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Pack fit: slowly slides down back
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Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 09:17:34 MDT Print View

I have a Gossamer Gear Gorilla which seems to fit well, as long as I cinch the hip belt so tight that it's slightly uncomfortable and keep pulling it back up higher every 5 minutes. Otherwise, the pack slides down my back another inch or so and seems to pull down on my shoulders and put too much weight on them. I've had to do this with all packs I've owned, and I just assumed it was part of carrying a pack. I have some excess stomach fat, so this might be part of the issue with the belt being uncomfortable too.

Could this be an indication that I need a pack with a larger torso size? I'm 5'8", and my torso measures around 19-19.5 inches. I have the medium Gorilla, which is for a 16-20 inch torso. (Large is 20-24 inch torso.)

I guess the only way to know for sure is to try both sizes, but wanted to see if anyone else had this same issue and find out how they resolved it.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 09:26:22 MDT Print View

I think you are on the right track here - sounds like you may need a longer torso sized pack and as well, perhaps a larger hip belt.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 09:39:55 MDT Print View

With synthetic clothing and pack fabrics, there isn't much traction. I have the same build and it is a challenge: much in front and not enough in the rear, so there's nothing to "hang" the pack on. I'm working on losing some weight which will help a lot of things go better for hiking.

The Gorilla with stays should be transferring load and keeping the pack shape stable. Are you using the NightLight sleeping pad or something more slippery?

The other thing that comes to mind is how you distribute the load in the pack. Try to get the heavy stuff close to your back. What is your total pack weight with food and water?

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 10:01:38 MDT Print View

The reason your pack keeps sliding down is that you're wearing the hip belt too low. The center of it should be on your iliac crest. Put your hands on your hips; roll them upwards, & you should be on top of the absolute highest point of your hip bone. Center the belt there; it locks the belt, and therefore the load of the pack, onto your skeletal system. It's virtually impossible for the pack to slip any more. If you went with a larger torso you'd just make the problem even worse. When all's said and done, this approach will ususally end up with the belt buckle ~ your belly button. Higher than many are used to, but the way most packs were designed to be carried. Frame and hipbelt to transfer weight to the hips, right? If you wear it below the iliac crest, all the belt really does is squeeze your musculature and restrict the movement of your ball joint.

It'll be a weird adjustment the first few times you try it, but after miles on the trail you'll get used to it... and you'll love the fact that your pack doesn't slide down any more.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack fit. on 08/22/2010 10:07:42 MDT Print View


Edited by FamilyGuy on 07/08/2013 13:27:30 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Pack fit. on 08/22/2010 10:41:55 MDT Print View

I dunno, David. Opinions vary, of course. I'm not overly familiar w/McHale packs, frankly, but I seem to recall the reason he uses a "v" strap on the front of the belt is to encourage the belt to wrap around the skeletal structure. I could remember that incorrectly.

I've fitted packs professionally, starting in the mid 90s, and most pack manufacturers specifically suggest fitting as I mentioned. My personal experience has born that out, as has my experience fitting thousands of people. The vast majority of people who come in wearing packs lower tell me a pack feels much better worn centered as described. Perhaps 1 in 100 prefers it lower. If the OP has had problems w/slipping, if it has been worn as you describe, it seems more than reasonable to try the fit a different way.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 10:52:45 MDT Print View

I know what I'd do. I'd get someone to take a picture of me from the side, and email it to Grant at GG.

Personally, I've always found that when a pack slides down, I've got the belt too low. YMMV. Experiment. I'm at your torso size, and I ended up sending back my Large Gorilla for a Medium.

Scott Toraason
Pack Fit: Slowly Slides Down Back on 08/22/2010 12:51:03 MDT Print View

Andy, the one thing Mc Hale states about guys with a few extra pounds on their waist is that they will be more comfortable buckling the belt under their belly, not across it. This isn’t rocket science, this is just common sense and something pack fitters like myself have understood for years.

Beyond that it’s difficult to comment, it could be as simple as a large belt, I did not measure you or seen the pack on you, and respectfully a half inch variance is a lot of room on a back length, good luck.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Fit. on 08/22/2010 14:59:46 MDT Print View

If the pack is sliding, which any pack will do after a long day of trekking - up hills, down hills, sweat induced movement - it will slide down a bit. It can't go any further than your rear, but it will move. A pack will not stay static on your back over the day - it moves. So if the pack is sliding after moving for a while, effectively shortening the torso length, then the OP needs to consider a longer torso pack.

Where the belt will lie also has to do with how wide it is. A wide, 'flat' belt will do a better job at distributing the load across the illiac such that it will account for differences in hip structure among wearers.

As far as what manufacturers suggest with respect to fitting, the focus is on average builds and not your specific requirements. I am not suggesting a custom pack, but am suggesting that not all packs will fit the same and mainstream manufacturers do what they can to help someone fit into that 'average' through a myriad of straps and do-hickeys. It works for some, not for others.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 15:32:24 MDT Print View

AS many have said, a lot will depend on your body shape. It is worth noting that if you are a bit 'round', not all packs will work for you. This may be an example of that.

However, if the pack keeps sliding downwards, that would suggest to me that your shoulder straps may be too long. I can understand you not wanting the load on your shoulders, but something has to hold the pack up, and it may be that your waist line cannot do all of that by itself.

Somehow, I doubt that you should change from a medium to a Long. That just doesn't seem right to me for your size and problem. But, everyone is different.

Contacting GG for advice, and maybe sending pics to Brad as well, seems like a good idea.


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pack Fit on 08/22/2010 18:03:25 MDT Print View

"if the pack keeps sliding downwards, that would suggest to me that your shoulder straps may be too long"

Only if the shoulder straps were maxed out on adjustment.

Last year I was using a medium Granite Gear Vapor Trail. Over the day, the pack would slide down sufficiently enought that the sternum strap was at my neck. The shoulder straps weren't too long. In fact, they were horribly too short. Now I have a 47" chest measurement so I have a different issue, but here we had shoulder straps too short and the pack would still slide down and my traps would become sore. What I needed in this case was longer shoulder straps and a longer torso so that the straps would not begin wrapping over my shoulders 3 inches below my traps. The long version of the VT was sadly, too long.

With respect to the shoulders taking on some of the burden of the load, with a properly fitted pack, you should be able to move the entire load to the hips. The shoulder straps would only be there to stabilize the load.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/22/2010 22:57:47 MDT Print View

I'd ask the folks at Gossamer, but my experience as aan overweight dude suggests your are wearing the belt too low, have a belt that is too small (meat of the belt doesn't cover the crest), or should dial the torso size *down*.

IMHO Dan McHale is right in saying that folks with a belly should wear the front of the belt under the belly, but in doing so you risk wearing it *too* low. For decent load transfer, I need to have my hipbelt a bit higher along my back than I first assume. The front sits lower below my belly. There is a bit of a downward slope between back and front, and the belt acts a bit like a girdle around my flanks. This works well without a super tight belt. It had always worked for me and my particular bodily configuration.

It is very hard to find the fit without somewhat of a load in the pack.

I've had good luck with belts from Granite Gear and Osprey. Taller belts work the best, rigid belts less so.

Edited by areichow on 08/22/2010 22:59:00 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/23/2010 00:06:01 MDT Print View

One detail I forgot to mention: My waist size is 42. I have the large size belt, which is what GG recommends for sizes 36-42.

One issue could be that I'm not using any pad at all. I like the increased ventilation in warmer weather, but I'll load the pack up and do some backyard hiking with the NightLight pad to see if that makes a difference. I'll also try it without the stay. I'm usually carrying around 17 lbs total, including food and water, and I always try to pack the heavy stuff near the top and close to the back.

I think I have the belt positioned where most would call the correct position. The belt seems to be in the right place, and the buckle is right over my belly button. I think the pack slides down, but the buckle stays in place. I tightened the belt nearly to the point of discomfort, but the pack still slid. I'll try fastening it slightly higher, and then slightly lower as others suggested to see what the effects are.

My subjective impression agrees with your statement. It is sliding down to where it should be. It seems to stay there fine, and it feels right to everything except my shoulders.

Good idea about sending the photo to GG. I just might do that after some experimenting.

Thanks, I definitely need to try buckling the belt below my belly to see if that helps any. I'm sure I could probably cinch it down tighter. Does doing this affect recommended torso size any?

You might be right about shoulder straps needing to be tighter. I'll try snugging them up more to see if that has any effect.

I think having the belt lower will allow me to tighten it tighter, so I'll definitely try that.

Edited by AndyF on 08/23/2010 00:07:49 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Add pad, keep stay on 08/23/2010 00:37:47 MDT Print View

I think the stay should help stabilize the shape of the pack as well as transfer the load to the hip belt. I would leave it in. It certainly won't hurt to experiment.

Without that pad in place, you have a big expanse of synthetic cloth up against your synthetic cloth-- polyester "grease." I've had the same problems with my pants!

I'll bet adding the NightLight pad adds enough traction to keep the pack from sliding as much. You might be able to add a chunk of ThinLight pad or similar if you don't want to use the NightLight.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Hip-belt position and angle on 08/23/2010 17:22:32 MDT Print View

"need to have my hip-belt a bit higher along my back than I first assume. The front sits lower below my belly. There is a bit of a downward slope between back and front..."
I use to also have a little (okay a lot) of extra weight and I wore my pack this way. Even when I lost most of the excess weight I still wear it this was as I cannot have ANYTHING pressing on my naval and this is how I wear my pack. My pack does slide down just a little, it's easily adjusted back up while walking.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Torso is good on 08/23/2010 18:48:44 MDT Print View

I had a Gorilla in size medium and my torso is approx. 19.5-20". You do not need a large pack. Make sure the frame rod is inserted correctly into its sleeve. Use the sit-pad with the egg crate pattern, against your back. With a 25lb load, there's no way that pack can be sliding down your back? Consider that you might want a 60/40 or 50/50 weight distribution. ie....60%hips/50% shoulders. One of the nice features with Gossamer Gear packs are their very wide shoulder straps, and they're wide for a reason. Better comfort, carrying weight on the shoulders.

G Foster McLachlan
(hunter13) - F

Locale: NYS
Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/23/2010 21:17:07 MDT Print View

sized for 16-20 inches?..don't care for it. People on either end of that spectrum won't be comfortable most of the time even if they don't admit it or recognize well enough.

I think you need a smaller sized pack. Yes, the opposite of what you thought.Try and re measure-you might have a smaller torso size than you think.

I had similar issues w ULA bags but I went to six moon designs and they offer a smaller torso measured from bottom of bag to strap. Try this route.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Pack fit: slowly slides down back on 08/23/2010 22:40:38 MDT Print View

I only had time today for a quick test hike around the garage with some jumping and bouncy steps to simulate rougher terrain. (Didn't I look silly!) I was in cotton clothing though. I normally wear nylon pants and polyester shirt when backpacking. Pack was weighted down with only around 10 lbs, but stuffed full.

I tried everyone's suggestions relating to belt, pack, and shoulder strap adjustment and position, and used the GG NightLight pad which came with the pack. The best improvements seemed to come from using the pad and from placing the belt so that the buckle was just above my navel, which is about an inch higher than I had it previously. Snugging up the straps more helped some too.

I need to do some testing on a real hike with more weight now, but that'll have to wait for the weekend. I still haven't completely ruled out fastening the belt really low beneath my root beer belly.