FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A) ABOUT US
1. Who is Aarn Design?
The Directors of Aarn Design are partners Aarn Tate and Devi Bension. Aarn has designed outdoor equipment for a living for over 30 years: in NZ, Australia, UK & USA. He has been granted 8 patents on packs innovations, and 4 on tents.
Frustrated by clients unwillingness to risk adoption of radically different and more efficient carrying systems, Aarn and Devi set up their own company in 2003. This has allowed them to fully explore the findings of Sports Science, and develop the worlds first body centered load carrying systems.
Aarn and Devi have been outdoor enthusiasts all their lives:
tramping, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, kayaking, cycling. Aarns favourite activity is long distance walks- his favourite trip so far was a 3 month traverse of the Southern Alps in NZ, following a route close to the divide. Aarn and Devi test all new developments first, before handing on for other testers to try. Aarns other design passion is recumbent bicycles.
B) ABOUT BALANCE POCKETS
When people first see the Balance pockets in use they often expect them to be restrictive. The first questions answer these concerns.
1. Won’t they prevent me seeing where I am going?
This is a common misconception. No they don't restrict your vision. This is precisely why there are 2 Pockets, rather than one. You see your feet in the gap between the pockets. You can adjust the gap between the two Pockets for the best visibility. In fact using Balance Pockets in rough terrain greatly improves your balance, stability and safety.
2. Won’t I get hot under the Balance Pockets?
Not unless set up incorrectly. Custom-bend the frames to produce a gap between the Pockets and your body for ventilation. The Balance Pockets connect to the shoulder straps and hipbelt only and should not touch your body.
3. Don’t the pockets put more weight on the shoulders?
No. A sliding connection to the shoulder straps allows each Balance Pocket to transfer all its weight to the front of hipbelt.
4. Can women wear them comfortably?
Yes, and women with large busts have found the pockets work well after custom bending the frames to suit their contours.
5. Aren’t they difficult to put on?
At first, a Bodypack feels more cumbersome to put on than a backpack. Familiarity and correct technique make it easy (see User Guides).
6. Won’t they restrict my arm movement?
You can regulate the gap at the top of the Balance Pockets by the tightness of the top straps for the optimum arm clearance. (Overtightening will close the gap and restrict forward vision).
7. Won’t they restrict leg movement when climbing?
Hipbelt Holsters hold the pockets high enough so leg movement is unrestricted. (The hipbelt has to be kept tight enough to prevent downward slippage).
8. Won't they get in the way when scrub bashing?
With a load in front your pack doesn't project so high - a high pack can pose more of a problem in penetrating scrub than pockets in front. Except in the very thickest scrub, Balance Pockets are not a problem, and protect your chest.
If the bush is thorny, its a matter of which is more expensive to damage- your top clothing layer or the pockets. If you are wearing a Gore-tex jacket for example , better to have the pockets in front. However if you don't want them in front, pack them at the top of your pack.
9. I have had surgery in the lymph node area/ I have a pacemaker. Will Balance Pockets help me to continue backpacking?
Balance Pockets are the only solution in these situations. Bodypacks eliminate the pull-back pressure on the shoulders of all backpack designs. The Balance Pockets pull the shoulder straps forward and away from your body at the sensitive areas at the sides of your chest, eliminating pressure and discomfort.
10. I have back problems but love backpacking. I have had to reduce my weights and the length of my trips because of back pain. Will Bodypacks help?
Experience from people with back problems that equalising weight front and back is much more important than reducing weight. Sports science findings confirm this. Some physiotherapists now recommend clients with back problems to strengthen their backsby carrying loads in their Bodypacks.
11. How do the Balance Pockets handle river crossings?
We have extensive experience with river crossings including multiple link-ups with all people using Aarn Bodypacks. The Balance Pockets act as front flotation devices if swept off your feet. We have practiced river crossings with Ray Goldring of the Mountain Safety Council who devised a number of the recommended river crossing techniques. We recommend unclipping the chest straps from the X-configuration and just clipping the Balance pockets together at the top before crossing the river.
12. Why don’t you make Balance Pockets fit on my brand of pack?
This is like asking why Porsche do not design their gearboxes to fit on other brands of cars! The Aarn Balance Pockets and pack are designed as an integrated system. The Balance Pockets need to:
- allow arm movement and forward vision for all body sizes.
- be easy to put on and remove.
- have a customizable air gap for all body shapes.
- match the center of gravity of the load to that of your body
- allow the Flow-motion systems of the pack to work.
- be stable for high movement sports.
While backpacks naturally achieve the first 2 objectives, they ignore the last 4 objectives. Years of refinement have gone into achieving all 6 objectives in our FlowMo Bodypacks.
13. What are the limits to using Balance Pockets?
When your chest needs to be close to a rock or ice face, Balance Pockets hinder movement and balance. Therefore we do not recommended them for steep scrambling or technical climbing. However they have been used successfully for mountaineering on less technical terrain, such as the west ridge of Denali in Alaska.
For short moves around a vertical obstacle, you can unclip the Balance Pockets at the top and let them swing out of the way to the sides underneath your arms. This allows your chest to be close to the face. Reclip them together when the obstacle is passed.
For a climbing trip, use the Balance Pockets for the approach and remove them for the climb. You can substitute Balance Gear Racks to carry heavy climbing hardware, taking the weight off your shoulders.
14. How do Aarn Packs perform without the Balance Pockets?
They work better than other backpacks due to the slim side profiles, the Flow-motion systems, the precision fit, the breathable body contact parts, and the waterproof liners. These points are explained in detail on our Features and Benefits pages.
15. If Balance Pockets are so good why haven’t other manufacturers adopted them?
Large companies will not risk losing market share on a radical new carrying system. Only when we have successfully established the outstanding benefits of Bodypacks on the market, and our sales are impacting the traditionalists, will these companies want to follow. They can then approach us seeking a licence to use our patented technologies.
C) ABOUT THE PACKS
1. Why don’t you make the vertical dividers on Featherlite Freedom and Natural Balance with a zip on one side, so you can undo the divider to make a single compartment for easier packing?
The vertical divider is a very light way of giving a slim profile and concave back shaping, and that is why it is used on our largest Ultralite models. Undoing the divider would distroy the backpanel shaping and allow the pack to round out, decreasing pack stability and forcing the load to hang further from your back. This would increase forward lean and back strain. Not advisable.
Its easy to adapt your packing to the divided configuration, and often people remark on the extra load organisation it brings. If you prefer not to have a divider, choose a similar size model from the rest of our range. Other models use horizontal frame members to create the slim profile and the concave backpanel shape.
2. For children, what sizes do your hipbelts go down to?
70 cm hip size for the daypacks, 80 cm hip size for the S size hipbelt on the larger packs.
The key to taking the strain off the growing backs of children is to balance the weight front and back. For children, it is not recommended to carry more than 10% of bodyweight in a backpack, although 15% is acceptable in a bodypack.
3. If my pack is 20 years old, is it still under warranty?
Yes, for manufacturer defects only if it was made by Aarn – normal wear and tear is not covered, but can be repaired for a reasonable fee.