Greif claims that WaterWear is the world’s first purposed-designed water-transport product that is economically viable for both developing economies and disaster relief. Each backpack holds up to 20 liters (5 gallons) of water at full capacity, yet it easily collapses when empty for ease of handling and storage.

Each backpack holds up to 5 gallons of water, yet it easily collapses when empty for ease of handling.

Constructed from industrial-grade woven polypropylene, which has the added advantage of being recyclable, the WaterWear is designed for the “best combination of strength, weight, and cost,” according to its maker. In addition to an ergonomic design that takes the load off the upper back and onto the lumbar and pelvis, the backpack also features a base that allows it to stand on its own while water is pumped into it or dispensed from the attached nozzle. Plus, a roll-top closure allows easy access to the plastic liner, which can be removed for cleaning.

But Greif wants the WaterWear to be more than a handout. The group says it’s committed to producing the backpacks in the country of distribution to create jobs and boost the local economy. A member of the Clinton Global Initiative’s water action network, Greif aims to raise enough money to fund 100,000 backpacks by September. Want to sponsor a WaterWear or two? You can help Greif reach its goal by donating $10 per bag.

+ PackH2O

[Via Springwise]

Update: Oct. 18, 2013
Designer Todd Oldham presented PackH2O with the 2013 People’s Choice Award at the National Design Awards gala in New York City on Thursday.

“Cooper-Hewitt has long been a champion of socially responsible design, most notably for our Design with the Other 90% exhibition series,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “I am truly delighted that the American public has chosen to recognize this design solution for the developing world. Millions of people around the world lack access to a reliable source of clean water, and the PackH2O demonstrates the power of design to address this critical problem.”