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Topic: Women's backpacking equipment isn't "women" enough, extreme hip to waist ratio< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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KestrelL Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 06 2012, 2:55 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

While I'm not technically in the market for a new pack, my current pack is heavy and doesn't fit very well, so I went to the store to try some out a couple weeks ago.

It appears that the women's packs aren't 'womenly' enough.  I couldn't get a waistband to sit right.  (I've got a 29" waist and 42" hips)  I've had this issue with a lot of things like rock climbing harnesses and pants in general, but I was wondering if anyone else did and what they manage to do to find things that work well.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2012, 10:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can only suggest that you try other manufacturers.   Some will change hip belts and some may have more of an angle than others.

It is not an issue that I have encountered.   Good luck!


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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2012, 8:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I was thankful to be able to get into a good shop and have a new pack fit to me. I did not have the same issue as you, but lots of issues including no longer having much hip/waist difference (my butt fell off in middle-age), and my previous packs would not stay in place.
Summit Hut in Tucson (I was visiting friends there, and a new pack was one goal of the trip) was wonderful, measuring, changing waist belts , etc. on my new Osprey pack. When one location did not have the pack it seemed I needed, I was sent to the other site, not sold something "almost right". In total, they spent at least an hour and a half fitting me.
If you can find a good shop that can do this type of fitting, it would be a big step inthe right direction.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2012, 11:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't own one but McHale makes custom packs that are reviewed very highly.  Pricey, but for a custom fit, it might be worth it.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2012, 8:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KestrelL @ Jul. 06 2012, 2:55 pm)
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It appears that the women's packs aren't 'womenly' enough.  I couldn't get a waistband to sit right.  (I've got a 29" waist and 42" hips)  I've had this issue with a lot of things like rock climbing harnesses and pants in general, but I was wondering if anyone else did and what they manage to do to find things that work well.

I'll second the advice on here to go find someone who knows what they're doing and check out as many packs as possible. From your description, I'm wondering if you're trying to have the hipbelt ride too high? It should be riding just on your hips, not above them. http://www.whitemountain.com.au/fitting_backpacks/hip_belt.html has a good image of it. I see lots of women cranking it tighter until it's around their waist and sitting a good bit above the iliac crest instead of across it.

PS: I have a similar problem with climbing harnesses. Check out ones made for winter climbing. Adjustable leg loops solve a multitude of problems.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2012, 11:17 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KestrelL @ Jul. 06 2012, 2:55 pm)
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It appears that the women's packs aren't 'womenly' enough.  I couldn't get a waistband to sit right.

How is it not "sitting right" exactly?  Which brand packs did you try?

The "women's pack" label is pretty arbitrary and hipbelts vary quite a bit.  So it's hard to make suggestions without more detail on what didn't work for you.

I like my hipbelt to wrap around my hip, not my waist.  My hipbone hits a little above the middle of the hipbelt. Also, my pack is sized (torso length) and my shoulder straps adjusted so that I can "shrug" without it pulling the hipbelt up.  When I try on packs that are too small (i.e. too short in the torso length) and walk around, it tends to "bounce" and pull the hipbelt up.


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KestrelL Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2012, 5:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(fifeplayer @ Jul. 08 2012, 8:32 am)
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(KestrelL @ Jul. 06 2012, 2:55 pm)
QUOTE
It appears that the women's packs aren't 'womenly' enough.  I couldn't get a waistband to sit right.  (I've got a 29" waist and 42" hips)  I've had this issue with a lot of things like rock climbing harnesses and pants in general, but I was wondering if anyone else did and what they manage to do to find things that work well.

I'll second the advice on here to go find someone who knows what they're doing and check out as many packs as possible. From your description, I'm wondering if you're trying to have the hipbelt ride too high? It should be riding just on your hips, not above them. http://www.whitemountain.com.au/fitting_backpacks/hip_belt.html has a good image of it. I see lots of women cranking it tighter until it's around their waist and sitting a good bit above the iliac crest instead of across it.

PS: I have a similar problem with climbing harnesses. Check out ones made for winter climbing. Adjustable leg loops solve a multitude of problems.

Yeah, I didn't have anyone helping me in the store - I feel bad for asking for help when I know I won't be buying anything.

But I think that wearing it wrong could be part of the problem - hip belts feel a lot more comfortable if they're more around my waist.  So if I'm interpreting the diagram correctly, you're hipbelt is supposed to go right over the bony part of your hip at an angle?

And basically, with the backpacks I tried, if I cinched the hipbelt up, the bottom of the hipbelt would be tight and the top would be quite loose and useless (I have very prominent hipbones with not much 'padding' over them currently - my waist draws in fairly sharply).  I don't remember the packs I tried on - I'm horrible that way!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2012, 8:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KestrelL @ Jul. 09 2012, 5:44 pm)
QUOTE
But I think that wearing it wrong could be part of the problem - hip belts feel a lot more comfortable if they're more around my waist.  So if I'm interpreting the diagram correctly, you're hipbelt is supposed to go right over the bony part of your hip at an angle?

Yep. Should be centered right on those bony prominences (aka iliac crests). Although most women still have some curve there, it's not as steep as farther superior which means the hipbelt tends to "wrap" instead of rest on its bottom edge. My hipbelt usually sits somewhere around the same spot as a belt on a pair of mid-low rise jeans, for what might be an easier comparison. It's a little weird at first to get used to, if you're accustomed to wearing it higher, but most people I know have found it more comfortable after awhile. (It also impinges less on the grunting for air which sadly accompanies me when going up a good climb...)
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AlmostThere Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2012, 11:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Look at Gregory - their packs (some of them) have adjustable hip belts. My pack is a small to fit my back size, and the hip belt adjusts from medium to small to x-small.

Another highly adjustable pack would be any of the Aarn body packs. The hip belt attaches with some really mean velcro and the hip belt can be tipped to any angle that's comfortable for you, as well as moved up or down to micro-adjust for back length. The single back stay can be molded (with a friend's help) to suit your posture. The front packs have stays that can be bent to provide air space behind them.

I have an older Granite Gear pack that adjusts on the back frame in inch increments, and different hip belts can also be had - if you look at the current line I bet they still have some packs with swappable hip belts. The policy when I bought mine was that they would replace the hip belt gratis if I got the pack and the one with it didn't suit me. The women's belt on my Nimbus Ozone sits pretty well on my hips.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 18 2013, 11:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

This thread is a few months old, but you probably haven't chosen a pack yet so I figured this was worth mentioning.

Others above point out the importance of having a pack that fits your torso length appropriately and of a technical pack's belt being centered on your hips.

The placement of the hip belts isn't just a comfort issue. That design is what allows 60% of the weight in your pack to be carried by your legs. By placing the pack on your hips, you transfer that weight down through your bones. Having bony hips is not an obstacle at all. The remaining 40% of the weight of a properly fitting pack is carried by your shoulders. If you instead put the hip belts up on your waist, the hip belt doesn't transfer any of that weight and you carry it all with your upper body.

What you need to do is measure your torso length. Here's a video on how:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qvt29gv0X8

When you fit the pack, you want it to have some weight in it. Pack stores have weight bags to add for you to approximate the amount you'll be carrying. If you'll be carrying a sleeping bag, put in a large pillow first then put the weight on top. You want your heaviest items on top. There are variances in how to pack depending on terrain, so this is just a good gauge to use for fitting. If the pack has compression straps, set them before putting the pack on so the weight isn't flopping around.

Put your arms through the loose shoulder straps and then pull the shoulders straps tighter so that the pack falls around the right height. Assuming that you have a pack in the right torso length, this should make the hip belt fall right around where it needs to be.

Now set your hip belt. The bony top of the hips falls right in the middle of the hip belt's height. The top of the hip belt should be at least 1" above the top of your iliac crest. (We are not talking about the prominent front bone of the pelvis. Run your hand along your side until you hit bone and that's the one you're going for. It should be around the same height as your belly button.) Keeping the iliac crest in the middle of the hip belt, cinch the hip belt up as tightly as possible, pulling toward your back as if you were trying to get your hands to meet behind you. If you can't breathe, it is too much, but you should only be a smidge before that point. You might need to lean forward to support the pack's weight on your back while you set the hip belt. Use two hands to pull or ask a partner to help. It's tight. This gets as much of the load securely onto your hips as possible, which is what you want.

Women's hip belts are canted at a steeper angle to follow the shape of an average women's hips. There's some variance in brands, so try out several. And not all women need this, so if if isn't working then don't hesitate to try a standard style. Most hip belts are designed to maintain about 4" of distance between the two sides. Much closer than that and you're not getting the weight onto the hip bones where you want it. Larger and/or taller people might need to go up in pack size to accommodate the largest measurement needed, even if the pack volume isn't necessary. The larger packs allow more customization with interchangeable hip belts, shoulder straps, etc which is especially helpful if you have measurements that aren't in the same range (like XL hip width and S shoulder strap length). Torso length is the most important and then the hip belt is the next most important measurement to set your pack to.

Women's packs have S-shaped shoulder straps to be able to go around breasts. The breasts can further push the straps out, which can pinch your blood flow in the armpit. The purpose of the sternum strap across your chest is to keep the shoulder straps cinched in, out of your armpits. Set the sternum strap to the needed width.

Next, fine-tune the shoulder straps to the right height for comfort. Tightening pulls weight up to the shoulders while loosening drops it down to the hips. If you don't have the right torso length or if you don't have any weight in your pack, this step is likely to pop the hip belt out of place. You want the shoulder straps to curve nicely all the way around the shoulder and down the shoulder blade. The shoulder straps should not gap out in the back, but should mold nicely to your body. If they stand up on the shoulder, gape out, bunch up, or cut in, you need a different size. If you find yourself tensing upper body muscles to hold the pack in place, it means the pack isn't fitting well and you're sure to be in pain on the trail.

If the pack has them, adjust the load lifters. A 45 degree angle is usual as a starting point for the load lifters. The shoulder straps, sternum strap, and load lifters will be tweaked periodically out on the trail to shift the load around and stay comfortable, especially to account for going uphill, downhill, or over uneven terrain. It should feel good in the store, but I don't want you to take this starting point for fit as advice for wearing it out on the trail because you're not locked in to making it fit one exact measurement once you start using the one that fits.

Then you wear it around the store while you shop. Keep it on for some time to see if it digs in at any place. Adjust and repeat the entire process as necessary with different brands, sizes, and styles. After getting this experience, one of the packs will probably stand out as being the one for you. And it is probably obvious at this point why the common advice is to go in to a store with a knowledgeable and experienced fitter who can help you through the process, which can easily take a good amount of time the first go-round. Don't hesitate to visit several stores to try out a wide range of brands. You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
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