In early December, Piotrek Lisowski sent me an interesting link to a video showing people squashing bananas with their backpack straps. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
It turned out that the video itself is a presentation of Maporto Relief Set (MRS) . This system is designed to relieve the shoulders and spine by transferring more weight to the hips and loins. Why shift more weight down if the hips already “carry” up to 80% of the luggage? When photographing in the mountains, wearing at least 15 and sometimes even 30 kg of equipment on my back, I often came down with aching back and shoulder abrasions.
So I decided to test the system, treating it as a curiosity rather than something that I will ultimately use on a daily basis.
How did Maporto work in practice? Let’s start from the beginning.
The tested version of the MRS consists of two bent aluminum tubes, which are attached from the bottom to the hip belt (with the use of a buckle extending the backpack belt) and from the top – to the overlays for the backpack’s harness. It looks something like this:
It is worth adding that there are many versions of MRS (12) available and it is good to consult customer service by phone, who will advise you which option will be optimal for your backpack, height, etc. It is even better to show up with your backpack personally at the Traveler’s Store in Warsaw or Krakow and install the Maporto product on site.
Attaching to the backpack itself was not difficult in my case. It took a while longer to adjust the MRS backpack so that it relieved the shoulders optimally. Thanks for helping Przemek Chlebicki, who shared his knowledge, which improved the whole process. What is nice is the fact that is a Polish invention , so support is available on site and immediately.
Build quality is ok. It is not equipment designed by the most famous designers with the use of innovative materials. Just a few buckles, some fabric and aluminum or carbon pipes. It’s supposed to work. Is it working?
I tested the MRS during winter photo workshops in the Bieszczady Mountains on the Ustrzyki – Szeroki Wierch – Tarnica route. 15 kilometers in winter conditions allowed me to check the equipment in real life conditions, testing everything except its durability and wear over time. Taking into account the fact that the system is not a complicated structure, there should be no problems with it.
The basic question I asked myself is, does it even make sense to relieve the shoulders almost 100%? Will the hips and loins be able to carry 15-25 kg on their own for a long period of time? My fears turned out to be unfounded. A whole day with Maporto on my back and shoulders were happier than usual. Probably with a heavier backpack weight, a longer route and greater elevation gains, the hips could use some rest. This is not a problem. The tubes are quite easy to remove, in most cases it will take just a second.
It also takes a while to get used to the higher position of the backpack, but after an hour with the MRS on my back, I was moving quite efficiently. I would compare it to the first trip to the mountains with hiking poles. Walking in the mountains for years without them, it took me a few days to adapt, but it was worth it – the knees recommend it.
MRS testing in the Bieszczady Mountains. Photo by Grzegorz Borowik
From the photographer’s perspective, the system tubes have great potential for mounting photographic accessories so that you have everything you need close at hand. So far I haven’t thought about further use, but I noticed that even the possibility of attaching a tripod to the MRS -a (by simply hooking the tripod legs to the tubes) makes shooting a lot easier. The tripod was always available at hand without removing the backpack. With my large FLM, moving with the tripod attached to the MRS could have been more convenient, but I will certainly find a solution that allows the tripod to be mounted higher so it won’t catch on the hips during the trek.
Apart from possible photographic applications, system pipes are well suited to other “special tasks”. For example, transporting an additional backpack in the front. Random situations happen. Injury of partner / partner, willingness to relieve the wife (or husband!) during the last stage of the mountain trek, etc., etc.
The tubes can also serve as a support for the hands, further increasing the weight transfer to the hips if necessary.
The advantage of the system is also the improvement of back ventilation. During the tests in winter it was not noticeable significantly, but in summer it will definitely be an advantage.
To sum up – MRS delivers what it promises. It relieves the shoulders and spine at the expense of the hips. In my case, the short tests showed promising results and I will definitely will further test the system during my mountain expeditions. Especially since I see additional potential for photographic applications in it. This does not mean that this equipment is for everyone, because not everyone is similarly built and has problems with overloading the shoulders during mountain hikes. Either way, it’s worth a try and see for yourself.
Photo by Robert Łysakowski