The PEPCan is completely hands free and provides rain protection to the user for 1.5 feet around the body in all directions. Because it is attached to the user at the back and behind the head, there is no interference whatsoever to the range of motion for the hands or any other part of the body.
The nature of the back support is such that it fits tight to the body and provides great back support. It works very well with backpacks.The back support is very thin in profile so that it can be worn discretely and quite comfortably under a shirt, vest, or jacket. That means that you don’t have to take it off between rain intervals or when you go for lunch or coffee or drive your car somewhere.
It also means that you can wear clothing that you would normally wear if it weren’t raining and always be ready for the next rainfall.
An umbrella is bought as a unit. There are no parts available. When one part wears out or gets destroyed by a wind gust (by far the most common killer of umbrellas), you throw it out.
When you buy a PEPCan, you’re buying a piece of equipment that is comprised of all replaceable parts. So when something breaks, you replace the part, not the whole piece of equipment.
In the unlikely scenario whereby the underside of the PEPCan became exposed to the direct affects of a strong wind (the user would have to become prone to the ground for that to happen), unlike the umbrella, the PEPCan doesn’t self destruct. The canopy fabric just blows off the canopy frame, completely eliminating the pushing effect of the wind instantaneously. You simply retrieve the canopy fabric and re-install it on the frame. Nothing gets damaged.
The PEPCan curves up in the front, which greatly enhances the line of vision for the user. This allows the user- as in the case of flag persons, for example - to hold on to things like stop signs, with little or no restriction. If the user needs to lean forward for any reason - such as when walking into the wind - the line of vision is not nearly as impaired as it would be with an umbrella.
We’ve all experienced getting a wet backside when rain runs down the rim of an umbrella. With the PEPCan, rain runs off the sides and can be controlled. There is no ‘drip’ around the perimeter.
If we have never seen something before, we tend to link our vision of how it will behave to any experience in our own lives that is similar. I’ve been asked many times about how much you would get blown around by the wind with something like a PEPCan attached to your body.
The aerodynamic design of the PEPCan makes it uniquely shaped to deal with wind. With its narrow moon-shaped profile, it is considerably less affected by the wind than the umbrella. In fact, there is less wind force on the PEPCan than there is on, say, one leg of a human.
The reason we lose control of the umbrella is that it is being held by a relatively weak appendage – the arm. When we are caught by surprise by a gust of wind, there’s a force applied to the umbrella that tends to push it in the direction of the wind travel. If our arm isn’t braced enough at that particular moment, the force on the umbrella parasol causes it to pivot around the hand that holds it. When that happens, the umbrella exposes its vulnerable underside to the full force of the wind at a 90 degree angle - often resulting in the destruction of the umbrella.
Since the PEPCan is attached to the body of the user by a strong support structure, and because the anchoring force of gravity provided by the mass of a human body is so much greater than the force of even a very strong wind, the PEPCan cannot move rotationally and cannot be surprised by a gust of wind.
If a wind were allowed to strike the underside of the PEPCan at a right angle (which never happens because the user would have to be laying prone), the resulting total force of a 20 mph wind would be in the order of a mere 14 pounds. When a person is walking normally with a PEPCan, the force on the canopy from a 20 mph wind is only in the order of about 1.5 to 2 pounds, hardly enough to push anyone around.
Someone once asked me, ‘What about being struck by lightning? Wouldn’t it act as a lightning rod, and wouldn’t I be fried to death?’ Although it hasn’t been tested for such an occurrence, I can only offer up what I know about electricity.
Lightning seeks grounding to earth. Lightning rods attract lightning because they are higher than other objects in the area and they are attached to ground, providing the lightning a direct path to ground. The joints of the PEPCan are plastic, which isolates the metal components, electrically, from each other. No path is provided for the transmission of the current to ground because it is broken by the insulation characteristics of plastic. In other words, there is no more risk from a lightning strike while wearing a PEPCan than there would be while holding an umbrella in the rain.
If, for any reason, there is danger to the safety of the user by virtue of the fact that the PEPCan is fixed to the body, there will be a safety break-away at the point where the canopy goose neck attaches to the back support that causes the canopy itself to separate from the body. The PEPCan will be supplied with a spare replacement part that is easily installed to replace the now-broken connection. Since the PEPCan may ultimately be used by people such as police officers or security guards or the military, it would eliminate any safety concerns a user might have with someone being able to use the canopy as a convenient way to overcome him by using it to ‘grab onto’.
The PEPCan comes with a standard canopy fabric that is made of a rayon or polyester fabric that has been waterproofed with a thin layer of rubberized material.
Packaged with the PEPCan is a template that you can use to make your own canopy fabric. For instance, if you work as a traffic control technician, your canopy will have reflective strips and be coloured in fluorescent green or orange. When you go for a walk in the park, you might want to use a different colour, if you’re going hunting you might have a camouflage motif, if you’re attending your favorite outdoor sport you can have their logo on the canopy for support.
The canopy’s perimeter is stiff, and therefore one can attach things to it – like, perhaps a string of LED lights to better illuminate a flag person at night. You can suspend projection type lights from the frame to light your way at night. You can mount a center light if you need to read something in the dark. When you’re on long hikes, you can attach solar cells to it to charge your device batteries.
The back spine has a height adjustment feature that allows the height of the canopy to be easily adjusted to the user’s height. That means that one canopy can be used by most members of the family except for small children. Children’s models will come later. It also means that you can adjust the height quickly when you want to wear a hat of any kind, like a hard hat.
In the immediate future following the launch of the back brace model, I intend to begin working on a removable pocket-type adapter that can be transferred between outer garments. That way, you won’t need to mount the brace on to your body before you enter a rain situation. You just wear your outer garment as usual, with the adapter pocket installed into it (the pocket, once installed, will be barely detectable – no more so than, say, a jacket liner). When it starts raining, you simply slip the back disk - with the attached spine – into the pocket, tighten up the straps on the adapter around your waist, and you are free to attach the canopy to it. No need to wear a back brace.
I will also be designing a PEPCan pack sack for children – one that includes an adapter on the pack sack to which the canopy can be attached, both of which will come in a package deal. This will make it much easier for children to walk to and from school in the rain.