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