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Sore shoulders
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roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
Sore shoulders on 05/15/2011 18:15:32 MDT Print View

So far, every time I put my pack on I end up with sore shoulders.

I am currently using an exos 46 medium with a base weight of 13lbs. My last trip last month was a 20 mile round trip overnighter. I don't feel the weight when it's on my back too much. Usually when I'm going uphill I feel my shoulders getting tired. I measured my torso to be about 19.5 inches and the exos medium is good to 21 inches torso. I mean it fits perfect I believe. I'm going out again this weekend so probably I could snap a few pics and show you the fit.

I know you can carry all the weight with your hips but is that 100 % true? Can you really put ALL the weight on your hips?

I have only backpacked a handful of times... Are my shoulders getting used to the weight?

Thanks for all your input.

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
Might be the pack.. on 05/15/2011 20:28:16 MDT Print View

The ability to carry all or the majority of the weight on your hips is a function of the specific pack, the weight carried, your body type, fit, and how you adjust the various straps/buckles of the pack. With the right combination of the above, all of the weight can be carried on the hips with the shoulder straps acting only to keep the load from sliding backwards away from your back.

The next time you are out consciously fiddle with the pack... remember that straps loosen and things settles a bit as you hike and move, so you may have to re-tighten the hipbelt, slightly loosen the shoulder straps,etc.

If this does not help, it really may be the pack itself. Although some people can comfortable use frameless packs or other minimalist devices, not all of us can do so. Unless I am mistaken, the Exos does not have a frame that rises above the shoulders and lacks load lifter straps. Without these features, a pack would never be comfortable for me as the weight will eventually load the shoulders. if at all possible, try a pack with a higher frame and load lifters... tighten the hipbelt, snug the shoulder straps, then the load lifters. Then, slightly loosen the shoulder straps and snug the load lifters a bit more. All of the weight should be on the hips.

The Osprey Aether 60 is a good example of a pack that should carry all of the weight on the hips... also try the Atmos.

Lastly, your shoulders may get used to some weight, but mine never do. Listen to your body and find what works for you, even if it is heavier than what is considered ideal or is contrary to what more experienced people use.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Load Transfer on 05/15/2011 21:09:13 MDT Print View

I still use a "monster pack" (5 pound, 5200 cubic inch, internal frame). With that pack, I can get 100% of the load on my hips and only use the shoulder straps to keep the load from falling backward. This works even up to 40 pounds (yes, I have recently done that). I have two bad shoulders (one has already rebuilt and the other is due) and a rebuilt back (two surgeries last year). I just can't , and they'd be miserable after minutes of being loaded.

As was mentioned, you really need a taller pack to make that work. I have my shoulder straps adjusted for someone with a slightly longer torso. I lift of up the pack and cinch down the hip belt around my belly button, then loosen the shoulder straps so that I can squeeze a couple fingers under the strap at the collar bone. Then I use the load-lifter straps to pull the pack toward me or loosen them to let the pack sag back an inch for ventilation.

I am looking to buy a lighter pack, but it has to be tall enough and have load lifter straps. If you can't get your weight onto your hips, you just may have to do the same.

roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
Exos 46 on 05/16/2011 00:37:24 MDT Print View

The exos does have load lifters.

Where should the belt buckles close? At the belly button? Above? Below?

Even below my belly button, I can see that the pack a the load lifters it has about an inch off my shoulders.

I mean if I loosen the straps I can feel all the weight on my hips and lower back.

I probably need to fiddle with the pack a bit more.

My shoulder get sore a bit, not like before bitthwy still do.

I'll probably take some pica of the fit amd show you what I mean.

Also, even if you are able to carry all your weight with your hips, you still end up putting some of it on your shoulders from walking right?

By the way, so far the heaviest I've carried with this pack has been 20 lbs.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Pack fit indicator on 05/16/2011 08:54:48 MDT Print View

Here's a way to check pack fit to make sure the pack weight will transfer to your hip belt and not hang from your shoulders. You can do this in the store before buying if the store has a mirror.

With the pack fully loaded, stand sideways to a mirror and check the angle of the load lifters. The attachment point on the pack for the load lifters must be higher than the top of your shoulders. The load lifters should angle up towards the pack from your shoulders. If they are horizontal or angle down, get another pack!

Painful experience has taught me that this is more important than what the tape measurements of your back indicate!!!

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
pack fit on 05/16/2011 10:00:54 MDT Print View

I would try different adjustments and can you change the torso lengths on that pack or is it as i recall fixed. Because of my build or mid section fat I can not get it to ride were it should and have to wear the belt lower and use a longer torso length than I should. And a lot of the packfitters at outdoor shops are clueless so you might try a different one of them

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Sore shoulders on 05/16/2011 10:06:50 MDT Print View

How tight was the hip belt? Maybe it was sliding down some, or not in a good position? Having the belt buckle over the navel is a gemeral guideline, but each person is different. Experiment with buckle position and belt tightness.

Maybe the load lifter straps loosened up some?

Maybe you're tensioning your shoulders forward and need to let them relax into their normal position?

Was the sternum strap tensioned enough, but not too much? Where was it in relation to your collarbone?

roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
load lifters on 05/16/2011 10:07:46 MDT Print View

i'll load up the pack with everything i'll take on my next trip and show you pics of that... but i've done it before and to me it looks like what you just described...

i'll load it up either today or tomorrow...


roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
Re: Re: Sore shoulders on 05/16/2011 10:10:38 MDT Print View

I think i am tensioning my shoulders forward...

the sternum strap right now rides really close to my collar bone...

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: OZ
Where's the weight? on 05/16/2011 10:32:27 MDT Print View

With the pack on and waist belt tight enough you should be able to actually remove the pack from your shoulders and it should stay where it is (ie with the weight around the hips).

This should be your goal each time you put the pack on and you can readjust it during the day by leaning forward (so you can flip the pack up a bit to rest on your back while you tighten the hip belt).

All other straps should be loose when adjusting the waist. Once the hip belt is staying put you can then cinch up the shoulders and lifters.

Sounds like the fit is ok, I have this pack and it carrys well.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Sore shoulders on 05/16/2011 10:43:13 MDT Print View

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Sore Shoulders on 05/16/2011 10:57:31 MDT Print View

Hi Roberto, I agree with Paul's post just above. You should be able to tighten the belt and slip your shoulders out of the harness with pack staying right on your hips. The belt should be positioned so it cups around your illiac crests (those two bony protrusions on the front of the pelvis).

I'm curious about the fit of your pack. Does the belt wrap most of the way around you or does the padding seem short? If the belt is a little short for you, it won't transfer weight efficiently unless it's quite firm, which the exos belt is not.

How much "wrap over" do you have with the shoulder harness? Does it wrap over your shoulders and attach lower on the backpanel in relation to the crest of your shoulders, or does it attach higher? I think alot of packs have harnesses that attach too low, or at least they are too low for a particular size/torso length. The more the harness wraps over and down, the more weight this puts on the shoulders and upper back, and it makes load lifters less effective in lifting the shoulder straps out of contact with the shoulder. IMO the shoulder harness should attach about level with the crest of the shoulders, maybe just slightly lower.

I would read up on how a pack should fit. Check out the McHale website; Dan has alot of good info on packfitting, and if you're familiar with his work then his expertise is apparent. Mystery Ranch would be an excellent resource as well on packfitting I would imagine.

And post up some picks of you with pack loaded and adjusted. There are a number of folks here with pack-fitting experience.

Anthony Rosen
(xpress411) - F

Locale: Washington, DC
Same Pack, Had Same Problem on 05/17/2011 12:12:50 MDT Print View

The Exos is an awesome pack once you figure out how to use those straps. I hiked a lot with sore shoulders. Make sure you take the time to play with the straps. With the exos, you should feel the weight on your hips. The way it's designed, there should be some space between the lower back and your pack.

Start by adjusting the straps on top of the shoulder straps that adjust height. Get it so your pack is carried slightly above the hips. Then put on your pack and tighten the shoulder straps down. You want them to be kind of loose.

When your hiking and you feel your shoulders starting to get sore, make sure the pack is hanging too low or too high on the hips. Then loosen the shoulder straps.

The key is once you get the shoulder straps at the right height, you tighten them just enough to keep control of the pack. You want to feel the space between back and pack, like it's arching into your hips.

Stow and go for the win.

Those straps could use some more padding though. And the side panels could use some more give in the mesh. And I wish the hip belt was a little beefier. And I wish the pack hat more usable volume.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Sore shoulders on 05/17/2011 12:33:16 MDT Print View

Sore shoulders--why I won't get a pack without adequate load lifters! Interestingly, two of my grandkids have the same problem of pressure-sensitive shoulders--is it hereditary?

Roger Caffin's State of the Market report on lightweight internal frame packs discusses pack frames and harnesses in great detail here:

I learned a great deal from Roger's article that I previously knew only by "feel"! Not all load lifters are adequate--they have to be at a proper angle, as shown in the images in Roger's article! I also discovered that I had the adjustable shoulder-strap attachment point a bit too low on the back of the pack (different brand).

IMHO, that article alone was worth the membership fee!

Do post some pictures (front, rear, side views) of you wearing the pack; a lot of folks here can help if they see what's going on!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/17/2011 12:51:13 MDT.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Sore shoulders on 05/17/2011 12:53:57 MDT Print View

"Why I won't get a pack without adequate load lifters! Interestingly, two of my grandkids have the same problem of pressure-sensitive shoulders--is it hereditary?"

It's natural. There's a lot of bone there, and not a lot of muscle, so the pressure from just about anything on your shoulders tends to dig in and eventually make your shoulders quite sore. What differs between people is how long that takes to start hurting, and how much shoulder pain they're willing to put up with. In extreme cases, it can cut off the circulation to your arms, which is even less comfortable. One of my friends did that to himself, and when he took his pack off described symptoms that sounded surprisingly similar to angina, and worried several of us -- he wasn't exactly the fittest hiker in the group, if you know what I mean.


Definitely look into some pack fitting. It doesn't sound like you're overloading the pack, bit it does sound like it might be too short for you. I had similar issues with my previous pack, and when I went to Dan McHale (living close by made this easy) his first comment was that the stays were too short, so there was no way to get the load lifters high enough to keep the pack balanced on my hips, which meant that I was carrying a lot more weight than I should have on my shoulders.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Sore shoulders on 05/17/2011 12:59:39 MDT Print View

Load lifters are unnecessary with loads under 35lbs or so. As was mentioned, the frame is likely too short. The shoulder straps can act like 'load lifters' if where they attach to the stays / top of the frame is above your shoulders.

This is essentially how a Mchale fits with micro adjusters extended for weights below 30 to 35 lbs.

Most load lifters are put on packs to allow 'adjustability' but are really just there because of limitations in pack sizes offered.

Bottom line is you need to try the longer torso Osprey or try another brand.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Sore shoulders on 05/17/2011 13:14:40 MDT Print View

35 lbs. for you--more like 10-12 lbs. for me! I just plain have to have those shoulder straps not resting on the top of my shoulders at all!

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Sore shoulders on 05/17/2011 13:36:36 MDT Print View

Hi Mary - I agree with you. I don't think I described what I was saying well enough. If the frame is above one's shoulders then the shoulder straps will not touch the top of the shoulders. They will touch the front, but not the top and in effect, act like a 'load lifter.' I have a pic I could post but it is the property of Mchale.

roberto nahue
(carspidey) - F

Locale: san fernando valley
packing stuff on 05/17/2011 14:27:45 MDT Print View

I don't usually pack my stuff until the night before a trip... it's easier for me to lay out on table and just load... without forgetting anything...

My total weight for this coming trip will be approx. 20 lbs (prob. a bit more as i carry a lot of water :()

Since i am not packing until thursday or Friday... but would like to show you pics now... could i just put there a bag of 20lb rice? less volume than my actual stuff but about same weight...

i'll do that tonight and then post pics... i can always upload more pics on Friday...