. Some IRL streamers may build custom cases for specialized equipment, costing $200-$300.
  3. Time required to research and build yourself or needing to outsource to build costing you up to another $300.
  4. Heavier than mesh backpacks due to thickness, carrying fans, and potentially needing a dedicated battery for the fans or a custom case.
Bike IRL Streamer
Bike IRL Streamer

Here’s a custom backpack with fans but it also has mesh, essentially a hybrid between a mesh backpack and closed backpack with fans. Images provided by Bike IRL Streamer hitorigs.

Weight Considerations and Preferences

Some argue it all comes down to preference. Consider your intended duration for IRL streams – if longer than 3-4 hours (considered long), comfort becomes crucial. If streaming occasionally for 5-8 hours, a closed backpack with internal cooling should suffice, with breaks. For a lighter setup and less fatigue, especially during longer streams, a mesh backpack might be more ideal.

Personal Experience and Experimentation

I have yet to explore a normal-sized closed backpack with internal cooling, but I’ve experimented with a hydration backpack with internal cooling. It’s super lightweight and cheap, working well for 4-5 hour streams with careful gear selection. Experimenting with smaller components, like a Jetson Nano or Belabox in a tiny case, skinny batteries, zip ties, and super glue, can yield a lightweight setup. However, using a LiveU unit in a hydration backpack may not be feasible. Minimal testing suggests this setup lasts around 4-5 hours due to the reduced weight and smaller, more efficient batteries. Consider the Orange Pi 5+ for a streamlined setup, requiring one less component, the Elgato Camlink 4K is also recommended.

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