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Bungee Backpack

January 18, 2007

A new backpack uses bungee cords to lighten the load.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Back relief from bungee cords. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Whether you’re a hiker, a paramedic, or a third grader, a heavy backpack can be a real pain. Now, University of Pennsylvania muscle physiologist Larry Rome has designed an ergonomic pack that can lighten the load and potentially prevent injuries. It’s rigged with a springy, stretchy bungee cord, which allows the load to glide up and down on a frame as you walk. That eliminates the exertion of lifting the pack a few inches every time you take a step.

LARRY ROME (University of Pennsylvania):
If the load doesn’t move with respect to the ground, then it doesn’t have to be accelerated, and there’s no accelerative force.

HIRSHON:
That may sound trivial, but Rome says these peak forces can double or even triple a pack’s load while you’re walking or running. In contrast, the bungee pack’s effective load stays very close to its actual weight.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.