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Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back
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Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back on 08/09/2011 19:35:37 MDT Print View

Ive recently been getting into going light and have been looking for a frameless pack to replace my 3 lb Gregory Z55.

I first tried the Granite Gear Virga which hurt my shoulders, then moved up to the Vapor Trail which was also very uncomfortable on my shoulders. Both has a max load of of 13 lbs + pack.

I recently picked up a SMD Swift and it also really hurt my shoulders. I made a discovery that the shoulder straps did not lie flat on my shoulders, but rather the insides dug into my shoulder while the outsides were lifted up 1cm. Becasue of this all the weight of the pack was put into a 2cm thick portion of the strap.

I am not sure if this is also why the granite gear packs didn't fit, but it could be why.

Has anyone else experienced this with packs before. Any suggestions on how to alieviate this problem?

A crude picture is attached if my wording didn't make sense.


SMD Swift

Edited by Ebotshon on 08/09/2011 20:19:39 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back on 08/09/2011 21:05:17 MDT Print View

Hmmmmmm.... maybe you could take a picture or bring the packs into the store where you bought them to see if the staff can help.

Personally, I've never heard of anybody complain about the straps on either of those Granite Gear packs. Also, you can put a lot of the weight into the hip belt on the Vapor Trail. I've gotten up to 37 lbs in a VT with minimal discomfort (and over a week of food and a GIANT foot-long sandwich).

It sounds like the shoulder straps just don't fit your body. Is one side worse than the other? Is your back a bit crooked? One of my hiking partners has uneven shoulders, due to a slight curve in his back. I wonder if the hip belt on your old pack was masking the problem.

Just some ideas. Good luck!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back on 08/09/2011 21:10:41 MDT Print View

Photographs taken from various angles would tell us a lot more as to whether it's the pack style or just the adjustment or wrong pack size that is the problem. Load up your pack and find a volunteer to take the pictures! At least front and side views, and some at an angle that shows the strap problem.

Read the recent State of the Market articles on frameless packs and the ones from last fall on lightweight internal frame packs for lots of insight into pack selection and fit. I'm not looking for a new pack, but I found these articles extremely helpful, especially in adjusting packs for my grandkids (who of course need pack fit adjusted every month or two).

I have extremely pressure-sensitive shoulders and require load lifters (which should be at a 45* angle to your shoulders--not all of them are) to be able to carry even a 10-pound pack without agony. I thought it was just old age, but my 11-year-old grandson has exactly the same issue. The load lifters keep the shoulder straps from cutting into the tops of my shoulders as well as transferring more weight to the hip belt. I noticed in the pictures of the Granite Gear packs in the internal frame pack SOTM that the load lifters are at a very poor angle, so I wouldn't even consider one. This may not be your problem, though, which is why I suggested photographs.

Keep looking! You may have to try lots of different packs (including paying return postage on packs you have to order) before you find the perfect pack. It would be a good idea to discuss this issue with the pack manufacturers before ordering.

If the Gregory pack is really comfortable for you, you might be able to trim as much as a pound off it if you can stand to do some creative butchery. Just be sure to try it on over all your insulating outer clothing before shortening shoulder and waist straps! Also, be sure to hem the strap ends that fit through sliding buckles. I discovered at the trailhead last week that I had lost half of my waist band buckle because I didn't do the hemming bit. Somehow, a square knot just didn't do as good a job!

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/09/2011 21:16:09 MDT.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Sternum strap on 08/10/2011 08:25:21 MDT Print View

This can also happen if the sternum strap is too tight. Try loosening it, and cinching the shoulder straps tighter to compensate.

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Thoughts on 08/10/2011 09:51:06 MDT Print View

Just like you said I found it so weird that the vapor trail was uncomfortable since everyone I talked to in my local store raved about it.

I will try to get actual pictures up tonight ad my mirror shots didn't work out to well.

I figured out that the pack is comfortable if I loosen the sternum strap all the way and have the straps resting on the absolute ends of my shoulders leaving about half an inch on each side. Alhough this works it's kind of annoying and I'm not sure how I feel about this long term.

I talked to SMD and they said they can alter the straps if I send it back to them which I might have to do but I'm hoping for an easier fix.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Torso size. on 08/10/2011 13:41:41 MDT Print View

Eric, just to double check, did you get the appropriate size for your torso length?

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Re: Torso size. on 08/10/2011 15:38:30 MDT Print View

Yes, I have a 19" torso which is borderline between the two. Based on multiple comments about SMD sizing I went with the medium.
The straps do roll over my shoulders but even if I put the waist around my stomach it still hits the same.

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Pictures on 08/10/2011 18:40:53 MDT Print View

I just got home from work and snaped some pictures. Any input would be greatly appreciated

Twisting of shoulder strapFront View

a b
This is how mine fits on 08/10/2011 18:58:11 MDT Print View

I just got home and read your post.
I had fitment issues with my first frameless pack too. (Golite pinnacle)
There is a combination of load and strap adjustment that should yield comfortable results up to 25 lbs for most people.
My pack is an MLD Prophet and fits identically to my MLD Exodus.

I took some pictures of me and my Prophet so you can see how I have the straps.
The pack is loaded with 8 lbs of gear in these pictures.
I wore it all day, 14 hours a day for months like this and never had pain.Frameless pack picsframeless pack shoulder strap adjustmentMLD Prophet
You look like a broad shouldered dude like me. My Prophet has 3 inches space between where the upper shoulder strap attachment.
The shoulder straps are attached at an angle also to better fit the shoulders.MLD Prphet shoulder straps angled

After looking at your pictures again i noticed you have the pack significantly under loaded. Perhaps try and put your sleeping bag or quilt inside with a stuff sack. If that truly is all your gear in there you might have too large a volume of pack.
I am thinking the shoulder strap attachement is sagging due to the empty state of the pack.
Frameless packs use the gear as the support. the tighter the gear is pack in them the more support you get for the shoulder straps and you will get at least some support out of the hip belt.

Edited by Ice-axe on 08/10/2011 19:11:49 MDT.

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Re: This is how mine fits on 08/10/2011 19:11:28 MDT Print View


Thanks for the pictures. I don't really have wide shoulders, I think they might slope more than average though.

Your pack straps fit like the should, flush with your shoulders, not on a diagonal when viewing from the front.

a b
try a bit more gear. on 08/10/2011 19:14:35 MDT Print View

I wonder if you had a bit more of the pack volume filled up if you shoulder straps would fit better?
I pack my sleeping quilt and clothes loose, without stuff sacks, and also stuff my ridgerest foam pad inside my frameless pack to take up as much volume as possible.
This allows the hip belt to take a tiny bit of the load but also allows the shoulderstraps to be attached to a more rigid pack body.
In this picture I am pressing down on my pack but my ridgerest and my gear keeps the pack body solid.Frameless rigid loading
My ridgrest forms the backbone of my frameless strategy and gear stuffed inside, sans stuff sacks, makes a world of difference.Ridgerest and gear make the frame in a frameless
Frameless "frame of foam"
Thats about all I can think to help your situation.

Edited by Ice-axe on 08/10/2011 19:23:43 MDT.

Mike D.
(mpd1690) - F
Strap changes on 08/11/2011 10:35:41 MDT Print View

It looks like the pack is too low, underfilled, and the sternum strap looks too tight. That's what I gathered from the picture.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back on 08/11/2011 11:28:52 MDT Print View

Eric, I noticed that the shoulder straps are seamed on both the inside and outside edge...I wonder if this could be the problem. The straps on my Golite Peak are seamed on the outside edge and attached to the pack at a slight angle. It carries quite comfortably. The straps on my Gossamer Gear packs also carry comfortably because they're 3" wide, even though there is an inside edge seam. I find that narrow straps cause me discomfort after a couple of hours on the trail

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Shoulder Straps Digging Into Back on 08/11/2011 11:49:17 MDT Print View

The torso size is too short for you. About 1.5" longer and you would not have the issues with the digging. Most people wear packs that are too short.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
frame on 08/12/2011 00:08:31 MDT Print View

r u using a pad as a frame?

Eric Botshon
(Ebotshon) - F
Return on 08/12/2011 05:44:03 MDT Print View

I have tried unpacking and repacking the pack to get it to fill to the top and it doesn't seem to make a real difference.

I tried both my 3/4 self inflating and a blue foam mat.

I have come to realize that I have very sloped shoulders. I went to a local shop and found that some packs they sold have straps that were connected to the pack with some flexible fabric to allow for flexibility and this is what I really need.

I guess that's why there's so many brands out there - to get a pack to fit everyone. Plus I'm just getting into UL so I'll gladly get a heaver pack to insure all day comfort.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Return on 08/12/2011 07:57:15 MDT Print View

Eric - it is not you, it is the pack. Frameless packs are an aquired taste. I would highly recommend a pack that has a.) additional stiffness through a LW frame and b.) one with an adjustable torso. Granite Gear has packs just under 3 pounds that would fit the bill. More fixed weight but the comfort would be worlds better.