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Over-tightening the load lifters on packs
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Dont Wantto
(longhiker) - F
Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/14/2010 23:05:25 MDT Print View

I've noticed that I'm most comfortable when I 'over-tighten' the load lifters on any pack I wear.. now having gone lightweight with an Osprey Exos with thin shoulder straps, over-tightening the load lifters makes the shoulder straps scrunch up and lift away from my shoulders as they reach the pack.

I find that this is most comfortable in that absolutely no weight rests on my shoulders this way.

It seems like the conventional way to wear packs has the shoulder straps wrap your body and touch the back of your shoulders as well.. I dont see how so much contact can not lead to some discomfort in the shoulders after a while..

or am I missing something? Does anyone else feel like the load lifters are the most comfortable adjustment on their packs?

Ken Charpie
(kencharpie) - MLife

Locale: Western Oregon
I agree on 05/15/2010 05:44:23 MDT Print View

I agree completely, although I often shift weight between my shoulders and hips throughout the day while hiking. Using the load lifter to assist in moving the weight to the front of my shoulders is incredibly helpful.

I'm also using an osprey exos 46.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/15/2010 09:14:10 MDT Print View

Dont, you're not over-tightening the load lifters. You're using them as intended... to lift the shoulder straps off your shoulders, which will then transfer more weight to your hips.

In a properly sized, framed pack the straps will wrap around your shoulder and down ~1.5 inches. The reason for this is that the wrap, in creating more contact, stabilizes the pack more. By using the load lifters w/ "wrapped" straps you get the best of both worlds: load off your shoulders, but stabilized. (Note that some people call those straps "load stabilizers" instead of "load lifters.")

The load lifters are a big point of having a framed pack. They help the pack transfer weight to your hipbelt and, indeed, off your shoulders. More to the point, if the hipbelt is placed properly you'll transfer the weight from your muscular system to your skeletal system.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/15/2010 13:06:52 MDT Print View

The "correct" tightness of the load lifters is what feels most comfortable for you!

I also tighten up my load lifters more than most do because my shoulders are quite sensitive to pressure. I prefer the tension that takes the weight off my shoulders altogether.

It's not my age, since my 10-year-old grandson has the same issues!

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Same here on 05/16/2010 00:02:48 MDT Print View

Me too. Any amount of weight on my shoulders or near my neck makes all my upper-body muscles tense up like crazy after a few hours and I get a very sore neck and a headache. Not sure why. But I need my load lifters up a good inch off my shoulders at all times. Even a light camera on a neck strap will do it eventually.

Edited by dasbin on 05/16/2010 00:04:04 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/16/2010 01:44:04 MDT Print View

Funny - I find the exact opposite. But I prefer to have a fair bit of the weight on my back and shoulders.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
different strokes on 05/16/2010 09:19:11 MDT Print View

I have bony hips and find that too much weight on the belt chaffs and bruises in fairly short order. My usual distribution with a 25+ load is probably close to 50/50.

As long as you can carry your pack all week and not hate it, it works!

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/16/2010 11:18:20 MDT Print View

I did this all the time too. But then realized that it was making my shoulders sore. It would squeeze my shoulders front-to-back and pinch. So I sized up a pack and now the straps are comfortably on my shoulders with only a few pounds of weight on them. Now I only adjust them once or twice a day instead of all day.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/16/2010 14:48:48 MDT Print View

" So I sized up a pack"

I do this too. Between wearing my hipbelt lower than 'recommended' and not wanting any weight on my shoulders, I almost always end up with a size large pack. It's very much in the category of HYOH, but I pity new folks who only have other folks advice to go on, and often end up with a pack too short in the torso, and shoes/boots too small (and gear too heavy of course).

Ahhh, I remember the bad old days when many packs didn't even have a hipbelt. I'm sure Roger was in his element! Keep in mind that 'load lifters' were an invention to correct some of the problems inherent with internal framed packs. They are redundant on a properly fitted external frame pack (the LuxuryLite does a great job of transferring weight to hips).

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/16/2010 14:53:06 MDT Print View

"So I sized up a pack and now the straps are comfortably on my shoulders with only a few pounds of weight on them"

I was in between M and L Exos sizes, so I went with the large just for that exact reason.

Agreed on 05/17/2010 13:46:45 MDT Print View

I think you need a properly sized pack first. But I do understand what you are getting at. They are so comfortable because its shifting your center of gravity from just slightly behind your back closer to being directly on your hips and vertically down your spine.

Ryan Jordan et al have good info on this in Lightweight Backpacking. (Chapter 2 page 67 & Chapter 3 page 74)

It would seem your using the Straps to counteract some degree of forward lean to deal with your packs weight.

Lighten Up! B^{)

Edited by THUNDERHORSE on 05/17/2010 13:47:40 MDT.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: Re: Re: Over-tightening the load lifters on packs on 05/18/2010 23:53:56 MDT Print View


The LuxuryLite doesn't need load lifters because of the adjustable frame. Slide it up until the shoulder straps lead clear of you shoulders. No sweat.

I have carried mine for a total of six days with shoulder straps only, when the LuxuryLite plastic belt loop self destructed. I just tightened the shoulder straps and put up with the bottom frame tube digging me in the a$$.

Re load lifters being a result of internal frame packs: I still have my 1967 Trailwise, external frame, pack with load lifters. I remember borrowing a Kelty external frame pack, with load lifters, in 1964. The load lifters solved the problem of the lack of frame (shoulder strap attachment point) adjustment.

The two most common pack problems I've helped hikers with are: The hip/waist belt doesn't fit properly (full contact all the way round) and the da*n pack is way to short to allow the shoulder straps to work properly. Load lifters or not. Too many outfitters use the manufacturers plastic "guages" to fit packs. There's more to it than that.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
re: load lifters.. on 05/19/2010 23:53:17 MDT Print View

Personally, I found, when using packs in the past that had load lifters, that if I needed to tighten them too much, it was a sign that I had too my weight on the outside of my pack.

The problem with those big pockets on the outside, especially with UL gear, is that the "convenience items" we usually store on the outside pockets, tend to be pretty heavy compared to the stuff in our pack shifting the weight to our backs.

YMMV, but I find, that when I have my pack loaded properly (by my terms, weight focused on my back), I can leave my shoulder straps almost loose, and cinch up my hip belt, and my pack still hugs my back.

If I needed load lifters, I'd feel I wasn't packing correctly.

That's just me though. It's important to mention that I personally a) hate using sternum strap, and b) prefer all the weight on my hips. c) have move to using zero shoulder strap padding in my GG pack in recent trips.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
i sewed them on 05/20/2010 00:48:36 MDT Print View

On my exos 58 the belt always slip, wich wasnt the case on my atmos 50 and stratos 32 ( and i dont carry more weight in my exos, its just easier to fit in a winter down bag and 2 weeks of food )

Sewing the load lifters in a tightened position helped me a bit ( they wouldnt stay tightened otherwise )