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80skeys
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 8:25 am 
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I'd like to get some recommendations on how to minimize shoulder strain from backpack straps. That's the biggest problem I have every time I go backpacking.

I've of course already gone through the littany of adjusting the balance on the hips, and using the chest strap. None of this helps. What I inevitably end up doing is hooking my thumbs under the straps and lifting them slightly off my shoulders. Gets tiring on my arms after a while.

I've got an internal frame backpack.

Looking for any tips or tricks. Maybe foam pads?
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Schroder
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 8:44 am 
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It sounds like it doesn't match your torso size & a good pack will also have adjustment at the top of the shoulder straps to adjust the pressure at the top. Packs are like boots & a good fit makes all the difference.
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coldrain108
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 9:07 am 
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second the torso height thing and the beauty of load lifters.

in 2002 I destroyed the ball joint of my right shoulder skiing.  It will never be right again.  I can deal with it but it has caused me to carry my packs differently than stated on most websites.  I use Zpacks but I do not size it the way they explain on their website.

I'm only 5'10" tall and I use what is called a "tall" sized (23-26" torso length) set at about 25".  My wife has a medium (20-23" torso).  I can use her's as a daypack with the torso size at the max. I can carry with nearly zero weight on my shoulders.  I go by the 2 fingers rule.  I can fit 2 fingers between the curve of the shoulder strap and the top of my shoulder, the chest strap just keeps it from flopping backwards.

Before that I had difficulty getting a pack with a long enough torso length. Gregory, Osprey, TNF etc.  Nothing worked and after a few hours my right shoulder would be aching.  Now I can go all day and have no issues with my shoulder.  And I didn't have to spend 800$+ on a custom made McHale pack - that was going to be my option until I found the Zpacks (not cheap but not 800$).

Of course I reduced my overall pack weight along the way.

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80skeys
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 10:05 pm 
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I've got an osprey Aether 70. Next time I take it out i'll see if it has the adjustment at the top of the shoulder straps. And i'll see if they have some instructions for proper sizing with my torso.
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80skeys
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 10:08 pm 
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i found this: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacks-adjusting-fit.html
i'll follow these instructions with my pack. Thanks for guiding me in the right direction.
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Chief Joseph
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PostTue Jul 21, 2020 11:15 pm 
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I had a pack that was too short for my torso and if I put more than 25 lbs in it the strain on my shoulders was brutal. I have a properly fitting pack now and the shoulder strain is minimal. I also backpack with a fanny pack and I think the extra strap helps to keep my pack from sliding down over my hips.

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Navy salad
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PostSat Jul 25, 2020 11:52 am 
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I've had this same issue with same pack.

One thing that has helped me is that during the pandemic, I've been trying to stay in shape by "hiking" in my neighborhood, including a long steep hill we are fortunate to have (at least when it's not snowing!) wearing a backpack with sandbags totaling around 33 pounds.  At first, it would make my shoulders sore, but I find I'm gradually getting used to it as my shoulders adapt and there's noticeably less soreness. I plan to gradually increase the weight.
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80skeys
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PostSat Jul 25, 2020 12:10 pm 
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I went to REI yesterday and they helped me properly adjust my backpack and it makes a world of difference. Well... at least from the short period of time I was wearing it in the store. I need to test it out on the trail near my home, but so far it looks like it's very important to make sure the straps are adjusted correctly.

So.. I'm incined to say that Schroder's comment is spot-on.
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