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Originally published January 17 2006

Alleviate backpack-induced back pain with the convenient, spine-friendly BackTPack

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

I just found a remarkable packing and travel product. This is an instant hit, and it's going on my A-List of recommended products. It's called the backTpack. It's not a backpack, but it serves the function of a backpack, only in a smarter way. The backTpack can carry loads of weight, but it distributes it on your body in a way that makes instant sense. Basically, you have the same straps and shoulder support of a backpack, but instead of the weight being held behind you, it's held to your sides (with one half on your left and the other half on your right) where it's naturally closer to your center of gravity.

It also has adjustable shoulder straps, a height-adjustable chest strap and a waist strap -- so it feels like a backpack, but there's something much better about this. The weight is distributed in a more normal, natural way.

If you've spent much time backpacking, you know there are two big problems with traditional backpacks. One is that to carry anything on it, you have to lean forward, so you're walking around all day carrying this huge load on your back, and it's really bad for your posture and spine. The human body was not designed to carry weight in this way, and if you do it for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to posture problems or injury. In fact, just putting on a weighted backpack can injure people because of the twisting motion of the spine and the abnormal lifting of weight.

The other problem with backpacks -- and I'm sure all of you who have done any hiking can certainly understand this one -- is that when you're carrying stuff in the backpack, you can't get to it easily. What good is having all this stuff in your pack, if you can't reach it? I don't know how many times I've gone backpacking with all kinds of stuff in the pack -- water, nutritious food items, flashlights or other things -- and I've neglected to use them because I didn't want to take the pack off, rummage through the thing and put the pack back on. It's just too much trouble. I would end up walking dehydrated or going hungry longer than I should have because I didn't want to mess with the backpack.

Well, the backTpack product solves this problem quite effectively. Everything is reachable, even while you're wearing it. You don't have to go through any strange, yoga-like contortions to get to the items you're carrying in this backTpack. You just unzip the pockets on the sides or undo the Velcro or reach into the front pockets. The backTpack has lots of different pockets, including a secret pocket on the inside that would be great for storing important documents when you travel, and all the pockets are easily reachable without having to take the thing off. That's a major benefit of this product. In fact, I'm surprised that nobody thought of this before. It seems obvious that this is a great way to carry stuff around.

Invented by a physical therapist

Kudos to the inventor of the backTpack, a woman named Marilyn Miller Von Foerster, who is a physical therapist. She developed this product after observing the numerous injuries and postural problems caused by typical backpacks worn by both adults and children.

That's another thing that's wonderful about this product. This is great for children who carry loads of books to school. It's great for college students hiking around campus with all their gear. It's especially great for adults who are either hiking or traveling. Personally, the next time I go on a plane, I'm taking this with me. I tend to carry a lot with me when I travel on a plane because, given my strict diet and the food ingredients I avoid, I pretty much have to carry with me all the food I'm going to eat during the trip. The way that I've done that in the past is to pack it in various bags, backpacks or other containers and carry it along with me the best I could. Of course, it's very tiring to do that, especially given that I eat a lot. But with this product, I could stuff these pockets full of food and fly around the world without running out of things to eat.

When you wear a regular backpack on an airplane, you can't sit down wearing it. You have to take it off. The seat's just not big enough for your body and a backpack, but you could sit down while wearing the backTpack. You would just have to loosen up the waist strap a little bit and pull the sidesaddle bags forward while you sit down, and then you would have full access to all your gear while sitting there.

So, what kind of gear could you fit in there? You could easily fit a laptop computer, books, pads of paper, water bottles, cell phones, portable MP3 players or any other device you might want to carry with you when you're traveling. If you're hiking, you could easily carry a GPS unit, LED flashlight, maps, safety equipment and first-aid gear. All of those kinds of things can easily be stowed in the backTpack product and carried with you.

My only complaint about this product is that it can get twisted around quite easily when you're not wearing it. Sometimes it's difficult to sort out the right configuration of the straps when putting it back on, and the left and right parts seem to want to twist their own uncoordinated way. But this is a minor complaint.

Overall, I am very pleased with this product, and I urge you to check it out. The website is The company that makes the backTpack is based in Oregon, and it appears to be a small, innovative company that really cares about its product. I very much encourage you to check this out. I think I paid somewhere around $70 for this product which, I believe, is an outstanding deal. I've paid much more for products that weren't half as good at carrying around what I needed to carry, so I think this is a good investment.

This pack also appears to be of high-quality construction. It is made with rip-stop nylon, which means it's not going to rip very easily, and the seams appear to be stitched in a reliable way that's going to last for a while. I wouldn't say it's unbreakable, but it certainly is rugged. It looks to me like it's going to stand up to miles and miles of travel, and I intend to put it to the test. Hopefully, I will be able to report back to you that it has endured such travels without failing.

Lastly, as always, I want to mention that I do not sell this product. I earn no money whatsoever from this product. If you choose to purchase it, I get no affiliate fees and no kickbacks. I didn't even get a free sample. I bought this just like everybody else, and, of course, that's my philosophy with all the products we use. We don't take money from the companies we cover. That's how we maintain integrity. I bring you the truth on everything as I see it, and in this case the truth is rather apparent. This is a solid product. It's quite useful, it's well-made, and it definitely goes on my A-List of recommended products, so check it out at Your spine will thank you, too.

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