The HoverGlide is a "floating" backpack that bounces up and down on your back by way of a sliding rail and a pulley suspension system. And while it might look a bit funny, research is claiming such a design can reduce impact forces up to 86 percent, and can make heavy loads nearly 20 percent easier to carry.

The idea is simple enough: the backpack's straps attach to a frame that sits solidly on your back. The backpack itself is mounted to this frame and suspended by bungee cords on a pulley system such that it's free to ride up and down as you move.

The product is the result of research out of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, published some 12 years ago in Nature, which found that a backpack suspended in this manner could allow a hiker to carry a 27-kg (59.5-lb) backpack using the same amount of energy it would normally take to carry a 21.7-kg (47.8-lb) regular backpack.

How? Well, as the manufacturers of sports bras are acutely aware, the human gait, while walking or running, bounces us up and down as we move along. A correctly tuned bungee backpack begins to bounce exactly out of step with the wearer's motions, letting the backpack more or less hover at the same height as the wearer moves along. Thus, you're not expending extra energy to move it up and down with your body.

The creators' original idea was to use a device like this to generate electricity as it moved up and down the suspension rails, but any attempt to do so ended up making the backpack harder to carry than a regular one. So instead they tuned it for ease of carrying, and were impressed with the results.

The HoverGlide backpack, soon to hit Kickstarter, is slightly heavier than a regular pack thanks to the spring-loaded hover mechanism, but the creators say the reduction of impact on joints, as well as the increased endurance you get from using less energy to carry it, makes it worthwhile – as long as you're walking or jogging.

It will debut in four flavors: the 25 kg (55 lb) capacity Trekker for hiking and camping, the 11.3 kg (25 lb) capacity Commuter for daily use and students, the similarly sized Hiker for day trips, and the Tactical, which includes a tough Cordura shell and webbing for the military types out there. We hope the sliding mechanism is well protected from dust, grit and water, because a squeaky, stiff backpack suspension system is going to give you nothing but grief.

Pricing is not yet announced, but the Kickstarter campaign is going live in early September.

Check out a video below to see the "floating" backpack in action.

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