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Prefer to carry weight on my shoulders

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
I've always been a proponent of dividing the load of my pack between some ratio shoulders and hips, often changing the ratio throughout the day. We pack rather lightly with a base weight of about 11 pounds. On our last camino my wife had some problems with her hips and felt better carrying the entire weight of the pack on her shoulders. I didn't think much of this until I actually tried it myself. To my surprise my back felt markedly better with all of the weight on my shoulders. I probably hiked 70% of last summer this way.

Not sure why this is, but I do wonder if having a majority of the weight on my hips somehow inhibits some natural movements of the mid and lower back as it relates to the hips. There could very well be a weight limit on how much the shoulders can carry in this manner. We both carry frameless Osprey Talon 33s, hers S/M and min M/L that are sized for our torsos.

davebugg, would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

FYI I am a self professed gear head and worked at North Face and Feathered Friends many, many, many moons ago.

Give it a try YMMV.
 

Roaming_Wombat

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances April 2020
I think it's just the way we're built. I've done a lot of hiking and my pack is always light enough I never use a hip belt. I find it uncomfortable. A hip belt for me is just extra weight to carry.

Just bought a 35L backpack for the Camino Frances in June. Purposely bought one without a hip belt this time. My pack base weight is under under 10lbs (4.5kg) plus water.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
Interesting view.

My '1st life' was in the Military for 22 years. Many moons ago.
We used old style Bergens that put all the load on the shoulders and had no hip belt. Those came decades later. The chafing on the shoulders and lower back could get really bad.

I can feel the pain in my shoulders just thinking of it!

Whoever came up with hip belts deserves a medal :)

Won't be rushing to load up my shoulders, sorry. ;)

Bergen.jpg
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
Well, guys, I have big hips.
While walking long distances, I sometimes switch the weight from mainly my hips to mainly my shoulders, but, without a doubt, the most comfortable for me is walking with the weight on my hips. I have a fantastic, well balanced backpack now.
For my first Camino, I had to gerry-rig a hip belt that would go all the way around my hips and, it worked, although not ideally. When prepping for #2, I specifically looked for a pack that fit my hips comfortably and it made a world of difference.
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
Interesting view.

My '1st life' was in the Military for 22 years. Many moons ago.
We used old style Bergens that put all the load on the shoulders and had no hip belt. Those came decades later. The chafing on the shoulders and lower back could get really bad.

I can feel the pain in my shoulders just thinking of it!

Whoever came up with hip belts deserves a medal :)

Won't be rushing to load up my shoulders, sorry. ;)

View attachment 69236
What kind of weight were you carrying on your shoulders back then?
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
To be clear I'm not advocating carrying backpacking loads. My backpacking base weight is about 22lbs. The thought of those loads on my shoulders makes me cringe. I live in NW Montana and routinely day hike with 13-20L pack with weight all on the shoulders and I wager that a majority of the hikers I see on the trails are in a similar boat as far as day packs and shoulders concerned. Thats not to say there aren't the occasional hip packs.
 
Last edited:

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Interesting view.

My '1st life' was in the Military for 22 years. Many moons ago.
We used old style Bergens that put all the load on the shoulders and had no hip belt. Those came decades later. The chafing on the shoulders and lower back could get really bad.
@Robo Is that photo the bergen you were issued? You must be older than your photo suggests. I thought we had lost the last of the WW1 veterans a few years back... ;)

Edit: Just seen somewhere that the 42 Pattern Bergen was in use up until the Eighties. So I came pretty close to getting one myself. I am getting old too :cool:
 
Last edited:

malingerer

samarkand
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
@Robo Is that photo the bergen you were issued? You must be older than your photo suggests. I thought we had lost the last of the WW1 veterans a few years back... ;)

Edit: Just seen somewhere that the 42 Pattern Bergen was in use up until the Eighties. So I came pretty close to getting one myself. I am getting old too :cool:
I read H. BELLOC's book THE PYRENEES some time ago. Printed 1909! He was quite a fan of French Army gear which at that time included backpack, chest pack and additions. I have never been a fan of load on hip. As a previous poster put it, it impedes my natural gait. At 82 I have a bursitis problem left hip and definitely do not need load on hip. I have broad shoulders. Why not use them? :)

The malingerer.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I've always been a proponent of dividing the load of my pack between some ratio shoulders and hips, often changing the ratio throughout the day. We pack rather lightly with a base weight of about 11 pounds. On our last camino my wife had some problems with her hips and felt better carrying the entire weight of the pack on her shoulders. I didn't think much of this until I actually tried it myself. To my surprise my back felt markedly better with all of the weight on my shoulders. I probably hiked 70% of last summer this way.

Not sure why this is, but I do wonder if having a majority of the weight on my hips somehow inhibits some natural movements of the mid and lower back as it relates to the hips. There could very well be a weight limit on how much the shoulders can carry in this manner. We both carry frameless Osprey Talon 33s, hers S/M and min M/L that are sized for our torsos.

davebugg, would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

FYI I am a self professed gear head and worked at North Face and Feathered Friends many, many, many moons ago.

Give it a try YMMV.
11 pounds is a reasonable load on the shoulder girdle. If stresses begin to fatigue the muscles and ligaments around the upper shoulders and neck, or impinge a bit on nerves, the option is still there to refasten and adjust a hipbelt and walk with it for a while.

It is true that a hipbelt, properly in place, will place weight on the hips in a manner that changes the way the lower body (lower back to hips) responds to movement while walking. Some folks may feel this far more than others. After all, a properly positioned and tensioned hipbelt will put some compressive tension on that area of the body.

With a hyperlight load at 10 or 11 pounds, what is happening is that the need for the hipbelt to carry the heavy load, the way that is beneficial, is absent. Yes, I will still wear a hipbelt, but if I don't, the 11 pounds of weight is bearable to a healthy shoulder girdle.

With the hipbelt having a reduced impact on weight distribution, the scale sort of tips more toward noticing how a hipbelt constricts, rather than focusing on the relief of heavy weight being redirected away from the shoulders. So all of the potential minor downsides of a hipbelt is much more apparent, and for some folks that will mean a larger focus on discomfort CAUSED by the hipbelt, instead of RELIEF that the hipbelt provides at high load levels.

I hope that makes sense :)
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I read H. BELLOC's book THE PYRENEES some time ago. Printed 1909! He was quite a fan of French Army gear which at that time included backpack, chest pack and additions.
He would have had plenty of opportunity to try them out before. Although he lived in Britain from the age of two he remained a French citizen and returned to France later for his mandatory military service.

On the second day of walking from home in Wales to SJPDP I met a man heading the other direction with a very smart square military pack. We stopped to chat for a few minutes. Interesting history: an Englishman who had served in the French Foreign Legion then later with the MOD Police. You do get some great encounters when walking :cool:
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
11 pounds is a reasonable load on the shoulder girdle. If stresses begin to fatigue the muscles and ligaments around the upper shoulders and neck, or impinge a bit on nerves, the option is still there to refasten and adjust a hipbelt and walk with it for a while.

It is true that a hipbelt, properly in place, will place weight on the hips in a manner that changes the way the lower body (lower back to hips) responds to movement while walking. Some folks may feel this far more than others. After all, a properly positioned and tensioned hipbelt will put some compressive tension on that area of the body.

With a hyperlight load at 10 or 11 pounds, what is happening is that the need for the hipbelt to carry the heavy load, the way that is beneficial, is absent. Yes, I will still wear a hipbelt, but if I don't, the 11 pounds of weight is bearable to a healthy shoulder girdle.

With the hipbelt having a reduced impact on weight distribution, the scale sort of tips more toward noticing how a hipbelt constricts, rather than focusing on the relief of heavy weight being redirected away from the shoulders. So all of the potential minor downsides of a hipbelt is much more apparent, and for some folks that will mean a larger focus on discomfort CAUSED by the hipbelt, instead of RELIEF that the hipbelt provides at high load levels.

I hope that makes sense :)

Well said. I whole heartedly agree.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2022)
@Robo Is that photo the bergen you were issued? You must be older than your photo suggests. I thought we had lost the last of the WW1 veterans a few years back... ;)

Edit: Just seen somewhere that the 42 Pattern Bergen was in use up until the Eighties. So I came pretty close to getting one myself. I am getting old too :cool:
Yep, used in the late 70s... If you could get one!
 


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