Research Related to Pack Wieght

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    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Around ten years ago I read a paper which was written in the 1980s or maybe early 90s (I think either from folks at, UPenn, or maybe it was research out of ETHZ?) which discussed how as backpack weight increased it impacted agility and fatigue. My memory is that for the subjects tested when the backpack load reached ~10% of their lean body weight their balance-time degrade significantly as did overall fatigue. Can anyone give me a pointer to this study, or more recent work in the area. There are some papers whose abstract look interesting. For example:

    I can’t really get excited about shelling out $$ (especially since my tax dollars paid for a number of these studies) and haven’t gotten around to a good research library to find the original journal article. Anyone tracked down interesting research related to bio-mechanics, motion, backpacks, etc? What articles are intersting and what have you learned?

    Steven Sergeant



    I used to have a hard copy of a translation of an article along those lines. The research described in the article I had was done by the Swiss army, and the article was originally published in a German-language medical journal. The translation was published in a biomedical engineering newsletter I found in the University of Iowa engineering library.

    After six house moves in just under 20 years, I can’t find that almost unreadable, bad library photocopy anywhere.

    But what I recall is this: The report proposed that everyone has a backpack weight threshold at which they become significantly more encumbered. They defined this weight as the point where a person’s balance-time degrades by 20%. They determined this point by measuring the time that one could stand on one foot without a pack, and the compare that to the time they could do so with a pack on. They found that for the age range of men in the Swiss military, their balance degraded by 20% carrying a pack weight between 8% and 10% of their lean body weight.

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