- Mar 20, 2020 at 1:41 pm #3636987Robert IMember
I’ve been using a Granite Gear Blaze 60 for several years, and want to get something lighter to help get my base weight down. I’m 69 years old, and have a bad back and one artificial hip. My base weight is 12-15 lbs. depending my shelter, sleeping system, and whether I bring my chair zero. This does not include a bear canister, but does include a ursack. The chair is necessary because of my back unless we go somewhere that has tables and benches. The HMG Sourthwest or Windrider 3400, the zpacks arc haul, the gossamer gear mariposa, and the drop 40l pack by Dan Durston all seem like nice packs that have gotten good reviews. I need something that will transfer the weight well to my hips. Suggestions would be appreciated.Mar 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm #3636989avi sitoMember
For what it’s worth: I had a herniated disk in my lower back and underwent surgery there. I understood that I should only carry weight on my hips if I were to continue backpacking. I now use an arcblast which does the job. Probably 7 years now, and I like it, though I wouldn’t carry more than 15kg with it.
I’ve also put my eye on the exped lightning for heavier weights as it appears to have a sturdy back frame/harness, though I did not try it as of yet.Mar 20, 2020 at 2:21 pm #3636996RobMember
Have a look at the Seek Outside Flight. I have not tried this particular pack although I do have one on order. Their other packs are great at transferring weight to the hips so I expect this one will also.Mar 20, 2020 at 2:41 pm #3637001Brad RogersMember
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I’ll second the Seek Outside Flight – I tested a protoype last summer. I’d also throw the SWD Long Haul 50 in your list to check out.Mar 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm #3637019David HartleyMember
@dhartleyLocale: Western NY
Ruptured and degenerative L3/L4 and L4/L5 (1/2 gone flat tires) , and herniated L5/S1 here. The L3/L4 rupture took me right to the edge of surgery (multiple complex spinal fusion – not micro-discectomy) with leg and foot issues. Took me 5 years to be pain free. I was afraid that spinal fusion would further damage nerves and ruin any chance of backpacking. Back is still plenty “creaky” – easily irritated. Requires daily exercise and 24/7 discipline. But I do pretty well backpacking, believe it or not.
The Gossamer Gear Gorilla works very well for me – it is a very shallow pack that keeps the load close to my back, and the frame does enough to transfer the load to my hips. The Mariposa is also relatively shallow for its size, but the volume is getting up there. The Gossamer gear packs do not have useful load lifters (the Mariposa has them, but they don’t really do anything) – I am probably a medium frame in most packs with useful load-lifters, but in Gossamer Gear I use a large so that the tie point for the shoulder straps is above my shoulder a bit to keep the weight on my hips.
I find that larger (60 liter) barrel shaped backs, like the various Granite Gear packs (and my old Six Moon Starlite) pull back on my shoulders too much. The key is wide and shallow to keep the weight next to my back. I am not familiar with the Seek Outside packs – but they look pretty good too from what I have seen on here – wide and shallow with a good frame. I would stay away from the various HMG packs – they look like they would pull back on the shoulders too much. The Z-packs Arc-Haul also looks the part – no personal experience – I worry a bit about the scheme to allow airflow between the pack and your back might put the weight further back than ideal. The Exped Lightning looks like it has a good frame, but looks barrel shaped to me (and fairly high volume).
Even with a bad back I have found that with the right pack, the frame provides some support to the lower back – helping maintain good posture, and as long as the center of gravity isn’t too far back – transfers the weight to your hips. I do better backpacking than in normal life (too much sitting). In the back-country I usually stand for everything but sleeping and the usual morning constitutional.
Good Luck!Mar 20, 2020 at 4:52 pm #3637037d kMember
Since herniating L5-S1, my go to pack has been the Luxurylite, now marketed as NeoTrek. It’s made with 3 attached cylinders to hold gear, but I rigged up a single pack minus the shoulder and hip belts, which I like better. There is zero weight on my shoulders. Some people find the frame bumps into their back, but not me – taller or narrower body frame (me, not the pack) perhaps? I’m not sure.Mar 20, 2020 at 6:18 pm #3637065jscottMember
@bookLocale: Northern California
+1 dk on the Luxurylite sans cylinders. I also attached a super light bag and it works great. The hip belt is very good. Keeps all weight off the shoulders. Plus, it carries a bear canister very very well on the bottom lip of the frame, even inside of a bag (on the bottom obviously.)Mar 20, 2020 at 6:25 pm #3637066John McMember
I have a broken L-5 and my spine is free the slide down my sacram (sp?). My spine has slide forward 15% so far. I’m 57 years old.
My back doctor told me to never carry weight on my shoulders. I tried many packs and settled with the Superior Wilderness Design pack.
I ordered the option of a four way bucket belt. This belt allows me to carry all the weight on my hips. I ordered a torso length about 1 inch taller then actual. This way I know I have no weight on my shoulders. I’ve loved this pack.Mar 20, 2020 at 8:51 pm #3637092J RMember
Your goal is to drop your base weight, getting a new pack may or may not be the best way to get there. Look at all your gear and see what kind of weight savings bang for the buck you can get, especially your shelter, sleeping bag/quilt, and sleeping pad — your money may be better spent getting new gear other than your pack. Also look to what you can trim from your gear list that you really don’t need. Your back doesn’t care what piece of gear adds or subtracts that extra pound, it just feels the extra pound (or lack thereof). You definitely want something with a frame and superior transfer of weight to the hips.
General advice to someone looking to drop weight is to get a new pack last, after you upgrade your other gear, because after the upgrades you might be able to use a smaller pack (no sense in carrying the weight of having excess capacity), which all things being equal will weigh even less.
Mar 20, 2020 at 10:21 pm #3637101Sam FarringtonMember
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by J R.
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Also have serious back issues. For many years wore packs modded to use sidearms to keep all weight off shoulders. But they are not super light, so am working on a much lighter version of the sidearm packs. And as has been suggested, will also keep the pack contents super light and to the bare minimum. Taking the weight off the back and shoulders used to be more comfortable; but now it is an absolute necessity.
While there used to be sidearm packs, they did not transfer all the weight to the hips, and in any event, have not found super light ones on the market. So, a lot of MYOG is required.
Whenever a thread about this issue is started, the Seek Outside and Luxury Light packs come up. But these are not packs that can be tried in stores, they are expensive, and they don’t look any different than many other packs. Did meet with a trusted old friend recently who swears by the Zpacks Arc series for taking all the weight off the shoulders. Wish it were possible to try on some of these packs, but don’t have the time for the hassle to buy one and have it not work. Which is fairly likely, because body shapes vary, so results will also. Wish that some of these pack makers would show very clearly the design features that take the weight off the back, and explain how they work. That would help.
In the meantime, I’m using a “CASH” back brace that has proven very beneficial for many tasks that involve weight bearing, and my back actually feels better after hiking most of the day. But that is on trails, not the rockpiles in NH that require a much suppler, and probably younger body. When there are issues involving compression of the spine, whether they be with discs, vertebrae and/or deformity, would not think it wise to backpack unless the pack takes ALL the weight off the back and shoulders, and that assumes the knees and hips are working AOK.Mar 20, 2020 at 10:51 pm #3637103d kMember
“But these are not packs that can be tried in stores, they are expensive, and they don’t look any different than many other packs.”
The LuxuryLite/NeoTrek frame plus waist belt is $140 without bags; you can attach a pack bag that you already have pretty easily, with minimal DIY skills – either with velcro strips or with webbing/buckles. It looks different to me, maybe not radically so except the cylinders, but the main difference is it feels COMPLETELY different than any pack I’ve tried on in that it does take ALL the weight off my shoulders – and the waist belt is quite comfy with no hot spots or pressure (no, I have no connection with the company other than being a satisfied customer).
It’s not for every body type apparently, but the owner of this cottage industry is pretty good about letting you return something if it does not work for you as long as it hasn’t been used/abused. And at least in my area right now, you can’t go into outdoor gear stores and try things on too easily anyway.Mar 21, 2020 at 8:08 pm #3637146Eric BlumensaadtMember
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I have “…moderately large herniated L4 and L5 discs.” and have had them for the last 22 years.
My answer is to buy a backpack that is longer for my torso than “normal”. This leaves the shoulder straps touching only the front of my shoulders with no weight compressing my spine and all the weight on my hipbelt and thus my pelvic girdle and legs. Worked very well for me for many years.
For my 3 season Osprey EXOS 58 Large (61 liters) this meant buying one size longer because it has a non-adjustable harness length. But for my new Deuter Air Contact Lite winter pack I merely adjusted the torso one size up.
Of course the corollary to this work-around is literally “backpacking light”.Mar 21, 2020 at 8:49 pm #3637152Rob PMember
Eric, that is exactly what I do….my pack straps only touch the front of my shoulders as well.
I have disc herniations also, and if I carried any weight on my shoulders I probably couldn’t backpack.Mar 22, 2020 at 8:59 am #3637200Daryl and DarylMember
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
I’m encouraged by your stories of still backpacking in spite of disc problems.
I’ve herniated my lower back disc(s) 3 times in the last 20 years but till backpack too. I’m 75, age weight proportional and my hobbies are …..oops wrong website.
Key, for me, is carrying all the weight on my frame pack’s waist belt and attaching that belt below the herniated disc.
Can’t help with your selection of backpack, however, because I use a Make Your Own pack.Mar 22, 2020 at 12:52 pm #3637234Eric BlumensaadtMember
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Ah, Daryl (& Daryl)
It’s good to see another septuagenerian still on the trails. We must continue to inspire the “youngsters” to maintain and keep on truckin’.Mar 24, 2020 at 8:13 am #3637493StumphgesMember
Make sure whatever you get allows you to get 100% of the weight onto the hipbelt. You might not end up having all the weight off your shoulders all the time, but that option is essential.
Consider an Aarn bodypack. The front packs in this design slot into the hipbelt and, when properly weighted, could eliminate the forward trunk lean required with conventional packs. That forward trunk lean increases shear the lower lumbar spine that might irritate or injure some backs.
Consider a design that has a soft/comformable surface at the lumbar spine and lumbosacral junction. Some backs are sensitive to pressure from the packbag in this area. Trampoline packs are very comfortable in this regard, but they can also increase the forward trunk lean due to the bag being further from your back.Mar 25, 2020 at 6:26 am #3637696
Yeah, I have several blown disks and have had surgery a few years back. (My left hip/leg/foot were loosing function, balance was difficult, etc.)
1) Get your weight down as much as possible. Lighten you pack and gear maximally. Minimize food weight through dehydration/caloric density.
2) Get a pack (whatever type) that has a fair to good hip belt. Let you load set on your hips. Actually only about 70-80% of a load on your back can be transferred to your hips. Due to pivoting, twisting, and normal walking motion (your hips will roll in a figure 8) a lot of weight will remain on your shoulders, anyway.
3) Use a staff. While some use them to increase speed, it is fine to also use them as a prosthetic.
4) Use wide shoulder straps. Any weight on your shoulders can be spread over a greater width. And it transfers weight to the staff more effectively and feels better. They also grip your torso better for climbing/scrambling. Lack of swing/sway can make loads easier to carry, though warmer on hot trails.
5) Insure your shoes fit well. Loose sloppy shoes can cause insecure footing which can lead to a lot of twisting, hip and leg movement, and muscular compensation. Really bad with a bad disk to slip and twist!
6) If possible, reduce your body weight. You can put about a quarter of whatever you loose back into your pack.Mar 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm #3637744StumphgesMember
Marco, good point about dehydration and calorie density. You’ve in the past advocated calorie restriction/consumption of onboard fat stores as well, which I’ve found works very well. I routinely carry 1 or fewer pounds of food per day and this reduction really adds up (or subtracts down:). This has turned out to be essential as I now need to carry 1#/day for my dog as well.Mar 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm #3637771
Well, yes, food can be a major weight savings. Typically, a typical backpacker will carry around 30-40 pounds in his pack for two or three days out. I have seen some conflicting data between 2.0 and 2.5lb per day. A typical food supply for a three day weekend would therefore be about 6-7 pounds. Utilizing fat reserves and all dehydrated foods will let you cut this in half easily. The caveat is this is NOT a survival solution. If you are out more than a couple months on a trail, this strategy of burning body fuels (fat) eventually fails. You need around 4500C/day. You cannot have only 2700C/day forever. Most Americans can afford to loose 10 pounds, easily. This is about 20-30 days.Mar 25, 2020 at 5:45 pm #3637786Robert IMember
The SWD Long Haul pack looks very nice. I think that I’ll investigate that a little more. I was thinking of the HMG 3400 because I’ve heard good things, and I can get it from REI for 20% off right now (and return it for a year if I don’t like it).
JR – my base weight is pretty well where its going to be I think. For shelter I have a 9 oz tarp or a 25 oz tent that can be pitched as an 18 oz mid. For sleeping I have an 18 0z quilt and a 28 oz 10 degree sleeping bag – both of which are 850 fill goose down. I have a neo air xlite sleeping pad. Tried some lighter pads that didn’t work for my back. For cooking I have a MSR pocket rocket deluxe, a 750 ml titanium pot, and a small canister of gas for the stove. I have quite a heavy misc bag mostly because of 8 oz of asthma medicine I have to carry with me. That being said, I think your point about pack size is something to think about. I have been assuming that I need to stay with a 60L pack, but I have bought some new gear since the last trip I took. Before I decide, I’m going to take out all of my stuff and put it in my current pack to see how much room I have left. Maybe I’ll be able to get away with a 40l pack, or something like the gossamer gear mariposa that is really a 35l pack with big outside pockets.
ThanksMar 25, 2020 at 6:36 pm #3637795
I continue to use my Murmur. This is right around 35L. I believe GG is making them 6″ thick instead of the older 4 1/2″. Anyway, I have found that using a compression bag lets you throw sleeping cloths, spare socks, jacket and a 20F sleeping bag in it. Then I pack a 13L food bag (good for around 8-9 days.) Some odds and ends I put in the top, pot, lid, tarp, ground cloth (if needed), ditty bag of odds and ends. I use a 5 layer NightLite pad as a frame and for supplementing my NeoAir. Generally, most of the front pocket is empty, and the left side pocket is about half utilized (only a fuel can in there.) I am sure that a 35-40L pack size would do fine for you for a weekend…or longer.
Anyway my system is based on a 20F max cold&wet weather and weighs about 8-9 pounds. You will find that smaller packs weigh a LOT less. The Murmur is ty[ically between 8-14oz depending on your configuration. Other packs are usually a lot more weight, like 34oz. If your food and gear fits, that is all you need. DO NOT buy more pack than you need. With a bad back, weight is everything.Mar 29, 2020 at 5:39 am #3638422Lance StalnakerMember
I am another who has had major lower back issues. This may not be a popular answer, but for me after years of trying to find the perfect pack and keep going lighter, the answer was to add weight in the very important area of back comfort and weight transfer. I had used granite gear nimbus ozone, golite pinnacle then jam, gossamer gear mariposa then gorilla, and more. I finally called Dan McHale and had a custom lbp built. I know they are expensive, but the 1300 I spent was less than I had already spent over the years. My base weight is in your range add consumables and I am at 25-35 pounds starting ou depending on season and so on. I can tell you I struggled with buying the lbp, not due to price, but my gram weenie self could not rationalize the weight. It’s the best purchase I have ever made. I am 48 and can now make more miles per day with less fatigue than I could prior. I feel literally no back pain, and no shoulder discomfort…ever. the load transfer to the hips is incredible. Never thought I would say this, but who cares about a couple more pounds if you cant feel it? I know that it’s not a popular opinion on here, but for me adding a little weight was just what I needed. Best of luck.Mar 29, 2020 at 1:08 pm #3638501Doug CoeMember
@sierradougLocale: Bay Area, CA, USA
Lance—That makes total sense to me. Often people talk about how you can either be comfortable in camp (taking a chair, etc) or while hiking (minimize weight).
Well, hiking isn’t just about how much weight you’re carrying on your back, but whether your using a sack with string straps or a properly designed pack that puts the weight on your hips (assuming that’s where you want it) and uses a hipbelt that doesn’t gouge your flesh.
Hopefully, some of the less expensive, non-custom-made packs out there can work for most hikers. And, yes, it’s too bad a person can’t try them in a store—like the Seek Outside, Aarn, and NeoTrek packs, for instance.Mar 29, 2020 at 2:16 pm #3638516Brad RogersMember
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I’m a big Seek Outside fan. I’ve tried a McHale, an HMG 4400 porter, an Osprey Aether 60, Exped Lightning 60, etc looking for a good load hauler and found the Seek Outside the most comfortable.
That’s not saying there aren’t other good light packs out there – I use lighter frame packs for lighter loads and even frameless packs, but the Seek Outside can put all the weight on your hips if you want.Mar 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm #3638526Lance StalnakerMember
<p style=”text-align: left;”>The Seek has a very similar hip belt to the McHale. Very wide, yet thin and double buckled. It may be the secret to the load transfer, whatever it is, it works. I know the McHales hip belts seem almost stiff for lack of a better description, but all others I have tried were smaller and flimsier and just did not distribute the load, the Seek looks pretty solid, like the McHale if you get all the bells and whistles like I did it can add up, but you can always remove items such as the lid for shorter outings.</p>
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.