On Columbus Day, Claudia Truesdell and I traveled up to AT&T park to test the newest backpack redesign for JUMA. Alite has been working hard to develop a more comfortable and adjustable pack for the JUMA’s high school workers who sell concessions at sporting events.
It was the second game of the playoffs (Giants vs. Cubs) and the stadium was completely sold out. The excitement was contagious and all the JUMA students were full of energy.
JUMA’s programs director, Alvin Yu, helped us compared the prototype with JUMA’s current equipment. While they looked similar, wearing them felt completely different.
Alite added tons of customization. The additional back padding gives the pack extra breathability and you can adjust almost every part of the straps. You could even change the height of the shoulders! Other great additions are straps to pull the the top of the pack closer to your shoulders. This adjustment can be done quickly while wearing it and prevents the pack from pulling you backwards.
We also were able to shadow one of the workers as he sold his first tank of hot chocolate using JUMA’s current equipment. Nardi is over 6' tall and the current packs fit him quite well. He is strong enough to carry and maneuver the full tank.
Despite this, the tank is still awkward. Nardi has to be careful turning around since the tank sticks out so far behind him.
Some chocolate sellers start with a partial tank. This raises other problems since the wearer can’t tell exactly how much hot chocolate they have left and will sometimes run out mid cup.
A smaller tank could potentially solve both of these problems. Such a tank would be lighter, easier to maneuver, and not require inconsistent partial tanks. It would require more refill stops, but also give more kids to option to sell hot chocolate.
While the first full prototype raised even more design questions, this was a great way to explore the challenges that JUMA workers face every day. Only once we’ve identified these problems can we develop the solutions to solve them.