You may be a pretty strong hiker — but wouldn’t you be even stronger if you were bionic? That was the burning question for the developers of Hypershell, a so-called “exoskeleton” that claims to imbue its wearer with augmented physical gifts.
According to the company’s extensive Kickstarter pitch, the one-horsepower wearable device “offsets 30 kg (66 lbs.) of weight,” with 14 AI sensors that help it contour to your movements.
It packs down to 6.5 L and assists for over 12 miles on a full charge. Hiking, trail running, and mountaineering are the main activities the Hypershell targets, and it appears to prioritize hill climbing.
The company claims the rig can give the wearer a “50% torque increase, and quadrupled motion acceleration capability.”
Don’t worry, we’re skeptical too. But the Hypershell’s 2,000-plus backers on Kickstarter found it compelling enough to fund the project to an impressive $1,026,000 as of this writing. With 6 days to go in the funding round, the machine is primed to arrive in the wild.
It’s safe to say the GearJunkie crew is curious but cautious about what it will do when it gets here. Any device claiming to be “a sherpa in your backpack” invites criticism.
But will strapped-in, bionically enhanced humans run circles around speed records all over the planet? Will the physics described in this perplexing diagram play out on the trail?
Will the soles of your shoes catch fire (as depicted in this promo video)?
Photoshop aside, the statistics seemed impressive but hard to contextualize. With no similar device to compare the Hypershell to, and no further specifics stated, a “50% torque increase” remains ambiguous.
Hypershell Hiking Exoskeleton: Safe or Suspicious?
GearJunkie went hunting for professional opinions on the device’s potential but has not confirmed one way or the other just yet. One orthopedic surgeon expressed concern over the possibility that the Hypershell could exacerbate a weakness that’s already common among predominantly desk-bound Americans.
“The big issue is that when it comes to low back pain, the related musculature is more of an issue in this generation. So, offloading your skeleton and compromising your musculature to protect the legs does not seem to make sense,” said John Paul Rodriguez, M.D. at Texas Orthopedics.
Test videos like the one above — or this measurably less enthusiastic entry — also proved hard to judge. The subjects look and sound energetic, but there’s no indication of whether or not they were paid.
“Do you like it?” the camera crew asks one tester.
“I do,” he answers. “It’s kind of scary what you could do with it, you know? If we had enough power, could I run up that building?”
For a unit so apparently overpowered and tech-intensive, the Hypershell’s suggested price also seems ludicrously low: $600.
Needless to say, the device earned a solicitation from us for a tester. We’ll let you know if we run any (literally) vertical miles in the Hypershell.