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Packaging Matters: Introducing the Fritz Water Vest

Water is vital for life. Unfortunately, in more impoverished areas it’s not always nearby. People often have to walk long distances for access to clean water, and have to collect it using whatever container they can. Large plastic buckets are usually what’s readily available, but they’re not always sterile or clean. Oil jugs are also a common choice, but even once rinsed out aren’t guaranteed to be oil- or chemical-free.

During the return trip home, these containers tend to be carried on the head. Full of water, they’re heavy and difficult to manage, and can eventually cause chronic health issues. Headaches, neck pain, spinal problems, and even foot and ankle issues become common injuries.

Since people often start collecting water when they’re young, health issues can crop up even sooner. Access to proper health care can be difficult, so preventative care is even more important than treatment after the fact.

So what’s the solution? Introducing the Fritz™ Water Vest.

Developed by Dr. Fritz Yambrach, Director and Professor of Packaging at San Jose State University, he began creating the vest nearly a decade ago. When he saw the difficulty people were having with collecting water, he put his experience in the packaging industry to work on the problem.

Designed to help those in disaster zones or impoverished areas, the Fritz™ Water Vest helps its wearer move water safely and hygienically from its source to their home. Created with two layers of nylon material heat-sealed together, it evenly distributes the weight of its contents across the wearer’s shoulders, chest, and back. It takes the strain off their head and neck and also frees up their hands for carrying tools or other objects.

How it Works

Fill it Up at rivers, wells, and taps using the threaded cap and closure at the bottom of each vest.

Put it On by placing it over the head. The weight of the water will be evenly distributed front and back, easing stress and strain on the body.

Walk with Fritz and head back home, hands-free for carrying tools or books.

The vest is considered “appropriate technology,” meaning it’s not hampered by bells and whistles. It’s designed to carry water safely and it does just that.

Tested in Ethiopia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Burundi, feedback has been extremely positive. Wearers have even created their own uses for the vest, such as carrying grains or legumes. Warm showers are also a possibility once they’re home, thanks to body heat and walking in sunlight.

Key Features

Ergonomic design distributes water weight evenly

Tough nylon material stands up to repeated use, can be readily repaired

Anti-microbial properties inhibit odor and mildew

Threaded cap enables easy filling and dispensing control

Designed for use with water-filtration attachments

Holds 10 liters of water when full, weighing roughly 22 pounds

One-size-fits-all for children and adults

The Packaging Company is proud to be a supporter of the Fritz™ Water Vest. You can learn more about it, and how you can help, right here.