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reducing backpack load


Backpacks can be very helpful when toting school supplies back and forth but have you ever realized that something so helpful can be a burden of heaviness?  The North American Spine Society has developed tips that parents and adult students can implement to reduce the amount of stress backpacks put on our spine. The ABCs of Backpacking cover a range of recommendations to prevent injuries due to an overloaded backpack.


1- What Type of Pack?

If you are using a frameless pack, start by inserting your sleeping mat into your backpack (either in cylinder form or flat against the back). If you have an internal frame pack begin with Step 2. For external frame users, take a good hard look at yourself and go and buy a different pack. ????

2- Waterproof

Line the inside of your backpack with a trash compacter bag. Cheap, light and effective. For extra protection with backpack load, make the trash bag big enough so that you can either tie it off or fold the top over when the rain starts coming down in earnest.

3- Bottom

I place my bivy sack and clothing items I will not need during the day (e.g. extra socks, rain pants, thermal underwear, insulation layer when it’s warm) at the bottom of the pack to balance out backpack load. Such gear is generally not excessively heavy, but its bulk provides a base upon which you can place weightier items (see below).

4- Middle

To combat backpack load, heavier objects such as food, shelter and water (if you happen to be carrying more than a couple of litres) should be situated close to your back in the medium to upper regions of the pack.

Utilize your sleeping bag to fill the outer sections. This method has the dual benefits of keeping the pack’s centre of gravity close to your back, as well as helping to maintain the long term loft of your sleeping bag (i.e. less compression than when placed in a stuff sack and/or put at the bottom of your backpack).

5- Top

For ease of access, put your snacks, shell, extra maps and any other items you think you may need during the day at the top of your pack (Note: smaller objects can also be placed in convenient hip, shoulder or side pockets).