The Effect of a Backpack Hip Strap On Energy Expenditure While Walking

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Objective: To examine the effect of backpack hip strap use on walking energy expenditure while carrying a loaded backpack. Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that energy cost increases as the mass of the load carried increases. However, few investigations have focused on backpack carriage design. Methods: Fifteen young, healthy, male subjects walked at a self-selected pace for 10 minutes in two backpack loading conditions: with a hip strap (strapped) and without a hip strap (nonstrapped). Oxygen consumption (VO2), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and heart rate (HR) were monitored throughout each 10-minute trial. Change scores from the 4th to 10th minute were calculated for each variable. A t test was used to evaluate the difference between conditions for each variable. Results: The changes in VO2 (–0.62 ± 0.40 vs. 0.33 ± 0.23, p =.04) and RPE (1 ± 0.25 vs. 2 ± 0.21, p <.01) from the 4th to the 10th minute were different for the strapped versus nonstrapped condition. There was no difference in the change in RER (0.04 ± 0.01 vs. 0.03 ± 0.01, p >.05) or HR (3.53 ± 0.93 vs. 4.07 ± 1.39, p >.05) for the strapped versus unstrapped condition. Conclusions: Wearing a hip strap reduced the energy expenditure and perceived exertion in as little as 10 minutes of walking compared to the nonstrapped condition. Future work should consider the effect of a hip strap on these variables while hiking for extended periods. Application: Wearing a hip strap may increase the comfort and reduce the energy required of wearing a backpack. This is useful information for backpack designers, military personnel, and recreational hikers.



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