OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Most people don’t take much more than a bottle of water on a walk through Martin Nature Park in northwest Oklahoma City.
KaelanDeese and BrianicaSteenbock are different though.
A fellow walker jokes that they should be dropping bread crumbs to find their way.
“Like Hansel and Gretel,” laughs Kaelan?
All fairytale jokes aside, they’re both testing a new kind of backpack.
“They haven’t changed since the Stone Age,” says inventor Bill Ridley.
Ridley went to college to be an architect, but he’s a former Boy Scout who suffered blisters on his feet and bruises on his back from packs that didn’t fit right.
He says, “They teach you in school to take something ordinary and make it better.”
“I just figured there had to be a better way.”
Bill thought, off and on, for 20 years about how to improve the standard pack.
His solution, a flexible frame made of wrapped, plastic springs.
“Very strong and very tough,” he says. “So it flexes with your torso while you’re hiking.”
His pack frame is adjustable too.
“The whole frame expands so you can start out in Webelos,” he says.
Throw in a built-in Camelback hydration system, bags that he can remove from the frame, even a mounted flashlight, and Ridley says he’s got the Swiss Army knife of backpacks invented right here in Oklahoma.
He calls it, ‘One Cool Backpack’.
“I’m trying to make one backpack that works for any human being that can carry just about anything on their back.”
Right now, Ridley is still in the testing phase.
He outfitted a local scout troop to get suggestions from the trail.
Improvements are still coming, but these testers already like how it fits.
BrianicaSteenbock says, “You definitely feel like, when you would walk, it would move with you instead of against you.”
Field tests continue.
Somewhere, miles ahead, lies a way out of the forest, and a fairytale come true for an inventor who found a different path.
Bill Ridley is still looking for people who would like to test his new backpack.
If you’re interested contact him through http://www.onecoolbackpack.com