Chronic pain prompts MN outdoorsman to design backpack

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. For someone who loved to travel, Nate Heegaard was having a really hard time getting around.

Heegaard described his childhood self as active, both in sports and the outdoors. He was into running and skiing - the faster, the better.

But something happened to slow him down.

As a young man in his early 20s, he found out he had a form of hip dysplasia. The type of dysplasia was moderate, but the consequences weren't. Two major preventative surgeries on both hips took his time, money, energy - and health.

The second surgery damaged his femoral nerve in his right hip. It was a surgery that was meant to prevent problems down the road.

The surgery left Heegaard with muscle loss and constant pain. His right leg went numb and stayed that way. As a result, his walking was limited, and it wasn't looking good for his hobbies of running and skiing.

"If I had the choice to amputate my right leg and the pain would go away," Heegaard said. "I wouldn't hesitate."

He wasn't expecting the surgery to end with an eviction notice from the outdoors. He needed to stay active; it's the family business.

"Anything to get outdoors" is the Heegaard mantra, a family that prides itself on "a story rooted in wilderness and freedom that comes with the absence of pavement and sometimes even cell service."

The Heegaards did it all - Nate had his hobbies, but he would hunt, or fish or anything really to get outside with everyone else. Heegaard also had a secret talent for invention. In a sense, he invented a new way to stay active and involved - a career as a wildlife guide.

The outdoors was a learning experience all over again. He learned quickly there was a new obstacle to getting up and getting out the door.

But there also could be a new solution. Heegaard invented a backpack that has EVERYTHING you need to get outside. It's all in one place in his backpack 'The Power of One.'

The backpack includes an 11 watt solar panel and an advanced multi-tool (including a 16,800mAH power bank) which results in more than 10 modular and interchangeable features "to keep you charged up," according to the website. It is also water-repellent. Some of the features include:

12-volt vehicle jump-starter
16,800mAH Power bank including 4 more USB ports
Selection of output voltage: 12v, 16v or 19v
SOS flashing/warning lights
Electronic lighter
Universal charger adaptor set for charging laptops, phones, tablets
Safety belt knife
Emergency escape tool
It also comes with a lightweight aluminum stool, for buyers who might need a break in the middle of outdoor activity.

'The Power of One' is the perfect addition for someone who doesn't have the ability or time to backtrack. There is no more worrying if you are prepared.

Now, Heegaard only needs to grab 'The Power of One' and trust that his outdoor instincts and experience will get him through the rest. But that wasn't enough.

Heegaard also found a way to use the backpack to benefit the planet, not just those who roam around on it. Through his company Gaard One, one square foot of wilderness is conserved for each dollar spent on the backpack.

So far, he has earned $30,890. That translates to 30,890 sq. ft. of preserved land - about 0.71 acres.

He's still an outdoorsman. He could even take his backpack with him to hike the land he helped conserve. Just now, it's a little easier for him.

Ultimately, Heegaard wants 'The Power of One' to encourage others to be outdoors - no matter what.