BREAKING NEWS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87 Full Story

This pack floats on your back

A physiologist came up with a travel backpack with a pulley system that he's saying can reduce impact and strain by 86 percent.

Posted: Aug 25, 2018 6:00 PM
Updated: Aug 25, 2018 6:29 PM

Here's some news to lighten the load -- a new "floating" backpack is being developed that could soon ease the burden of shouldering heavy bags.

The HoverGlide uses bungee cords and pulleys to cushion downward jerks felt when heavy backpacks bounce. The result is a bag that appears to levitate while its carrier hikes, runs or climbs.

Although yet to go on sale -- a Kickstarter campaign by manufacturer Lightning Packs launches in September 2018 -- the backpack is already causing a stir, likely appealing to travelers who yearn for the simplicity of strapping on their luggage, but loathe the pain it can bring.

The pack is the brainchild of Lawrence Rome, a physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who has specialized in the movement of fish. Rome initially worked on a concept that tried to harness backpack movement to generate electricity. While waiting for potential military procurement, he transformed his idea into the HoverGlide.

Rome says his creation can cut the risk of spinal injury by drastically reducing the downward force created when moving with a pack. Each step can make a load feel nearly a third heavier, straining muscles and joints with every jolt.

Schoolkids, the military and middle-aged people, all prone to injury from carrying heavy loads, could benefit, he says. Back, neck, knees and ankles will take up to 86% less punishment, likewise the cardiovascular systems of those who might otherwise be discouraged from shouldering a pack and hitting the trails.

Feeling the difference

"It's very hard to explain until you try it," Rome tells CNN Travel, attempting to describe the sensation of walking with the HoverGlide. Promotional videos show how the pack glides fluidly up and down on shoulder-mounted runners, absorbing the carrier's rhythmic body movements with apparent ease.

HoverGlide's chief tester says it improves the experience of almost every conceivable backpacking scenario.

"When adjusted, you don't feel it move," he says. "We have people walk and then try a slow jog and they feel nothing. But when they lock the pack, then they really feel the difference and they much prefer it suspended."

The suspension lockout converts the luggage into a standard pack -- albeit a slightly heavier one, due to the one-kilogram or so weight of the mechanism.

Rome's concept seems so simple, it's a wonder no one has come up with it before.

Actually, they have, says Rome. In Asia, people have traditionally used long bamboo poles to carry heavy burdens. The flexibility of the bamboo absorbs the up and down movement of the person while the load stays at a constant height, making it easier to carry.

"It's the same principle," says Rome.

Luggage innovation

The HoverGlide is expected to launch in four versions when it goes into production. A 25-kilogram capacity Trekker is aimed at hikers and campers. There's 11.3-kilogram capacity Commuter and Hiker editions for students and day-trippers, plus a Tactical option with webbing and a protective cover, for tougher expeditions.

Info on pricing is expected in September.

The HoverGlide will make an interesting addition to the increasingly creative world of backpacks at a time when rising airline baggage charges are making portable luggage more attractive.

Numerous start-ups and crowdfunded ventures -- among them emerging US backpack producer Tortuga and luggage innovator Nomatic -- are taking on bigger names to create products designed by and aimed at hardcore travelers.

Rome sees his creation going far beyond the world of basic luggage-toting though, with possible other uses including porting gear to tackle tough-to-reach forest fires.

West Lafayette
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 60°
Kokomo
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 55°
Rensselaer
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 52°
Fowler
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 59°
Crawfordsville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 55°
Frankfort
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 56°
Delphi
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 57°
Monticello
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 57°
Logansport
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 57°
Below normal temperatures & patches of frost in the north & northeast.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 108646

Reported Deaths: 3478
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20341757
Lake10013312
Elkhart6198106
St. Joseph586796
Allen5785198
Hamilton4600109
Vanderburgh318126
Hendricks2607120
Monroe224336
Johnson2241122
Tippecanoe211313
Clark205056
Porter197843
Cass19209
Delaware180159
Vigo169621
Madison153075
LaPorte134837
Floyd127961
Howard125163
Kosciusko116717
Bartholomew113257
Warrick104134
Marshall97423
Boone93846
Dubois92118
Hancock89242
Noble86432
Grant85132
Henry73424
Jackson7259
Wayne72214
Morgan68038
Shelby65529
LaGrange62811
Daviess61627
Dearborn61428
Clinton59111
Harrison54824
Putnam5098
Lawrence49928
Montgomery49421
White47114
Knox4659
Decatur44739
Gibson4344
DeKalb42511
Miami4202
Greene40935
Fayette40413
Jasper3732
Scott34410
Steuben3447
Sullivan32612
Jennings30512
Franklin29225
Posey2900
Clay2855
Orange27924
Ripley2768
Carroll26713
Wabash2547
Washington2491
Whitley2456
Wells2422
Starke2387
Jefferson2363
Adams2303
Fulton2292
Tipton21522
Huntington2073
Randolph2047
Perry20014
Spencer1984
Jay1640
Newton16411
Owen1621
Martin1560
Rush1484
Pike1331
Vermillion1210
Fountain1152
Pulaski1121
Blackford1072
Crawford980
Brown933
Parke902
Benton880
Union760
Ohio757
Switzerland660
Warren381
Unassigned0225

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events