Comparison of features, usability, and load carrying design of recreational and travel backpacks when considering travel applications
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This research aimed to evaluate the differences between backpacks designed for travel and backpacks designed for recreation. A feature analysis was conducted by analyzing the top fifteen best-selling travel and recreational backpacks in order to identify the representative features for each type of bag. Following the feature analysis, four archetypal bags were selected (two of each type) to conduct an experiment to assess the load-carrying design and usability of the backpacks. A primary usability feature targeted with this study was packability – defined for the purpose of this research as the ease of packing quickly and efficiently. An experiment was conducted where participants were assigned to a backpack. Participants were required to pack items into the backpack and walk on a treadmill with the backpack on at a slow pace for 30 minutes. Following the treadmill task, participants were asked to find three items packed into the bag. Time to pack the bag and time to find the items were both measured. Discomfort surveys and force plate data were collected before and after walking on the treadmill to assess the load-carrying design of the backpack as it relates to comfort/discomfort of the user and heart rate data was collected throughout the experiment. The results of this study indicate that recreational backpacks require additional exertion when compared to travel backpacks when walking at a slow pace for 30 minutes across even terrain as measured by a change in heart rate. The results also indicate a trend that travel backpacks require less time to pack, require less time to find items in the bag, and result in increased postural stability when compared to recreational backpacks.