Sleepy Tingly Arms

9:58 p.m. on September 12, 2008 (EDT)
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So we are trying to get into backpacking. I have done a little, my wife has not done any with a good pack. We picked her up an Osprey Aura 35 so that she can pack her bag, mat, and other necessities. She is very petite so I was thinking her pack would be less than 20lbs.
We first loaded it up with 15 and went for a short hike. She said it was uncomfortable as it was pushing on her collar bone area and her arms were tingly.
We dropped a few pounds down to about 12 and took another short hike the next day. Same results, arms falling asleep. We tried adjusting it as we were going and tried to put more weight on her hips, at least I thought we did. She is having trouble relaying to me how it feels and has no idea how it should feel. I am also very green so I am not being much help.

any thoughts or comments?

Thanks in advance!!....

10:23 p.m. on September 12, 2008 (EDT)
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im pretty new to this hobby myself, but having worn a backpack through 10 yrs of school, id say more padding would help. try wrapping some foam or soft cloth around the straps where her pressure points are, and see if that helps. if so they make several packs with extra thick foam in the straps :)

11:46 p.m. on September 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks dp, sounds like a cheap simple test!

12:10 a.m. on September 13, 2008 (EDT)
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How a backpack fits a person will make a bigger difference than a few pounds of weight. Each brand/style of pack will fit differently - and different people will like or dislike the feel of the same pack. I have gone through a few trying to figure this out!

The Osprey you mention is a great pack. Ospreys can be a little tricky to set up and get the load where you want it.

Most manufacturers have guidelines on their websites. If you Google for 'backpack fit' you will find lots of advice and examples.

8:29 p.m. on September 13, 2008 (EDT)
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My interpretation of your wife's symptoms (collar bone mashing with tingly arms) sounds immediately to me like a wrongly-sized pack. [The Aura 35 comes in a S and M.]

Question -- where did you buy the pack? if you bought it at a local outfitter, did they fit her? If 15lbs is causing this kind of discomfort, that sounds more than a simple adjustment problem!

We recently got my wife an Aura 50. I made her wear the pack around the shop with 30lbs for an extended time, and that's when I was convinced we had a good pack. Her torso size was right on the bubble between the S and M we tried on both. The smaller size didn't *immediately* feel wrong, but within 5 minutes the difference became pronounced. Whereas 20 minutes with the medium size actually seemed to get more comfortable, as she got use to it. Sure enough, that translated to comfort on the trail thus far.

My experience with Ospreys are that they generally fit well...when fitted correctly. There may be certain body-types that mesh better with other packs, but I wouldn't expect these kinds of symptoms with an Osprey, unless some other factor (like a wrong size) is causing the problem.

Just my two cents....

9:39 p.m. on September 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks guys. She measured for a medium at REI so we got her a medium. Tried it again today and it just is too small. We went for a 4.5 mile hike with about 16lbs in it. Kept adjusting along the trail and could not get it right. We could not get the load lifting straps to go much mote than 90°/parallel to the ground, if that.
Unfortunately REI is 140mi from us so we may just have to ship it back. We do have a local outdoor shop north of us about 35mi and they have a pretty good selection and have some loaded up with weight.


11:00 p.m. on September 13, 2008 (EDT)
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I wonder if you might do well looking at an Aura 50 and seeing how the medium would fit her. My wife has a pretty long torso (mixed with shorter legs) and slightly-wider-than-average torso...and the Aura 35 is a pretty small pack. She measured at the maximum end of the recommended measurements from the small, but there was no doubt the

My wife's 50 holds light loads (15lbs or so) extremely well.

Either way, you'll definitely want to try on other women's packs at your local store.

11:16 a.m. on September 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks Berit, we will definitely look into the Aura 50. I ended up with the Osprey Atmos 65 a couple months ago and am really liking it. Went to it from a Gregory Lassen to cut a few pounds. The Atmos ended up fitting me better which makes it feel more comfortable. For some reason the Gregory seemed to creep down over my hips no matter how tight I adjusted it. I thought that was normal as I have some pretty good love handles.

7:33 p.m. on September 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi Latestarters,

I have quite large bone protrusions on my collar bone and suffer from the same ailment as your wife. My solution thus far is to place more weight on the hips and less on the shoulders and do this by loosening up on the shoulder straps. I have also made extra wrap around pads for the long hauls. My first pack was too short for me and I had this problem. My second pack is a perfect fit all way round but if I tighten the shoulder straps too much I get the same discomfort as with the smaller. I have a really good hip belt. It is hard to explain how it is designed but each side is sort of two strips that cross to join where the adjustment straps and buckle are, it cradles my hip bones from the top and bottom, the hip bone can be felt inbetween the two crossed straps that make up each side of the hip belt. I think this makes the difference for me since I've had the same problem with two different sized packs. I believe some hip belts slip to a certain degree which puts more weight on the shoulder straps. I have small hips, not the typical hourglass figure, there is not a large size difference between my hips and waist so most hip belts tend to slip on me. Just some thoughts.

12:59 a.m. on September 15, 2008 (EDT)
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One of the basics of proper pack fitting is indicated by Wilderness Gal's comments - most of the weight for a backpacking pack should ride on your hips, with the shoulder straps being primarily just for balance. The "tingly arms" indicates that the circulation is being cut off from your wife's arms, which means (1) wrong fit (size and/or adjustment and/or pack design for body shape) and (2) wrong adjustment even if it is the correct size.

Some pack companies offer several different hip belts to handle body shapes like Wilderness Gal says she has vs the more traditional female figure vs the wider hipped, big boned figure. Osprey is one of those companies, so see if you can get one of the alternate belts (REI is notorious for having poorly trained personnel, which is why I and others who have been around for a few years ... decades ... strongly recommend going to a specialty backpacking shop with well-trained pack fitters).

In this case, I would say that it is likely that the shoulder strap spacing that is wrong, namely too narrow. Check other models for wider spacing or for adjustable spacing (the lift straps do not adjust the spacing side to side).

Oversimplified adjustment procedure - In adjusting the straps, first loosen all the straps. Then tighten the hip belt so that the pack rides on the top of the hip bones, thus putting most of the pack weight on the hips. Then adjust the shoulder straps to hold the pack against the back (not to transfer the weight to the shoulders), with the sternum strap next to hold the shoulder straps in position, with the lift straps last. I have left out the hip belt lifters, cinch straps to hold the load compactly, etc.

11:18 p.m. on September 15, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks Wilderness Gal and Bill. We are somewhat limited here as far as shops go but the local shop just north of us does have at least one guy that seems very savvy. Hopefully we can get set up up there.

Thanks again,

11:55 p.m. on September 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Hey Guys, we found a pack. Went back to REI in another location and found a knowledgeable girl that worked there. We ended up with a REI Venturi 30 and my wife is very pleased with it, at least thus far. We did a pretty good hike, up to Vernal Falls in Yosemite with a decent load. Seemed to work great and she kept commenting on how comfortable it was. Hopefully when we add some more weight to it it will still ride well. At least she can now use it comfortably to get use to packing one and if nothing else, she now has a great day pack.
The funny thing is that the next size up in the same pack rubbed against her shoulder bone. Very strange. Traded packs, got myself a new pair of hiking shorts and a few other goodies and came out money ahead :-)
Thanks again for your help and feedback!


7:42 p.m. on October 2, 2008 (EDT)
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119 forum posts

Excellent news! Happy trails for both of you!

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