Welcome!

We're glad you are here. This is the place to ask for bag advice, help other people out, post reviews, and share photos and videos.

TOM BIHN Forums Statistics

Collapse

Topics: 14,998   Posts: 193,786   Members: 6,896   Active Members: 241
Welcome to our newest member, Kimiko.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Comfortable carry for 5'6" person, narrow shoulders

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Comfortable carry for 5'6" person, narrow shoulders

    I'm looking for some advice on carrying heavier loads, as a 5'6" woman with narrow shoulders.

    I own a Shadow Guide 23. I absolutely love this bag, and one of my favorite things about it is that I can carry heavy loads with no discomfort at all. I'll take it grocery shopping and walk a mile back from the store carrying a load of groceries in it (including cans on the bottom) with no problem.

    I was, however, looking for something a bit bigger, for travel. 23 liters is a bit too small for that purpose, for me. I had always kind of had my eye on the Brain Bag -- the capacity looks outstanding. I ordered one last week since I saw they were nearly out of the ones with Ballistic 210 interiors. Today I took it on the grocery test (I figure this is a good test since whatever I get at the store is either going to be a comparable or heavier weight than clothing). I put six cans of beer and some groceries in it, and walked home. Unfortunately it did not pass the grocery test. My shoulders are in some pain, and that's after having messed with the straps to try to get it in a comfortable position while walking. I fear this is actually a bag for taller/broader backs than mine. After I got home I transferred the same load to the SG23, and it carried beautifully -- no pain at all.

    So, I'm wondering -- what about the SG33? How does that carry, for people in my height range? Does anybody here have experience they can share?

    I'm looking at the bag dimensions page and I see:

    SG23 [12.6" (w) x 19.3" (h) x 9.0" (d)]
    SG33 [14" (w) x 21.7" (h) x 9.0" (d)]
    BB [14" (w) x 18.1" (h) x 9.1" (d)]

    Both of the Shadow Guides are taller than the Brain Bag, so something is going on here that isn't related to the height of the bag, at least. I know I love the skeleton frame and the slanted bottom of the SG23 -- is that what's doing it, and not the height?
    Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

    #2
    The overall height of the Shadow Guide includes the top pocket, which is above the shoulder straps... Back when these were first released, Cristina did a quick measurement of the SG33 for me (I had the smaller bag) so that I could see if the greater volume would still be in a back panel height that would be comfortable for me.

    Her post in my thread is here

    "I get about 18” in length for the SG33 compared to about 16” for the SG23. "

    I did ended up trying the SG33 and it will work for my 5'4" self... It's on my wish list to get at some point.

    MatthewR MikeV
    Something to consider... Adding the official back panel dimensions to the SG product pages, for just this reason... Similar to how y'all added more dimensions to the Addax pages
    “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
    “Sir?”
    “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
    “Sir?”
    “That’s practically zen.”
    -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

    Comment


      #3
      Hi G42, that's extremely helpful. I was thinking about this more yesterday, and the height of the Smart Alec is similar (18.5") to the Brain Bag, but I find the SA quite comfortable to carry with heavier loads. So I wonder if there's something about the construction of the BB back panel that just isn't working for my shoulders, and it's not a height issue. That would be good news, because I'd *like* the SG33 to work out.

      Also from your thread you linked:
      I'll have to go get a SG33 now...and it will have to be in all black since my SG23 is in Ursa
      ...I was just thinking my SG33 would have to be Ursa since my SG23 is black...LOL.
      Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

      Comment


        #4
        The Brain Bag is very wide left to right across your back, so that (along with the angle of the straps) may affect how it feels and carries for you. I can carry my BB comfortably, but I do feel like a turtle.

        Also, I notice that while the new Edgeless Straps are very cushy and overall comfortable they are also thicker of course, including at the point where they're closest to the collarbone & angle plays a big part in fit. It's the only part I notice and/or fiddle with vs the older Bound Straps.

        As I've mentioned though, I've very sturdy and can carry any of the straps with heavy loads, even the Contour Straps... It's the overall vertical height of the back panel that is the biggest driver of my carry comfort.

        And yeah, need opposite colours if you get both SG sizes! 🙂
        Last edited by G42; 12-05-2022, 07:21 PM.
        “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
        “Sir?”
        “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
        “Sir?”
        “That’s practically zen.”
        -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

        Comment


          #5
          I just bought the SG33 a few months ago, so I figured I'd chime in with the hope that you might find some part of my general thoughts helpful. Though the pack's purpose will be primarily travel, I haven't had the chance to take it on a proper flight yet. However, I've definitely loaded it up and carried around some things in it. When I came home from a trip I took at the end of September, I shoved all the stuff from my 40L pack into the SG33 and it held it reasonably well - though it should be noted that I didn't have that pack crammed full. It took the packing cubes, the dopp kit, the jacket, and I could even stuff in a whole pair of shoes (that I didn't actually bring, but just wanted to see if I could).

          The SG33 is the most tricky to measure of all the packs I have, because it feels like the listed dimensions don't really match what it feels like to wear. The actual drawstring compartment is basically 18" tall--I was able to fit my empty Paramour entirely inside it and cinch it up--which means that's roughly the size of the skeleton back panel and frame sheet. The listed width is 14", but it feels like only 13", even when I stuff it (my packing cubes are 12.5" wide and they're a fairly snug fit side-to-side. The depth is 9", but since there's a curvature to the outer side, I couldn't fit both of my 12.5"x10"x4" packing cubes in side-to-side. The one toward the outside, I rotated lengthwise to get it to fit, which was a bit wonky, but I like these cubes because their size works with almost everything (I also have a smaller one that's 12.5x7x4 that I'll probably sub in for one of the larger cubes when I actually use the SG on a trip).

          I actually struggled some with the Shadow Guide, because I was having a difficult time getting the straps to ride comfortably on my back. I am...basically the exact opposite of you, dimensionally: a 6' guy with a broad back and shoulders. The straps are attached pretty close together at the top, and I found they were riding weirdly on my trapezius muscles, to where only half of the strap was in contact with my body, which turned those into hot points. It got a lot more comfy when I used even the basic waist belt, and there are definitely times when I would use the padded waist belt, but my default carry mode most of the time is sans waist belt just because it reduces the hassle of putting on and taking off a backpack. I even e-mailed Mike about this, asking if TB could move the strap attachment points out (spoilers: they wouldn't), and he said to try removing the frame, but...I could never actually get the frame out. It felt like I was going to damage something; it was in there real good. An interesting point he made was that the SG's straps are sewn in "flat," while some other bags have their strap attachment points flare out a little bit toward the outside, which is likely a more natural fit for wider people like me. For someone with your build, I imagine it will carry pretty comfortably right out of the box. The way I eventually got it to ride well was to really tighten the shoulder straps snugly and utilize the sternum strap. Once I'd played around with it and got a proper-feeling fit, I was able to carry it loaded up on a walk around my neighborhood for a good half hour, looking like a hobo with very discerning taste in packs, and it remained comfortable the entire time. That's the most tinkering I've had to do to get a pack I own to feel comfortable, but by the same token, I don't ask most of my other packs to carry the total weight and bulk I ask of packs I use for travel.

          I've never used the Brain Bag, so I can't offer any comparisons there. I love that the BB has two chambers (I like that for travel packs), but the fact that both chambers are the same size actually makes it less useful for me personally, and for something for travel, I'd rather have it an inch less wide and 2-4 inches longer. But again, height variance drives a lot of difference in pack fit! I always think of the Brain Bag as the holistic ideal of a backpack for someone who works in IT and needs to carry around more than one laptop, random coils of cabling, and miscellaneous technological gadgetry, and not at all the sort of bag I'd toss eight cans of soup and a big sourdough loaf into. My guess is that the SG feels more comfortable to you simply because it has an actual frame sheet, which will always be better for carrying weight over distance.
          Last edited by ittoujuu; 12-05-2022, 07:10 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by G42 View Post
            Something to consider... Adding the official back panel dimensions to the SG product pages, for just this reason... Similar to how y'all added more dimensions to the Addax pages​
            Not that exact thing, but I have adding height suggestions on my List™.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by MatthewR View Post

              Not that exact thing, but I have adding height suggestions on my List™.
              Love the TM 😆

              Height suggestions will help, but please consider that overall height doesn't always correlate to torso length/height. Some of us may be at either far end of the bell curve. 🛎️
              “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
              “Sir?”
              “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
              “Sir?”
              “That’s practically zen.”
              -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

              Comment


                #8
                Hi epeterson I held off answering because I don't have the current model Shadow Guide 33 in addition to my SG23 in Ursa. However, I do have the original Shadow Guide, which I found surprisingly comfortable to carry, despite the fact that I am just under 5'4" (161 cm) and with a petite build. When I sit down the angled bottom does not hit the seat. I think I have a standard length torso.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by ittoujuu View Post
                  I even e-mailed Mike about this, asking if TB could move the strap attachment points out (spoilers: they wouldn't), and he said to try removing the frame, but...I could never actually get the frame out. It felt like I was going to damage something; it was in there real good. An interesting point he made was that the SG's straps are sewn in "flat," while some other bags have their strap attachment points flare out a little bit toward the outside, which is likely a more natural fit for wider people like me.
                  Thanks for this -- a very interesting point. I had some time this weekend and test packed the three large/medium TB packs I have here (Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Shadow Guide 23) with the same amount of heavy books, and carried them around for awhile. For both the BB and the SA, I noticed more pressure on the inner side (neck side) of the shoulder strap, whereas for the SG23, the pressure was evenly distributed. This matches your point about the attachment point "flare." MikeV would you happen to know which of the other straps are "flat" vs "flared?" In particular I'm wondering about the SG33, the S25, and both sizes of Techonaut.



                  Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Hey! Sorry for the delay here- bit of a busy week for us

                    To a large extent the angle or flare that the shoulder straps are attached to the bag is determined by the seam they're being sewn into. On Syniks and Synapses, the rounded nature of the top of those bags gives them more of that flare. On Shadow Guides they're attached more or less square to the bag into a flat seam- the Smart Alec was pretty similar. And those examples are at the extreme ends in both regards. Many of our bags (Brain Bags, Techonauts, Aeronauts for example) are slightly rounded on the top, but less so than the Syniks. So they are sort of in the middle ground with regard to how much flare they have.

                    We definitely hear from a few folks who prefer one or the other, but I'd say for the most part, many people can't feel a lot of difference, especially with our Edgeless Straps. We use really nice foam and I think the amount of squish to that foam absorbs any slight difference in the angle of folks' shoulders so that you don't notice much. This does all come up in the design process and interestingly, the new Addax has the shoulder straps sewn into a flat seam, but we did attach the shoulder straps at a slight angle so that they come off the bag similarly to the Techonaut.

                    I hope that helps!

                    Editing because I didn't very directly answer your question! Those three bags you're asking about go from S25 (quite flared) to Techonaut (slightly flared) to SG (basically flat).
                    Last edited by MikeV; 12-15-2022, 03:05 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      MikeV thank you very much, belatedly, for your answer on that. I pondered this, given that I had discomfort with the SA as well (and as you said it has similar strap attachments to the SG23) and wondered if the issue might be the frame sheet as ittoujuu suggested. I love my S19, so the last time I saw a few S25 frame sheets get restocked, I grabbed one on a whim. Then just recently I found a secondhand S25 to try the weight experiment. I loaded it up with the same books as the BB/SA/SG23 experiment, and tried it with and without the frame sheet installed. The difference the frame sheet makes is incredible -- never having tried a bag with a frame sheet before I got the SG23(*), I just had no idea it made so much of a difference with heavy loads. Major kudos to you guys for designing bags with frame sheets. The S25 is now elevated to my weekend travel bag.

                      (*) I had tried the SG23 with and without the frame sheet for the purpose of bike commuting, but my EDC load is pretty light and so I didn't notice a difference in comfort. I should have conducted a better experiment then!
                      Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        epeterson
                        I like your experimentation.
                        Sorry if you already discussed this and I missed it, but do you regularly carry a laptop? Or try any experiments with one vs the frame sheet?
                        I ask because when the frame sheets first came out for the Synapses, I was carrying S19s most days and tried them out. I found that I didn't see much benefit when also carryng a laptop but noticed it when carrying lots of other stuff without one. To me, it helped with the feel/lumpiness against my back, and made it a more rigid carry hung off my shoulders vs conforming more to my back (when there was neither a laptop nor sheet) if that makes any sense.
                        “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
                        “Sir?”
                        “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
                        “Sir?”
                        “That’s practically zen.”
                        -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by G42 View Post
                          epeterson
                          I like your experimentation.
                          Sorry if you already discussed this and I missed it, but do you regularly carry a laptop? Or try any experiments with one vs the frame sheet?
                          I ask because when the frame sheets first came out for the Synapses, I was carrying S19s most days and tried them out. I found that I didn't see much benefit when also carryng a laptop but noticed it when carrying lots of other stuff without one. To me, it helped with the feel/lumpiness against my back, and made it a more rigid carry hung off my shoulders vs conforming more to my back (when there was neither a laptop nor sheet) if that makes any sense.
                          In my work EDC (was using SG23 for that, then Smart Alec, and now S19) I do carry a laptop, but in a generic sleeve rather than a cache (my work laptop is sort of an "in between" size that doesn't match the caches well), so with the exception of the SG23 it wouldn't necessarily be providing that structure. I'm curious about the BB/SA now, and I'll try them tonight with my laptop in there with the load of books to see if that helps -- not sure since my laptop is a lot shorter than the bag so it's going to drift to the bottom. But, I had been hoping for the BB as a travel pack, and I don't always bring my laptop.

                          This is maybe getting into excessive detail but I have basically three travel scenarios:
                          1. Weekend trip to see family, bringing laptop -- this is usually driving to the destination.
                          2. Short vacation (3-5 days) with iPad mini but no laptop, typically in warm/hot weather, involves walking 1-2 miles outdoors from a small airport to where I'm staying. Requires backpack carry.
                          3. Longer vacation/family/work trip (5-10 days) with laptop. Either flying or driving. If I'm carrying the bag for any distance (ie, walking through an airport) I've got to do backpack carry rather than single shoulder carry.
                          I was trying to be clever and see if I could find one backpack that would work for scenarios 2 and 3. I figured that with the Brain Bag, I could have a "short trip" configuration with one main compartment for clothing and the other for my laptop and other stuff (or mostly empty if I'm not bringing the laptop), and a "long trip" configuration with both main compartments full of clothing, and a separate shoulder bag (DLBC maybe?) for my laptop. The Aeronaut wouldn't work due to the solid back panel (too hot to carry outdoors on my back in scenario 2), and I'm not a huge fan of the Techonaut compartment layout (I really wish we could have an Aeronaut with a mesh back panel).

                          But, obviously the BB is a no-go if it doesn't carry comfortably on my back for some distance, fully packed. So now I'm thinking that the S25 will definitely work for scenario 1, and probably also scenario 2, since warm weather clothing doesn't take up as much space and I won't have the laptop. I'll do some test packing and find out. Regarding scenario 3, I might reconsider the Aeronaut/Techonaut options. Maybe the solid back panel isn't a big deal if I'm mostly carrying it in air conditioned spaces (airport, transit)? Maybe the backpack-focused design of the Techonaut should outweigh my quibbles about the compartments? I will have to give it some thought.

                          Addendum re: Shadow Guides. I did consider the SG23/33 for these purposes. I love my SG23 for heavy loads (walking to get groceries). The tube shape does not seem great for packing cubes though, and I am very much a "live out of the laundry packing cubes" sort of traveler.
                          Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            There's no such thing as excessive detail in bag comparisons!

                            Based on what you're describing, you probably should check out how the Brain Bag works for a variety of trips. Since it's shorter and wider, you might notice the benefit of caring a laptop. (FWIW, I don't normally use a TB cache for either my personal or work laptop, but rather neoprene sleeves so they do settle at the bottom of the bag... It is different than a frame sheet but works similarly for me.)
                            With the cinch straps, it is fairly easy to compress out some of the extra space if you're not carrying it full.
                            “Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
                            “Sir?”
                            “It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
                            “Sir?”
                            “That’s practically zen.”
                            -Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by G42 View Post
                              There's no such thing as excessive detail in bag comparisons!

                              Based on what you're describing, you probably should check out how the Brain Bag works for a variety of trips. Since it's shorter and wider, you might notice the benefit of caring a laptop. (FWIW, I don't normally use a TB cache for either my personal or work laptop, but rather neoprene sleeves so they do settle at the bottom of the bag... It is different than a frame sheet but works similarly for me.)
                              With the cinch straps, it is fairly easy to compress out some of the extra space if you're not carrying it full.
                              Thanks for the advice -- I will definitely experiment some more with the BB and see how it goes. I love the cinch straps, too, for compression. It seems like such a versatile bag!

                              I was doing some digging and I found an old forum thread about frame sheets in the BB -- did you by any chance ever try this? I'll give it a try with my S25 frame sheet, although I'm a little nervous about swapping that around too much, due to the plastic piece. I'm not sure how fragile it is.
                              Currently trying out a secondhand Red Blend S19 for EDC!

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X