Did you know that it is estimated that a massive 80% of the US population will suffer from back pain at least some point in their lives?
It’s one of the most common ailments we can experience as humans, and it costs a whopping $50 Billion in healthcare costs in America alone.
But aside from the alarming figures, the real downside is that it stops people from doing what they really want to do.
And this can be especially heartbreaking if you enjoy hiking in the great outdoors – or any other activity for that matter.
Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions (which we will explore in-depth throughout this article) but let’s start with a bit of good news.
Here are the best backpacks for back pain and shoulder pain on the market.
Don’t let the pain win when you still have mountains left to climb!
- TOP 19 Best Backpacks for Back Pain 2020
- Rupumpack Insulated Hydration Backpack
- OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack
- Mardingtop Tactical Molle Backpack
- Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack
- Mountaintop Hiking Backpack
- GoBack Trail Roll Top Hiking Backpack
- Black Diamond Bullet Daypack
- Nevo Rhino Internal Frame Hiking Backpack
- Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack
- Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
- Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack
- JanSport Odyssey Backpack
- Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
- The North Face Big Shot
- Deuter Trail 30 Hiking Backpack
- Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack
- Mammut Trion Spine Mountaineering Backpack
- Osprey Women’s Ariel 55 Backpack
- Arc’teryx Men’s Bora AR 63 Backpack
- TOP 7 Best Backpack for Shoulder Pain 2020
- How to Choose the Best Backpack for Back Pain – A Buyer’s Guide and FAQ
TOP 19 Best Backpacks for Back Pain 2020
Rupumpack Insulated Hydration Backpack
Review: The 18 L capacity of this backpack makes it perfect for people who shouldn’t be lugging a ton of weight around.
It comes with a hydration bladder, which can keep liquid cool for up to four hours, and it’s designed to keep you hydrated during all sorts of outdoor activities.
It’s great for a day hike or a cycling trip, being equipped with safety reflectors. This is the perfect pack for low-intensity sporting events, as the waist straps will protect your back from taking on too much.
The Rupumpack is super-lightweight at only 1.4 lbs, and has well designed ventilated mesh padding in the shoulder straps, waist straps and back area to ensure the comfort of the pack.
It offers plenty of storage options with some excellent organizational features to keep all your gear handy on the go.
- Great price.
- Choice of colors.
- 18 L capacity is perfect for day trips.
- Water-resistant nylon material.
- Insulation later for hydration system will keep your drink cool.
- Comes with 2.5 L hydration bladder.
- Good sized hip strap pockets.
- Breathable mesh padding in shoulder and hip straps.
- Quality of the hydration bladder and tube does not match the backpack.
OutdoorMaster Hiking Backpack
Review: This is a high capacity backpack built with your comfort in mind. The back comes with soft padded straps and breathable mesh to keep things from feeling heavy or hot.
The hip straps are thick around the sides and fully adjustable in the front. It comes with a ton of great storage pockets, including one for your water bottle.
The main compartment zips open completely which may make for easier access than top-only openings, and it contains a padded laptop compartment.
It’s probably designed more for travel than hiking. However, the main criteria for a hiking backpack is that it fits well and is comfortable.
So if you like what you feel when you try it on (don’t forget to put something heavy inside and walk around the shop for a bit), then there’s no reason why this can’t be a great option.
- 50 L capacity.
- Durable material.
- Adjustable, padded straps.
- Plenty of pockets.
- Rain cover included.
- Comfortable, padded and adjustable straps.
- Not specific to hiking.
Mardingtop Tactical Molle Backpack
Review: The military knows a thing or two about carrying heavy loads as comfortably as possible, so any backpack designed with this in mind should be pretty effective for those with back or shoulder pain.
This is a rugged, well-built pack made from 600 denier polyester with YKK zippers. It’s Molle compatible, so you can attach additional gear and items to the system, as well as bottom buckles to attach a sleeping bag, tent or bedroll.
It has waist and sternum straps to help weight distribution, is hydration pouch compatible and has plenty of internal and external organization options.
Versatile for a variety of uses and activities, this is a quality budget option not just for those who suffer from back pain.
- Great price.
- Practical design.
- Loads of features.
- Hydration pack compatible.
- Molle system option.
- Choice of sizes and colors.
- Water resistance could be improved.
Teton Sports Oasis 1100 Hydration Pack
Review: Based out of Utah, Teton Sports make some quality outdoor gear that is easy on the bank balance – and easy on your shoulders, neck and back, too.
This hydration pack is suitable for a variety of activities, with its own hydration bladder incorporated, weighing just 2 lbs unfilled. Made from a tough and durable 600 denier Ripstop PU, the shoulder straps and adjustable waist support are designed with comfort in mind for a long day out on the trails.
It also features a notched foam stabilizer and breathable mesh covering so you can wear this pack for hours. The Oasis boasts the attractive statistic as being one of the highest-rated products in its class out there, and for the price, it could well be the best backpack for neck pain there is.
- Loads of positive reviews.
- Well designed and constructed.
- Hydration pack included.
- Tough and durable.
- Chest strap with rescue whistle.
- Choice of colors.
- On the small side for longer hikes or overnight trips.
Mountaintop Hiking Backpack
Review: This is a lightweight, all-weather hiking backpack with supportive hip straps and great weight distribution.
All of the straps are easily adjustable for a custom fit, keeping you comfortable. Though it’s not specifically designed for a hydration system, one of the compartments can easily be used for a bladder, and there’s even a place for a tube.
The 40 L capacity may seem limiting, but rest assured, it is adequate if you pack strategically and it will prevent back pain sufferers from packing too much. It offers the added bonus of being a hiking backpack that most airlines accept as a carry-on, making it an ideal choice for a weekend away.
You get a lot of bang for your buck here, a lightweight backpack that is overflowing with additional features you can customize until your heart (and shoulders) are content.
- Very affordable.
- Very comfortable.
- 6 adjustable straps allow for easy attachment of extra gear.
- Bottom zipper for easy access to the internal compartment.
- Molded foam back panel is comfortable and breathable.
- Could be suitable as hand luggage for air travel.
- Comes with a rain cover.
- Not durable enough for extended hikes with heavier loads.
GoBack Trail Roll Top Hiking Backpack
Review: Weighing only 1.1kg (2lbs 8ozs), this bag is perfect for ultralight backpacking trips.
The bag fits all your essentials and makes you go fast due to its semi-frameless, lightweight internal frame that helps keep the weight down and comfortable.
It has a padded hip belt that distributes the weight to your hips and legs, thus keeping it off your shoulders and back. The hip belt integrates pockets for keeping things like smartphone, snacks and pocket camera.
Another pocket on the front is perfect for rain gear, maps or any other items that you need instant access to. There are also mesh side pockets for holding water bottles.
Lashing loops give you the flexibility of attaching whatever you need to the exterior of the backpack. The capacity is 35L but it can be extended to 50L, meaning you always have the right pack for short or long trips.
The bag has been tried and tested along the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail so you can rest assured of great performance.
As a matter of fact, the bag comes with a money-back guarantee if you won’t be pleased with it.
We bet you’ll love it.
- Adjustably capacity 35-50L.
- Pockets on the hip belts for convenient storage.
- Mesh bottle holders.
- Loops for exterior gear storage.
- Money-back guarantee.
- Good value for money.
- Hip belt not as durable as it could be for long hikes.
Black Diamond Bullet Daypack
Review: Another outdoor company based out of Utah, Black Diamond manufacture world-class mountaineering equipment and gear.
This is a beautifully designed backpack that’s very easy on the eye, made from super-tough nylon and is hydration bladder compatible.
Made with day hiking in mind, the Bullet is still versatile enough for your daily commute, everyday carry or just about any other application where you need a compact, sleek, and comfortable holdall.
It has waist and sternum straps, but the real winner for back pain sufferers is the slimline form that fits snug and holds its position with excellent weight distribution. I might get one of these myself.
- Sleek, ergonomic design.
- Simple yet practical.
- Hydration bladder compatible.
- Choice of stylish colors.
- Versatile use.
- Not suitable for longer trips – a day pack only.
Nevo Rhino Internal Frame Hiking Backpack
Review: There’s a lot to like about this Nevo Rhino hiking backpack, so much so that more space might be needed to shower praise on its features. And features it has in abundance.
First off the bat, you’re getting a framed backpack for a fraction of the cost of what such a product will usually dent your wallet – and framed packs are simply the best for weight distribution and comfortable carrying experience.
There’s adjustable lumbar supports with pockets, sternum strap with a safety whistle, external gear straps, rain cover, and more, while the pack is made from waterproof, durable nylon that won’t let you down.
- Built-in frame.
- Packed with features.
- Quality construction.
- Outstanding price for what you get.
- Choice of colors.
- If there is one I can’t find it. Let me know in the comments.
Wenger Ibex Laptop Backpack
Review: Wenger (Swiss Gear) are the makers of the famous Victorinox knives and blades, as you’ll no doubt recognize from the brand symbol all their backpacks carry.
The quality is unquestionable, and they make some of the most practical and comfortable every-day carry backpacks on the market.
The Ibex is one of their top-rated models, overloaded with pockets, compartments and features, including dedicated laptop sleeve for a device up to 17 inches in size, shock-absorbing straps, fast access storage options and special air-flow back padding to keep you cool even with a full load.
Speaking from experience, these packs are super comfortable to wear, with a quality build that will last you a long time.
- Name to trust.
- Tough and durable.
- A ridiculous amount of pockets and storage options.
- Well-padded straps and lumbar region.
- Not suitable for hiking.
- No waist or sternum strap.
Teton Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
Review: This is a serious, heavy-duty hiking backpack. Though it does offer waist support and hip weight distribution, it’s still a better choice for outdoorsmen who have recovered from their injury or have only experienced a minor one due to its heavier base weight.
This is an internal frame backpack with a 55 L capacity, sturdy enough to carry for a multi-day trip.
It provides great lumbar support and can safely hang away from your body with the fully adjustable shoulder straps.
I thought the Rhino was decent value, but of a couple of bucks more and considering the thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews, this could well be the best backpack for back support on the market.
- Adjustable hip, torso and shoulder straps.
- Canvas shell is durable and water resistant.
- Comes with rain cover.
- Mesh pocket on the front for easy storage.
- Mesh lumbar support for extra comfort.
- Multiple compartments.
- Good value for money.
- 5 lbs is on the heavy side.
Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack
Review: Kelty have been making outdoor gear since 1952 based out of Colorado, and this Redwing backpack is one of their very best.
It offers a super-practical yet stylish design, compact and versatile without wasting any space at all. It has excellent suspension features, including an HDPE frame sheet, hex mesh back panel, shoulder straps & waist belt, ventilating back panel, sternum strap, and load lifter straps.
Suffice to say it’s ideal for anyone suffering from back, shoulder or neck pain as it really attempts to alleviate the struggle.
The hydration pocket can also double as laptop storage, while there’s plenty of organizational features here to ensure this is a highly versatile backpack you’ll use again and again.
- Excellent support throughout.
- Compact, practical design.
- Versatile features.
- Attractive look and feel.
- Choice of colors.
- External webbed pockets could have been deeper.
JanSport Odyssey Backpack
Review: For such a compact backpack to include both sternum and waist straps it’s a real coup for JanSport here with their Odyssey model.
And you might as well go on a journey with this versatile pack, marketed at taking on the trails or school/study/work. It also offers a multi-use, padded compartment that is suitable for a 15 inch laptop or 3L hydration system – depending on if your out of doors or in the office.
Its well-designed features offer plenty of storage space for all your gear, with enough mesh compartments and zipped pockets to help organize whatever you need for your day.
- Excellent capacity.
- Compact yet with lumbar straps.
- Great organization.
- Camo color available.
- It’s quite expensive for its class.
Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack
Review: If you’ve ever been traveling anywhere, there’s a very strong chance you will have seen someone wearing the Osprey Farpoint.
It’s one of the most (if not the most) popular and well-loved backpacks in its class, hence the reason for its inclusion here.
It’s also extremely comfortable to wear, while you can stow away the shoulder straps and hip belt when using the luggage as a carry-on.
It’s perfect as an overnight bag, using on a day hike, commuting with its laptop sleeve, or taking the books to school. It’s sturdy, exceptionally well made and is very nice to look at.
Then again, this Californian brand makes some of the best backpacks in the world – so you’d expect nothing less.
- Top quality design and construction.
- Name to trust.
- Highly versatile.
- Built to last.
- They don’t come cheap – although bargains can be had.
The North Face Big Shot
Review: Of course, we should give Osprey’s closest rivals a chance at biting back, and this effort from the North Face could well give them a run for their money.
It’s actually been designed with the help of a chiropractor, with a FlexVent suspension system that boasts custom injection-molded shoulder straps and a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel for maximum support.
It pretty much ticks all the boxes when it comes to being the best bag for back pain. Internally there’s roomy storage, with a 17 inch padded laptop compartment, a fleece-lined media compartment, two front D-door pockets, hydration port and two mesh pockets for water bottles, umbrellas or other such gear.
The sternum clasp also has a safety whistle incorporated, and the waist belt is actually removable should it be required. Not bad at all.
- Well designed and built.
- Name to trust.
- Loads of practical features.
- Excellent capacity.
- Removable waist strap.
- Laptop sleeve takes up a lot of space.
Deuter Trail 30 Hiking Backpack
Review: Just take one look at the back support system on this Deuter Trail backpack and you know it’s going to do its best to make you comfortable.
To talk in shop speak – a body contact back design keeps weight close to the body for effective load transfer with breathable padding made of open-cell hollow chamber foam and a flexible Delrin U-shaped frame.
And breathe. There’s a pull forward construction that makes it easier to adjust and clip the meshed waist fins, while the S-shaped shoulder harness automatically adjusts to the ergonomics of each wearer with a soft edge and airy 3D mesh lining for improved breathability.
Clearly, someone has thought this through when it comes to backpacks with good back support.
I’ve not even touched on its spacious, one-compartment interior.
- Excellent back support technology.
- Large internal capacity.
- Choice of colors.
- Quality name and manufacture.
- One internal compartment won’t be for everyone.
Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Backpack
Review: For a high capacity backpack that allows you to place weight at the hips, the granite gear Crown VC may be the best backpack for back pain.
It can be used for overnight, day and even thru-hikes. It has several stretch mesh pockets, is compatible with a hydration system and has several outside bungees and loops for attaching gear.
The bag has a crosshatch pattern foam back which aids in air circulation bringing air in from the bottom and moving it upwards.
Because the weight is placed on the hips, you will feel like you are not wearing a pack at all.
- High capacity (60 L).
- Light weight for such a large capacity pack (2.1 lbs).
- Weight load on hips.
- Compatible with a hydration system.
- External gear storage loops and bungees.
- Ventilated back mesh panel.
- Water bladder may be hard to reach when pack is fully loaded.
Mammut Trion Spine Mountaineering Backpack
Review: Swiss company Mammut make some outstanding, heavy-duty backpacks for more challenging adventures and this Trion Spine is no exception.
So-called because of its ingenious active spine technology that supports the way you walk, the easily adjusted suspension system looks like we’ve stolen it from a vastly advanced alien race.
Once again speaking from experience, these packs are built to last with outstanding quality materials, giving the finished product such a look and feel that you’ll wonder how you could possibly fall this much in love with an inanimate object.
There’s more features than you can shake a hiking pole at, but overall it’s simply a thing of beauty.
- Premium quality.
- Unparalleled back support.
- Attractive design.
- Built to last.
- Practical features.
- Suitcase-style opening.
- Only really suitable for hiking or backpacking the world. Don’t take the ice axe into the office.
Osprey Women’s Ariel 55 Backpack
Review: Staying with the trekking packs as we move into the upper echelons of this review, we have another Osprey offering, this time a product targeted at women.
This too has a beautifully designed back support system, with a light wire frame that transfers the load to the hip belt, making it ideal to take the weight off the shoulders while supporting the lower back.
It features an anti-gravity technology with a totally customizable fit to ensure you can wear this pack all day long and barely register it.
The Ariel 55 is designed for longer trails, thru-hiking and trekking, however, feel free to use it on your around-the-world backpacking adventure.
- Excellent back and lumbar support system.
- Name to trust.
- Premium manufacture.
- Practical features designed for the hiker.
- Hydration system option.
- Very expensive.
Arc’teryx Men’s Bora AR 63 Backpack
Review: Let’s have one for the boys now to finish, clearly marketed at serious hikers and trekkers only.
Canadian company Arc’Teryx are known for their world-class gear and apparel, built by mountaineers for mountaineers.
This is a behemoth of a backpack, with premium, hybrid materials and advanced hipbelt technology to keep you on the go for longer.
It’s claimed it has the capacity for a four to seven-day trek, but a pro backpacker or traveler could keep going for years with this (providing you do laundry).
It’s optimized for load stability and built with the most durable weatherproof fabrics in the field, ensuring this will last you for many outdoor adventures to come.
Your back will probably break before this does.
- Outstanding quality.
- Market leading company.
- Versatile functions and features.
- Possibly the best strap padding you’ll find.
- Very tough, durable, and weather resistant.
- Very expensive.
- Not intended for casual use.
TOP 7 Best Backpack for Shoulder Pain 2020
Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack
Review: Technically not a backpack, as backpacks have straps that can worsen shoulder conditions, this lumbar pack sits at the waist with no straps anywhere else.
This Mountainsmith tour lumbar pack is like a fanny pack on steroids. It can hold a 32oz water bottle, a tablet, and iPhone 6, and 9 L of space for all your gear.
It even has a shoulder strap that you can Although it is much smaller than a hiking backpack, it can be used to supplement a smaller backpack, or used on its own for a simple day hike, all without ever touching your shoulders.
- No stress whatsoever placed on the shoulders.
- Ventilated foam back panel.
- Hip strap pockets for phone storage.
- Hip straps are very padded and adjustable.
- Designed for travel more than hiking so may bounce a little.
Seibertron Leg Pack Utility Pouch
Review: A leg pack can make a good supplemental bag for someone with shoulder pain.
It is about the size of a purse in terms of how much it can carry, so it can hold a wallet, some snacks and other provisions.
It does not hold a water bottle, but a water bottle pouch can be added. The bag has straps for the waist and thigh so it sits securely without placing weight on the shoulder.
- Small and compact for the essentials.
- Adjustable waist and leg strap.
- Drawstring allows for contents to be compressed securely.
- Can be used for walking or cycling.
- Not suited for petite women as it will be too bulky on the leg to fit snugly.
Bp Vision Outdoor Fanny Pack
Review: This multi-purpose fanny pack only measures 11 x 5 x 6 inches (L x W X H) but it is sufficient for carrying essentials for day hikes, hunting, traveling, fishing and other outdoor activities.
The design features a waist strap and a single shoulder strap. However, the weight isn’t supported by your shoulders but rather your waist.
You can use with or without the shoulder strap since it’s detachable. This fanny pack can be worn backwards or forwards, and the back is padded with lumbar support cushioning for when you want to wear it behind your hips.
It’s made of a light, breathable material and the pack itself is almost weightless It’s equipped with four zippered compartments and two water bottle holders, so you won’t run out of water on a long hike.
It comes with straps that convert it to a handheld bag or a suspender style carrier. The bag is easy to wash and maintain. Keep in mind the instructions provided on this.
- Durable nylon material.
- Lumbar padding of breathable mesh.
- 2 water bottle pockets.
- Optional shoulder strap.
- Lightweight (20 oz).
- Can be used for cycling.
- Designers may have got a little excited with the number of excess straps and pockets.
Mountainsmith Day Lumbar Pack
Review: This day lumbar pack is designed like a messenger bag. You can wear it on the shoulder that isn’t injured and allow it to hang by your side.
It comes with an optional waist belt you can use when you need to keep both of your arms free.
It’s padded along the back and the waist belt for your comfort and has a smartphone-compatible front pocket for easy access.
- Smart phone compatible hip strap pockets.
- Durable Cordura fabric.
- Versatile design.
- Shoulder strap is removable.
- 1 lbs 12 oz.
- 13 L capacity provides plenty of storage.
- Limited internal pockets means everything is pretty much in one compartment.
- The belt is placed a little low which compromises stability when the shoulder strap isn’t being used.
Eshow Men’s Drop Leg Bag
Review: Designed for men, this bag is perfect for everyday use and it’s an excellent option for people who experience shoulder problems. It measures 7.1 x 2.4 x 13.4 inches and weighs 0.75 pounds.
It has two adjustable straps on the waist and legs, thus providing an alternative to carrying on your shoulder.
The back of the bag even has a curved design, making it an ideal fit for the body contours. The bag is especially intended for outdoor activities such as running and cycling but it can also be utilized for other light tasks.
There’s one pocket with Velcro, two zipped pockets and one side pocket with Velcro, so you can keep your essentials and purchases within reach.
Speaking of the build, the bag is made using natural pure cotton canvas with honeycomb mesh material for maximum breathability. Care and maintenance of this bag is easy; simply hand wash with cold water.
- Plenty of pockets.
- Natural cotton canvas is highly durable.
- Designed for running and cycling so has a snug fit with little bounce.
- 75 lbs is light weight.
- Designed for men so women must look elsewhere.
Everest Lumbar Waist Pack
Review: If you’re only going to be out for a few hours and you want to carry a couple of small things with you, this one will get the job done right.
It comes with two water bottle holders and a single front pocket. It’s not very large, but it’s fine for granola bars and your smartphone when you want to stop hiking to take a snack break.
The interior dimensions are small, so it’s better off for occasions when you won’t need to bring a lot with you.
- Good size for easy day hikes.
- Waterproof polyester material.
- Two water bottle holders.
- Multiple pockets for gear organization.
- Versatile – can be worn on the back or side.
- On the small side but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- Water bottle pockets need to be tightened to hold bottles securely.
Kawei Knight Nylon Tactical Leg Bag
Review: This is the kind of bag that will do a great job of carrying your phone, your wallet, and a few small snacks. It’s designed to securely strap around the leg and the hips to keep from sliding when you move around.
It doesn’t have very many organizational pockets, but it’s easy to keep the things you’ll need to access the most in the front.
The exterior is designed to be water-resistant, so you won’t need to worry about sweat or some light rain messing up your stuff while you’re out.
- Water resistant.
- 9 lbs is light weight.
- Durable nylon and polyester.
- Leg strap holds bag securely.
- Can be strapped to either leg.
- Limited pockets.
How to Choose the Best Backpack for Back Pain – A Buyer’s Guide and FAQ
Below we’ll take a look at what exactly you should be looking out for when it comes to choosing the best backpack for back, shoulder and neck pain.
For a more general guide, take a look at this article on hiking backpacks which will cover the basics I’ve not gone into here.
When you think of a backpack that is going to be able to provide relief to people who suffer from back pain, you surely must consider the weight.
It’s still worth considering the base weight of an empty pack – the lighter the better.
But when it comes to heavier hiking backpacks, there’s no getting away from the extra weight to offer the most durable, stable and comfortable experience possible.
Just make sure you’re getting the right gear for your chosen activity and you’ll be right as rain.
As a rule of thumb, I will always check the padding and thickness of the shoulder straps when looking for a comfortable backpack.
It stands to reason that the thicker and more generous they are, the less likely they’re going to give you and your back, neck, and shoulders any grief.
Look for thick, quality, adjustable straps that are well stitched and heavily padded without being too intrusive so as to restrict movement.
I can’t emphasize quality stitching enough here, as a backpack’s straps are nearly always the first thing to go.
As we’ve previously mentioned and science has figured out, the best way to have an even weight distribution in a backpack is to utilize the lumbar region of the body.
Therefore, having lumbar support is highly recommended to prevent back pain and literally take the weight off your shoulders.
This is particularly essential in larger models and distance trekking backpacks – but there are some smaller options that offer this ideal feature.
It usually takes the form of padded hip fins which you clip around your waist.
In a good backpack, this isn’t just two bits of foam attached to the main body, it’s a padded system that runs right around your back and should sit comfortably just above the bum.
Picture a weight lifter’s belt and that’s a similar idea – only much more pleasant to wear.
Generally speaking, you’ll only find a suspension system in the larger packs for trekking, but smaller models do have similar tech to make your user experience that much more comfortable.
Each manufacturer has their own suspension technology, which often comes with confusing jargon to try and impress.
You’ll find a myriad of designs when it comes to suspension systems (some successful and some not so successful), but the most common form would be a metal backpack frame.
This is usually a lightweight aluminum alloy or carbon fiber which not only helps distribute the weight evenly, but it also keeps the pack from touching your back.
And believe me when I say that is worth its weight in gold when you’re sweating buckets on the trail.
If you’ve never tried a backpack with a frame – and even if you don’t suffer from back problems – I urge you to give it a go. You will never look back if you do.
Adjustability and Size
I’ve touched on it in the considerations above, but it’s worth mentioning in its own right. Backpacks should be highly adjustable to suit the needs of the wearer.
This can often be overlooked, and it’s remarkable how many people are actually GETTING a bad back because they’re using a backpack that isn’t the right size for them.
If this sounds like you – you may as well book yourself in for physio right now.
Not everyone is built the same way.
The straps, the hip belt, the frame…it should all be highly adjustable to suit your build. And if it isn’t, then at the very least make sure you’re picking the correct size of the pack for you.
Take a look at the video below as a rough guide for choosing a backpack capacity.
And this video for how to properly fit that backpack…
Do Backpacks Cause Back Problems?
Now, I’m no chiropractor, doctor or physiotherapist for that matter, but even a quick bit of research will tell you that it’s not the backpacks themselves that cause problems.
It’s how you’re wearing them, how heavy you’re loading them, and whether or not they’re the right size for you.
Over time, improper use of a backpack, or overloading it with weight is going to give the wearer problems.
Just don’t blame the backpacks themselves!
If you simply follow the advice in this article, you should enjoy pain-free backpack use for many years to come.
Watch the video below for more information on preventing backpack pain – which is especially useful for children and their developing spines.
Why Does My Back Hurt from My Backpack?
As mentioned previously, I’m guessing it’s one of three things.
- It’s too heavy. You’re overloading it beyond what you’re capable of carrying.
- It’s not the right size for you or you’ve not adjusted it to fit correctly.
- It’s an inferior quality backpack – time to change it up.
And if any of the above issues are happening over an extended period of time – you’re asking for trouble.
Of course, there might be other reasons and the list is not exhaustive, but that’s my two cents and it’s a pretty accurate guestimate.
Address each of those issues in turn and I bet my bottom dollar you’ll find relief.
What Helps Backpack Back Pain?
Short of loading up on painkillers or regular visits to the Doc, I would suggest some back exercises to alleviate the pain.
Refer to the previous video on lower back pain and shoulder pain relief, or watch another excellent tutorial below.
Can a Heavy Backpack Hurt Your Back?
Yes. Next question.
In all seriousness, so long as you’re sensible with your packing and weight distribution, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Just don’t be overloading a backpack beyond your capabilities – and even if you have to – try not to do it for any real length of time.
How do I Know if My Backpack is Too Heavy?
This isn’t as silly a question as it first seems.
New travelers, hikers or even school children have a tendency to fill their backpacks to the brim with all their gear.
And even though they might initially be able to lift it (which makes it deceptively fine) with use over the next few days, weeks or months it will start to take its toll.
Just because you can lift it, doesn’t mean you should.
It’s a good idea to pick up one of these great luggage scales, as they’re not just useful for saving you money at the check-in desk.
They can also give you an idea if you’re carrying too much stuff.
Figure out your limits and pack sensibly. Your backpack is too heavy if begins to cause you pain after a period of use.
Remember – prevention is better than cure.
As you can see, there’s plenty of great advice, tips, and tricks out there for preventing shoulder, neck and back pain so you can enjoy hiking, trekking or any other outdoor activity.
And plenty of new technology so you can find the best backpacks for back pain and shoulder pain on the market.
Get up and get out there – there’s a big wide world to explore.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to download my eBook on solo travel safety – because you should be looking after more than just your body!
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No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!