• PLEASE NOTE: Please think twice before you travel to Spain now. More here.

Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement

Military Report on Carrying Pack-loads over distance

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Hi all - this is a military report on carrying pack loads. Soldiers carry extremely heavy packs but the problems explained; the causes and ways of rectifying them are relevant to us I think, even with our lighter loads.

You may find it interesting reading (you may not ;) ) -
http://www.usariem.army.mil/assets/docs/publications/articles/2010/LoadCarriagePDF.pdf

I found that interesting points raised were:

Double packs - front and back - like Aarn packs - are the best method of carrying load as posture is straight and upright, and also has the least energy expenditure - though if front pack is large and/or heavy can lead to ventilation problems and greater heat stress.

Loading - heavy items at top and lighter items low down reduces stress but heavy items at top increase instability - from sway - on rough terrain.

Using a walking trailer attached to a hip belt accounts for an 88% reduction in energy expenditure !! and faster march times over distance of 54%.

Training to achieve aerobic fitness by walking with backpack loads over several weeks results in a decrease in the energy cost of carrying the load.

Females automatically reduce their stride length and frequency to compensate for load, males do not - though females compensate for weight by extending the neck and leaning strongly forward, which can lead to problems from pack straps digging in.

Males cover distances about 21% faster than females, regardless of the weight of pack load - pilgrims walking as a couple need to be aware of this .. how often have I seen the female half of a couple desperately trying to keep up with their male partner and becoming exhausted because of that - and injured. “walk at your own pace” is so important here.

Common injuries from marching with pack loads - foot blisters, back problems, and metatarsalgia - the same list I would make from doing first aid on Camino, though I would add shin splints, knee pain/s, and shoulder problems.

Report is specific - “Heavy loads increase blister incidence” so pack light!! They also say that “Regular physical training with load carriage induces skin adaptations that reduce the probability of blisters” - so another plus for training with loaded pack on similar terrain and over similar daily distances before Camino.

The injury list and response on page 37 is rather brilliant! - Military approved blister treatment for an unbroken blister is the same as mine - “Intact blister: drain, leave top in place, and use light pressure dressing”

They also recommend Antiperspirants on the feet (applied for at least three consecutive days before a march) to reduce blisters forming.

With all injuries they include tobacco use as part of the cause. I find it interesting that they say to cease tobacco use as it increases blisters and other injuries - as nicotine reduces the flexibility of red blood cells I assume it is that this rigidity of the cells stops them from freely entering the smallest blood vessels, leading to lack of oxygenated blood supply.

The pages on from page 37 are first aid specific and extremely informative.

To sum up - pack light - split load front and back .. or, actually, get the load completely off the body and use a walking trailer attached to a hip belt- see here -


though if you made box carts as a child you already have the experience to make your own!!!

I hope that this is of help/interest

Buen Camino!!
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
From 30 years experience carrying a pack in the Army just don't shower in the morning as it softens the feet.
 

Fletchonides

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Pamplona (2014)
Pamplona - Burgos (2016)
Burgos - Leon (June 2017)
Leon - SdC (June 2018)
Very interesting reading, thank you
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
"Females automatically reduce their stride length and frequency to compensate for load, males do not - though females compensate for weight by extending the neck and leaning strongly forward, which can lead to problems from pack straps digging in."

Ah ha! I always said I walk like a Geisha on the Camino. Now it's been documented. Alas, I already carry so much in the front that addinf Aarn front packs would block the view :D.

Thank you for the pointers in this article.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I wouldn't want a hiking trailer due to rough sections of track. That and sections of track covered by cow pies.

ah, but you haven't tried one I think? Rough tracks are no problem whatsoever to a walking trailer. I have taken a Radical Design trailer over really steep paths that have rocks coming out nearly a foot and it just sails over them. As for mud - without a heavy backpack one goes through muddy sections much more easily and so does the trailer - and cow pats? The trailer goes where you go - you go through cow pats, so does the trailer, you go round them, so does the trailer ;) .if no choice? well, trailer wheels are easier to wash off than your boots!!

also, the Belgian chap walked from his home to Santiago - on the Camino all the way - and did not encounter one problem.

Worth a try, they really are .. just, if making your own, don't go for tiny wheels!!
 
Last edited:

hecate105

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
I agree with David about the walking trailer! I have a Dixon Roller Pack - which only has one wheel and it follows you everywhere - so much easier than a backpack.
Great to see the advice above - perhaps this forum should be recommended to the people running the 'Ten Tors' expeditions for teenage kids in Devon, UK - my poor niece has lost 9 toenails due to the heavy packs and long mileage with no stopping. They seem to think that the kids must suffer in order to 'grow' from the experience....! I hope it doesn't put her off doing a Camino in the future...
 

thirtyeyes

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April 2017 (1/2) & May 2018 (1/2)
CP April 2019 (Hopefully)
The trailers look interesting for the Camino, it's just too bad that most Rangers in US National Forests would consider them a vehicle and thus they are generally not allowed on most trails.

In the Army the packs often weighed about 80+ lbs, luckily other than a few marches done mostly for the pain factor, you typically packed light and stowed the heavy stuff in your duffel which was driven about in the back of the deuce or the armored vehicle.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Yes, packloads and the military I find interesting. The report mentions that until the 18th century the average soldier load was about 15kgs, the extra equipment being carried by carts or animals or servants - I guess they carried only their fighting load - but now a modern western soldier seems seriously over-burdened to me, especially if you add in the body armour. Too over-burdened, and therefore over-tired, to fight efficiently at times. The Romans had both light and heavy infantry, armoured and almost unarmoured, and we seem to have lost that distinction - but what do I know!
D-Day paratroopers dropped with about 35kgs load - but it was found out afterwards that on landing those soldiers threw most of the kit away, taking themselves down to a fast fighting load, and expecting to 'live off the land'.

I put the report up because although pilgrims don't carry such loads - I know that hikers on the amazing American long trails do! - I was interested to see that the physical problems are the same. - The injuries I see on Camino are the same and causes are the same - though on Camino I also find many pilgrims whose footwear is just completely the wrong size - too small, too narrow, poor footbed. One problem I have on Camino when doing first aid is getting people to stop! Where RICE is the only way forward without further injury they want to carry on, thinking that if they go a little slower it will be alright - many times it isn't.
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
I put the report up because although pilgrims don't carry such loads - I know that hikers on the amazing American long trails do!
In April Peg and I were down at a state park in Georgia that is used as a start point for the Appalachian Trail. The signin register for the trail there had the weights of the hiker's packs listed. Most seemed to be close to 33 pounds (15 kg.) That would include things that camino pilgrims don't usually carry such as tent, pad, stove, fuel, mess kit and a couple days worth of food.

Coincidently, we just missed (by 5 minutes) sending off a hiker from our town. He had been taken by car to one of the trails leading to Springer Mountain but the ranger didn't know which one.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
D-Day paratroopers dropped with about 35kgs load - but it was found out afterwards that on landing those soldiers threw most of the kit away, taking themselves down to a fast fighting load, and expecting to 'live off the land'.

I put the report up because although pilgrims don't carry such loads - I know that hikers on the amazing American long trails do!

On average, a backpacker doing a thru-hike on the PCT or the AT will carry from 11 to 16 kg loads, including food and water for 5 to 7 days. Last year, doing a thru-hike of the Colorado trail (which is similar in length to the Camino Frances, but at a much greater altitude :) ) my total pack weight was 23 pounds, with a base-weight of just over 15 pounds.
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Thanks for posting this, plus the video of the hiking trailer.
I wondered if such a trailer might be just the right thing for me.
So I asked my physiotherapist.
He had never heard of hiking trailers! but he could tell a lot about why a backpack and its weight are bad for the spine.

I'm very curious how this will all work out.
On the website of Radical Design I saw a picture of someone walking with both a trailer AND poles.
I'd have thought that thed handlebars of the trailer and poles would be in each other's way, but apparently they are not ~ maybe this takes some training :rolleyes:

Here is a video of German guy who built his own DIY Monowalker
 
Camino(s) past & future
Hope to walk the CF in Sep/Oct, 2018 with my wife
Have others used a trailer pack? Do you see them on the Camino? I'd love to hear about your experiences. With multiple back surgeries I can only lift 15 pounds total and was considering having luggage service, but like the idea of not having to depend on calling ahead every day.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Have others used a trailer pack? Do you see them on the Camino? I'd love to hear about your experiences. With multiple back surgeries I can only lift 15 pounds total and was considering having luggage service, but like the idea of not having to depend on calling ahead every day.

Hi Walter (or Carol) - the American mono-wheel trailers spread the load between the hip belt and the wheel so there is weight on the body at waist height whereas the Radical Design trailer carries the load over the wheel so no weight is felt on the body at all, only a sense of mass(?) ... it is an odd feeling at first as it is more like being conscious of a tail rather than any feelings of weight at all. I have recently received a Wheelie 1V from Radical Design (they offered me a very special deal to help with my first aid mission).
apart from the problems I have such as right foot and right knee (age old traumas returning as I age) I cannot carry enough back up supplies as well as my own gear to be able to walk the Camino now so appear with a car and just walk half a day up and down and then visit refugios, re-supply kept in the vehicle, which isn't satisfactory really.

Since receiving my trailer I have heavily loaded it and twice now walked up onto our northern ridge. This is about 120 metres high and a steep walk up from town, then a really steep track with tree roots crossing and large rocks sticking out .. then a mixture of track and level trail at the top, and then down again - only about three miles or so. Is a long ridge and has the remains of a 2,000 year old Celtic Hill Fort on it - mainly wooded and rather beautiful. - I know that this sounds like an advert but I was stunned by the ease of it. The trailer just goes where you go and rides over all terrain without a hitch. I thought that there would be a strong feeling of weight going up the hills but this is non-existent and I don't know why. Perhaps it is there but one doesn't feel it because it isn't weighing the back down or making the feet heavier? (The military report states that there is a reduction of 88% energy expenditure using a hip-belt trailer).
It balances perfectly and one only needs to slightly guide the poles at the waist when on uneven terrain. So, for me it has so far been rather a "Wow" experience.

On June 4th I am off to Burgos (from the UK - ferry to Santander) to walk the Meseta for a while with JennyH from Sydney - she also has a foot and knee problems so will be using a less elegant trailer that I made at home, a cart with weight also over the wheels - and I will be carrying my personal gear, my first aid kits, and also copious amounts of first aid -re-supply. I will report back after this trial and let you know how it went - both pros and cons, and I will be honest, not hiding any of the cons!

Hey - where do you live? Are you UK? Perhaps you could borrow it for a weekend trial?
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
Hope to walk the CF in Sep/Oct, 2018 with my wife
Thanks David - how nice of you to offer the loan! We live in the States (North Carolina). Won't be in England until September and then only as a departure point to Iceland/Norway/Scotland cruise. I wish you well on your 6/4 trip. We won't be on the Camino till Sept/Oct 2018, but I love the updates on your trailer. Keep trekkin'.
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Currently ogling a for sale ad of a Radical Design Wheelie IV. Has rolled from the Netherlands to Santiago de Compostela. Asking price is 5/8 of original price.

Oh dear ...

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Still very expensive. These are expensive devices. They are very well engineered. But, oh that price...

Maybe one day...
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Still very expensive. These are expensive devices. They are very well engineered. But, oh that price...

Maybe one day...

Female logic (Europe):

buy second hand at 5/8 of the original price.
save €xxx on costs of Jacotrans
promise oneself to make own lunch everyday, saving another €xx

Female logic extra (USA):

buy second hand and have it delivered to the starting point of the Camino, saving €€ on transport and customs
take home, keep it, rent it out or sell it again for a higher price.

Still a lot of money to start with ;)
 

scaepio

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
plan (2021)
The trailers look interesting for the Camino, it's just too bad that most Rangers in US National Forests would consider them a vehicle and thus they are generally not allowed on most trails.

In the Army the packs often weighed about 80+ lbs, luckily other than a few marches done mostly for the pain factor, you typically packed light and stowed the heavy stuff in your duffel which was driven about in the back of the deuce or the armored vehicle.
Could you point me to a link that verifies this? I can't find one.
 

Roland49

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2019 July
Using a walking trailer attached to a hip belt accounts for an 88% reduction in energy expenditure !! and faster march times over distance of 54%.
To sum up - pack light - split load front and back .. or, actually, get the load completely off the body and use a walking trailer attached to a hip belt- see here -

I have tried two different versions of available commercial walking trailers and non would fit my stride length.
I didn't stand the chance of hurting myself by hitting the trailer. And I didn't want to "get used to it". It fits on the first try or it isn't mine.

If you can't stand the weight of the backpack on your back and hips it's IMO the only possible way to walk if you want to carry your own backpack.

But I had to built my own to fit perfectly. I found one with an widely adjustable drawbar and refittable axle (top- or bottom mounting = low or high rigg) and some other advantages (all metal, ballbearings, aluminum and titanium), but it had a price that was unaccaptable for me (~1000€). Drawbar and pulling-harness usable for pulling an expedition-sleigh.

I did pack very light (~5kg w/o water) for my CF last summer and was happy with it. I do plan my next Camino to be the Camino Portuges from Porto (if Covid19 ends) on easter vacation 2021 and I will fit my backpack with a sleeping-bag and some more stuff for lower temperatures and more rain. I try to end at ~7-7,5kg to carry.

BC
Roland
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I have tried two different versions of available commercial walking trailers and non would fit my stride length.
I didn't stand the chance of hurting myself by hitting the trailer. And I didn't want to "get used to it". It fits on the first try or it isn't mine.

If you can't stand the weight of the backpack on your back and hips it's IMO the only possible way to walk if you want to carry your own backpack.

But I had to built my own to fit perfectly. I found one with an widely adjustable drawbar and refittable axle (top- or bottom mounting = low or high rigg) and some other advantages (all metal, ballbearings, aluminum and titanium), but it had a price that was unaccaptable for me (~1000€). Drawbar and pulling-harness usable for pulling an expedition-sleigh.

I did pack very light (~5kg w/o water) for my CF last summer and was happy with it. I do plan my next Camino to be the Camino Portuges from Porto (if Covid19 ends) on easter vacation 2021 and I will fit my backpack with a sleeping-bag and some more stuff for lower temperatures and more rain. I try to end at ~7-7,5kg to carry.

BC
Roland

Yes, fixed length drawbars are a problem for those with long legs or long strides - I made mine telescopic for this reason. To build my trailer cost in all about £120 (UK pounds).
 

Advertisement

Booking.com

Similar threads

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.7%
  • March

    Votes: 57 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 203 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 330 24.7%
  • June

    Votes: 96 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 25 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 28 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 386 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 160 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top