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Big boy backpacks
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Big boy backpacks on 12/08/2013 21:09:33 MST Print View

I'm looking for a backpack for my brother...who is 6'4 and weighs about 235 or so. He's a big guy.

Other than just plain torso length and waist size, is there anything else I should be looking for in terms of a comfortable backpack for him? And who makes stuff that big? Heck, I seem to fall in the large torso size for some of the packs out there with my 22" torso measurement....

Any suggestions from the bigger dudes out there?

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Big boy backpacks on 12/08/2013 22:36:20 MST Print View

I'm a (ahem) bit bigger than your brother and use a ULA Ohm 2.0 at the moment (in the market for a lighter pack). He shouldn't have a problem finding a backpack from the usual suspects as long as he properly measures his torso length and waist.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Big boy backpacks on 12/08/2013 22:44:25 MST Print View

Ian, did you go with the J or S straps? I'm a bit smaller than Jen's brother. You want to make sure the straps are far enough apart where they are attached to the pack. I have the J straps on my Ohm v 1.0 I would go with the S straps. They were not available as a choice when I got mine. I just picked up a SMD Starlite on Gearswap that has more S shaped straps and like them. SMD will be announcing new packs at the GGG. Maybe we can do some comparison shopping for you while we are there. Ian's going to be there with me.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
J straps on 12/09/2013 06:59:49 MST Print View

I went with the J straps and they've been fine for me. My daughter has S straps on her Ohm 2.0 and she really likes them. I'll post some pictures/comparisons between the two later today.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Pack for a big guy on 12/09/2013 07:33:00 MST Print View

If weight isn't a major concern, try Mystery Ranch. Dana Gleason (once the Dana of Dana Design) builds packs for soldiers, hunters, firefighters, etc. Dana himself is about 6-2, 240 lbs and he builds packs for anyone.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
big packs on 12/09/2013 08:01:56 MST Print View

Shoulder strap length can be an issue for ex-iron pumper types.

Gossamer Gear's XL Mariposa is a good option.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Size shouldn't be an issue unless he has a freakishly long torso. on 12/09/2013 10:32:26 MST Print View

I'm marginally taller and heavier and have used properly fitting packs from Gregory, REI, Arc'Teryx, Gossamer Gear, ZPacks... basically the full gamut of mainstream to cottage manufacturers. Unless he has a freakishly long torso for his height he should be fine in the largest size for a given manufacturer. 6'4" seems to be the targeted limit for almost all long/tall gear. Tents are where he'll really have much less selection.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Big boy backpacks on 12/09/2013 11:24:50 MST Print View

Even though he is tall, he most likely has a torso length in the 21-22" range which will be fine. If he is broad shouldered, the distance between the straps could be an issue, but probably not.

P.S - 22" is a pretty long torso Jennifer! I am 6'4" and have the same length as you.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 12/09/2013 11:27:02 MST.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Big boy backpacks on 12/13/2013 07:19:02 MST Print View

I totally agree with Dave on this. For me, shoulder straps are the critical factor for fit. Torsos are adjustable or at least height-based. Belts can usually be swapped or eliminated. Shoulder straps, however, can be a nightmare. Nothing worse than having the buckle up in your armpit all day. Or rubbing your neck. Or pulling to the sides all day.

I've only had ONE pack that ever worked for me stock. That's the GG Nimbus packs that are long, narrow, and pivot so they always seem to find the right place to sit. I've modded at least a dozen packs to try to get similar setups. I've only been able to get one sewn-on set of shoulder straps to sit comfortably. It always amazes me to see big guys willing to wear the UL packs with horrible shoulder strap fit. Makes me wonder if they've ever had a well-fitting pack. It's like getting great footwear for the first the time - you'll never settle again after you find it! Heck, I'm not even that huge anymore - a regular XL in tops - and I find pretty much every UL pack I've tried to be weak in this area.

Currently using a severely modded GG Crown (2lb with pivot straps), a cut-frame GG Nimbus Meridian (2.5lb but insanely comfortable) and a DIY pack (1.5lb with GG straps). Would love to find a 1lb comfortable pack to haul my typical 11lb load, but I haven't found one yet that doesn't need the shoulder straps rebuilt.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
pack fit outer limits on 12/13/2013 09:40:18 MST Print View

Curt, you're definitely handicapped on weight if that's the strap arrangement you need. Extra material = grams, sadly.

My wife is on the other end of the spectrum. Her torso requires a large Gossamer Gear pack, but on the Gorilla she has the shoulder straps cinched almost all the way down.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
ULA with S straps on 12/14/2013 10:02:16 MST Print View

Jennifer, I am 6' and my weight fluctuates between 235 to 250. I have bought and used many packs through the years and most have been fine but the ULA packs with the S straps have been a dream. I have broad shoulders and a lot of shoulder harnesses have cut into my neck but no problems with the S straps from ULA. Feel like they are custom made...