Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill?
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Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/10/2014 19:57:16 MDT Print View

So I was taught this many years ago.

The "theory" is that by unbucking your hip belt, the shif of the pack's center of gravity up onto the shoulders allows for the legs to have a little more freedom and coordination, reducing the risk of falling (and fatigue.)

Obviously this technique was recommended for groomed trail hiking.

I am sure that I'm not the only one who prefers the muscle burning of going uphill to the ligament grinding of going down hill... Sometimes.

Thoughts?

(Now that I think about it, do I have this all backwards?)

:)

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
No on 03/10/2014 19:59:23 MDT Print View

Pack is light enough it doesn't matter.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/10/2014 20:15:48 MDT Print View

I think that you are better off keeping the hip belt buckled so the pack does not sway too much. You can keep better balance, regardless of weight shift.

--B.G.--

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/10/2014 20:20:20 MDT Print View

No, but I do when crossing rivers. :)

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/10/2014 21:24:29 MDT Print View

The only benefit I could see is maybe if you were scrambling down a steep slope with no trail as you'd have better control of your pack balance as you move. But descending on a trail I don't see a benefit as you'd just get sore shoulders. You wouldn't need better balance on a decent trail. So no, I don't unbuckle my hip belt. Never noticed a need for better balance issue even on the vertical mile descent into the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab trail even when I did it several years ago with a 50 pound pack which is a completely different problem that my knees still remember.

Now fording running water I understand.

Edited by Miner on 03/10/2014 21:31:28 MDT.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Hip belt on 03/10/2014 21:35:37 MDT Print View

I'm with Malto on this. My pack is normally light enough that it doesn't matter. For a shorter trips I use a GG Murmer that has a 3/4 belt that good as a hip belt holder and not much else.
My "big load" back is a Borah Gear Stealth that has a hip belt that I only cinch up when I'm loaded up with a fresh resupply-total of 25lbs or so. But I've never thought of unbuckling to have any positive effect when going downhill.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/11/2014 05:27:25 MDT Print View

No. Never crossed my mind no matter what the pack weight is. However my really small packs don't have hip belts.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/11/2014 06:11:15 MDT Print View

sure.
it needs to be buckled on the uphills so the weight is off the shoulders and i can breath deep, so that leaves downhills as the place to loosen it so the leg muscles can "get some air", as well as ventilate the packbelt areas.

downhill as an acquired taste. is hard to find those really sweet multi k' unbroken downs to work out on. but, as in motorcycle racing, there is ample time to be made up once you dial them in.

v.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: No on 03/11/2014 10:04:47 MDT Print View

Yeah, I do know I was given the guidance when I was much younger and doing much "heavier" backpacking. I can certainly see it being entirely moot with a light pack.

I remember that it seemed to offer more "freedom" for my legs to absorb the downhill shock. But nowadays, I don't believe my pack is heavy enough for it to make a difference. I also now use trekking poles.

I was just curious if others have heard of this.

I wish I remembered who told me that (might have been a co-worker at HTO or REI), they were a rather skilled backpacker, if I recall.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill?" on 03/11/2014 11:26:50 MDT Print View

No. I've never heard of this practice. I can't say that my legs ever feel confined or like they don't move freely headed downhill. The only time I unbuckle is if I'm doing a water crossing. The rest of the time, I prefer the way my pack carries while buckled up at the hips and sternum.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/21/2014 03:17:27 MDT Print View

I unbuckle my hipbelt for about 5 minutes at a time every half hour or so just to give my hips a break and air things out. I do this regardless of whether I happen to being hiking on flat, uphill, or downhill terrain at the time.

Probably best to not overthink this one. Just do whatever feels best.

Edited by dmusashe on 03/21/2014 03:18:03 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Do you unbuckle your hip belt when hiking down hill? on 03/21/2014 05:57:17 MDT Print View

I haven't tried this although sometimes I'll loosen my load lifters going downhill.