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  1. #1
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Backpack Straps Question

    Hi,

    Long-time fan, long-time lurker, first-time poster. Smilie

    I have a question about some of the backpack straps and how they work for others. I'm trying to figure out if the problem is just me or perhaps if I am doing something wrong here. I'd like to hear about others' experiences, if you're willing to share.

    I have tried multiple TB bag types as an EDC: Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Synapse 25, and a Synapse 19. I generally carry a MBP 13", five thinner paperback books, a paper journal, and purse-type odds and ends (phone, wallet, lip balm, knife). In carrying these items in the backpacks, I find that the straps dig into my collar bones and, just, well, hurt. I can carry these items for a short distance, but not much longer than the car to the office.

    I've tried adjusting the length on them so that the bag sits differently, but to no avail. I've also tried redistributing the loads in the packs, but again to no avail. The load isn't that heavy, but in the packs it seems to become heavier. And no, I haven't stuffed it like the Synapse 3000 (https://blog.tombihn.com/new-design-synapse-3000).

    For what it's worth, I am on the wee side, but I have seen others comment in the forums here about the height not being as much of a concern as it might seem.

    What are your experiences with the straps? If you had any trouble with them, how did you solve the problem?

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Badger's Avatar
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    Hey afreen, welcome to the Forum. That's a bummer about the straps. In my experience, whenever I find the straps painful, it's because I've loaded the bag unevenly with too much weight up at the top, or I'm wearing the bag too low. In the first case, it helps to re-pack the bag so that the weight is distributed on the bottom of the bag and closer to my back; in the second case, I tighten the straps so that the bag is riding against the center of my back.

    Collarbone pain suggests to me that your bag may be too heavy at the top and is actually pulling you back a bit. If you're determined to try to make a TB bag work for you, I'd suggest using the S19 (frankly, the other bags are overkill for the load you're describing), possibly with the S19 Freudian Slip to distribute the weight of the journal and paperbacks more evenly. You may possibly find using something like the 1" Padded Hip Belt could help take some weight off your shoulders.

    Ultimately, though, you need to think of your comfort and the health of your back, neck, and shoulders. Have you tried experimenting with backpacks by other manufacturers, or other styles of bags? It may also be that you'll have to consider whether your back and shoulders are strong enough to carry the combined weight of the books, laptop, and other items. Good luck!

  3. #3
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    I would try another companies backpack and see if you've still got an issue.
    If a different companies backpack straps still bother your collarbone, perhaps you should see a doctor? It may be that you have an issue that is interfering with wearing a backpack comfortably.

    PS: Welcome to the forum Big Grin

  4. #4
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Badger, thank you so much for the thorough reply. I've done some playing around with the load distribution and the overall weight in the different packs. You're right that the BB and SA in particular are overkill, and that seems to have been part of the problem. Shifting the laptop in S19 helped a lot and seems to be working better now.

  5. #5
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Kelly, Thank you for the response. I used to have really good luck with TNF until they changed the straps and stiffened the back panel a lot. They're OK for short-term carry, but not so good for longer trips. Badger had some good thoughts above, and rearranging the load and using a smaller pack seem to help.

  6. #6
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    Backpack Straps Question

    I can't tolerate a lot of weight in a shoulder strap, so I usually use a waist strap. I cinch it tight , sitting above my hip bone, or sometimes as high as the narrowest part of my waist. If the bag is a little too long for me this might mean that shoulder straps are actually lifted off my shoulders entirely, which is not "correct" but is my preferred way to carry. I also use the sternum strap.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Cristina; 10-13-2017 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Fix typo

  7. #7
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Cristina, Thank you so much for your response �� I usually end up removing the sternum straps because, well, the terrain there is little too hilly...

  8. #8
    Forum Member Lodd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by afreen View Post
    Cristina, Thank you so much for your response �� I usually end up removing the sternum straps because, well, the terrain there is little too hilly...
    Perhaps that might be part of the issue. My wife also has a little more terrain and it does affect how the straps land on her shoulders. Sometime last year, she finally tried one of those hiking backpacks (she's not really the hiking kind) and was amazed at 1) the curved straps, 2) the sternum strap and 3) the hipbelt; all of which reduced the straps digging into her shoulders. Even without the hipbelt she said there was a difference. Perhaps you can adjust the sternum strap to just above or below? I don't think changing the straps to curved straps is an option in this case.

    In my own experience, I've tried wearing a bag where I cinched the sternum strap too tight, which also made the straps dig into my collarbone (but I'm guessing from the other side of the strap). That was also extremely uncomfortable for me even though it only carried 9kg. I could only wear it for 15 minutes before getting aches and pains in my shoulder/back which stayed for the next 2 days. As comparison, I should have been able to carry up to 15 kg with much less pain.

    Hope this helps.
    Western Flyer Black Ballistic/Island Halcyon

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by afreen View Post
    Cristina, Thank you so much for your response �� I usually end up removing the sternum straps because, well, the terrain there is little too hilly...
    Another thing to try, for our hilly terrain (that is hysterical, btw) is to put the sternum strap up high with the straps snugged in...
    It almost works like load lifters on a backpacking pack... keeps some of the pressure more into the front of the shoulder vs on top
    That and I also keep my bag loaded so that the weight is low and close to my back...

    Good luck adjusting and I hope it works for you, but your comfort/back safety is the most important

  10. #10
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Thank you for the reply! I'm glad your wife found some good fit with a hiking pack.

    I am on the wee side, so sternum straps just never sit right anywhere. I usually have to remove them because of where they hit on me, which is usually nowhere near the sternum. Most packs are just not designed for someone of my stature.

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