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The Shoulder Harness System: the first essential component for a good backpack

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Note: Hip belt systems are important, but that is not the focus of this thread. That will be a separate discussion later on. This is an edited version of an earlier post I had written.

There are currently a few discussions taking place about the cost of backpacks. . . dirt cheap low cost backpacks, versus moderate cost backpacks, versus expensive backpacks. One concern is whether or not there can be an equivalency, regardless of price point, to the ability to achieve a good and comfortable fit and adjustability. This is a separate consideration to the question of the longevity of a backpack, the ability of a backpack to absorb wear and tear, resist rainwater leakage, placement of pockets, etc.

I do not dispute the fact that even a 10 Euro China Market school bag can be used to hold stuff and be carried on one's back for a Camino. . . or a wilderness backpacking trip. In my mind, that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not carrying stuff on a Camino can be done comfortably, and that the backpack does not create problems and take away from the enjoyment of walking.

I also recognize that what one individual may find to be aggravating and niggling with a brand and model of backpack to the point of unremitting misery, a different individual may find that same backpack to be a blissful matchup.

From the large numbers of backpacks I have used or gear tested over the decades, I can state that price does not automatically determine whether a backpack will be comfortable to wear, which is the focus in this thread.

Price most often will reflect the durability of materials that are much lighter in weight, will see increased ease of use and usability due to higher quality parts like zippers and buckles, and the addition of such elements as the types and numbers of external pockets, hydration reservoir holders, and detachable brains (tops), etc.

It might be helpful to look at just one part of the whole, and to discuss and describe how that one part is designed to help assure the ability of the backpack to fit and to function properly. So for this thread, I decided to focus on the backpack's shoulder harness system. When assessing any price level of backpack for usability, these are some things you may wish to consider.

What is the shoulder harness?

Simply put, the shoulder harness is the system of straps, pads, and hardware that is attached to backpack’s bag. It is what allows the user to put on and to wear the backpack.


Backpack Shoulder Harness.jpg

What Does a Shoulder Harness Do?

A well-designed shoulder harness will effectively and evenly carry, distribute, and balance the weight of the pack’s load to the wearer. “Wait, hold on a second”, you may be thinking, “Isn’t it the hipbelt which carries the load”?

Well, yes and no. A predominant myth exists which states that a hipbelt should carry the total weight of the pack. The reality is different. For the best performance and long-term comfort, the shoulder harness should carry between 5 to 15% of the weight, and the hipbelt will have 85% to 95%.

In order to have the best balance and control while carrying a backpack, it requires that the backpack be drawn close to the body. To accomplish this, there needs to be a slight loading onto the shoulder straps. A good shoulder harness system is designed to do this in the most comfortable method possible. Additionally, a good shoulder harness system works in concert with the hipbelt system, so that the hipbelt functions properly.

A good shoulder harness system will avoid impacts to your body’s ability to function properly. It will help to eliminate compression to the chest which can affect the volume of air-uptake in respiration. It will absolutely minimize or eliminate localized nerve compression which can cause numbness to the arms, and pain to the neck and shoulders. It will also help prevent undue stress to the core muscles caused by imbalances to the body.

Parts and Characteristics of a Well-Designed Shoulder Harness
  • Shoulder straps. The straps should not be too narrow and made of a synthetic material which will not degrade with exposure to sun, sweat, and weather. The material should have a texture to keep it from slipping when adjusted.
  • Padding. The pad on your shoulders should feel comfortable AND supportive. Good pads are made of dual density foams or EVA, or similar. Good pads should have a contoured shape for comfort and to reduce muscle fatigue. The two basic shapes are “J” and “S”.
  • Sternum strap which can be adjusted by height and length.
  • Stabilizer / load-lifting straps.
  • Attachment points to the backpack’s frame and bag that are reinforced, efficient, comfortable, and useful for the load’s weight disbursement.
  • Buckles that allow quick, easy, and intuitive operation for harness and strap adjustments.
Shoulder Strap Pads

The shape of the shoulder strap padding is readily noticeable. The pad's shape will affect the backpack’s comfort and feel while being worn. The shapes you’ll likely see on backpacks are either straight or contoured.

A ‘straight’ shaped pad is, well, straight. It is a singular, shapeless, straight line from the top attachment point on the strap to the bottom point on the strap.

A ‘contoured’ shaped pad is generally one of two basic shapes. These shape chosen will make a difference to the individual in both the overall fit of the shoulder harness, as well as its comfort. Contoured straps can reduce the amount of rubbing between your body and the straps, and reduces pinching to your muscles by shaping around them, instead of going over them
  • “J” shape: The J shape has been the most common shape on both men’s and women’s backpacks for quite a while now. For upper body shapes that are more slender to regular, the J shaped strap pads work very well.
  • "S" shape: The S shape pads are a fairly new innovation. These pads curve inward just above the sternum, then back outward below your arms. This shape works very well for women due to the shape and unique anatomy of their chests (OK, ok, I'm referring to breasts). This pad shape also works well for men who have large and/or muscular chests.
A Backpack Should Have Sternum Straps

A sternum strap helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack through the shoulder harness. It helps by preventing sore shoulders. As even long-time backpackers will tell you, carrying a full backpack, even with a hipbelt properly adjusted, is going to put some strain on your shoulders. By using a chest strap, you will be able to ease the pressure on your shoulders, essential when you’re trekking for long distances

The sternum strap also helps maintain the placement of the shoulder straps on your shoulders so that they do not slide off your shoulders. The tighter the sternum strap is, the more weight is displaced. BUT, if a sternum strap is too tight, it can constrain your breathing. It can also cause your neck muscles to become pinched, as well as other areas like the Trapezius muscle.

Ideally, the sternum strap will be adjustable, both in terms of the strap’s length, and allowing for vertical positioning up and down the shoulder straps. This means that you can place the sternum strap at the best height on your chest, around your chest’s unique anatomy. Then when you fasten the sternum strap across your chest, you can properly ‘dial in’ the desired tightness for the best function.

A few different systems are used for the height adjustment. If you are unsure of how to do the adjustments, check with the manufacturer’s website. Oftentimes there will be instructional videos.

When trying out a new backpack, make sure that the sternum strap can be properly adjusted to fit YOU comfortably.

As a rule of thumb, your sternum strap should be roughly an inch below your collar bone. One neat feature that some bags have is the ability to stow away sternum straps when they’re not in use through clips on the shoulder straps that hold them in place or lash points that can hold them down so that they’re not flapping all over the place when not in use.

Many backpacks Have Stabilizer Straps

Some, but not all, good backpacks have a set of adjustable straps connecting the upper portion of the shoulder straps, to an attachment point near the top of the backpack. These are called by two common names: stabilizer straps, or load-lifting straps.

These straps serve a couple of primary purposes.
  • Support for your shoulders. When pulled tight, they pull the pack bag closer toward your back. This tends to take a bit of pressure from the top of the shoulder straps.
  • Balance and stability. Because the pack bag is closer to your body, it further stabilizes the balance of the backpack’s load by keeping it closer to your center of gravity.
While load lifters can be extremely helpful for long hikes or carrying heavier loads, their usefulness is dependent on proper adjustment. Proper adjustment is also important to avoid negative effects that could be caused by improper use of load lifter straps.

Effectiveness requires that the load lifter straps are anchored to the proper locations on the backpack. Usually, that is not an issue with the major backpack manufacturers and the cottage manufacturers. It is the backpacks which are cheaply made in places like China, that load lifters can be worse than useless. They are added to these cheap backpacks as a cosmetic mimic of the high-quality backpacks. The cheap backpacks do this in order to fool consumers as to usability.

Pulling load lifters too tight can put excessive pressure on your shoulders. It can also force the top of the backpack's bag so close to the back of your head, that you have a hard time if you want to tilt your head up to look around or at the sky.

When under proper tension, the stabilizer straps will form an angle of 35-degrees to 50-degrees while looking at the backpack in profile as it is being worn. When the stabilizer straps are very long, they can start swinging all over the place as you move. Lash points that keep the excess straps out of the way are easy ways to prevent them from driving you insane.

Adjustability: How easy are the straps to adjust?

During your treks and hikes, you will make frequent and tiny adjustments to the straps as you are walking; it becomes second nature as you and your backpack develop a relationship. Adjustments are done to alleviate pressure in one area, to get a better feel of the pack, to help center its gravity-induced movements on difficult terrain, etc. You are doing small adjustments because it just feels good to do so.

A well-made harness system should allow for easy adjustments and not give you any problems. Straps should be easy to tension and just as easy to let the straps out and make them a bit longer. The strap’s material is one factor in this, but the hardware and buckles that a backpack manufacturer uses will be the biggest factor in the ease of performing that task.

When choosing a backpack, make sure that it isn’t a struggle to adjust the various straps on the harness and the hipbelt. You will be doing adjustments thousands of times during the life of your backpack and you want that process to be simple, intuitive, and easy. If it isn’t, you will start to loath your backpack.

A backpack is your ‘house’. Inside that house (depending on whether you are walking a Camino or on a wilderness backpacking trip) are your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, closet, and attic. A great backpack is exceedingly usable (and lovable). However, without a good shoulder harness system, no backpack will meet those goals.
 
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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
And just like that, he's back! Well researched and informative as usual Dave.

Over the years I've walked the Camino packs have got lighter making them easier to use. But more and more people appear to be using companies to transport their pack forward each day and only use a small "day pack" to carry their lunch. I can not stress the need to invest in a proper harness system for any pack, even a day pack, as using it every day for weeks on end you really need a good system to spread and carry your load as you explain so well.

Sadly people often forgo a proper harness system as it adds to the bulk of the pack, but these structures are worth their weight in gold in the job they do. Having started my tramping days literally carrying a box with canvas straps on my back, I remember the relief and joy of my first real pack and now regardless of th size of pack I cary I always invest in a great fitting adjustable harness. I look forward to your explanation of the hip strap and hope you cover the need to invest (if relevant) in a female fit as our hip ratio is different and even as a tall woman I really have to to check out harness types to make sure the straps fit well over my broad shoulders and ample hips not to mention the front strap that clips over your chest to ensure the shoulder straps don't gape and slip.

Just watch that you don't overtighten your straps, Scott tended to do this as he lost weight on long caminos and preferred to carry his pack snug to his back... this resulted in him suffering from green fractures of his ribs abruptly ending our last Camino.
 
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Dave, Thanks for your expertize, wisdom and willingness to share. So appreciate all your help. I think I may spend the rest of my life making adjustments to all my many straps. LOL! (I'm on my computer and can't find the smiley face).
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Looking forward to the comments from folks who argue for basically carrying a pillow case with CVS receipts for shoulders straps (as long it costs <$10) rather than invest in quality gear...

:) I understand what you mean, and get the humor.

I do keep in mind that where comfort and tolerance for how things 'feel' are concerned, there are folks who might find such kit to be perfectly satisfactory. As long as it does not interfere with the enjoyment of walking, a pillowcase tied to a staff might be all that some folks need. :)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I look forward to your explanation of the hip strap and hope you cover the need to invest (if relevant) in a female fit as our hip ratio is different
Me, too. I have a woman specific pack, but not sure I understand the "why" behind it. I am of a slight build with narrow shoulders and a bit busty and I still get chaffing under my arms in the front for the first several days of walking. It's annoying.
 
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koknesis

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2014
CA&CS 2015
VdlP 2017
CP 2018
CM 2019
:) I understand what you mean, and get the humor.

I do keep in mind that where comfort and tolerance for how things 'feel' are concerned, there are folks who might find such kit to be perfectly satisfactory. As long as it does not interfere with the enjoyment of walking, a pillowcase tied to a staff might be all that some folks need. :)
Yes, indeed! Nothing wrong about walking with a staff and pilgrims bag like that has been done for centuries. The only thing indispensable then is the corresponding state of mind and body, what typically is absent in modern times.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
It’s the hip belt that has to carry like 80% of the weight. Shoulder straps is mostly to keep the backpack in place. Very wrong to let the shoulders and upper back do the work.

Sure, it keeps the pack from falling backwards :) That said, the job of the should harness is a bit more complex and subtle than just keeping the backpack in place. In the OP, the stated weight distribution between the shoulder harness and waist belt is basically the same as what you stated.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019

Gerard Murdoch

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Ponferrada - Santiago (2013)
Porto to Santiago (2015)
Lugo to Finisterre (2017)
Porto Coastal (2019)
Note: Hip belt systems are important, but that is not the focus of this thread. That will be a separate discussion later on. This is an edited version of an earlier post I had written.

There are currently a few discussions taking place about the cost of backpacks. . . dirt cheap low cost backpacks, versus moderate cost backpacks, versus expensive backpacks. One concern is whether or not there can be an equivalency, regardless of price point, to the ability to achieve a good and comfortable fit and adjustability. This is a separate consideration to the question of the longevity of a backpack, the ability of a backpack to absorb wear and tear, resist rainwater leakage, placement of pockets, etc.

I do not dispute the fact that even a 10 Euro China Market school bag can be used to hold stuff and be carried on one's back for a Camino. . . or a wilderness backpacking trip. In my mind, that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not carrying stuff on a Camino can be done comfortably, and that the backpack does not create problems and take away from the enjoyment of walking.

I also recognize that what one individual may find to be aggravating and niggling with a brand and model of backpack to the point of unremitting misery, a different individual may find that same backpack to be a blissful matchup.

From the large numbers of backpacks I have used or gear tested over the decades, I can state that price does not automatically determine whether a backpack will be comfortable to wear, which is the focus in this thread.

Price most often will reflect the durability of materials that are much lighter in weight, will see increased ease of use and usability due to higher quality parts like zippers and buckles, and the addition of such elements as the types and numbers of external pockets, hydration reservoir holders, and detachable brains (tops), etc.

It might be helpful to look at just one part of the whole, and to discuss and describe how that one part is designed to help assure the ability of the backpack to fit and to function properly. So for this thread, I decided to focus on the backpack's shoulder harness system. When assessing any price level of backpack for usability, these are some things you may wish to consider.

What is the shoulder harness?

Simply put, the shoulder harness is the system of straps, pads, and hardware that is attached to backpack’s bag. It is what allows the user to put on and to wear the backpack.


View attachment 119089

What Does a Shoulder Harness Do?

A well-designed shoulder harness will effectively and evenly carry, distribute, and balance the weight of the pack’s load to the wearer. “Wait, hold on a second”, you may be thinking, “Isn’t it the hipbelt which carries the load”?

Well, yes and no. A predominant myth exists which states that a hipbelt should carry the total weight of the pack. The reality is different. For the best performance and long-term comfort, the shoulder harness should carry between 5 to 15% of the weight, and the hipbelt will have 85% to 95%.

In order to have the best balance and control while carrying a backpack, it requires that the backpack be drawn close to the body. To accomplish this, there needs to be a slight loading onto the shoulder straps. A good shoulder harness system is designed to do this in the most comfortable method possible. Additionally, a good shoulder harness system works in concert with the hipbelt system, so that the hipbelt functions properly.

A good shoulder harness system will avoid impacts to your body’s ability to function properly. It will help to eliminate compression to the chest which can affect the volume of air-uptake in respiration. It will absolutely minimize or eliminate localized nerve compression which can cause numbness to the arms, and pain to the neck and shoulders. It will also help prevent undue stress to the core muscles caused by imbalances to the body.

Parts and Characteristics of a Well-Designed Shoulder Harness
  • Shoulder straps. The straps should not be too narrow and made of a synthetic material which will not degrade with exposure to sun, sweat, and weather. The material should have a texture to keep it from slipping when adjusted.
  • Padding. The pad on your shoulders should feel comfortable AND supportive. Good pads are made of dual density foams or EVA, or similar. Good pads should have a contoured shape for comfort and to reduce muscle fatigue. The two basic shapes are “J” and “S”.
  • Sternum strap which can be adjusted by height and length.
  • Stabilizer / load-lifting straps.
  • Attachment points to the backpack’s frame and bag that are reinforced, efficient, comfortable, and useful for the load’s weight disbursement.
  • Buckles that allow quick, easy, and intuitive operation for harness and strap adjustments.
Shoulder Strap Pads

The shape of the shoulder strap padding is readily noticeable. The pad's shape will affect the backpack’s comfort and feel while being worn. The shapes you’ll likely see on backpacks are either straight or contoured.

A ‘straight’ shaped pad is, well, straight. It is a singular, shapeless, straight line from the top attachment point on the strap to the bottom point on the strap.

A ‘contoured’ shaped pad is generally one of two basic shapes. These shape chosen will make a difference to the individual in both the overall fit of the shoulder harness, as well as its comfort. Contoured straps can reduce the amount of rubbing between your body and the straps, and reduces pinching to your muscles by shaping around them, instead of going over them
  • “J” shape: The J shape has been the most common shape on both men’s and women’s backpacks for quite a while now. For upper body shapes that are more slender to regular, the J shaped strap pads work very well.
  • "S" shape: The S shape pads are a fairly new innovation. These pads curve inward just above the sternum, then back outward below your arms. This shape works very well for women due to the shape and unique anatomy of their chests (OK, ok, I'm referring to breasts). This pad shape also works well for men who have large and/or muscular chests.
A Backpack Should Have Sternum Straps

A sternum strap helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack through the shoulder harness. It helps by preventing sore shoulders. As even long-time backpackers will tell you, carrying a full backpack, even with a hipbelt properly adjusted, is going to put some strain on your shoulders. By using a chest strap, you will be able to ease the pressure on your shoulders, essential when you’re trekking for long distances

The sternum strap also helps maintain the placement of the shoulder straps on your shoulders so that they do not slide off your shoulders. The tighter the sternum strap is, the more weight is displaced. BUT, if a sternum strap is too tight, it can constrain your breathing. It can also cause your neck muscles to become pinched, as well as other areas like the Trapezius muscle.

Ideally, the sternum strap will be adjustable, both in terms of the strap’s length, and allowing for vertical positioning up and down the shoulder straps. This means that you can place the sternum strap at the best height on your chest, around your chest’s unique anatomy. Then when you fasten the sternum strap across your chest, you can properly ‘dial in’ the desired tightness for the best function.

A few different systems are used for the height adjustment. If you are unsure of how to do the adjustments, check with the manufacturer’s website. Oftentimes there will be instructional videos.

When trying out a new backpack, make sure that the sternum strap can be properly adjusted to fit YOU comfortably.

As a rule of thumb, your sternum strap should be roughly an inch below your collar bone. One neat feature that some bags have is the ability to stow away sternum straps when they’re not in use through clips on the shoulder straps that hold them in place or lash points that can hold them down so that they’re not flapping all over the place when not in use.

Many backpacks Have Stabilizer Straps

Some, but not all, good backpacks have a set of adjustable straps connecting the upper portion of the shoulder straps, to an attachment point near the top of the backpack. These are called by two common names: stabilizer straps, or load-lifting straps.

These straps serve a couple of primary purposes.
  • Support for your shoulders. When pulled tight, they pull the pack bag closer toward your back. This tends to take a bit of pressure from the top of the shoulder straps.
  • Balance and stability. Because the pack bag is closer to your body, it further stabilizes the balance of the backpack’s load by keeping it closer to your center of gravity.
While load lifters can be extremely helpful for long hikes or carrying heavier loads, their usefulness is dependent on proper adjustment. Proper adjustment is also important to avoid negative effects that could be caused by improper use of load lifter straps.

Effectiveness requires that the load lifter straps are anchored to the proper locations on the backpack. Usually, that is not an issue with the major backpack manufacturers and the cottage manufacturers. It is the backpacks which are cheaply made in places like China, that load lifters can be worse than useless. They are added to these cheap backpacks as a cosmetic mimic of the high-quality backpacks. The cheap backpacks do this in order to fool consumers as to usability.

Pulling load lifters too tight can put excessive pressure on your shoulders. It can also force the top of the backpack's bag so close to the back of your head, that you have a hard time if you want to tilt your head up to look around or at the sky.

When under proper tension, the stabilizer straps will form an angle of 35-degrees to 50-degrees while looking at the backpack in profile as it is being worn. When the stabilizer straps are very long, they can start swinging all over the place as you move. Lash points that keep the excess straps out of the way are easy ways to prevent them from driving you insane.

Adjustability: How easy are the straps to adjust?

During your treks and hikes, you will make frequent and tiny adjustments to the straps as you are walking; it becomes second nature as you and your backpack develop a relationship. Adjustments are done to alleviate pressure in one area, to get a better feel of the pack, to help center its gravity-induced movements on difficult terrain, etc. You are doing small adjustments because it just feels good to do so.

A well-made harness system should allow for easy adjustments and not give you any problems. Straps should be easy to tension and just as easy to let the straps out and make them a bit longer. The strap’s material is one factor in this, but the hardware and buckles that a backpack manufacturer uses will be the biggest factor in the ease of performing that task.

When choosing a backpack, make sure that it isn’t a struggle to adjust the various straps on the harness and the hipbelt. You will be doing adjustments thousands of times during the life of your backpack and you want that process to be simple, intuitive, and easy. If it isn’t, you will start to loath your backpack.

A backpack is your ‘house’. Inside that house (depending on whether you are walking a Camino or on a wilderness backpacking trip) are your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, closet, and attic. A great backpack is exceedingly usable (and lovable). However, without a good shoulder harness system, no backpack will meet those goals.
Thank you for a well researched article on a very important piece of kit, which others, including myself, don't spend enough time setting the straps correctly. Can I share this article, giving you credit.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 Bayonne to Vasco Interior/Burgo to Santiago
A well-made harness system should allow for easy adjustments and not give you any problems. Straps should be easy to tension and just as easy to let the straps out and make them a bit longer. The strap’s material is one factor in this, but the hardware and buckles that a backpack manufacturer uses will be the biggest factor in the ease of performing that task.

When choosing a backpack, make sure that it isn’t a struggle to adjust the various straps on the harness and the hipbelt. You will be doing adjustments thousands of times during the life of your backpack and you want that process to be simple, intuitive, and easy. If it isn’t, you will start to loath your backpack.
I don't think a pilgrim can overestimate the importance of this statement. I recently held a funeral for my REI pack that served me so well on 6 caminos. My camino from Sevilla in October, 2021 saw the death of my pack about a week out of Santiago. I still had to get to Santiago and Muxia and final stop FInisestere. I ended up buying a cheap duffle bag to bring my gear home when I got back to Santiago.
Over the years as my pack and I became intimate I was able to make those small adjustments without even thinking as I walked or after I put my pack back on in the morning. I would know instantaneously if an adjustment was needed. I knew whenever I unpacked I would have to repack to make sure weight distribution was correct. I only loosen one shoulder strap adjuster and put my pack on with care as to try not to disturb other adjustments. I tighten my shoulder strap, then my hipbelt Icheck where the load lifter was sitting, and then re-tighten or loosen the hip or shoulder belts to make sure things sit properly.
Finally I attach and adjust the stabilizer strap to make sure my pack is balanced and that my shoulder straps are in the proper place so they don't cause rubbing and chafing. It sounds like alot but after a short time it becomes such second nature it takes just seconds.
I have noticed that when pilgrims have complained to me about their pack and the pain they are having usually in their shoulders it is because they have completely ignored making use of their load lifters.
I still learned from your post and look forward to the hip belt post soon.
Thanks.
 

Arniece2022

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April, 2022
Thank you, Dave for your posts. I really appreciate you taking the time. Having passed my Osprey Women's pack on to my granddaughter, I'm in the process of purchasing a new one for my first Camino. My shopping options are limited where I now live and there are no women specific packs, so I feel I'm learning all over again. My question - in your diagram, are those straight shoulder pads or J shaped pads? I look forward to your next post.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
It’s the hip belt that has to carry like 80% of the weight. Shoulder straps is mostly to keep the backpack in place. Very wrong to let the shoulders and upper back do the work.
I've used backpacks with very minimal padding in the shoulder straps, and they were perfectly comfortable because the backpack wasn't pulling on them. In fact, I don't really like the over-padded straps.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Thank you, Dave for your posts. I really appreciate you taking the time. Having passed my Osprey Women's pack on to my granddaughter, I'm in the process of purchasing a new one for my first Camino. My shopping options are limited where I now live and there are no women specific packs, so I feel I'm learning all over again. My question - in your diagram, are those straight shoulder pads or J shaped pads? I look forward to your next post.
They were not meant to show a specific shape, only to help with the diagram..

Below is a specific picture that shows the difference between the two shapes. Some manufacturers, like Gossamer Gear and Gregory have been adopting a hybrid, modified 'J' shape to deal with the different chest types.

The "S' strap on the Left. The 'J' on the Right.

Shoulder Harness Shapes.jpg

This video from ULA does a good job of showing the comparative difference in strap shapes while worn. Ignore the fact that it is from a specific manufacturer. The 'S' strap needs to be worn and tried out in order to see if it impinges on the neck causing chafing.

 
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Richard Smith

Active Member
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Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
Dave - when you do the hip belt post, do you have any hints for a male with slim hips? (most ppl would say I have no hips and no bum).
On my day packs/bike riding packs I cut off the hip straps. On my larger packs I need them really tight to get much weight on the hips, this is doable and gets easier as I lose weight on a longer walk. The new forward-pull adjustments systems help.
Thanks for the shoulder harness post, no need to reply in this thread.
 

Canada Wanders

Lost, but making great time...
Time of past OR future Camino
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CP 2018
Dave is on the money, as usual. Must be that military background!
Travel light, freeze at night!
 

LakeMcD

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 15' Portuguese 16' GR10/Norte/Primitivo 17' Chemin LePuy 18' Salvador/Prim/Kerry Way 19'
Dave thank you for your post. I would suggest adding information about proper vertical placement of the shoulder harness system for packs with adjustable harnesses. I understand that it is to some degree interrelated to the position of the hipbelt and back length, but it is a common sight to see them placed poorly, especially too high which might mimic the load ratio on the hips but does not provide a nice wrap over the shoulders when lifter straps are adjusted resulting in a gap between the apex of shoulder and harness.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
I don't think a pilgrim can overestimate the importance of this statement. I recently held a funeral for my REI pack that served me so well on 6 caminos. My camino from Sevilla in October, 2021 saw the death of my pack about a week out of Santiago. I still had to get to Santiago and Muxia and final stop FInisestere. I ended up buying a cheap duffle bag to bring my gear home when I got back to Santiago.
Over the years as my pack and I became intimate I was able to make those small adjustments without even thinking as I walked or after I put my pack back on in the morning. I would know instantaneously if an adjustment was needed. I knew whenever I unpacked I would have to repack to make sure weight distribution was correct. I only loosen one shoulder strap adjuster and put my pack on with care as to try not to disturb other adjustments. I tighten my shoulder strap, then my hipbelt Icheck where the load lifter was sitting, and then re-tighten or loosen the hip or shoulder belts to make sure things sit properly.
Finally I attach and adjust the stabilizer strap to make sure my pack is balanced and that my shoulder straps are in the proper place so they don't cause rubbing and chafing. It sounds like alot but after a short time it becomes such second nature it takes just seconds.
I have noticed that when pilgrims have complained to me about their pack and the pain they are having usually in their shoulders it is because they have completely ignored making use of their load lifters.
I still learned from your post and look forward to the hip belt post soon.
Thanks.
Nice to see a comment on the load lifters! BUT am I missing something? There are 2 little straps on the top of all my rucks which I take to be load ADJUSTERS i.e. alters how the ruck is pulled in tight to one's back or loosened when necessary. Going back many years I am sure I have read that the ruck in tight was suitable for steep ASCENTS and loosening it off was necessary for steep DESCENTS in that this helped with balance. As I have a balance problem I would be interested if anyone can comment on this? Thanks in advance :)

Samarkand.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 Bayonne to Vasco Interior/Burgo to Santiago
Nice to see a comment on the load lifters! BUT am I missing something? There are 2 little straps on the top of all my rucks which I take to be load ADJUSTERS i.e. alters how the ruck is pulled in tight to one's back or loosened when necessary. Going back many years I am sure I have read that the ruck in tight was suitable for steep ASCENTS and loosening it off was necessary for steep DESCENTS in that this helped with balance. As I have a balance problem I would be interested if anyone can comment on this? Thanks in advance :)

Samarkand.
I would think @davebugg is our go to pilgrim to answer this. As I get older I see how keeping one’s balance is something I am acutely aware of. I do not know what is true or rumor about tightening or loosening load lifters walking up or down steep hills. I hate hills!!!!! But they are kind of unavoidable on Camino. Ahhh suck fond memories of the Norte and Le Puy! What I do is fit my pack for maxim comfort and the best placement to avoid injury. When I am waking up or down a steep hill I may adjust straps if necessary as I walk for fit and balance.
But for uphill I depend mostly on the push off of my sticks and a steady and easy rhythm.
On the downhills I employ the zig
Zag walking technique. The steeper the hills the closer together my zig
Zags are. I also depend on
My sticks to keep me upright and angled correctly to prevent stress from bad weight distribution on my hips, knees and ankles.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Dave thank you for your post. I would suggest adding information about proper vertical placement of the shoulder harness system for packs with adjustable harnesses. I understand that it is to some degree interrelated to the position of the hipbelt and back length, but it is a common sight to see them placed poorly, especially too high which might mimic the load ratio on the hips but does not provide a nice wrap over the shoulders when lifter straps are adjusted resulting in a gap between the apex of shoulder and harness.

Great observation. I have seen that, too, especially with beginners who are new to wearing a backpack. I have even been asked to help folks who were incorrectly fitted by salespersons in bigger retail stores, like REI or EMS.

I do have a guide, which has been posted before, that covers the methods for the proper fitting and adjustment of a backpack which addresses that issue. I'll see if I can post it again and you can let me know if that does, in fact, address the issue.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Nice to see a comment on the load lifters! BUT am I missing something? There are 2 little straps on the top of all my rucks which I take to be load ADJUSTERS i.e. alters how the ruck is pulled in tight to one's back or loosened when necessary. Going back many years I am sure I have read that the ruck in tight was suitable for steep ASCENTS and loosening it off was necessary for steep DESCENTS in that this helped with balance. As I have a balance problem I would be interested if anyone can comment on this? Thanks in advance :)

Samarkand.

The load lifters are load adjusters are stabilizers are. . . they have several different labels. :) They should be adjusted by how it feels. I know that is kind of vague, but both the shoulder straps and the load lifters will slightly interact with each other as each is adjusted. Load lifters can also be drawn too tight, so they are best used judiciously.

I am familiar with the concept of loosening the shoulder straps a bit on downhills, and I recommend that you do not loosen or tighten based on a rule, but on what makes the load feel more in control and in-synch with you body movements. Snugging the load lifters will draw the load closer to the body core which means the load will be in better balance with your upper body movements.

The uphill-downhill thing is a dance; you do not want the load, while walking downhill to 'tip' you forward with gravity and make you top heavy. Loosening the shoulder straps, allowing the backpack to dangle away from the back a bit, is thought to act as a sort of counter force.

In my experience, I find that my balance is better controlled on downhills by slightly leaning backwards on declines, than it is by loosing shoulder straps. That said, it is not an either/or choice; you can do both a backward lean and loosen load lifters to achieve your feeling of the best balance.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
Dave - when you do the hip belt post, do you have any hints for a male with slim hips? (most ppl would say I have no hips and no bum).
On my day packs/bike riding packs I cut off the hip straps. On my larger packs I need them really tight to get much weight on the hips, this is doable and gets easier as I lose weight on a longer walk. The new forward-pull adjustments systems help.
Thanks for the shoulder harness post, no need to reply in this thread.

I will definitely keep this in mind, Richard.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
I would think @davebugg is our go to pilgrim to answer this. As I get older I see how keeping one’s balance is something I am acutely aware of. I do not know what is true or rumor about tightening or loosening load lifters walking up or down steep hills. I hate hills!!!!! But they are kind of unavoidable on Camino. Ahhh suck fond memories of the Norte and Le Puy! What I do is fit my pack for maxim comfort and the best placement to avoid injury. When I am waking up or down a steep hill I may adjust straps if necessary as I walk for fit and balance.
But for uphill I depend mostly on the push off of my sticks and a steady and easy rhythm.
On the downhills I employ the zig
Zag walking technique. The steeper the hills the closer together my zig
Zags are. I also depend on
My sticks to keep me upright and angled correctly to prevent stress from bad weight distribution on my hips, knees and ankles.
Agree on the zig mode and the use of sticks (pacer poles of course) but not sure that what I ask is based on rumour! I actually have done this and am curious about what gurus or humblies think :)

Thankee

Samarkand
 
Time of past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
The load lifters are load adjusters are stabilizers are. . . they have several different labels. :) They should be adjusted by how it feels. I know that is kind of vague, but both the shoulder straps and the load lifters will slightly interact with each other as each is adjusted. Load lifters can also be drawn too tight, so they are best used judiciously.

I am familiar with the concept of loosening the shoulder straps a bit on downhills, and I recommend that you do not loosen or tighten based on a rule, but on what makes the load feel more in control and in-synch with you body movements. Snugging the load lifters will draw the load closer to the body core which means the load will be in better balance with your upper body movements.

The uphill-downhill thing is a dance; you do not want the load, while walking downhill to 'tip' you forward with gravity and make you top heavy. Loosening the shoulder straps, allowing the backpack to dangle away from the back a bit, is thought to act as a sort of counter force.

In my experience, I find that my balance is better controlled on downhills by slightly leaning backwards on declines, than it is by loosing shoulder straps. That said, it is not an either/or choice; you can do both a backward lean and loosen load lifters to achieve your feeling of the best balance.
a well thought out reply and in keeping with my personal beliefs :)

Samarkand.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 Bayonne to Vasco Interior/Burgo to Santiago
Agree on the zig mode and the use of sticks (pacer poles of course) but not sure that what I ask is based on rumour! I actually have done this and am curious about what gurus or humblies think :)

Thankee

Samarkand
I hope you Are getting your question answered so you can have many happier and pain free trails down camino ways.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Looking forward to the comments from folks who argue for basically carrying a pillow case with CVS receipts for shoulders straps (as long it costs <$10) rather than invest in quality gear...
I have seen practically that before on the Camino and the pilgrim (s) arrived in Santiago...alive!
Probably makes the gear snobs have fits. :D
 

Phoenix

Generic member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I have seen practically that before on the Camino and the pilgrim (s) arrived in Santiago...alive!
Probably makes the gear snobs have fits. :D
Good for them. 👏 I do not care what others use.

However, I am always puzzled when those folks boast that their way is better (because they went the cheap route and suffered for it) rather than using gear that has been designed specifically for the purpose of walking with your stuff strapped to your back.
 

neverlost4good

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2015
Note: Hip belt systems are important, but that is not the focus of this thread. That will be a separate discussion later on. This is an edited version of an earlier post I had written.

There are currently a few discussions taking place about the cost of backpacks. . . dirt cheap low cost backpacks, versus moderate cost backpacks, versus expensive backpacks. One concern is whether or not there can be an equivalency, regardless of price point, to the ability to achieve a good and comfortable fit and adjustability. This is a separate consideration to the question of the longevity of a backpack, the ability of a backpack to absorb wear and tear, resist rainwater leakage, placement of pockets, etc.

I do not dispute the fact that even a 10 Euro China Market school bag can be used to hold stuff and be carried on one's back for a Camino. . . or a wilderness backpacking trip. In my mind, that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not carrying stuff on a Camino can be done comfortably, and that the backpack does not create problems and take away from the enjoyment of walking.

I also recognize that what one individual may find to be aggravating and niggling with a brand and model of backpack to the point of unremitting misery, a different individual may find that same backpack to be a blissful matchup.

From the large numbers of backpacks I have used or gear tested over the decades, I can state that price does not automatically determine whether a backpack will be comfortable to wear, which is the focus in this thread.

Price most often will reflect the durability of materials that are much lighter in weight, will see increased ease of use and usability due to higher quality parts like zippers and buckles, and the addition of such elements as the types and numbers of external pockets, hydration reservoir holders, and detachable brains (tops), etc.

It might be helpful to look at just one part of the whole, and to discuss and describe how that one part is designed to help assure the ability of the backpack to fit and to function properly. So for this thread, I decided to focus on the backpack's shoulder harness system. When assessing any price level of backpack for usability, these are some things you may wish to consider.

What is the shoulder harness?

Simply put, the shoulder harness is the system of straps, pads, and hardware that is attached to backpack’s bag. It is what allows the user to put on and to wear the backpack.


View attachment 119089

What Does a Shoulder Harness Do?

A well-designed shoulder harness will effectively and evenly carry, distribute, and balance the weight of the pack’s load to the wearer. “Wait, hold on a second”, you may be thinking, “Isn’t it the hipbelt which carries the load”?

Well, yes and no. A predominant myth exists which states that a hipbelt should carry the total weight of the pack. The reality is different. For the best performance and long-term comfort, the shoulder harness should carry between 5 to 15% of the weight, and the hipbelt will have 85% to 95%.

In order to have the best balance and control while carrying a backpack, it requires that the backpack be drawn close to the body. To accomplish this, there needs to be a slight loading onto the shoulder straps. A good shoulder harness system is designed to do this in the most comfortable method possible. Additionally, a good shoulder harness system works in concert with the hipbelt system, so that the hipbelt functions properly.

A good shoulder harness system will avoid impacts to your body’s ability to function properly. It will help to eliminate compression to the chest which can affect the volume of air-uptake in respiration. It will absolutely minimize or eliminate localized nerve compression which can cause numbness to the arms, and pain to the neck and shoulders. It will also help prevent undue stress to the core muscles caused by imbalances to the body.

Parts and Characteristics of a Well-Designed Shoulder Harness
  • Shoulder straps. The straps should not be too narrow and made of a synthetic material which will not degrade with exposure to sun, sweat, and weather. The material should have a texture to keep it from slipping when adjusted.
  • Padding. The pad on your shoulders should feel comfortable AND supportive. Good pads are made of dual density foams or EVA, or similar. Good pads should have a contoured shape for comfort and to reduce muscle fatigue. The two basic shapes are “J” and “S”.
  • Sternum strap which can be adjusted by height and length.
  • Stabilizer / load-lifting straps.
  • Attachment points to the backpack’s frame and bag that are reinforced, efficient, comfortable, and useful for the load’s weight disbursement.
  • Buckles that allow quick, easy, and intuitive operation for harness and strap adjustments.
Shoulder Strap Pads

The shape of the shoulder strap padding is readily noticeable. The pad's shape will affect the backpack’s comfort and feel while being worn. The shapes you’ll likely see on backpacks are either straight or contoured.

A ‘straight’ shaped pad is, well, straight. It is a singular, shapeless, straight line from the top attachment point on the strap to the bottom point on the strap.

A ‘contoured’ shaped pad is generally one of two basic shapes. These shape chosen will make a difference to the individual in both the overall fit of the shoulder harness, as well as its comfort. Contoured straps can reduce the amount of rubbing between your body and the straps, and reduces pinching to your muscles by shaping around them, instead of going over them
  • “J” shape: The J shape has been the most common shape on both men’s and women’s backpacks for quite a while now. For upper body shapes that are more slender to regular, the J shaped strap pads work very well.
  • "S" shape: The S shape pads are a fairly new innovation. These pads curve inward just above the sternum, then back outward below your arms. This shape works very well for women due to the shape and unique anatomy of their chests (OK, ok, I'm referring to breasts). This pad shape also works well for men who have large and/or muscular chests.
A Backpack Should Have Sternum Straps

A sternum strap helps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack through the shoulder harness. It helps by preventing sore shoulders. As even long-time backpackers will tell you, carrying a full backpack, even with a hipbelt properly adjusted, is going to put some strain on your shoulders. By using a chest strap, you will be able to ease the pressure on your shoulders, essential when you’re trekking for long distances

The sternum strap also helps maintain the placement of the shoulder straps on your shoulders so that they do not slide off your shoulders. The tighter the sternum strap is, the more weight is displaced. BUT, if a sternum strap is too tight, it can constrain your breathing. It can also cause your neck muscles to become pinched, as well as other areas like the Trapezius muscle.

Ideally, the sternum strap will be adjustable, both in terms of the strap’s length, and allowing for vertical positioning up and down the shoulder straps. This means that you can place the sternum strap at the best height on your chest, around your chest’s unique anatomy. Then when you fasten the sternum strap across your chest, you can properly ‘dial in’ the desired tightness for the best function.

A few different systems are used for the height adjustment. If you are unsure of how to do the adjustments, check with the manufacturer’s website. Oftentimes there will be instructional videos.

When trying out a new backpack, make sure that the sternum strap can be properly adjusted to fit YOU comfortably.

As a rule of thumb, your sternum strap should be roughly an inch below your collar bone. One neat feature that some bags have is the ability to stow away sternum straps when they’re not in use through clips on the shoulder straps that hold them in place or lash points that can hold them down so that they’re not flapping all over the place when not in use.

Many backpacks Have Stabilizer Straps

Some, but not all, good backpacks have a set of adjustable straps connecting the upper portion of the shoulder straps, to an attachment point near the top of the backpack. These are called by two common names: stabilizer straps, or load-lifting straps.

These straps serve a couple of primary purposes.
  • Support for your shoulders. When pulled tight, they pull the pack bag closer toward your back. This tends to take a bit of pressure from the top of the shoulder straps.
  • Balance and stability. Because the pack bag is closer to your body, it further stabilizes the balance of the backpack’s load by keeping it closer to your center of gravity.
While load lifters can be extremely helpful for long hikes or carrying heavier loads, their usefulness is dependent on proper adjustment. Proper adjustment is also important to avoid negative effects that could be caused by improper use of load lifter straps.

Effectiveness requires that the load lifter straps are anchored to the proper locations on the backpack. Usually, that is not an issue with the major backpack manufacturers and the cottage manufacturers. It is the backpacks which are cheaply made in places like China, that load lifters can be worse than useless. They are added to these cheap backpacks as a cosmetic mimic of the high-quality backpacks. The cheap backpacks do this in order to fool consumers as to usability.

Pulling load lifters too tight can put excessive pressure on your shoulders. It can also force the top of the backpack's bag so close to the back of your head, that you have a hard time if you want to tilt your head up to look around or at the sky.

When under proper tension, the stabilizer straps will form an angle of 35-degrees to 50-degrees while looking at the backpack in profile as it is being worn. When the stabilizer straps are very long, they can start swinging all over the place as you move. Lash points that keep the excess straps out of the way are easy ways to prevent them from driving you insane.

Adjustability: How easy are the straps to adjust?

During your treks and hikes, you will make frequent and tiny adjustments to the straps as you are walking; it becomes second nature as you and your backpack develop a relationship. Adjustments are done to alleviate pressure in one area, to get a better feel of the pack, to help center its gravity-induced movements on difficult terrain, etc. You are doing small adjustments because it just feels good to do so.

A well-made harness system should allow for easy adjustments and not give you any problems. Straps should be easy to tension and just as easy to let the straps out and make them a bit longer. The strap’s material is one factor in this, but the hardware and buckles that a backpack manufacturer uses will be the biggest factor in the ease of performing that task.

When choosing a backpack, make sure that it isn’t a struggle to adjust the various straps on the harness and the hipbelt. You will be doing adjustments thousands of times during the life of your backpack and you want that process to be simple, intuitive, and easy. If it isn’t, you will start to loath your backpack.

A backpack is your ‘house’. Inside that house (depending on whether you are walking a Camino or on a wilderness backpacking trip) are your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, closet, and attic. A great backpack is exceedingly usable (and lovable). However, without a good shoulder harness system, no backpack will meet those goals.
Love your writing!! Now to dig my Osprey out and play.
 
F

Former member 99026

Guest
If you need a pack like that I would respectfully suggest you need to look seriously at what you are packing.
The less you carry the more you will enjoy the walk. You don't need an expensive pack if you are only carrying 3 or 4 kg (or less).
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
If you need a pack like that I would respectfully suggest you need to look seriously at what you are packing.
The less you carry the more you will enjoy the walk. You don't need an expensive pack if you are only carrying 3 or 4 kg (or less).

To what are you referring? I did not make reference to costs. I am also curious as to what you think I might be packing.

In terms of loaded weight and the styles or types of backpack to choose from, I agree that one can get by with less adjustable and more basic shoulder strap systems. Frameless backpacks are even designed around light load weights.

My Camino backpack base weight is 3.5 Kg. That compares to my multi-week wilderness backpacking base weight which typically hovers around 7.5 kg even with my PCT thru-hike. My preference for Camino is a backpack with a good shoulder harness system and waist belt even if it is a light load.

I prefer to not tell others what they need or want, and would certainly not presume to do so with regard to your personal preferences and tastes.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
You don't need an expensive pack if you are only carrying 3 or 4 kg (or less).
There are many other threads for discussion of how to reduce backpack weight, for those who want to do so.

At home, I carry up to 3 or 4 kg on a daily basis in a pack with limited adjustments. When I add a gallon of milk to my pack, my body reminds me that if I lived further than 2 km from the store, I should get a different backpack.

On the Camino, I like to carry 5-6 kg. Doing that for 6-8 hours daily for a month or more, in comfort, means I prefer to have a well fitted and adjusted pack.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Good for them. 👏 I do not care what others use.

However, I am always puzzled when those folks boast that their way is better (because they went the cheap route and suffered for it) rather than using gear that has been designed specifically for the purpose of walking with your stuff strapped to your back.
I just bring it up because I don't want anyone on limited, at times very limited, funds and resources to be intimidated by the cost of gear that is recommended on this forum sometimes. Some gear costing in the hundreds of dollars. Beyond what some people who want to walk the Camino can possibly ever afford. I realize this forum represents only a fraction of people who walk the Camino, but I'm surprised sometimes how bubble dwelling some of the comments are when I bring that up.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I just bring it up because I don't want anyone on limited, at times very limited, funds and resources to be intimidated by the cost of gear that is recommended on this forum sometimes. Some gear costing in the hundreds of dollars. Beyond what some people who want to walk the Camino can possibly ever afford. I realize this forum represents only a fraction of people who walk the Camino, but I'm surprised sometimes how bubble dwelling some of the comments are when I bring that up.

You make a fair point, and most certainly a low budget does not need to mean condemnation to the cheap and poorly designed or made. A backpack, for example, under 80 Euros can have a decent shoulder harness and waist belt. Sure, better materials and refinements incrementally improve with cost, but the basics can be found on lower cost gear.

And with used equipment, second hand stores, garage sales, etc. which are a great source for the Pilgrim on a budget (or anyone looking for a bargain), knowing the basics for what makes a backpack work well can be valuable. It can also help save money by helping a pilgrim choose bargains that will fit and feel decent, so that s/he doesn't end up trashing a backpack because it is too uncomfortable.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I have seen practically that before on the Camino and the pilgrim (s) arrived in Santiago...alive!
Probably makes the gear snobs have fits. :D

It is sometimes a hoot to listen to the true ‘Gear Snob’ blather to anyone in earshot about the thousands of dollars of Stupid-Lite gear and clothing loaded inside their lighter than light backpack constructed with Unobtanium Fabrics. Many times, such peacocking is done by those with the least amount of trail mileage under their unscuffed boots.

I also see sometimes detect what Phoenix refers to, which is sort of a reverse Gear Snobbery. . . the disparaging remarks of those who have the means to purchase higher budget gear. Suffice it to say, no one should be made to feel like they need to defend their choices or selections of clothing or gear on Camino.
 
Last edited:

4sallypat

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Searching for 1st time Camino...
Thanks @davebugg - very good information.

Looking at planning my first camino, I am looking at taking one of my waterproof angling backpacks as I am planning on a fall trip.

Since I spey fly fish rivers in the fall and winter months, my choice of pack is for extreme weather conditions - rain, snow, ice.

Will have to train with my packs to see what will work.

Luckily, I will have luggage transport service between stops on the camino and will only carry day essentials in the pack.
 

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