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Pack fit and load transfer--am I doing it wrong?
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spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Pack fit and load transfer--am I doing it wrong? on 07/10/2011 23:24:00 MDT Print View

I didn't want to hijack the no hipbelt thread, so here is the question it provoked:

I don't think I wear a pack 'correctly' b/c the discussions about weight transfer to hips confuse me. I have always worn any backpack tight over the shoulders and across the chest. The hipbelt is also tight, but it doesn't feel like there is much weight on my hips. Am I doing it wrong somehow? I went on a group hike last fall and some people were walking with their sternum straps undone. That would be very uncomfortable for me, but they didn't seem to mind it. I feel like how I adjust my straps pulls them around my torso like a chest harness, and the tightness is such that the weight is cinched *against* my upper back, and not significantly pulling down on my shoulders *or* pressing down on my hips. Does that make sense? Is there weight on my hips and I'm just not realizing it? I don't have back or shoulder problems and I'd hate to be doing something that will give me problems down the road.

Dave Jenkins
(Jinx667) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Pack fit and load transfer--am I doing it wrong? on 07/11/2011 00:05:43 MDT Print View

On the Kifaru UL pack that I am using now, most of the weight is transferred to my hips. When adjusted properly the straps do not touch the tops of my shoulders. Now this is just a lightweight version of a traditional pack with load lifters and stays (made of carbon fiber and wood laminate), so I am not sure how this would work with a frameless pack.

With that said, even with 40lbs (I know blasphemy), the weight feels balanced not like it is riding my hips in a uncomfortable way.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pack fit and load transfer--am I doing it wrong? on 07/11/2011 00:18:02 MDT Print View

Everybody is built differently, so there is no backpack that will fit everybody perfectly. For example, in the old days, some backpacks had an adjustment for shoulder width. In other words, the places where the shoulder straps were attached to the main bag might be wider or narrower. Currently, about the only way you get there with a modern backpack is simply by backpack size, even though that mostly pertains to the length of the torso that it is intended to fit. In the old days, I could wear a large backpack, but the shoulder straps would be too far apart due to my narrower shoulders. There were some things that I could do to the strap tops, but mostly I had to "snug" the shoulder straps closer together in the front via the sternum strap. When using the backpack for skiing, I needed to keep the sternum strap snug for balance. If I had wide shoulders, then a lot of this would have been unnecessary.

At the hips, everybody is different still. Some people have no hips that are visible. So, if you have hips to allow the waist belt to rest down onto, that is one way to wear it. If you have no hips, then you might have to simply squeeze the waist belt around you. Either that or put on five pounds of flab on the hips.

In general, a skier backpack needs to be very snug against the back. Often there is some space there for an ordinary summer backpack.


jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
pack fit and load transfer on 07/11/2011 10:12:15 MDT Print View

Try this: hip belt WAY up on top of your hips; snug the belt; then snug down your shoulder and sternum straps the way you normally wear them. Now release some tension on the shoulder straps. You should definitely feel the weight transfer onto your hips. I also wear my whole pack pretty close to my back. The shoulder straps are conforming to my shoulders but the weight is definitely on my hips. The straps are just for keeping the pack taut against my body.

Laural Bourque

Locale: PNW
steps on 07/11/2011 14:01:22 MDT Print View

1) Loosen every single strap (waist, hip belt, load lifter, shoulder straps).
2) Put pack on and adjust the waist first. It should be around your belly button if not higher.
3) Adjust the load lifter straps.
4) Tighten the hip belt if it has these straps.
5) Adjust the shoulder straps.
6) Put on the sternum strap.

If you've got 10-20lbs you should feel the difference.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
pack fit and load transfer on 07/12/2011 11:30:16 MDT Print View

What Laurel says.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Thanks on 07/12/2011 13:18:10 MDT Print View

Thanks for the insight, everyone. I'm going to try your suggestions and report. Bob, I appreciate the reminder that my body is unique ;) I do have somewhat uncommon proportions. Overall short and square, long torso, short legs. I'm used to looking for clothes but for some reason it didn't click that that would also affect pack fit.

fit on 07/16/2011 13:02:42 MDT Print View

When you put the pack on your back and lean forward, you tighten the hip belt to pull it into the small of your back. To do this right depends on the pack, on some the hip belt needs to be angled downward so the buckle in front is lower than in back, lower than your belly button, and maybe even lower than your normal belt, so that the whole hip belt crosses your hips at a downward angle toward the front. you want the pack to ride in the small of your back and resist sliding downward. It depends on how the hip belt is attached to the pack. Many lightweight packs have belts attached to the sloped shaped bottom of the pack, which is why they need to angle downward to be best snugged up against your body.

You know you have it OK though if the load lifters work and can take the wt off the shoulder straps.