Inventor of xPLOR - an expandable pack for lightweight outdoor refugee
Lydon Kersting is a 2018 Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, AMC 4000 Footer, and aerospace engineer (hence her trail name "Rocket"). When not in the clean room or on the launch pad, she can usually be found exploring a new trail, training for her first ultra-marathon, learning how to play the guitar, or helping her friend convert a van. While thru-hiking the AT, Lydon began brainstorming a product that would combine her passion for the outdoors and her engineering background to make the outdoors more accessible and safer for lower-income and at-risk populations. Over the course of her senior year at Princeton University, Lydon designed, modeled, prototyped, and rigorously field-tested xPLOR - an eXpandable Pack for Lightweight Outdoor Refuge.
The cost of high-quality outdoor gear places a significant barrier to socioeconomic diversity in the outdoors. An affordable pack-shelter hybrid that combines load carrying with protection from the elements would make camping and backpacking more accessible for low-income populations. Such a product is critically needed by refugees fleeing political and military disaster. Refugees rarely carry any form of shelter, but, upon reaching areas of asylum, depend on insubstantial UN-issued tarps that provide limited protection from weather, insects, disease, violence, and sexual exploitation. xPLOR seeks to address both of these underprivileged populations through a portable, weather-proof, temporary shelter that doubles as a lightweight, high capacity pack for injury-free, independent, affordable travel.
xPLOR – an eXpandable Pack for Lightweight Outdoor Refuge – is an all-in-one, affordable, lightweight 55L backpack, 1-person tent, rain poncho, and pack cover kit that satisfies the need for quality, affordable backpacking and camping gear. A large 1-person tent deploys from the front pocket of the internal framed pack. The lightweight telescoping hinged frame and foam padding of the pack provide the tent support structure. A removable rain poncho stored in the top of the pack serves as the tent rainfly during inclement weather. In repurposing adjustable components throughout the product, xPLOR minimizes the amount of material used to create a lighter and more sustainable product while maximizing functionality for a wide user size range. With a 4.8 lb total weight and $109 materials cost, xPLOR is more affordable and lightweight than both budget and high-end pack-tent-rain jacket-pack cover combinations. Robust, ergonomic, user-friendly, and rigorously-field tested, xPLOR is poised for rapid, high-volume manufacturing to serve, protect, and empower at-risk and underprivileged populations in the outdoors.