The feeling of freedom that comes from being able to carry your basic survival needs with you wherever you are is unbeatable and absolutely essential when spending time outdoors. A backpack with an insufficient support system or improperly packed contents can take away from the experience of being out in nature and increases the risk for injury. It is therefore important to understand how the body can carry heavy loads and the implications this has on how to pack and carry a backpack.
It is best for our bodies if the upper body’s and the load’s common centre of gravity is above both the spine’s axis of motion and the pelvis. This is why people in many cultures can carry very heavy loads on their heads.
If the weight is placed too far away from the spinal column, it will twist and pull the spine backwards. In order not to fall backwards, we have to re-situate the upper body’s and the pack’s centre of gravity back to being above the pelvis. We do this by bending forward. Not only does this re-adjustment mean that we are looking down at the ground and missing the splendour around us, this position can also place unnecessary strain on the body.
A construction that carries weight
To make carrying easier, Fjällräven’s backpacks have a comfortable back panel, padded shoulder straps and often also a hip belt. These features distribute the weight of the pack across the body, and the hip belt also removes weight from the shoulders and back and places a greater portion of the burden on the stronger leg muscles. This means you will be able to carry heavier loads further.
The shoulder straps and hip belt also allow you to alternate the load between these two points. For example, on our Kajka backpack it is possible to adjust the width of the attachments for the shoulder straps. This allows you not only to adjust the backpack to better fit your specific body type, but also to redistribute the weight on the shoulders. Side straps on the hip belt and top straps on the shoulder straps offer additional opportunities to redistribute the pressure and load to different parts of your body.