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Front Pack Options

lbpierce

Linda Breen Pierce
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
I am interested in finding a front pack (to be used with my backpack) and most of the discussion on this topic is 3-5 years old. I like the looks of the Ribz front pack, but right now they are only selling one-size-fits-all. I am slight in build and don't know if it will be too big, especially as I also use walking poles. I've emailed the seller twice about whether I can return it if it is too big, no response. Does anyone have recommendations about front pack options that are available now? I looked at Salomon y Zpack and they appear to be out of stock. I am wondering if I could strap a small nylon backpack to the front of my body? I am surprised this method of spreading weight is not more popular. Any suggestions?
 
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Pilgrim9

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP-SdC (2017)
SdC-Muxia-Fisterra-SdC (2017)
Lisboa-SdC (2018)
Ferrol-SdC (2018)
For a chest pack I use a repurposed small generic shoulder bag that is just large enough to hold my 8" tablet in portrait orientation. It is suspended from the upper frame of my external frame backpack, in a manner that does not add any weight or pressure to my shoulders, because the backpack weight rests upon my hips.

Whatever you decide to use, ensure that it's front-to-back thickness and position does not interfere with your downwards vision. You must be able to clearly see where you are stepping at all times and under all terrain conditions. My little chest pack is less than about 7 cm (~ 2.25") thick, front-to-back.

BTW the tablet in that chest pack is mainly used for offline map reading and navigation. I can quickly whip it out, check my e-map, and slip it back into its pocket quickly without needing to rummage around. I keep several clean poly bags in there too, to wrap the device in case of rain.
 
Last edited:

CarolamS

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
On Camino I used a Lowe Alpine waistpack, mostly for convenience. It held my money, phone, passport, guide and credential. It was easy to take with me to the shower or out in the evening - so my valuables stayed with me. It was lightweight (100g) and slim enough to be zipped inside my jacket when it rained (I don't use a poncho). It was a snug fit for what I wanted to carry so I have been looking out for something slightly larger.

I now have an Atom Packs Roo, made in the UK by a small company that makes UL backpacks. It is perfect for my needs with a lot more room for no more weight (100g empty). Plus it will still fit inside my zipped up jacket. The mesh pocket on the front holds my phone, very convenient for grabbing quick photos. Inside is a discrete rear pocket for cash, cards, passport etc. The loops at each side can be used for carabiners. Mine is 2.5l but they also do a smaller 1.5l version. I chose the Zero Waste version so it's made from offcuts; the colour was just luck but I love it.

I try hard to pack light, my Osprey Eja 38l backpack had a base weight of 5.25kg and I didn't find it onerous to carry. It fit well and most of the weight was on my hips which worked for me. In fact the combination of pack and poles held my spine in a good alignment, I do have a tendency to lean forwards otherwise.

I hope you can find the right combination for your body. I suggest practice with carrying and also practice packing as how you distribute weight can make a huge difference too. I was new to backpacking and it was a big learning curve!

Buen Camino
Atom Packs Roo.jpg
 
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malingerer

samarkand
Year of past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
On Camino I used a Lowe Alpine waistpack, mostly for convenience. It held my money, phone, passport, guide and credential. It was easy to take with me to the shower or out in the evening - so my valuables stayed with me. It was lightweight (100g) and slim enough to be zipped inside my jacket when it rained (I don't use a poncho). It was a snug fit for what I wanted to carry so I have been looking out for something slightly larger.

I now have an Atom Packs Roo, made in the UK by a small company that makes UL backpacks. It is perfect for my needs with a lot more room for no more weight (100g empty). Plus it will still fit inside my zipped up jacket. The mesh pocket on the front holds my phone, very convenient for grabbing quick photos. Inside is a discrete rear pocket for cash, cards, passport etc. The loops at each side can be used for carabiners. Mine is 2.5l but they also do a smaller 1.5l version. I chose the Zero Waste version so it's made from offcuts; the colour was just luck but I love it.

I try hard to pack light, my Osprey Eja 38l backpack had a base weight of 5.25kg and I didn't find it onerous to carry. It fit well and most of the weight was on my hips which worked for me. In fact the combination of pack and poles held my spine in a good alignment, I do have a tendency to lean forwards otherwise.

I hope you can find the right combination for your body. I suggest practice with carrying and also practice packing as how you distribute weight can make a huge difference too. I was new to backpacking and it was a big learning curve!

Buen Camino
View attachment 100880
Weight distribution doesn't get much press but its something I have always been very finicky about! Buen camino!

Samarkand.
 

lbpierce

Linda Breen Pierce
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
thank you all for your comments. I will continue to look but I may just have to put something together myself using carabiners to attach to my front backpack straps.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
I may just have to put something together myself using carabiners to attach to my front backpack straps.
One thing to consider is that it's also worth anchoring the back of the pack to your hip belt to prevent it from swinging back and forth.

The Salomon front pack that I have has bighish loops in the back that you put your hip belt through, one on either side.

For someone with sewing skills, something like this little wonder would not be too hard to jury-rig. Front, back, and inside views (with an unintentional 1 Euro coin for scale):
20210525_100032.jpg 20210525_095931.jpg 20210525_100138.jpg
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
Depends how big you want it. I have an OMM chest pod which suits me fine, I waterproofed it using Fabsil silicon. In honesty I prefer using a bumbag, it doesn't get in the way as much.

OMM pod
 

cindyjo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012
Camino del Norte /Primitivo (2014)
Chemin la Puy (2016)
Camino Portuguese (2017)
Aarn has front pockets that are universal and can be purchased and used with any backpack. I use an Aarn backpack that includes the front pockets. The front pockets are not only convenient they help to distribute the weight for better balance.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Aarn has front pockets that are universal and can be purchased and used with any backpack. I use an Aarn backpack that includes the front pockets. The front pockets are not only convenient they help to distribute the weight for better balance.
Here are their front pocket options on their US website.

 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have an Osprey that has a removable top. I fashioned a shoulder strap for it. That way it becomes my “inside albergue “ bag, my day pack if I transfer my bag, my shopping bag etc.

But now, after reading this thread, I may add some clips to also make it a front bag.
 

lbpierce

Linda Breen Pierce
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
One thing to consider is that it's also worth anchoring the back of the pack to your hip belt to prevent it from swinging back and forth.

The Salomon front pack that I have has bighish loops in the back that you put your hip belt through, one on either side.

For someone with sewing skills, something like this little wonder would not be too hard to jury-rig. Front, back, and inside views (with an unintentional 1 Euro coin for scale):
View attachment 100929 View attachment 100930 View attachment 100931
Thank you for the tips!
 

lbpierce

Linda Breen Pierce
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Here are their front pocket options on their US website.

BINGO! for some reason when I searched for Aarn pocket bags I ended up on a different Aarn website, which was out of stock on the ones that would work for me. This website had the right product in stock and it's ordered! This Camino forum rocks! Thanks so much.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I love wearing my generous size waist bag because I can easily remove my backpack any time I need to easily while my valuables stay secure on me, and I also really like the one @CarolamS uses in her photo.
Kudos to @trecile as she always researches and shares the best links to help pilgrims find answers to their questions.
I might add that @Kanga wears a good sized front pack and may have additional information on what works for her.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I use the Arn bodypack.... It’s a backpack and front pack all in one... https://www.aarnpacks.com/
I had never heard of Arn before. Went on their website and I am sure they are excellent packs and well made but wow they sure are expensive! I would assume that for someone who is doing a great deal of hiking and it is an integral part of their lives the investment is worthwhile. I have done 5 caminos and have walked about 5000k with the same REI pack I bought about 9 years ago for about $90 US. I am jealous of all the caminos you have listed. I also see how the company stresses balance and weight distribution. By this time I have pretty well mastered packing my bag to keep it comfortable and distribute the weight properly. Has the system that Arn uses proven to be a real benefit for you in this department? I keep my pack with food to about 8.5K. It could be lighter but I tend to walk in very late fall so I need a little heavier gear. I am 67 now and will walk from Sevilla to Muxia in late October. So far I have had no back or joint issues. When I have joint pain it is usually after a long and steep downhill and that is because I didn't zig zag enough but I want to keep walking a long time.
Did you walk the "full" length of each one of your caminos or just portions to fit into your life and work schedule? Just wondering
 

psheehan

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF, CPo, CdN, CPr, F, CS, CV, CI, VdlP, CS, CA
I had never heard of Arn before. Went on their website and I am sure they are excellent packs and well made but wow they sure are expensive! I would assume that for someone who is doing a great deal of hiking and it is an integral part of their lives the investment is worthwhile. I have done 5 caminos and have walked about 5000k with the same REI pack I bought about 9 years ago for about $90 US. I am jealous of all the caminos you have listed. I also see how the company stresses balance and weight distribution. By this time I have pretty well mastered packing my bag to keep it comfortable and distribute the weight properly. Has the system that Arn uses proven to be a real benefit for you in this department? I keep my pack with food to about 8.5K. It could be lighter but I tend to walk in very late fall so I need a little heavier gear. I am 67 now and will walk from Sevilla to Muxia in late October. So far I have had no back or joint issues. When I have joint pain it is usually after a long and steep downhill and that is because I didn't zig zag enough but I want to keep walking a long time.
Did you walk the "full" length of each one of your caminos or just portions to fit into your life and work schedule? Just wondering

I love my Arn backpack... it makes such a difference to my walking. Because of its design I barely notice I’m wearing it. The front pockets are so handy, being able to get at whatever I need without having to remove the backpack. I average about 6.5kg for most Caminos. As Ireland is so close to Spain, I usually walk for 1 to 3 weeks at a time to fit around annual leave from work. I walked the Plata in 2 trips. In mid August this year I’m booked to fly Dublin to Biarritz (32 euro) to walk the full Camino Frances in 4 weeks.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I also use an Aarn backpack with front packs attached. Have used their system for nearly 20 years on Camino, and I don’t plan to change. They have so many advantages.
I have no experience with the universal front packs, and how well they work with other packs. Looking at them I wonder if they might swing around too much (mine don’t, but they have a different attachment system to the universal packs). It would be interesting to get feedback.

If you do get the Aarn packs, don’t be tempted to remove the stays. If you do they won’t work properly.
 

Kiwi-d

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sep/Oct 2014
Since I carried everything including the proverbial kitchen sink, I did exactly what you suggested in your initial post and simply used a small nylon day pack backwards, which worked fine. As I gradually learned my lessons and whittled down the amount of junk I deemed vital, the day pack ended up at the bottom of my backpack and I used a bumbag across my tummy instead. Both the day pack and the bumbag worked perfectly well so I can recommend either.
20140908_192152[47177] (640x480).jpg
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Questions...For those who walk in the heat of summer, doesn't a front pack limit the air flow of a nice breeze and cause the torso to sweat, both back...and front?
What about the opposite for those walking in cold weather and need to zip up a jacket on a cold day?
Lastly, what about having to remove both packs when eating? It sounds a nuscience.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Questions...For those who walk in the heat of summer, doesn't a front pack limit the air flow of a nice breeze and cause the torso to sweat, both back...and front?
Mine does not because it has ventilation in the back, so there is airspace between me and the pack (see pic in my post above)
What about the opposite for those walking in cold weather and need to zip up a jacket on a cold day?
With an Altus this is no problem at all, because it goes over the works. (With any other system, the frontpack would be on the outside of your rainjacket, easy to deal with but likely to get wet.)
Lastly, what about having to remove both packs when eating? It sounds a nuscience.
This was the thing that took some getting used to for me - a small extra step getting into and out of harness. But once you do it a bunch of times, it becomes automatic and easy.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Mine does not because it has ventilation in the back, so there is airspace between me and the pack
I have an air flow "trampoline" on my Osprey, but I was mostly wondering about those who do not and also add in the front pack.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I also use an Aarn backpack with front packs attached. Have used their system for nearly 20 years on Camino, and I don’t plan to change. They have so many advantages.
I have no experience with the universal front packs, and how well they work with other packs. Looking at them I wonder if they might swing around too much (mine don’t, but they have a different attachment system to the universal packs). It would be interesting to get feedback.

If you do get the Aarn packs, don’t be tempted to remove the stays. If you do they won’t work properly.
I have a 9 year old REI pack that was properly fitted by the great REI staff. When it is properly adjusted and I adjust whenever I put it on there is no sway or swing at all. I don't know about you but when I hear complaints from new pilgrims about their pack the cause is either too much weight and when it comes to adjustments or the proper wearing of the pack it is usually they have not tightened the shoulder straps to bring the pack closer to their body and is causing stress to their shoulders. I was wondering if it helps you to stand with better posture and improves balance especially on really wet or icy days.
 
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Kiwi-d

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Sep/Oct 2014
Questions...For those who walk in the heat of summer, doesn't a front pack limit the air flow of a nice breeze and cause the torso to sweat, both back...and front?
What about the opposite for those walking in cold weather and need to zip up a jacket on a cold day?
Lastly, what about having to remove both packs when eating? It sounds a nuscience.
I walked at the end of August through September and don't remember having any particular problem with air flow. Nor was zipping up a jacket difficult - just reach under the front pack and zip away. Like everyone else I removed my back pack when eating, but I don't think I removed the front pack. It was rather like I imagine having a bit of a pot tummy would be - quite handy to rest my arms on whilst waiting or chatting. :)
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I have Ribz and wore them on my 2016 winter Camino. They are very comfortable but not water proof or resistant. My Camino in October I am using Zpack Multipack. It connects to the straps on my backpack and is waterproof. I have also have traded my Oprey pack for Zpack Nero waterproof ultra light pack.
 

jcat

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016
I have pouch that attaches to my backpack's waist belt and holds some smaller items (phone, snacks, sanitizer, etc). Plenty of styles and sizes out there, just search for "horizontal zippered pouch". The one I use is 9"x5"x3".

The downside is that it will only be of use when you are wearing your pack. If you're looking for something to wear around town after walking, you will need something with an attached belt.
 

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