[pct-l] my first backpacking trip

Phil Baily pbaily at webuniverse.net
Thu Apr 9 19:02:02 CDT 2009

> **************************************************************************************
> 2)What aches and pains are normal from your backpack?
If it is fitted correctly and loaded correctly, aches and pain should be 
minimal regardless of weight. (I am not saying that a heavier pack will not 
tire you sooner.). Let's ignore ultralight packs for a moment. In my 
experience 3 to 7 pound packs can be pain free. The pack should be the right 
size, i.e. length. The shoulder strap spacing needs to be adjusted so that 
they are spaced so that they neither pull your shoulders apart nor pull them 
together; I have seen both problems. With the proper size pack and proper 
shoulder strap length adjustment, most (not all) of the weight should be on 
your hips, not your shoulders. The pack should be loaded so that the weight 
is as close to your body as you can make it. The cg should ideally be just 
below your shoulder blades, not at your waist. A competent salesperson 
should be able to help you with all this and most stores will have weights 
that you can use to load the pack to simulate a real load. (They are usually 
too uniform to really do this, but close is better that nothing.) Not all 
salespersons are competent even within the same store, but most good stores 
will have a  number of good salespeople. In any case, make sure you play 
with the adjustments and use a load to try the pack before buying. If it is 
not too inconvenient, try several packs that appeal to you. You might be 
surprised at the difference in comfort. If you buy mail order, make sure it 
is returnable and try it around the house with adjustments and a real load.

I ignored ultralights because I am not familiar with them. I did try one in 
a store once, and I found that most of the weight was on the shoulders and I 
could not adjust it to be otherwise, even with the aid of a salesman. I 
don't know whether or not this should be generalized to the whole category.

Hope this helps,


(BTW, these suggestions come from my personal experience and from a couple 
years as a Scoutmaster.)

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