Coxa Carry reroutes backpack straps to free your arms
The Coxa Carry compared to traditional pack straps
Backpacks have seen plenty of changes and innovations of late, as evidenced by the Pelican S100 and TYLT Energi+ device-charging backpack, but most of those changes relate to the pack itself. The folks behind the Coxa Carry system leave the pack alone and focus on the straps and belt, creating a solution that they believe is more comfortable and functional than the typical set of shoulder straps.
Engineer Claes Bergkvist grew up as a scout in Sweden, trekking and exploring the grand wildernesses of his home country and beyond. He always found traditional backpacks uncomfortable and heavy on the shoulders, a problem that continued to plague him as an adult. When hiking in Italy in 2007, he finally hit upon a design he believed would solve the problem.
Unlike the Pelican S100 that uses a hard plastic case to shift the weight from the shoulders to the hips, Bergkvist's solution pulls the straps over the chest and straight down the center of the torso, where a single multi-pronged buckle secures them to the hip belt. This pulls the weight of the pack higher up the back and closer to the body.
By pulling the weight off the shoulders and distributing it onto the hips – kind of like a frontal backpack suspension system – the redesigned strap system is said to make the backpack feel lighter and take pressure off the shoulders. By rerouting the straps across the body, it also frees up the shoulders and arms, making for freer, more comfortable movement. Because both the hip belt and shoulder straps are held together with one buckle, all it takes is a single click of the button to remove the pack.
Coxa Carry has applied for worldwide patents for its design, and has developed prototype packs to demonstrate at trade shows and events. It plans to market its own line of backpacks and license the system to other pack manufacturers.
It's impossible to tell whether the Coxa Carry really improves backpacking without trying it out. There are a lot of pack suspension systems available that make similar claims about redistributing weight from the shoulders to the hips but the extra arm freedom is nice – but having straps down your chest could prove uncomfortable in its own right. If and when the backpacks hit production, we hope to try one out and compare it to a traditionally suspended backpack.
Source: Coxa Carry
About the Author
Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.
All articles by C.C. Weiss
Unless the shoulder straps are very stiff, I don't see how they could possibly maintain vertically parallel lines at chest level without a sternum strap. I'll believe it when I see it.
If you are going to have a backpack sitting on your hips the shoulder straps need to be loose enough so your shoulders are free to move or you will injure your back. I prefer having the weight on my shoulders without a lower strap.
Subtle detail in the Coxa backpack diagram in that it is shown to ride higher, and not dragging down, thus implying more comfort - could this be a deliberate subliminal ploy?
A properly fitted back pack puts very little weight on the shoulders. It will have a padded hip belt which takes the weight. A couple of hours spent adjusting my Berghaus to fit me properly and the shoulder straps are barely tight, and are more to stop the pack falling off backwards. Even the cheap one I bought from Aldi has a half decent hip belt, and the weight goes on the hips not the shoulder
Bet ya they have done almost no real long haul trail testing. One simple problem: you cannot release the waist belt tension without also releasing the shoulder straps. Most packers like to let the waist belt loose for a while and hang the weight on the shoulder straps, or vice-versa. Also, the upward angle of the waist straps tells me you cannot put much compression on the waist belt. Backpackers are about equally split on preferring shoulder weight or hip weight. And most of us play around with the distribution during a long hike to reduce the PAIN.
Looking at the same problem, I had the brilliant idea to make a pack with simple criss-cross front straps to avoid the breast area. Putting it on and off was very, very difficult... you needed a helper. Flop idea.
The best fitting pack I've ever owned is still my 25 year old McHale. It was custom made and no matter how much or little I pack in it, the weight rests on my hips.
That said, that single release point looks awfully nice. There are some incredible, light weight packs out there today (all the Ospreys with the Airspeed Suspension comes to mind). Incorporating this strap design (if properly implemented) could really make for an interesting backcountry option...
Still can't beat a Kriega R35 motorbike rucksack with the most adjustable, comfortable harness ever devised for a rucksack.
Can't believe the illustration is with a girl. Woman (with normal size breasts) would never wear this. It wouldn't just look terrible, but also would be really uncomfortable.
I've never had any issue with arm mobility with a pack on. I've even ascended a few 5.9 pitches with a pack on. It seems that, by routing the straps to the sternum, breathing could be impaired especially at higher loads and elevations. Additionally, by making essentially a "mono-strap" in the center, rotational stability in several planes would be greatly diminished. Last thing I want especially on a technical hike is to have a back flopping around and to restrict my breathing. I too question whether the inventor has ever hiked with any realistic load? ...or is this just another "just-to-be-different" design excercise?
Any soldier will tell you that the largest "pain" is the straps as they come over the shoulder (on the shoulder weight-bearing rucksack styles). I've seen many guys and gals develop severe arm-numbness because they did not stop often enough to loosen the straps and allow circulation to return.
Hip-load bearing rucks are good for "day-trips", but when you need to really haul some weight (again looking at soldiers), the shoulder is the best location to haul weight, with waist straps to prevent the bottom of the ruck from "bobbing". Personally, I detested waist straps, preferring to rig my ruck as high up on my shoulders as I could. The higher it was, the straighter I could stand. Relieved pressure not only on my hips, but my lower spine from not having to bend over so much.
I like the idea about the free shoulder movement (trust me, hauling a rifle/eqpt without using the sling - a-la combat movement, but over several km's is no fun!), as that negates a lot of potential nerve damage, but I agree that until someone gives this sucker a rugged test (with decent weight - say at the minimum -> 50 lbs!) over several trials, I'd have to agree that the ruck would likely flop around. However, I do like the quick-disconnect - something that is important when first taking incoming fire.
Another observation - safety point - what would happen if the two bottom clips were popped open without the top 2 connectors being released? Will the weight of the ruck cause it to drop like an elevator in back, causing the "U"-shaped front buckle to whip up and strangle/throttle/injure/kill the wearer???
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