About Us

BackTpack was developed by Marilyn Miller von Foerster with help from her husband, Andreas, and son, Nicholas.

Marilyn is an Oregon physical therapist who received her professional training from Duke University. She has dedicated over 40 years of practice to helping people with back problems.

Since back health is a function of correct movement and postural habits, and these habits are formed in childhood, as a mom of a seven-year-old in 1997 she began advising school districts on furniture selection for good sitting posture as well as backpack use and alternatives. In 2001, her back health and school chair project with local fifth graders was shown on FOX49 News in Portland, Oregon (link to video). With this passionate concern and commitment to children's back health and good posture she was invited to join Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition of Oregon.

When her son Nicholas was in middle school she became aware of how the widespread use of backpacks causes poor posture and associated pain. Students need to have a carrying system that loads the body in correct posture without pain, going to school every day. From her experience in Nepal in 1985 where she not only observed the Nepalis' carrying systems with their grace and perfect posture, but actually used their doko/namlo system during her trek, she realized that the proper design of the carrying system is crucial for everyday postural habits and back health. This design, as in carrying systems observed in Nepal, must load the body through its spinal axis in order to complement, not distort, good posture. The absence of such a school bag on the market compelled Marilyn to create the BackTpack in 2003. BackTpack was designed to eliminate pain and train children and adults in the essentials of back health habits beginning with good posture, the foundation of fitness.

Nicholas advised on accessories important to students, and where to place pockets and other features of the BackTpack. Nicholas has also been instrumental in design of our website, brochures and videos. He graduated magna cum laude from Oregon State University with a degree in exercise science, received his MD from Oregon Health Sciences University, and is currently a Resident in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Andreas is an architect, a native of Germany and graduate of the University of Illinois. He provides drawings, design and technical input, business structure and administration.

Our teamwork is indispensable to the success of this product. We continue to learn from one another and all of you every day.