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Culture

Feedback needed | IV Backpack

by , April 13, 2011

When a backpack is needed just to survive

Here’s one out of the blue, where we are hoping our community can help another community…

Brandon is a carry fan (like lots of us). Only for Brandon, his backpack is something more of a necessity. For 31 years (basically since birth), he’s had to get serious time on an Intra-Veinous drip each day, receiving nutritional supplements to survive. About 10 hours a day, each and every day…

New pump technology allowed crew with Brandon’s condition to swap the IV stand for a mobile backpack, which radically improved their mobility. But there’s still a problem… just look at how unsexy that pack is! More than that, it’s no longer even available.

So we figured we’d try and find a few alternatives that could be hacked into shape for Brandon and the thousands of other similar sufferers. Or even better, we hoped one of our readers might want to take it further. Anyone for a uni design project? Any suppliers looking to give back a little to some pretty extreme carry users?

We’d love both some suggestions for bags that they could start with, as well as any makers or brands that might want to have a go and find a new niche market for themselves.

The Brief/s

So here’s the brief, in 2 parts. First is Brandon’s description, then comes a few extra bits we thought would help…

From Brandon:

“Allow me to give the ‘Readers Digest’ version. Basically I have a digestive disorder where I require IV nutritional supplements to survive. Every night I’m hooked up for 10 hours and being strapped down to an IV poll kind of puts a damper on things. However, with advancements in technology pumps have gotten smaller. As a result a backpack was specially created to fit this pump and the IV bag, which opened the door for mobility while being hooked up. The problem is…this bag is 10+ years old now and is falling a part. The company that makes it is no longer around, and I’m not able to find anyone else who makes something like it.

I’m part of an online community where patients have similar situations and unfortunately those who are hooked up just go out and buy regular backpacks and modify them by cutting them and adding all sorts of contraptions to it to feel a bit more mobile. Personally, I believe that the market is fairly large; however, no one seems to really want to look into it.

My thinking and inspiration is structured around a basic hydration pack, allowing for IV tubing to be easily fed through a sleeve for protection. A few extra pockets that allow for any extra medical supplies needed would be ideal, mainly because you never know when you might need them.

With the amount of weight (roughly 5 lbs) it gets to be a bit of a strain so it has always brought me back to a hydration pack with the added straps to hold it against you for comfort and support. Especially because I like to get outside and enjoy life the best I can.”

Additional brief (fleshed out through some back and forth):

We think Brandon can do even better than an existing sport oriented hydration pack. They look too sporty, having too many bits hanging off them, and are not really optimised for daily life. You don’t want dangling straps and bits to get in your lunch, and a clean and discreet silhouette sounds good.

  • The biggest fluids bag it needs to carry is 3 litres.
  • The IV tube is usually hooked up to the wearer’s chest (these last longer than arm attachments), so the IV cords either enter their shirt at the neck opening, or plug to a port coming out the bottom of their shirt.
  • When not in use, the IV cords should attach easily to the strap, or tuck into the bag for storage.
  • It would be great if it was slim line enough that you could throw a jacket over it without removing it for short winter journeys.
  • Some double bonuses would include: thin insulation on the fluids section, no air-mesh (because it scratches bare skin), lightweight, and easy to hook on a pole when you get home.
  • And of course, black is probably best.

So any thoughts dear community?

We bounced it around some of our crew, and the best existing packs we could find (perhaps to serve as starting points) were:

Squarer and better for the office

It’s expensive, but has a nice and clean feel with hydration pocket and neat internals: Goruck GR1 (image from here)

Or perhaps a laptop section could be adapted with the tubes just coming out through the zipper. Something pretty conservative like The North Face Ridge Backpack.

Sportier

Sporty but still clean enough is The North Face Hammerhead (just remove the bungy and color in the logos).

Thin and just a little action Burton Oasis H02 Pack 12L.

And if you want to look a little tech the Dakine Heli Pro is a great looking pack.

Really slim

If you want to try and wear it beneath a jacket the Built Laptop Backpack might work? It would limit your fluid bag sizes, but might be interesting to explore…

So what next?

If you have other backpacks to suggest, please post in the comments.

If you’re keen to explore this as a proper project, email us at blog@carryology.com and we can hook you up with Brandon.

Thanks for making it this far!

Update 14th April 2011

We’ve had an absolutely amazing response so far. You guys rock!

  • Lisa from The Oley Foundation has got in touch to say how interested they are in seeing our community’s ideas. The Oley Foundation is one of the major groups for crew with similar conditions to Brandon (PTN), and has over 11,000 members.
  • John is a contract sewer from Seattle who is keen to help either modify or stitch from scratch a suitable pack.
  • Ryan, a product designer from a major US insulated bag company is keen to work on some ideas.
  • Randall has some really different ideas about carrying gear, and has started to brainstorm.
  • And our very own contributor Taylor is keen to pitch in a few ideas.

On top of all these emails, the comments below are starting to suggest some other neat ideas about hacking existing solutions to the challenge.

Please keep these comments and emails coming. We think there will be a few different solutions that could make a huge difference to the comfort and ease of life for these guys.

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