Innovation in backpack frames has been a Bergans of Norway specialty for over a hundred years. Their latest addition is the SPINE carrying system, to be released as part of the 55L and 70L Glittertind backpacks. Shaped like a double-helix, the SPINE carrying system is a spring steel frame attached to the centre of the back panel on the pack. The design allows for unparalleled freedom of movement in the upper body without compromising stability when carrying heavy loads.
Bergans of Norway founder, Ole F. Bergan, had the foresight on a hunting trip back in 1908 to bend and shape a twig to add support to a backpack. The idea developed further into wood, then lightweight steel supports patented as the first external frame for backpacks. The explorer Roald Amundsen, first to reach the South Pole, used Bergans equipment, as well as Sir Edmund Hillary, who used a Bergans carrying frame to transport oxygen bottles on Mount Everest.
The Glittertind backpacks carry on this tradition, winning a prestigious award for innovation at the OutDoor Industry trade show in Germany in mid-2012. They are big, roomy packs, intended for mountaineering, climbing, or multi-day treks. The packs have several entry points, a dividable main compartment, and numerous attachment points for additional gear.
The innovation, however, is in the frame, which allows you to stretch and flex, as well as providing shock absorption. When walking or hiking, your body twists with each step as your front foot and opposite shoulder rotate in unison. The SPINE carrying system takes this into account, as well as forward bending and sideways movements. A number of other companies have attempted to improve a backpack’s suspension system, including Black Diamond’s sliding shoulder straps and hipbelt pivot, Ergon’s lumbar swivel balls designed for bike ergonomics, and Millet’s mid-back pivot system, but the double-helix shape is new.
Bergans of Norway does not yet have distributors in either Australia or New Zealand, but the Glittertind backpacks should be available online once released into stores globally in early 2013. A few European websites, such as outdoorsports24.com already have the 55-litre version for sale for €220. US prices are expected to be $239 for the 55L and $259 for the 70L. The roughly 2 kg packs also come in 3 torso lengths, so make sure to match the Glittertind to your size.