Innovations in backpack design have been decidedly sparse over the years — until now. The HoverGlide is described as the world’s first floating backpack, and its design is anything but standard.

Man wearing a HoverGlide backpack.

The idea for HoverGlide first arose after looking for a way to lighten the impact on troops carrying heavy loads in the battlefield. The Office of Naval Research approached Dr. Lawrence Rome, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in muscle function and biomechanics, to create a pack that Special Operation Forces could rely on for the massive loads they frequently carry.

The result was the HoverGlide, which today comes in four distinct models, each with a different task in mind. All four packs, however, are compatible with the same patented Suspended Load Technology (SLT) that allows their contents to move up or down in direct correlation to the person carrying it. While this technology doesn’t necessarily make the standing weight any lighter, it does reduce the impact weight that comes with movement.

Man wearing a HoverGlide backpack.
Man wearing a HoverGlide backpack.

To get a better idea of how it all works, imagine yourself carrying a forty-pound pack. Whenever you were standing still, forty pounds of pressure would be applied to your joints and body. Whenever you were in motion, the up and down movements of the backpack could cause impacts three times heavier than the actual weight of the pack. With the HoverGlide, that impact is reduced by as much as 87 percent. Talk about a big load off your shoulders!

To see the HoverGlide in action is to suspend disbelief, especially when the wearer’s running. The pack even moves up and down a bit when walking, hovering over the back at a constant distance from the ground so it almost appears still — and a sharp contrast to a typical bouncing backpack. The benefits of this design can really be seen and felt when going up or down stairs. Because the pack moves effortlessly with each ascent or descent, there’s absolutely no pull on the shoulders. Think of it as “hovering” when in motion and “gliding” over stairs.

With the design hammered out, the HoverGlide frame was attached to the Trekker: the largest available pack with a carrying capacity of 55 liters. Along with the spacious main compartment, this pack also offers a standard hip belt, mesh cargo pockets, and a floating upper pocket.

The HoverGlide Backpack
The HoverGlide Backpack

The smaller Tactical design was created with first responders and trainees in mind. It’s large enough for a hydration reservoir and water bottle with its 30-liter carrying capacity, but still small enough to use while running or climbing stairs. The Hiker is similar to the Tactical but intended more for day hikers who need to pack hydration essentials and other small pieces of gear.

The smallest model, the Commuter, comes on a 20-inch modular frame and is perfect for use as a day-to-day pack for work, school, or hiking. Of course, the Tactical, Hiker, and Commuter can all be swapped out for use on the same frame, which means you can get three of the four total pack options in one design!

The HoverGlide Backpack

The last HoverGlide crowdfunding campaign raised nearly $250,000, with the latest one on Indiegogo raising yet another $300,000. Thanks to that success, production is now well underway, and the company hopes to start shipping orders out as soon as July 2019.