Backpack hunting isn’t for anyone; it’s for the adventurous hunters who don’t mind spending the night outdoors, who are not afraid of some rain and wind, and are ready to go back after the game in the crack of dawn. A hunter who goes backpacking will have to learn many things, from which backpack to buy for a day hunt to packing the essentials so that he/she doesn’t overload or skip the essential gear.
Selecting the proper hunting backpack is essential for a successful experience, but no pack will spare you some soreness on your shoulders, neck, or back. Even after you learn how to adjust your backpack for the best fit and size (it’s one of the many things you should remember when backpack hunting), you will still have to try few tips to reduce the risk of back pain.
For hunters who dare backpack hunting, the following tips will help them prevent back pain so that they enjoy the great adventure that backpack hunting truly is.
Correct backpack position
You will need to pay attention to several things every time you put on your hunting backpack. It will take you some time until you learn them by heart, but it well worth it in the long run for your back’s health.
- Always wear shoulder straps, and don’t sling the backpack with just one of the straps on one shoulder. It may not look much when you wear it for five minutes, but it will help prevent back pains later.
- Use the waist and the chest strap; the waist strap counts for effective distribution of the weight load, taking it to the hips and away from your shoulders. The chest strap will maintain the shoulder straps in place, reducing the risk of the backpack swaying.
- Spend some time making the proper adjustments to your shoulder straps so that the pack is high on the back and you feel the shoulder straps comfortable on your shoulders. The backpack shouldn’t extend past the waist but ride an inch/above your hips.
- When you go backpack hunting, you will most likely layer your clothes, so remember to adjust the shoulder straps every time you add/remove a piece of clothing. You never want the shoulder straps to be too loose or too tight.
- It’s not good for your back to have the backpack swaying side to side; it will cause chafing from the shoulder straps and rub against your back. Make sure that your load is always stable.
- You know that the backpack sits right when you’re able to wear it and run without your pack swaying.
Don’t wear it low on the back
Sometimes, it’s easier to avoid the improper methods for wearing the hunting backpack. It’s important to know what to do and what not to do when carrying the pack to prevent back pain.
It may feel comfortable for some time, but you will enhance the pressure on your shoulder when you’re wearing the backpack low on your back. It won’t be long until you will feel shoulder and lower back strain. We don’t always realize, but sometimes we loosen the shoulder straps for effortless putting on/taking the pack off.
With a low back position, you tend to lean forward, placing the load’s pressure on your lower back. If the shoulder straps are loose, the pack will sway back and forth while walking, which will be uncomfortable and make the straps chafing the shoulders. When you wear the backpack too low, you will put extreme pressure on the neck, shoulders, and even sacrum and lumbar spine.
A backpack that sits too low will work as a weight pulling you back; we tend to compensate by shifting the upper back, heading forward to counter the weight. Don’t be surprised to have a hunched posture and muscle pain later.
Even if you’re in a hurry, you should constantly adjust the straps right after putting the backpack on so that it rides high on the back. Should you have difficulties adjusting the straps, it’s not a bad idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions once again. Ideally, you want a hunting backpack with easy-to-adjust shoulder straps- but that’s just one of the many things to check when selecting your hunting backpack. Remember that the hunting backpack is made to work for you and not against you.
Avoid the one strap sling method
You could be tempted to carry the backpack slung over one shoulder with just one strap. You will put all of the pressure on only one shoulder. You won’t find the position comfortable for a long time, especially when you’re carrying a heavy load.
Even if it’s not going to be your back that aches the most, you will feel a lot of pain in your neck and shoulders if you carry with one strap for many miles. Even if you switch it from one shoulder to another, your balance will be off every time. Your bones and upper body muscles will experience uneven strain; the hips and core won’t have an easy time either.
You always want to wear the backpack to maintain the weight centered and not pulled to one side or the other, as you can experience chronic pain after a while. Place the pack so that the arms move freely every time you’re hiking or walking. Every time you feel restrictions in arm movement, you may experience spinal fixations, defined as locked spinal bones. Overall tension, difficult breathing, and scoliosis are effects of locked spinal bones. When you’re carrying the pack on one shoulder, you will shift the spinal alignment and alter your spine and muscles’ posture.
Always use both shoulder straps and place your hunting backpack high on the back so that you eliminate the risk for sway.
Pick up the backpack properly
It’s one of the many things that seem small and insignificant but can count so much, especially when done for a long time. Lifting a heavy backpack the wrong way, you can actually experience back pain. Ideally, you want to face the pack and stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. It would help if you bent the knees and squat so that the weight goes to the heels; keep your back straight. While you’re lifting the body, keep the pack close to the body and use both hands for lifting.
Try your best not to lift the pack from the side or twisting either.
Pay attention to the weight
The weight of your hunting backpack will count a lot for comfort, especially if the pack isn’t the best for your body shape, torso length, or if you don’t know how to make adjustments for effortless carry.
A daypack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of your body weight when completely loaded; the weight also includes the water bottle or a hydration bladder. If you weigh 140-pounds, your day pack shouldn’t weigh more than 14 pounds. As long as you’re carrying it properly, you should be able to hunt for hours with a day pack and even run or climb.
If you plan a multi-day hunt, you will need to use a larger backpack to fit all your gear and essentials; in this case, the weight of your fully-loaded backpack shouldn’t be more than 20% of your weight. It’s a 30 pounds backpack for a 150pounds person. To ease out the carry, you should look for proper boots to support your ankles and even use trekking poles for carrying the load throughout the day.
Should you be an entry-level backpack hunter, it’s best to start small with day hunts and increase your load weight. You should train your muscles for the multi-day backpack hunts.
Can your child wear a hunting backpack?
You should follow the same rules for sizing and fitting you used when selecting your hunting backpack when picking one for your young hunter. Even if you take him out for a couple of hours, it’s better to choose a pack with two shoulder straps and not a cross-body sling pack- it won’t be suitable for effective weight distribution.
If you think that you should toughen up your child with a heavy load on his back, keep in mind that pediatricians highlight that children shouldn’t carry more than 10% to 20% of their body weight in the hunting backpack (or any other type of pack).
You want your kid to enjoy the backpack hunting and not make it more complex; lighten the child’s backpack if possible. Look for a pack with a waist strap because it’s fundamental for load distribution and removing the weight off of the shoulders.
The shoulder straps should be padded and wide; you make the adjustments until your kid learns how to do it. The straps should sit 2 inches above the waist, and the pack should sit close to the body. If you cannot obtain this sort of fitting, the backpack may be too long for your child, and you need to buy a pack with a shorter torso length. Also, make sure that the back panel is padded but still allows proper ventilation.
Teach your child how to pack and organize the hunting backpack. As you know, there are many rules to follow; placing the heaviest items close to the center of the pack is a principle, to begin with. Backpack hunting is terrific, and what way to better bond with your child but spending a day or two outdoors while looking for your game?