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what's the elastic chest strap for between the shoulder straps
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Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Sternum Straps on 05/13/2012 17:24:26 MDT Print View

My packs ride better when I use the sternum strap. I like to hook my thumbs under them while hiking. That way my hands are elevated and keeps my hands from swelling so much.

Edited by scottbentz on 05/13/2012 17:26:38 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: what's the elastic chest strap for between the shoulder straps on 05/13/2012 18:56:46 MDT Print View

"But if you like to believe that it is a gimmick, go ahead, I won't get upset."

I've only tried Sternum straps a little, with no benefit noticed.

This is one of those features people should try, and if you like it great,...

"The sternum strap is great for people with non-trivial pectorals and/or broad shoulders...You bird-chested guys don't have this problem.

"dissing the sternum strap" = yet another example of people ascribing their personal circumstances to everyone else."

Uh-oh - I must be a bird-chested guy.

Maybe it was Ray Jardined that I read that said Sternum Straps constrict breathing. Maybe he's bird chested too?

Some birds have large chests, like Turkeys.

Seriously, someone asks about Sternum straps, I think they got the full spectrum of opinons about this, backpackinglight is a good thing.

Kim Perley
(Amanita) - F
"unisex" packs on 05/13/2012 20:35:12 MDT Print View

As a lady hiker, the sternum strap is a non negotiable crucial feature. Getting straps that fit is always a challenge, but without a sternum strap I'd be helpless.

I might add to the speculation that people with "odd sizes" benefit from sternum straps more. It adds one more area of adjustability if your pack's straps are not sitting comfortably without it.

The main issue I've had with sternum straps is ones that ride too low. What might be comfortable on a male just doesn't always work for me. On ones that adjust up/down mine is usually as high as it can go.

jacko vanderbijl

Locale: Shelley Western Australia
Each to their own on 05/14/2012 01:31:13 MDT Print View

I use mine mainly to make little adjustments during the day to let the shoulder straps sit in slightly different positions. Never used to but found it suits me to now. I am neither broad or skinny (I think).
The lighter the pack the less useful they are.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: what's the elastic chest strap for between the shoulder straps on 05/14/2012 03:47:13 MDT Print View

I use mine to help keep the shoulder straps positioned in the right place especially when I am wearing a slippery jacket / wind shirt like a Patagonia Houdini.

Mine is also adapted for dual use. I carry my cell phone and digital camera in a zippered chest pocket that rides on the sternum strap.

Sternum Strap Chest Pocket

Party On,


Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
RE: "what's the elastic chest strap for between the shoulder straps" on 05/14/2012 10:53:39 MDT Print View

"The sternum strap is great for people with non-trivial pectorals"
Wow - never heard boobs called non-trivial before!!! :-) (Br3sts are profanity, but you can call them boobs??? really?!)

For most women they are a necessary evil.... but there is a very narrow margin for positioning the strap between creating excessive 'trail cleavage' and choking you! A lot of pack designers don't get this 'small' detail correct, but most guys don't complain either! ;-)

Need for the strap really depends on the cut/design of the shoulder straps and their subsequent fit to the wearer.

Edited by SCKuhn on 05/14/2012 10:54:35 MDT.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Shoulder strap adjustments on 05/14/2012 11:28:38 MDT Print View

I've recently been messing with the shoulder straps a lot more during a hike. By this I mean loosening a lot, or tightening up and clipping the sternum strap, or loosening one side, then swapping which side is tight, or hanging the pack off first one shoulder then the other student-style.

This works wonders for fatigue and irritation. It also allows me to air out my back for a while. I could never have done this in the old days with 40+ pounds to swing around.

I'd like to be able to swing the whole thing around front for a while too - perhaps to make up some snacks or retrieve a bug net for example. I can't figure out a good way to rig such a facility.

Not sure why I'm so averse to just stopping, but I find I put off things until I reach some imagined goal before I do and then it is overdue. Sunscreen or DEET are good examples. And I really dislike batman belts.