AIRBAC Backpack, Designed by Hopewell Junction Dad, Provides Support and Decreases Weight Using Air System Technology
A breath of fresh air: A local inventor creates a spine-friendly backpack
As a college student, I’m intimately familiar with the physical strain a heavy backpack can induce. At any given time, my own bag is stuffed with a hardcover textbook, my laptop, a few spiral notebooks, a pouch of pencils, my day-planner, water bottle, and any number of other items. Just for a laugh, I decided to weigh it on my bathroom scale one day. The grand total? A cool 43 pounds. That’s the equivalent of carrying my six-year-old cousin on my back for the entire school day, which includes considerable time walking to and from class, the library, and my dorm room.
Backpack aficionados know how difficult it is to find a bag large enough to fit all the essentials but that doesn’t weigh you down. So when I heard about the AIRBAC — a bag that uses specialized technology to lift weight off the shoulders and back and redistribute it to the hips — I was intrigued. The pack is designed by Hopewell Junction’s Troy Christy, who originally came up with the idea while watching his children get off the school bus. “My first daughter got off the bus all slumped over, leaning forward; my older daughter got off with her bag on one shoulder, with the weight pulling her down; then, my son got off just dragging his bag,” he laughs. “So that’s when the idea dawned on me.”
With experience in construction, Christy knew all of the processes required to lift his concept off the ground (no pun intended). After coming up with the idea in 2005, he traveled to China and spent a year learning how backpacks were made, created a manufacturing plant, developed molds for the air system, and went into production.
The AIRBAC looks like a typical backpack. But hidden beneath the padding of the lower and middle parts of the pack is an L-shaped air support system; this lifts the bag into an upright position. When in this orientation, the weight is redistributed from the back, spine, and shoulders to the upper buttock area. The air system is adjustable — it comes prefilled, but can be emptied and reinflated as desired.
When I first picked up the bag, I was skeptical. It actually felt heavier than the one I’ve been using. But once I packed it with a few phone books (yes, it fit more than two) and tried it on, I immediately understood all the hype. Its honeycomb-like padding in the shoulder and lower back regions, along with cushioned shoulder straps, provided much welcomed comfort. More than that, I was shocked to find that the weight had seemed magically to diminish to a few pounds; according to an in-depth study conducted by the company, the AIRBAC reduces the weight and energy load of bag contents by more than 50 percent.
AIRBAC bags are available in a variety of models, all of which include built-in shock absorbers and a lifetime guarantee. And the technology comes with some unexpected advantages: In a 2012 Computerworld study, AIRBAC was the only one of six bags of its kind to protect a laptop when dropped from a height of 30 inches. “Because of the air system, it just bounces,” explains Christy.
The bag’s health benefits have sparked a relationship between AIRBAC and D.A.R.E., an international education program used in schools to promote a safe and healthy lifestyle. “With our backpack, you get a feature that no other backpack on the market has,” says Christy. “The air system promotes good posture and spinal alignment. So for growing children — from kindergarten through high school — the air system helps to protect the spine and back. And that’s why D.A.R.E. has partnered with us — because we’re the healthy choice in backpacks.”
AIRBAC bags are available at retailers including Macy’s, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Finish Line, as well as at www.airbac.com.