Even if you don’t go on a several days hiking, it is very important to load your bag properly : distributing the weight correctly is very important if you want to work less. The objective is to place the heaviest items as close as possible to the middle of your back, the intermediate items at the bottom of the bag and on the sides, finally the lightest items at the top. That way, your center of gravity won’t be deviated : you’ll make less effort and lessen the risk of hurting yourself.
The simplest thing is to start by laying down all you will need on the floor. That way, you will have an overall view and you’ll be able to sort everything out more easily. For example, if you want to put a tent in your bag, a sleeping bag and a little food, put your tent as much as possible in the centre (left-right and top-bottom), then put your sleeping bag at the bottom (always centered left-right) and put the food at the top (except if you take tinned-food ;))
You can try to keep the objects you find essential at the top or in the external pockets : easy to be reached. Finally, you can protect your back from rigid objects by wrapping them up in a pouch (or a coat for example) .
Start by unfastening all the straps : the shoulder straps (upper and lower), the waist and the sternal strap. Then, adjust the height of the back : the bag must rest on your hips as much as possible so as not to pull your shoulders backwards. Once your bag is loaded, you can slip it on your back and adjust the waist. Next, tighten the inferior straps of the shoulder straps : you must feel your bag well fixed against your back. Then you can pull on the superior straps of the shoulder straps : that way, the bag will be moved closer to your back. Finally, you can adjust the sternal strap. If you keep breathing, everything’s OK !
The compression straps have a very important function : they enable the volume of the bag to be optimized. Once your bag is loaded, pulling on the compression straps makes it possible to tight your bag. Thus you reduce the swerve of your center of gravity, and consequently the efforts and the risks of injuries. That’s why it’s always smarter to opt for a backpack with a straight back. Keep in mind as well, that normally, the weight of your bag mustn’t exceed 20% of your own weight.
The diagram opposite will allow you to picture the volume of your future bag. The example concerns a person who’s 1m70 for bags whose width varies from 30 to 50cm.
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