Our interview is with Igor Koshutin, founder of HipStar.
1. When you came up with HipStar, who did you imagine would use it?
HipStar is perfect for a wide range of travelers, from those who want to go on a short stroll, to professional mountain climbers. It works well for anyone who needs to comfortably transport heavy items, including tourists, hikers, mountaineers, backpackers, fishermen, foragers, hunters, and golfers.
It can even be used in professional or military contexts to carry important equipment and supplies over unpredictable terrain. For serious mountain hikers and military use, the HipStar comes in a more durable option featuring additional hardware that reinforces the structure and allows for heavier gear to be carried with the same ease and comfort.
2. How is HipStar different from existing backpacks or rolling luggage?
The rolling bags and backpacks currently on the market were designed for use mainly in areas with smooth flooring like airports and railway stations. Meanwhile, many tourists and hikers prefer to use conventional bags and backpacks instead of wheeled bags because the internal frame and wheels take up valuable storage space and add excess weight.
Our product is collapsible and can be easily converted into a backpack to maximize storage space and for those times when you are using stairs or negotiating some sort of terrain where you don't want to use the wheels. It also adjusts for height and angle between frame and handles, depending on the weight of the equipment (reducing the pressure on the body in the place of mounting), allowing you to comfortably pull the cart behind you without feeling strained.
3. How did you get this idea?
The idea came to me while traveling in Europe with my family. Between the three of us, we had one backpack with all of our things. After half a day of walking around, my shoulders were already sore. There was so much to see, but I was only thinking about my heavy bag. I only wished I had a companion who would carry all of our stuff for us and never get tired. No matter where and how you travel, even a light backpack begins to weigh as much as a few bricks. You get tired. You get impatient. You waste half your day dealing with back pain. All because there's no other way to carry your stuff other than on your back. What about seniors or people with back problems? They are even more affected by carrying weight around. Doesn't matter if it's light or heavy. This is why I invented the HipStar.
4. How much does it weigh? You show a strong muscular man using the HipStar, but how about someone smaller, or a senior citizen?
It is not heavy at all! Even a "heavy-duty" prototype's frame weighs approx. 10 lbs. We cannot count the weight of the wheels because we used the regular 2.5 lbs. wheels to prove a concept. Furthermore, the product design stage will result in approx. 50% decrease in weight by utilizing new materials and wheels. The total weight of the heavy-duty model with wheels will be no more than 7-8 lbs.
With the HipStar in a CART MODE a cargo weight is close to zero due to CG balancing. With the HipStar in BACKPACK MODE, users will not notice a 7-8% weight difference in a short run, when traveling over more difficult obstacles (rivers, ravines, steps, etc.) or when moving on rough terrain that the cart cannot traverse. Users would need to make their choice--to carry their load on the spine all day long or a bit heavier load just for a few moments to go over some obstacles.
5. What is your estimated retail price?
Our product designers are working on finalizing the design (mechanical development and integration) and pricing for the components. In the first year of operation, production cost will be higher until volumes are up. The light version's estimated retail price will be around $100. The mid and heavy versions should cost $150 and $250 respectively.
Note: The Kickstarter campaign for Hipstar is scheduled to begin in April. If you'd like to learn more and to be notified when the campaign launches, visit hipstar.us/pre-launch.