Wandering Daisy wrote:That military photo shows everything wrong with distribution of weight and the pack itself. Center of gravity of the pack is well behind the person's center. The pack is too deep vs wide or tall and does not vary front-to-back depth based on position relative to the body. The pack is stiff and does not contour to the body. In my opinion, if carrying heavy weights, the old external frames with an extender bar carry the weight the best. The top duffle in the photo below is full of heavy climbing gear.
If that pack was being carried by the human alone, I would be in complete agreement. My understanding of these things, however, is that all the weight is being carried by the exoskeleton alone and none of it by the person. These things are designed by mechanical and electrical engineers with expertise in robotics. I have not seen the detailed plans showing force vectors and so on, but I would think that center of gravity is the starting point for everything. It is possible that they don't want it to contour to one particular body, but to be able to fit a variety of bodies. If the mechanicals are carrying all of the weight, perhaps all these things that are so important in fitting a normal pack do not matter so much when the exoskeleton is doing all the work and supporting the loads. I really have no idea.
You are so right about people who sway side to side. I have known of people doing it for numerous reasons: locking knees and swaying side to side in order to avoid use of quadriceps and knee tendons, shifting of weight between left and right hip or left and right shoulder in order to get momentary relief on pressure points, etc. If much weight is being carried, proper fitting of the pack is critical, equal to or more important than what pack has been chosen. These Super-Ultra-Lite modern packs made of Cuben fiber, filled with 10 lb. or so of SUL gear make this issue far less important.
Fewer and fewer people have to carry the 90+ lb packs NOLS instructors (like WD) and CHA instructors (like me) had to carry. We had heavier basic gear back in the 60s and 70s, food and fuel for several weeks, full rack of climbing hardware, helmet, ropes, ice axe, crampons, snowshoes, repair kits, and first aid kits for sizable groups. We often had to carry weight for our participants when they were unable to carry all their own weight. Modern backpackers don't hike like that. The military is a different story, however. I have heard of soldiers and Marines in mountain warfare units who have to be able to make sustained runs with over a hundred pounds on their backs. These are some serious athletes, but that takes a huge toll on the human body, no matter how strong one is. I think the military will begin using robotic warriors as well as soldiers outfitted with these integrated exoskeleton/packs. Whether that technology transfers (in the same OR modified form) to civilian backpackers remains to be seen. IDK if it will be prohibited in NPs and wilderness areas or not. With the right boot soles, I'd think that exoskeletons would do less damage to the soil than pack animals. OTOH, would rich people with no athletic ability nor understanding of wilderness survival start buying them and flood the trails? I would not want to be a ranger or SAR personnel getting calls when those mechanisms break down in the middle of nowhere. Imagine getting rescue calls and when you reach the site, the person is fine-they just needed a AAA robotics repair!
So I don't know about the future, Mav. With SUL packs already around 1 lb. further weight reduction is almost irrelevant. Using mechanical technology to help carry the weight would have seemed a pipe dream years ago, but the reality is on our doorstep. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.