Infantry officials at Fort Benning, Ga., have taken an interest in the Integrated Support Exospine — an innovative piece of load-bearing kit designed to lift equipment weight off the shoulders and make it more comfortable to carry. It sounds kinda gimmicky, but soldiers said it works when they tested it late last year during the Army Expeditionary Warfighting Experiment.
I posted a story about it on Military.com yesterday. The Exospine, made by Emerald Touch Inc., is another gear item Fort Benning officials are evaluating in an effort to make the infantry squad more decisive.
“It takes the load off the soldier’s shoulders and lower back and redistributes it to hips and big leg muscles,” said Col. Daniel Barnett, director of the Soldier Requirements Division at Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence. “The soldier feedback on that is ‘this is huge.’”
The Exospine is not ready for combat use, but infantry officials say it has the potential to reduce the injuries and fatigue that come with humping heavy gear on extended combat patrols.
The Exospine features a carbon-fiber frame that supposedly pivots and flexes to allow soldiers to move naturally, says Dr. Michael Glenn, designer of Exospine and a doctor with 21 years in chiropractic medicine. It’s also designed to work with the Army’s IOTV.
Exospine is expensive, though. The prototypes are custom-made right now and cost about $1,200 each. But the cost will likely drop to about $700 under a large military contract, Glenn said. Still pricey, but so is a Gryphon Halfshell by Arc’teryx LEAF.