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Good Packs for Lower Back Problemsn
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Raymond Luken
(lukenrc) - F
Good Packs for Lower Back Problems on 01/25/2006 16:23:10 MST Print View

I recently suffered an L5 disk rupture and had to have surgery. Realizing that the area is still damaged I do not want that fact to prevent me from hiking the AT in 250 mile segments. Having read a lot of the lightweight backpacking literature I have gotten my pack weight with 4 days food and 2 quarts water to around 30 pounds for a late spring (May) AT hike. I have been warned that I need to keep the majority of the load on my hips to prevent compression of my spine. I am a little weary of the flimsy waist belts on a lot of the light weight pack frames. Can anyone suggest a pack that will transfer the weight effectively to the hips without having to go to a heavier Gregory Adventure series type pack/belt system?

Edited by lukenrc on 01/25/2006 16:24:54 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Good Packs for Lower Back Problems on 01/25/2006 17:18:47 MST Print View

www.mchalepacks.com

great packs, I am thinking abut getting a custom pack for an AT thru hike in the future.

Dan mchale posts here sometimes, He could give you more info, but you should go to his site and contact him if you want good advice and information.

Michael Freyman
(mfreyman) - MLife
Pack on 01/25/2006 17:31:09 MST Print View

Granite Gear Vapor Trail?

Very comfortable pack with good support and still pretty light.

Can be found on sale at a few places online lately too.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
back problems on 01/25/2006 18:16:49 MST Print View

I too suffer from lower back problems and have used a Granite Gear Vapor Trail with loads of up to 17 lbs and have had no problems. These packs can handle much more to. Great comfortable ride and the price can be quite good if ya find it on sale.

David Peterson
(thegeoguy) - F

Locale: Sonoma County, CA
Re: Good Packs for Lower Back Problems on 01/26/2006 09:37:38 MST Print View

I'd have to agree that the waist belt on the McHale is the best I've used (the "Sarc" belt). I think it's a combination of high quality materials (evozote foam), a wide belt that wraps well around the hips, and the double buckle system. I was just astounded when I found that I didn't need to tighten my hip belt while hiking. Given your situation, it might be worth the investment. If you don't go that route, I'd at least recommend that you get a pack with a waist belt that really wraps around your hips, and extends to within a couple inches of your belly button. Granite Gear lets you to swap out belts; when I went from a medium to a large on my Nimbus Ozone, it made a big difference (my son uses that pack now).

Not really my business, but if you recently had back surgury, I'd sure take it easy and give your self time to fully recover...

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Good Packs for Lower Back Problems on 01/26/2006 13:00:21 MST Print View

Raymond..I have 4 herniated discs in my back from a car wreck..mine are just above yours at L1&2 T11&12. I have not had surgery on mine because that is a very difficult location to have surgery on. I was not able to backpack until I stopped using a hipbelt (I read about this in Beyond Backpacking) I use a Golite Breeze for loads up to 18 lbs and then I switch to a Granite Gear Virga because the padding in the harness is better (I do not use the belt) I am a 5' 2" female but my shoulders are able to carry the load. Not having a hip belt allows your back to freely twist and flex and this makes a huge difference. It took me awhile to work out my packing system. I pack my gear in 4 stuff sacs that are the width of the pack (sleeping bag, clothes, shelter & raingear) I pack my food in the BPL Ursalight bear bag. This basically gives me 5 stuff sacs to stack on top of each other inside the pack. I fold my DAM over 4 times and put it inside the pack. This becomes my pack's framesheet..I do not have to put any air into it. Then I put the sleeping bag in the bottom. Whatever stuff sac is the heaviest (usually the food) goes in next followed by the 2nd heaviest stuff sac. If something does not feel right it is very easy to stack it in a different order. You might want to try this out. I also highly reccomend the down filled air mattress. I actually use the Insul Max which has synthetic insulation..It weighs 22 oz but it is 2.5" thick..this is the only thing I can sleep comportably on and it actually lighter than my thermarest. Something about this rig works for me..good luck to you :)

Edited by dancer on 01/26/2006 13:02:01 MST.

Raymond Luken
(lukenrc) - F
Back Problems and Pack Choices on 01/26/2006 14:45:08 MST Print View

Thanks to all the above for your input. I will be going to REI next week and plan on trying on some weighted packs to see how they feel.

I first came to Backpacking Light to reduce my pack weight for enjoyment reasons and obviously less stress on the body. I had not participated in the Forums, but recently thought what better way to find out what others have already learned and are willing to share. I now intend to look more closely at the rest of the categories in the forum.

Thanks again,

Ray