View Full Version : How to wear your backpack?

02-19-2009, 09:21 PM
You know, I have always wondered about this one... is there a "proper" way to wear your backpack to minimize back strain?

I have heard/read that you should wear your bag as high on my shoulders as possible, and use the support straps to stabilize the load between your shoulders as much as possible.

Does anyone have any recommended links or information on the topic?

Thanks in advance!


02-19-2009, 10:54 PM
i usually carry mine the wrong way - on one shoulder (with one strap).

i will carry the aeronaut with two straps and this is far more comfortable since when i am carrying the aeronaut, it is usually for extended time periods (traveling). i don't use the support straps, however.

02-20-2009, 11:34 AM
my back is not the greatest so I always carry my backback on both shoulders and after putting it on, I tighten the straps to make it ride high on my back. I don't tend to use any other strap but fastening the sternum strap is always a good idea... but I only use it when I'm carrying a lot of weight...

02-20-2009, 12:31 PM
I also do what peregrina does: I carry my backpack on both shoulders and tighten the straps so that it rides comfortably high on my back. This is, IMO, the healthiest way to carry a backpack.

02-21-2009, 09:32 AM
I adjust the shoulder straps so that the hip belt fits just above my hips. This way most of the weight is taken by my hips; very little weight by my shoulders and the sternum strap stops the shoulder straps from falling off.

In Australia this is considered to be the correct way to wear a backpack - all weight on the hips.


02-21-2009, 11:56 AM
I have been hiking for a while; and the most recommended is to transfer weight between hip and shoulder. If you carry all your weight on your shoulders, that is going to cause a lot of harm.
Also: I have always been told that the way you pack a backpack is crucial: put lightweight items at the bottom of the pack, and the heaviest needs to be centered closer to your back. This affects center of gravity and that is important for the way you carry the bag. This is why serious backpackers will tell you that you carry a lightweight sleeping bag at the bottom of the bag, which seems a bit counter-intuitive, since many folks put heavier things at the bottom of the bag.
I would check with a good backpacking place like Patagonia, REI, or Hudson Trail. This is why carrying a laptop is a problem cos it is harder to distribute the weight.

02-21-2009, 07:46 PM
This is the reason why I love these forums: all the smart people live here. :)

02-27-2009, 08:01 AM
I've also heard that putting the weight on the hips is important. If you think about it, it does make sense. Otherwise the waist straps would be a total waste of time.

I think the x-factor is the size of backpacks these days. When you think of hikers then all the rules about shoulders and hips make sense because the bag will be tall enough to cover your entire back. But ever since the book backpack was made popular we are into a new average size for backpacks. These new backpacks are more likely to be too short to sit on a medium sized man's back enough to cover both shoulders and waist.

But I agree that the experts are probably found in any serious backpacking or hiking store.

02-27-2009, 08:49 AM
Distribution of weight within the bag makes a huge difference in its comfort when worn. Heavier stuff really does need to be as high up as possible. Unfortunately, gravity is not your friend here, since heavier items try to shift themselves downward. Packing to the capacity of the bag helps, since it's harder for things to migrate downward when the bag is well packed. And packing cubes make a huge difference, since they corral things effectively.

It also helps to experiment with a new bag before you take it on the road, pack it full and adjust the straps to a variety of lengths and try wearing it for a while--at least a half hour. Once you've found the sweet spot, make a note of where the strap settings are. Then it's easier to remember how to reset the straps later on--particularly important if your husband tends to borrow your bags and readjust the straps for his liking rather than yours.;)

02-27-2009, 12:15 PM
Good points all around!

Pretzelb, what I have been able to find supports the point that the size of the pack makes a difference (i.e., higher for smaller packs, lower for larger packs). It makes sense, or else you would not be able to get the proper weight distribution.

Shiva and Flitcraft: I have been finding out that, as you both mention, packing is the key! I just placed an order for some new TB accressories yesterday... and I forgot the packing cubes! (Gr!)

Flitcraft, that's a funny story about adjustments. Noone messes with my equipment, however, since I am the designated pack animal/luggage cart on our trips. ;-)