Internal frame questions...

11:08 a.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)

After hiking for a few years, I am considering trading my old camp trails Denali external pack in for some type of internal frame pack. I have been to several outfitters and tried on several packs...including a Bora 95, DD Glacier, Gregory Palisade and the new version of the REI newstar.

Problem: All of these packs rubbed me raw on and around my shoulders!

On most of these packs the store associate and I adjusted everything to try to get a good fit...measured torso length (medium, borderline large), moved yokes around, etc. etc. Everything except try different shoulder harnesses.

So, I was wondering why I am having such a difficult time finding an internal frame pack that fits... How tight do internal frame users snug down the shoulder straps? I had to pull mine very taut in order to keep the pack from swaying on my back...no tighter than I recall running the straps on my external though. Also, would slimmer shoulder harnesses help? None of the salespeople were too enthused when I switched to this line of questioning. Any and all ideas at this point I would greatly appreciate!

Thanks in advance,
Steve

2:17 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)


a.k.a. d, Daniel C, Daniel C., Skyeward, Skyward

"So, I was wondering why I am having such a difficult time finding an internal frame pack that fits... How tight do internal frame users snug down the shoulder straps? I had to pull mine very taut in order to keep the pack from swaying on my back...no tighter than I recall running the straps on my external though. Also, would slimmer shoulder harnesses help? None of the salespeople were too enthused when I switched to this line of questioning. Any and all ideas at this point I would greatly appreciate!"

Have you experimented with the load-lifter straps on these packs? They're the ones attached between the top of the shoulder straps and the top/back of the pack body right by your head. if the pack is well fitted these should be running about 45* from shoulder to pack, with a fair amount of tension. On most internals (that I've used anyway) you would use the load-lifters to bring the pack against your back, and not pull down the shoulder straps too much, as this seems to make the whole harness too short and presses them into your shoulders and chest. Really the shoulder straps should be sort of firmly resting on your shoulders, for stability not support, and of course all the tightening goes to the hip belt.
I don't know it slimmer straps would help unless they're rubbing your neck even when the sternum strap is pretty lose, though I haven't experimented in this area much.

That's my two bits, hope it helps. And everyone feel free to contradict me in the pursuit of truth and happiness. :)

Daniel

5:43 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)

Quote:

I was able to experiment quite a bit with the loadlifter straps...I was able to improve the fit of the New Star tremendously by adjusting the loadlifter straps. You bring up a good point...should I adjust the loadlifter straps before I tighten up the shoulder harness? I was told to adjust the harness first, then the loadlifter straps in the store. Could this be part of the problem?

Steve

 

Quote:

Have you experimented with the load-lifter straps on these packs? They're the ones attached between the top of the shoulder straps and the top/back of the pack body right by your head. if the pack is well fitted these should be running about 45* from shoulder to pack, with a fair amount of tension. On most internals (that I've used anyway) you would use the load-lifters to bring the pack against your back, and not pull down the shoulder straps too much, as this seems to make the whole harness too short and presses them into your shoulders and chest. Really the shoulder straps should be sort of firmly resting on your shoulders, for stability not support, and of course all the tightening goes to the hip belt.
I don't know it slimmer straps would help unless they're rubbing your neck even when the sternum strap is pretty lose, though I haven't experimented in this area much.

That's my two bits, hope it helps. And everyone feel free to contradict me in the pursuit of truth and happiness. :)

Daniel

6:21 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)

On my Dana I was taught to do the load lifters last.
Adjust the 1.) belt; 2.) shoulder straps to a not so snug feel on the shoulders; 3.)the straps at the belt (whatever their called, pull the lower part of the back close); 4.) and then the lifters at the shoulders last.
I have at least enough room for a finger between shoulders and straps.

6:55 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)

Any and all ideas at this point I would greatly appreciate!

Quote:

Steve

If your having a problem getting a good fit I highly recommend checking into a McHale pack. For a little more than a Dana you'll get a pack that's custom made with whatever features you want or don't want and the pack will fit like a glove since it's made to your measurements. The shoulder harness doesn't use traditional load lifters but a better system called a bypass harness that really works. These packs are much more efficient than other packs and are made better too. I bought one recently and wish I knew about McHale years ago since I would have saved money from buying and getting rid of packs that never worked right.

7:59 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)
Common practice is load lifters last...

Though I always end up tweaking most of my straps once I get going in no particular order, also according to the terrain (uphill, downhill, smooth, rocky).

Actually the name "load lifter" is pretty misleading, I don't think they "lift" the weight at all, just stablize it.

P.S. yeah a custom pack would be nice, but food is nicer. ;)

Daniel

10:08 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)
Re: Common practice is load lifters last...

Thanks for all the great responses. I have a hard time believing that all of those name brand packs rubbed my shoulders raw...I mean I literally had red welts on the front of my shoulders after carrying 40 lbs around the store for 20 minutes. Anyone ever experience something like that? I am still convinced that the store associates are missing something with the fitting...
Steve

11:02 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)
Personal geometry

Quote:

Thanks for all the great responses. I have a hard time believing that all of those name brand packs rubbed my shoulders raw...I mean I literally had red welts on the front of my shoulders after carrying 40 lbs around the store for 20 minutes.

How do the straps move when you walk? A strong side to side motion? When we walk, our hips rock relative to the backbone. If the lower part of the pack is firmly attached to your hips with the hipbelt, then the upper part of the pack is going to rock from side to side if the hipbelt is mounted too ridgedly to its frame. On many packs, the belt is attached at the center of the lower frame, and with adjustable straps on the side. Keeping those straps loose may reduce the rocking motion. Alternatively, you could keep the straps snug, and let the pack stiffen your back, probably changing your gait as well.

Packs do vary on how much side to side flex they allow. My Macpac (from New Zealand) is quite flexible in that direction when the side straps are loose. On the other hand, a Dana framepack with the fiberglass wands snug is very stiff in this direction.

I've had a lot of trouble getting comfortable shoulder straps. On the Macpac I ended up cutting them off, and attaching a pair of Gregory straps (from the REI spares box) instead. My shoulder geometry is a bit skewed - not enough to readily see, but it makes one shoulder very sensitive to any load, especially if it is close to my neck muscle. So I have to keep the shoulder straps widely spaced and loose. That has required flexible, contoured straps, and a wide spacing for the 'load lifter' straps,
and a lot of customizing.

With a good hipbelt, almost all the pack's weight can be on your hips. Then the shoulder straps just stabilize the pack - in two directions (front to back, and side to side). For trail use a lot of side to side flex can be good, though off trail you may want more control. The amount of backward pull will depend in part on how you load the pack, and on the pack geometry (less with tall skinny packs). The hip belt can also provide some support against this backward pull (my Macpac is quite good in this regard). Mountainsmith has used 'delta' straps to transfer some of this backward load to the hip belt. The fiberglass wands on Dana external frame packs also do this. Don't forget to pay attention to how the sternum strap controls the placement and motion of the shoulder straps.

Someone mentioned McHale packs. They are quite expensive, but its my impression that he has given more thought to shoulder strap geometry and loads than most other manufacturers. Reading his material (on his web site, or from his video) can be quite educational even if you don't end up buying one of his packs. His shoulder strap design is different from most other internal frame packs (with hints of his experience with early external frame packs).

Another route to go is to cut your total pack load down to the 20 pound range, and use a smaller pack that rests primarily on your shoulders - this avoids the problem of linking your rocking hips to your shoulders. But to do this you may have to focus on lightweight sleeping systems (tarp, simple pad, light expensive sleeping bag), minimalist cooking gear and gimicks like drilling holes in your toothbrush.

Paul

11:22 p.m. on February 9, 2002 (EST)


a.k.a. d, Daniel C, Daniel C., Skyeward, Skyward
I'm all out of insightful commentary. But....

I know it sucks to not to find what you need after tons of searching, I spent about 2 months once trying to get a boot that fit.

I'll talk to a guy I know: runs an outdoor store and is the most helpful person on the stuff I've ever met. If he can offer anything useful I'll post it here.

Daniel

11:16 a.m. on February 10, 2002 (EST)

The fitting of the pack is the important thing about the pack. Get a salesperson who knows this and they'll swap belts/ shoulder straps as need be for your size. Sometimes the only way to get a good fit is to have a smaller larger shoulder harness. Most all packs that have adjustable shoulder harnesses will need to be tweaked on the initial fitting.

I never done this, but to get a better fit aluminum stays can be removed and bent to the shape of your back. But I believe the overall fit of the packs geometry is more important.

The fitting should be done with a pack snug to the body. For me it has to also be comfortable with the shoulder strap loose and most of the weight on the hips, the way I most often move with it. I've never been rubbed raw on the shoulders because of this.


Quote:

After hiking for a few years, I am considering trading my old camp trails Denali external pack in for some type of internal frame pack. I have been to several outfitters and tried on several packs...including a Bora 95, DD Glacier, Gregory Palisade and the new version of the REI newstar.

Problem: All of these packs rubbed me raw on and around my shoulders!

On most of these packs the store associate and I adjusted everything to try to get a good fit...measured torso length (medium, borderline large), moved yokes around, etc. etc. Everything except try different shoulder harnesses.

So, I was wondering why I am having such a difficult time finding an internal frame pack that fits... How tight do internal frame users snug down the shoulder straps? I had to pull mine very taut in order to keep the pack from swaying on my back...no tighter than I recall running the straps on my external though. Also, would slimmer shoulder harnesses help? None of the salespeople were too enthused when I switched to this line of questioning. Any and all ideas at this point I would greatly appreciate!

Thanks in advance,
Steve

11:47 p.m. on February 10, 2002 (EST)


a.k.a. stevet, Steve

Steve,
If the clerk(s) in the stores you are visiting are getting put off by your asking questions then you have the wrong clerk and they probably don't know what they are doing. You might try asking at the customer service counter who the most knowledgable person on staff is and when they will be working next.

That said, make sure your torso is measured correctly. Easiest way is to measure from the floor to your 7th vertibra and from the floor to your iliac crest. The difference is your torso length. As for adjusting the pack:
1) loosen the load lifters completely
2) lift the pack as high as you can get it and tighten the shoulder straps as tight as you can
3) fasten the hipbelt. The pad at the rear should rest on your sacrum. The belt pads should ride your iliac crest. About 1/2 above it and 1/2 below it. The belt pads should come to with about 2-3" of each other in front. If not, get a different size belt.
4) loosen the shoulder straps. All you should have to do is pop the tabler buckles on each strap and most of the tension will be relieved. Move around a bit and pop them a second time.
5) fasten the torso strap. It should rest just below your collarbones. Not too tight.
6) if the shoulder straps need it, pop them one more time
7) Now pull on the load lifters and take the remaining pressure off your shoulders

Now for the chafing. Get rid of the cotton t-shirt. Go with poly pro. If you feel pinching between your shoulders, lengthen the pack harness by raising the shoulder yoke. If the shoulder straps are rubbing under your arms, or at the sides of your chest try either longer or shorter shoulder straps.

You are looking at packs with replaceable harness components, keeping changing them out until you get a comfortable fit.

For addition fit/adjustment guidelines check out the Gregory website. They use to have a nice instruction guide for the proper fitting and adjustment of packs.

Quote:

After hiking for a few years, I am considering trading my old camp trails Denali external pack in for some type of internal frame pack. I have been to several outfitters and tried on several packs...including a Bora 95, DD Glacier, Gregory Palisade and the new version of the REI newstar.

Problem: All of these packs rubbed me raw on and around my shoulders!

On most of these packs the store associate and I adjusted everything to try to get a good fit...measured torso length (medium, borderline large), moved yokes around, etc. etc. Everything except try different shoulder harnesses.

So, I was wondering why I am having such a difficult time finding an internal frame pack that fits... How tight do internal frame users snug down the shoulder straps? I had to pull mine very taut in order to keep the pack from swaying on my back...no tighter than I recall running the straps on my external though. Also, would slimmer shoulder harnesses help? None of the salespeople were too enthused when I switched to this line of questioning. Any and all ideas at this point I would greatly appreciate!

Thanks in advance,
Steve

11:53 a.m. on February 11, 2002 (EST)
28 reviewer rep
1,261 forum posts
Have you tried a Camp Trails internal pack?....

I always had Eureka/Camp Trails external packs and liked their straps and suspension. 2 years ago, I got the Camp Trails Wilderness internal. Very comfy straps just like I was used to. The wilderness holds about 6000 cubic inches in the large size. Cost was about $110.00. I love the thing.

12:34 a.m. on February 13, 2002 (EST)


Steve.....I continue to hear excellent reports on Jack Wolfskin internal framed packs. They are not widely distributed in the states as of yet, but you can find distributors on the web reasonably easily

April 10, 2020
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