When internal frame backpacks were first developed in 1967 by Greg Lowe (who later founded Lowe Alpine and LowePro), they were designed to be more formfitting than external frame packs, bringing the load closer to the wearer’s hips, and making it easier to scramble or go off trail. However, it wasn’t until 1984, that the ventilated backpack frames we know today were first introduced, originally by the German backpack maker Deuter, which first patented the idea.
The first ventilated frame that Deuter introduced had a mesh backing, similar to the one shown above. The mesh creates a ventilation space between the wearer’s back and the backpack, allowing moist air to escape along the sides and top of the mesh. Subsequent tests carried out at the Hohenheim Institute (source Deuter) demonstrated that athletes using the Deuter aircomfort system sweat up to 25% less than non-ventilated backpack systems, enabling better physical performance with less discomfort.
That’s a statistic that I’ve never heard before. I just assumed ventilated (also called trampoline frames) were added to packs because some people find it gross to sweat and stink when they hike, something I just accept as unavoidable.
Thinking it through though, it makes me wonder when the original study was conducted and whether it is reproducible today. Do you really burn less calories if you carry a ventilated versus an unventilated internal frame backpack or is the evaporation process just more efficient?
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