Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Get backpack with padded hip belt for heavy loads, long distances

A padded hip belt on a backpack will go a long way to
making a hike more comfortable. Photo courtesy of
el neato/Photoree
If carrying heavy loads or going long distances, a padded hip belt on a backpack is a must for most hikers, even if just day hiking.

A padded hip belt will help shift the weight of the pack from the shoulders to the hip by as much as 90 percent. The shoulders then primarily stabilize the load.

Since hips are stronger than shoulders and the weight now sits near the body’s center of mass, a hiker using a backpack with a padded hip belt will enjoy a number of benefits. Foremost among them is reduced back and shoulder pain. Another major benefit is better balance and increased agility, which is helpful on rugged terrain. All of this adds up to being able to handle longer distances or hours on the trail.

Just how much is a heavy load and a long distance, though? Usually a minimum of 10 pounds in a backpack is considered a heavy load. Anything longer than three miles is a long distance, though that number can go decrease if you have a lot of elevation gain or are hiking at a high altitude. Of course, the more fit you are, 10 pounds and three miles may still be light and a short distance.

If you carry just a couple of pounds on a fairly flat surface for a mile or two, a standard day pack without a padded hip belt usually is perfectly fine.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.