In the wacky world of new gear, startup company Lightning Packs is getting ready to launch a backpack that “floats,” taking the load off your body with each step you take. Equipped with a unique frame and pulley system, the HoverGlide backpack supposedly reduces the stress of the weight on your back, neck, knees, and ankles as you walk or run.
The HoverGlide pack uses a double-frame and pulley system with elastic bungee cords to suspend the load from the frame itself. As you walk or run, the pack easily glides up and down along this system — if you watch the video below, it looks kind of freaky bit is rather cool to see the person move while the backpack basically stays in place.
This reduces not only its vertical movement, and hence its vertical force on your body, but also the energetic cost of walking with the pack. This means you can carry larger loads while moving quickly and reduce the risk of injury from too much strain on your back, neck, or knees.
Lightning Packs founder, Lawrence Rome, published a paper in the science journal Nature where he showed that the HoverGlide pack offered an 82% reduction in force while walking and an 86% reduction while running — that’s pretty significant if true.
The HoverGlide design and functionality has been field-tested by the US Army and the US Marine Corps so there must be something to it. I am curious to see how much these packs weigh, in particular how much weight does the frame itself add to the pack.
Lightning Packs plans to offer four styles of the HoverGlide pack, ranging from 28 liters to 55 liters. The 20-inch frame system fits all three of the smaller packs (28-30L) so you can switch out packs to fit your needs. The largest is the HoverGlide Trekker which sits on a 24-inch frame with a 55-liter capacity. The Trekker can carry enough supplies for multi-day treks while limiting the pounding that your back and knees take on the trail.
Starting in a few weeks, the company will be taking pre-orders via a Kickstarter campaign so stay tuned. I am curious to see the response.
UPDATE: The HoverGlide Kickstarter campaign has started — packs retail for $349 and $449 depending on size.