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No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps
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Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/06/2013 22:49:17 MDT Print View


I would like to buy a backpack. I have tried a few of them including Granite Gear (Crown, Aji and Blaze) but no luck. I have a strange problem. For some reason the shoulder strap does not contour to my shoulder. There is space towards the back under the shoulder strap. I have this problem with other brands as well. It is very frustrating. Would you know what is happening? At first it would seem that the pack is too long but I am already trying the short torso packs. The waist belt is resting on the hips. I had people help me at the stores. I am 5”6’ so I am not petite and my torso looks proportionate to my body. I am really puzzled. Has anyone come across something like that before?
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Thank you in advance.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/06/2013 22:57:49 MDT Print View

Alina, sorry you are having a problem, but it is very difficult for me to understand what the problem is from your description. Could you possible take some pictures shoing it or maybe try to explain it again.

BTW, you are not the only one that I don't understand around here, my wife is alwasy telling me to get out of my "own" world.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/06/2013 23:01:24 MDT Print View

When wearing a hip belted framed pack I can fit my fingers under my straps. This is normal. The straps are there to keep the pack against your back. Not to carry any real load. Make sense? Pictures would be great.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/06/2013 23:06:23 MDT Print View

Either the load lifters are too tight or the torso size is too long.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
First hand Knowledge on 05/07/2013 05:33:59 MDT Print View

I know first hand exactly what you speak of. I have struggled with this through many a "good " pack.
The issue for me was that I lack " back Fat". I am a very skinny guy.

My solution after many a return was frameless style packs. Or limited support.
Here is my current list of packs that have corrected the issue you mentioned.
Day Pack- Osprey Talon 22
2-5 night pack- Ospery Hornet 46 or Osprey Talon 44
Week + or with kids gear- Mountain Hardware Thruway 50

All are size small all Sub 2lbs or better.

I found no other packs that fit. I am 5'8 120 lbs and skin and bones. They all can be adjusted just right.
Someone mentioned that the shoulders just hold the pack against your shoulders. While this is true I believe they play and unseen part in how you move with the load. So I need that total shoulder wrap for balance.

Hope this helps.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
load transfer on 05/07/2013 09:13:42 MDT Print View


Does the position of the pack straps noticeably affect how the pack transfers weight to your hips? If it feels like your shoulders are taking a lot of the weight, the fit might be a problem, but if the weight is largely on your hips, I wouldn't worry about it overmuch.

Where do the strap anchors hit on your back? They should be about 1-2" below your shoulder. If they're higher than that, it sounds like the pack's torso length is too long for you. Granite Gear packs do run notoriously large.

Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
trapezoid muscles? on 05/07/2013 11:09:54 MDT Print View

Maybe try to explain a bit more precisely what you mean as I wasn't quite sure from your description :P. Is it that the straps do not actually touch your shoulders at the back? So all the weight is only on the front half of your shoulder. Sounds like it might be that the frame size is too large for you so the straps go up at an angle at the back towards the top of the backpack. Do the straps attach to the backpack above or below the top of your shoulders.

I have quite prominent trapezoid muscles and this has caused me some problems in the past in finding a backpack which fits well. For some reason it never occurred to me that this was why I had problems until a friend pointed it out to me. Could this be the reason?

Edited by ljamesb on 05/07/2013 11:15:46 MDT.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/07/2013 13:25:05 MDT Print View

"Either the load lifters are too tight or the torso size is too long."

in lue of further data, yes .. quite exactly correct.

if you go to dan mchales site and read up on his "bypass harness" , all mystery of "load lifters" and their problems will become clear.

if one pulls the LL straps until "it feels ok", and adjusts the shoulder strap length, one will get the situation you describe.

the majority of retail packs found on shelves are designed more to sell, than to work comfortably.

magazine testers are usually post-teenage children, who happened to get published.

people at a retail store will most unfortunately often not have walked far enough to know what they are talking about. walking does not pay very well, and really savy walkers need better jobs than selling packs. such things conspire to make pack fitting a hit or miss experience.

on the finer points of equipment, no mainstream sorce of information has the likes of our Roger C, Ken K, or Alan D. you have come to the right place.

so : do your research and report back.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
Fitting a pack--shoulder straps on 05/14/2013 23:44:16 MDT Print View

Thank you guys,

It can be confusing at times. I did some more research on a pack fitting and I read this time that the shoulder strap does not need to wrap all the way around the shoulder up to the point where the strap attaches to the pack. Apparently the strap is supposed to touch you just for 1 ½ to 2” past the top of the shoulder. So something along the lines what Snap is talking about but Kevin likes the all around wrap.
I went to the store again last weekend and this time the owner was there and he suggested that I put a lot of weight (25 lbs) inside the pack . It seemed to work. I had only some space on one side. I guess I am not balanced. Additionally he also said that when the pack is new the shoulder straps are stiff so they are going to be higher as well but with time they should mould better to the shoulders. I guess it is possible, isn’t it?
So I guess the problem was that I was not putting enough weight inside the packs. You would think that the salespeople in the stores should know better.

I do have another problem though (LOL) with the load lifters. I will post another thread.

I forgot to take pictures but I will play with the pack this weekend and I will try to take some pictures.
Thank you.

steven franchuk
today they only make Small , Mediums, and Large. on 05/15/2013 01:31:47 MDT Print View

"When wearing a hip belted framed pack I can fit my fingers under my straps. This is normal. The straps are there to keep the pack against your back. Not to carry any real load."

Wouldn't one small strap across your ribcage work better at holding the weight of the pack against work better than two shoulder straps? Wouldn't it also weigh less? The shoulder straps are intended to take some load. If your hip get sore you add load to shoulders. IF you shoulders get sore transfer more load onto the hips.

The old external frame packs are often said to be excellent at carrying heavy loads comfortably. This is because you could move the straps and belt up or down by about 3 or 4 inches independant of each other. The recommendation for external frame packs is to distribute the load between the shoulder straps and hip belt until you are comfortable. When you get everything right you don't overload the hip or the shoulders and they are very comfortable. In my experience I can put 20 on my shoulders comfortably without a belt. However If I put that much on my hips I start to get uncomfortable.

When frameless and internal frame packs came out and became popular manufacturers were faced with a problem. How do you move the shoulder straps and hipbelt to get the best fit. Some managed to make adjustable internal and no frame packs that could be moved but that added weight, made assembly more difficult and added weight. Other just stitched the straps into the pack and produced more size (SML) in an attempt to fit most people. That saved weight and made a simple pack But that made it more important that you get sized right at the store and select the proper size pack

The end result of all of this is that it may not be possible to get an internal frame or no frame pack to fit. I recently got a REI flash 62. and I was size by the attendant and the pack felt good in the store. However once I loaded it up and used it more I notice some problems. Turns out the store attendant didn't grab the right pack after sizing me. I had a large and my torso length was too short. I could only put a minimal load on the shoulder straps. Most of the weight went on my hip and that wasn't working out even though I only had 25lbs in the pack. After returning it and being resized the store recommended a medium even though I my torso length was near the minimum recommended for a medium. A small might have been a better choice for the shoulder straps but the hip belt on the small just wouldn't work. I'll give the medium a shot but I might be forced to drop the flash (and all the small features it has that I like) and go to a different brand.

My old back is an internal frame REI evening Star about 15 years old and on it the straps can be moved up and down by about 10 inches . It fits very well but just doesn't have the volume I now need and it is a bit heavy for a pack. On the Flash 62 the shoulder straps are fixed but the hip belt can be moved about 1/2 inch.

In short, if you are between sizes you might not be able to get a good fit. Since most companies produce similar standard sizes, you could be in a situation where no pack will fit quite right. If that is the case you might have to get a custom pack or buy one and have it altered.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Fitting packs on 05/15/2013 15:37:14 MDT Print View

The best way to fit a pack is to box up all your gear, including a weight/size mockup of a week's food, and take it to the store with you for trying on packs. Just putting weights or sandbags in a pack will not accomplish the same thing. That means, of course, that you need to wait to buy your pack last, after your other gear.

I would be a bit leery of pronouncements that the pack will "soften up." That's like a shoe store clerk telling you that the non-fitting shoes he's trying to sell you will be just fine once they are "broken in." A good quality pack should not soften up (which really means collapse) with use, or at least not for quite a few years! You may want to find another store or, preferably, several. Do some research on the online "cottage" firms, too. You do have to be prepared to pay return shipping if the pack doesn't fit, but IMHO it's worth it to get the "just right" pack for you. Of course these small manufacturers are more than happy to discuss your situation while you're researching as well as when you order; they are as anxious as you are to get it right!

I have extremely pressure-sensitive shoulders so have to crank up my load lifters so there is no pressure from the shoulder straps on the tops of my shoulders. Most people don't have this problem; it may be a genetic thing because two of my grandkids have the same issue. That's one reason why I reiterate that pack fit is almost as individual as shoe fit.

There are some packs which have adjustable shoulder length. Also, the sizing is different for different brands of packs. Get your torso length measured (preferably by someone else; everytime I've tried to do it myself the measurements have been up to 2 inches off.) But the real test is to try on the pack with all your gear inside!

As repeatedly mentioned here, pictures would be a big help!

Edited by hikinggranny on 05/15/2013 15:44:26 MDT.

Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
GG Crown VC 60 fit on 05/15/2013 23:01:30 MDT Print View


As per your request here are my picks. The pack is 30lbs.
Load liftersSide profile
Looking at them I see that the load lifters are a little at an angle but far from the 45 degrees.
The hip belt is sloping down somewhat towards the back. Is it because of the heavy weight?
Also I noticed that the shoulder straps (at the back) are flaring out on the outside edge of the strap but touching the shoulder on the inside edge of the strap (towards the spine). I think that it is designed that way for comfort so you can raise your arms without pinching them?

I appreciate your comments.
As I am a beginner it is difficult for me to know if it is the perfect (or at least a reasonable) pack for me or not. I did my research but there is only so much a research can accomplish. The main reason why I picked this pack is that I have seen some reviews mentioning that the pack carries comfortably (compared to other packs) even quite heavy loads. The Crown does feel reasonable but I do not really have an experience with other packs so I have nothing to compare it to. If I was to go on a few trips with different backpacks then I would know which one is best. At this point I am shooting in the dark and hoping for the best. The last thing I would want to do is use a backpack for years only to find out that it was not right for me all along but I did not know any better and as a result I suffered some discomfort thinking that it was normal.
The fact that you have to mail order the good packs does not make it any easier. Additionally I am in Canada so the shipping here is much higher. I cannot keep on ordering an returning packs as it would be too expensive. I wish stores would carry more of the packs that you guys talk about in the forum. I was lucky that the store I went to had GG packs.
Thank you.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Troublesome pack fit on 05/16/2013 07:25:27 MDT Print View

Alina, I know exactly what you're talking about. I went YEARS just assuming that because of the way my collarbones are I just had to deal with a constantly bruised and, frequently, blistered shoulder and pain down my arm. I mostly tried Gregory and Osprey packs because they felt the best at REI, but once on the trail the same thing would all happen again...

Anyway, I read a lot of good reviews about the humorously large shoulder straps on the Gossamer Gear Gorilla and tried it...and wow what a difference! And you know what? It only really contacts my shoulder in the front. Unlike my other packs where the straps wrapped around my shoulders, the gorilla barely rested on my shoulders, even fully loaded. I initially thought it just didn't fit, but I kept using it on several trips and honestly, I don't care what the shoulder straps LOOK like, I can finally hike without weeping blisters on my bony shoulders!

I bought a ULA circuit to use for the JMT (for the bear can), but I'm still holding out judgement. I had a teeny bit of the arm pain during the first time I took it out but it was fleeting. Ill need to try more trips before I make a final decision.

My long, drawn-out point here is that many of us have a hard time finding a pack that actually FEELS good...but there will be one out there. I understand you don't have the luxury of ordering and returning over and over...but maybe you'll luck out ;)

So don't worry about what it looks like, just take it for some hikes (even in the neighborhood) all loaded up with YOUR gear, and see how it feels. But be prepared to make one can pick a pack for you. Unfortunately........

Ken Strayer
(TheRambler) - F
Re: "No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps" on 05/16/2013 08:07:34 MDT Print View

I doubt you will ever get a 45 deg angle on the load lifters on that particular pack. The load lifter angle varies alot pack to pack and person to person. That being said, in general, many of the packs nowadays have load lifters that are far from fully functional and really provide little actual function. Some are really only there for show. In order for load lifters to be 100% functional then the frame or stays of the pack need to extend almost to ear height. If the load lifters on any given pack are only attached to the pack material and not the frame then they are basically there for show. Packs without a frame, that have load lifters are definitely only there for show. Many of the lightweight packs on the market either use no frame, or use 1/4 or 1/2 length stays etc to save weight. The trade off is this severely impacts load lifter performance. The frame of a pack is what transfers the weight to different portions of your body, the load lifters simply change the tension on the frame that that you can manually shift the weight between your shoulders or hips, but if the frame/stays are too short then there is little room for the load lifters to shift the weight around. Pack material can't transfer weight effectively, only a frame can accomplish that.

From your pictures the fit looks pretty normal to me. That little space is typical IMO. It is caused from the load lifters on your pack. On packs with full length stays/frame that extend to "ear height" the shoulder straps do not make contact with the shoulders at all in the back, only in the front and top 1/2 of the shoulders.

Every pack and brand fits people a little different, as someone else mentioned its kinda like shoe fit, it varies greatly person to person. If the pack is comfortable, and does not cause pain after prolonged use then I would say your OK.

(Joomy) - M
Re: GG Crown VC 60 fit on 05/16/2013 08:25:18 MDT Print View

The fit does not seem too bad, but it is definitely not perfect. That said, my pack fits roughly like yours does with the slight fold and gap towards to the back of the shoulders. The difference for me is that my pack extends further above my shoulders and my load lifters are at 45 degrees.* I would suggest both that the back length is set too long, and that the total height of the frame is too short... weird I know but that's how it looks.

Easiest way to get the back length set roughly right is to see where the sternum strap and the curve in the shoulder straps are positioned. The sternum strap section should be, obviously, roughly at the height of your sternum. The lower curve in the shoulder strap (assuming it is an "S" curve) should fit nicely around your shoulder.

Try adjusting the back length so that these two things happen, and then see how the fit is. And remember to loosen the load lifters before you put the pack on! They should be the second last thing you adjust (hip belt -> shoulder straps -> load lifters -> sternum strap).

*The other major difference between my pack and a lot of other packs is that it has an incredibly stiff aluminium frame which does not bend when I haul on the load lifters the way, for example, an osprey pack does.

Edited by Joomy on 05/16/2013 08:26:37 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/16/2013 08:27:49 MDT Print View

Right, so that space is generated because the load lifters are pulling the shoulder straps back and this is normal if you have the load lifters cranked a little too tight. The problem with the Crown is that for you, the frame is not tall enough. The torso size looks fine but the design of the pack is flawed from the perspective of being able to use the load lifters in an effective manner. The lifters in this case only pull the pack into your back, which is fine with lighter loads.

I agree that this pack may not be for you. The frame on Granite Gears larger packs, like the Blaze, have a taller frame that may work better for you. If you can get the load lifter angle up taller than your shoulders then a gentle pull will pull the load in without pulling the shoulder straps back.

Note on frames. For a 45 degree angle, the frame has to be quite tall. Probably 5 to 6 inches taller than your shoulders and really only required for weights over 30 to 40 pounds. A shorter angle will work just fine for lighter weights or even no load lifters in most cases.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
No backpack fits me-problem with shoulder straps on 05/16/2013 14:32:05 MDT Print View

I had the same problem with the Crown VC60. I wanted to like it but the fit is a bit weird and it just didn't work for me. On me, the size large bunched up at the top of the shoulder straps just like you have mentioned and the size down was too short. Your load lifters are fairly relaxed in your pictures, if you had tightened them the shoulder strap would have bunched up more and shown the problem a little better.

You might want to take another look at the Blaze AC 60. The Blaze has an adjustable frame so you can pick the torso length that works for you. It also comes in a women's model (the Ki) which may work better for you (my daughter-in-law likes the fit of the Ki over the regular model). The Blaze A.C. 60 Ki is a bit heavier than the VC60 but you get a frame that adjusts to your torso length and a pack that carries a heavier load (just in case you toss in a few "extras"... you mentioned you are just starting out so the extras will often get carried until you get the hang of it).