Good Thinking

VentaPak gives backpack users some breathing room

VentaPak gives backpack users ...
VentaPak creator Mark Dingle, using the device with a third-party backpack
VentaPak creator Mark Dingle, using the device with a third-party backpack
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VentaPak creator Mark Dingle, using the device with a third-party backpack
VentaPak creator Mark Dingle, using the device with a third-party backpack
The VentaPak is said to be compatible with a wide range of backpacks
The VentaPak is said to be compatible with a wide range of backpacks

Day-use backpacks certainly are handy, but they do have a way of leaving your back hot and sweaty, or even digging into it if you're carrying protruding cargo. The VentaPak was designed to address those problems.

Created by New-York-City-based entrepreneur Mark Dingle, the VentaPak is basically a polyester wide-mesh screen mounted on a rectangular aluminum frame that's coated in soft, squishy neoprene foam. Utilizing its integrated clips, buckles and adjustable-length straps, the device is attached to the back (i.e: the side that faces the wearer's back) of a third-party backpack.

The main idea behind the thing is that it will create an air space between the main backpack and the user, keeping their back cool and dry while also stopping non-flat objects in the pack from jabbing into them. The latter attribute is particularly applicable to cyclists, whose backs are arched into their backpack while they ride.

The VentaPak is said to be compatible with a wide range of backpacks
The VentaPak is said to be compatible with a wide range of backpacks

Additionally, however, Dingle claims that the VentaPak should improve the user's posture. This, he says, is because the design causes the pack's shoulder straps to pull straight back on the wearer's shoulders instead of back and down, keeping their shoulders from rounding forward. The anatomically curved mesh is also claimed to provide support to the lower back and lumbar region.

Should you be interested, the VentaPak is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, you can get one for a pledge of US$28 – that's about 30 percent off the planned retail price.

Sources: Kickstarter, VentaPak

Does it seem like it would pull you back since the weight is now further from your center of mass/gravity?
?? What if they promoted this Venta-Pack as something for ALL marathon runners to utilize? That is, there's an old Olympics training trick, of adding weights to your body while training, so that when you are racing in the Olympic games, WITHOUT the additional weights on your body, you will soar like a gazelle! The trouble is, if you load up a back pack with bottles of water, (you drink the water as you take breaks from running) and try to jog with it, the discomfort and jabbing is even worse than when you ride a cycle. This device could prevent such chaffing of the joggers, and if they can prove using it will give them a lot of extra speed and stamina in the marathon races, they would purchase a LOT of them!
This design is ergonomically unsound. One of the axioms of wearing backpacks is that the weight should be carried as close to your back as possible. The Ventapak pushes the load further away from your vertical axis, further behind your heels. People lean forward with regular backpacks to shift the combined center of gravity back forward over the feet. Move the backpack backward and users would have to lean even further forward to compensate. If you don't need a large backpack (and most people don't), a large lumbar pack is a proven way to leave your back cool and ventilated.
Dave Holland
We have a couple of day packs with a small, lightweight cradle that holds the bag much closer to the back, is adjustable for different shapes and is way less bulky. I bought them nearly 20 years ago. I didn't think it was a world shattering idea then, never mind now.
Now you can have two sweaty lines on your back as opposed to one big sweaty patch. It's not really a solution. A rucksack drone that follows you around; that's a solution.
Thank you for your interest and comments. The VentaPak shifts backpacks off your back generally one to two inches, and the amount of separation can be adjusted using the vertical straps. Leading physical therapists have appreciated and commented on the benefits to posture enhancement and commented, including one you can see in our Kickstarter video.
As users notice and as we have confirmed in numerous tests, the much greater airflow significantly reduces back heat and sweat, especially when biking. While not designed for the high performance hiker and outdoor athlete, it makes wearing a backpack a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Winston Shih
I tried an early prototype of the VentaPak for cycling and traveling to see if it helps reduce my sweaty back problem. Not only did it keep my t-shirt dry while I pedaled from Manhattan to Brooklyn on a hot and humid day, but it distributed the weight more evenly across the whole of my back making the load in my pack more comfortable.

I used it for a weekend trip from NYC to Toronto too. Again, my back stayed cool while I walked through the airport. I overloaded my pack with heavy electronics, but it didn't feel so heavy because the VentaPak spread the weight across a wider area of my back. I now keep the VentaPak attached to my favorite backpack all the time!

I'm no scientist so I rely on good old fashion real-life testing. Based on the results, I can confirm the VentaPak works!
"Leading physical therapists"? If that isn't marketing gobbledygook, I don't know what is. Is there a list somewhere of the best physical therapists? Do PTs publish peer-reviewed articles? @Winston Shih, it might be okay for cycling where you're bent over, but it would be bad for walking and hiking, where your back is upright. Besides, I'm pretty sure I recognize the inspiration for this $28 gadget. They look just like mesh back supports for chairs that I've seen in dollar stores or available on eBay for $5 or so.
@Trylon I am on of the PT’s that endorse this product, and yes, we do publish peer-reviewed articles as our treatments are based on evidence-based research. I certainly won’t claim that I’m a leading physical therapist, but I do work for an outpatient practice that won “Nation’s best practice” award from the APTA in 2016, that you can look up. With all of that that said, there are no peer-reviewed articles for Ventapak as it isn’t made to be a postural aide.
I couldn’t describe the physics of wearing a normal backpack more succinctly than you did, so no debate on how that works. However, people compensate by leaning forward because they don’t have the postural strength to support the load that their backpack places on their spine, more specifically the lumbar spine where most of the weight is. The design of the Ventapak gives the user the feeling that load is more distributed behind them, allowing them to stand and walk with less rounding of their thoracic spine. While I am a physical therapist and this is an expert opinion, I do agree that research needs to be done to truly substantiate the claim that this can help with posture. Until then, I encourage you to try it yourself and see what I mean!