Outdoors

NASA-inspired Honu backpack keeps you cool for up to 12 hours

NASA-inspired Honu backpack ke...
The Honu backpack is presently on Kickstarter
The Honu backpack is presently on Kickstarter
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A close look at the polymer tubing used in the ThermoCore active cooling system
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A close look at the polymer tubing used in the ThermoCore active cooling system
The Honu backpack is being offered in two torso sizes
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The Honu backpack is being offered in two torso sizes
The Honu backpack is presently on Kickstarter
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The Honu backpack is presently on Kickstarter
View gallery - 3 images

Ordinarily, a backpack is something that you take off if you're getting too hot. The NASA-inspired Honu, however, is claimed to actually make its user feel up to a total of 20º F (11º C) cooler than if they weren't wearing a pack at all.

Manufactured by Honolulu-based startup 19º N, the Honu features a 3-liter bladder which is filled with water, and to which the user adds an ice pack or cold gel pack.

A battery powered pump continuously circulates that cooled water through 60 ft (18 m) of thermally conductive "microtubing," which is coiled just beneath the taffeta nylon mesh that sits against the user's back, chest and shoulders. A cooling effect results, as heat dissipates from the wearer into the water, which carries it away. This heat-transfer technology is called the ThermoCore system, and it's reportedly similar in principle to the temperature regulation systems utilized in spacesuits.

The Honu backpack is being offered in two torso sizes
The Honu backpack is being offered in two torso sizes

One charge of the pump's lithium-ion battery is claimed to be good for up to 12 hours of runtime. The ambient temperature – and the wearer's skin temperature – will obviously determine how long the cold pack lasts. Once it has lost its cooling effect, it can be swapped for another within 10 seconds.

The Honu does also have some regular-backpack features, such as a 5-liter expandable main storage compartment, six exterior pockets, a bike helmet harness, and an optional 1.5-liter hydration bladder and drinking hose. Its five-point adjustment system is also claimed to keep it from bobbing up and down as the user walks or runs. In fact, honu is the Hawaiian name for the green sea turtle, the idea being that the Honu backpack hugs the user's back like a turtle's shell.

The whole thing reportedly tips the scales at 1.9 lb (0.9 kg) – presumably not including the water or cold pack – and is being offered in Large and Small torso sizes. It's currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of US$299 is required for one backpack. Assuming it reaches production, the retail price will be $500.

You can see it in use, in the following video.

Honu active cooling backpack

Sources: Kickstarter, 19º N

View gallery - 3 images
7 comments
7 comments
jocco
Make this bulletproof with pockets on the front, for radio, phone, and gun for use by police.
guzmanchinky
So the video says up to 4 hours, that's better than nothing for sure, but not that long. Might have to consider this for motorcycle riding...
SteveO
It's a great concept and I would like to have something like this. However, seems pretty expensive for something that will likely not work as good as they say and will require a fair amount of maintenance. Regardless of cost, I will wait for the retail version to make my decision. I have been burned by Kickstarter campaigns several times and will no longer support any of them.
Ted Sintetos
This is nothing new, type circulating cooling vest in a search engine and you’ll have many results for ice water circulating cooling vest showing up, usually around $250. I have a couple that I have used on my motorcycle, one has a backpack that stores water and the other looks like a soft cooler that could hold a six pack. In the hot Washington DC area summers the cooling lasts a max of 2 hours if you run hot like I do. You would then dump 2/3 of the water and refill with ice.
Adrian Akau
Too bulky and heavy. Just use a flat pack with high insulation on the outside to keep the cold in and low insulation on the inside where it is in contact with your back and fill it with ice and you are good to go. The low insulation on the inside will permit passage of heat from the body and the high insulation on the outside will help keep in the cold.
ljaques
Wow, hard choice. $5 "cool tube" neck scarf (freely refreshable at any water source) or $300 high-tech pack (costs to buy ice if you're in town). The wet, polymer-filled tubes work extremely well.
Daishi
I think it would be comfortable if I'm not sweating yet but if I am I think I'd fare better with something that blows cool air into my clothing.