I wrote about this unique pack system last winter in an OR Show round-up. Looks like the company, RMK Accessories of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania (www.trailflex.com), will finally have a test pack for me to try this fall.
But here's the just of the system for now. . .
There are three steps to building a custom TrailFlex Modular Pack System: 1) Pick a base harness; 2) Add backpack; 3) Select your components.
This build-a-pack design lets you customize a backpack for your body type and your sport, from bird watching to adventure racing to geocaching.
The company offers more than 20 attachable accessories that snap on and off via little knobs. It's a patent-pending design that lets you attach pouches, pockets, and cases for a variety of gear -- from binocular holders to cell phone pouches.
Once connected, pouches can be positioned to eight different angles for accessibility to gear. With this "Advanced Modular Technology," users decide not only what they carry, but also where and in what easy-access position.
The TF Base Harness costs $99.95; accessories like a binocular pouch, bottle holder, cell phone pocket, knife/flashlight case, MP3 device pouch, GPS holder, and camera pouch start at $9.95 apiece. Pick and choose to make a custom pack for your adventure.
Company: RMK Accessories
Price: Base harness, $99.95; accessories, $9.95 to $19.95 apiece.
The Stick, a therapeutic self-massage tool made for athletes, is a semi-flexible rod stacked with independent, one-inch-wide spindles that rotate as you rub. Kind of a therapeutic rolling pin for your legs, kneading muscles deep and thoroughly.
Debuted in 1991, The Stick has been around for a while. I've seen guys hawking it at those trade-fair venues set up before marathons and tris for years. Now I finally got one.
I've been training for another marathon (my 8th one!), and for the first time I have a hamstring issue. Thus, I ordered The Stick. The company touts it as an athletic panacea, making "muscles feel better, work harder, last longer and recover faster."
For me, it's more of a recovery tool than anything. It loosens muscles up after a long run. Kind of like a good leg rub-down, though no need to recruit a spouse or friend to do the dirty work.
Instead, simply grip the Stick's handles and rub. Easy.
The company says The Stick works by compressing and stretching muscle; moving body fluid; and freeing circulation to allow muscles to regain "normal elasticity" before or after a workout.
I've found it to be effective for tight hamstrings and calves. While no miracle cure, it can loosen you up-and quick-with the same effectiveness of that massage you know your wife, husband, or friend really does not want to give.
In a recently-published academic paper titled "Energy harvesting from a backpack instrumented with piezoelectric shoulder straps," mechanical engineers from Michigan Technological University and Arizona State demonstrate the potential of a backpack that makes its own energy via piezoelectric straps.
According to a story on www.physorg.com, the piezoelectric backpack straps are the latest innovation in the area of "energy harvesting," where otherwise-wasted, ambient energy is converted into electrical energy to prolong the life of electronics.
Apparently, the rubbing of backpack straps on shoulders creates enough movement, heat and energy to create electric power that can be transferred to charge GPS devices, headlamps, a cell phone, or an iPod Nano while on the go.
"The strap would operate no differently than the strap on a traditional backpack," said Henry Sodano from Arizona State.
The theoretical backpack uses straps made of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), a strong, flexible material that feels similar to nylon. But unlike nylon, PVDF is piezoelectric, meaning that an applied stress generates an electrical charge.
When carrying a 100-pound load -- a typical amount for a soldier's pack, according to the researchers -- and walking at 2-3 mph, simulations showed that the straps could generate 45.6 mW of power.
The researchers said that this output could be used to power small electronics.
The researchers hope that additional energy harvesting systems can be integrated into a user's other gear -- shoes maybe? -- based on the results of the to-be-created piezoelectric backpack straps.