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Thread: Good advice for bad backs

  1. #1

    Default Good advice for bad backs

    Hello all! I am new to not only the forum but backpacking as well. I have been looking at packs from both Kifaru and Mystery Ranch, and I have some questions that can hopefully be answered here.

    First, a little background about my situation. I am 6'6", 370 lbs, with a long torso (only a 32" inseam!). Naturally, I am looking to improve my physical condition, and one of the steps I would like to take is to get back into hiking like I did 15 years ago, though I never carried a pack back then. I've been looking for a good pack for EDC/student use as well as for lugging supplies for myself, the wife, and kids when we do some trekking. From what I have seen so far, the MR 3-day Assault pack and the X-ray are prime candidates, though from some of the reading I've been doing here it looks like the X-ray may be a little short for someone of my torso length. Suggestions on that issue are, of course, welcome, but what I'm really wanting to find out is which harness system is better for guys who have lower-back issues? A few years ago, I injured my back by making a twisting and upward arching motion while I was laying face down on a bed, and ever since, I've had increasing difficulty with bags that only sit on one shoulder. Can anyone advise me as to whether the Kifaru or MR frames are better at taking the load off your lower back? Thank you!

    Joe

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    I've used the MR 3DAP. I can say with full confidence that across the line, Kifaru's approach is VASTLY superior from a back health perspective.

    With any good pack, the key to getting the load off your back and shoulders is CORRECT use of the hip belt.

    One advantage of the X-Ray is the simplicity of the shoulder straps. I have a long-ish torso and haven't had issues employing the hip belt when I have used it. The pack may sit lower than you think it should aesthetically, but it will feel fine. Given your past challenges low may be good.

    With Kifaru packs (and quality packs in general), you have to pay more attention to the configuration of the suspension--and do a bit of experimentation when you're figuring things out. Payoff is more efficiency and in the long run more comfort once you've dialed everything in.
    Last edited by straps; 03-19-2012 at 12:25 PM.
    "Two to the Heart, One to the Mind"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Moley, get someone to show you how to properly deadlift a barbell and do it twice weekly. Your back issues, whatever they are, are aggravated by your weight and likely a deconditioned "posterior chain", if those aren't the causes in the first place. A crossfit gym would be a great place to start.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Bad back here. (Lower back.) The waist belt & delta straps etc.. are almost identical to my back brace/corset. I actually use the Express with the belt tightened when I need to give my back a rest. Strap it on and go for a walk. Started with Xray but ended with the Express since the Xray is just too short for me.
    Not sure what your back problem is. There are a number of work outs that will improve the condition significantly. Loosing weight is a must but your doctor or PT should tell you what is appropriate.
    I have not used MR enough to form an opinion.
    Good luck!
    m

  5. #5

    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Thank you all for the excellent advice!

    Good suggestions on improving my back. I will be meeting with my doc once she gets back from vacation to discuss options.

    As for the pack, the Mollex is the Kifaru pack I have been looking at other than the X-ray, I'm just concerned it might be a little too big for EDC, which is what the primary purpose will be for whatever pack I get. I think straps has convinced me that a Kifaru pack will be in my future!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Lower back health is also attributed to your abdominal muscles. Work on crunches and other core exercises and I'd be willing to bet you will see great improvement.

    Ryan

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Quote Originally Posted by Take-a-knee View Post
    Moley, get someone to show you how to properly deadlift a barbell and do it twice weekly. Your back issues, whatever they are, are aggravated by your weight and likely a deconditioned "posterior chain", if those aren't the causes in the first place. A crossfit gym would be a great place to start.
    Preach it brotha!

    I normally agree with Straps, but can't here. I had an X-ray. If I wanted to sling it over one shoulder to carry some books into school, great. Anything past that for anyone taller than 5 feet it's worthless. I remember wearing it with body armor in Marjah and hating myself for paying so much to be tortured.
    MR and Kifaru will server your needs greatly as long as you get something with a suspension that gives you shoulder lift. The little packs look nice and all, and you can bear the weight with a belt on your hips, but will carry funny. I was in love with my g1 Zulu. It was just too short and I couldn't get it to carry right.
    At your height, assuming your torso is fairly long, you may have to go with one of kifarus larger packs to get shoulder lift when you backpack. That makes it crazy for EDC. That, to me, gives MR the nod.

    I tore both my rotator cuffs in Ranger School, that never healed right. I can't bear weight on my shoulders so I need weight transfer. That only correctly comes from an appropriately sized suspension.
    Last edited by jhayes6405; 03-19-2012 at 07:43 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedlam View Post
    Lower back health is also attributed to your abdominal muscles. Work on crunches and other core exercises and I'd be willing to bet you will see great improvement.

    Ryan
    I've found this to be the best remedy. Also yoga, pilates, whatever core + stretching you can do will greatly help. And stretch your legs, hammies, and do figure four stretches. You don't think this affects your back but all of those are pulling down on your lower back. After I had some upper vertebrae fused I developed horrible lower back pain which felt to be all skeletal but I realized it was the tightness of my muscles clamping down on my back. Tons of stretching and even walking (if you sit in a chair all day that can really cause issues, just getting out and walking for an hour may help). But perhaps the biggest thing I did to help was upgrade to a Sawtooth! I loved my SuperTarp but crawling in and out on my hands and knees would leave me aching every morning. The best part is I told my wife it wasn't for me, it was for my back! Good luck. Let us know what works for you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Funny this thread would come up.Bad L4 and L5 here along with some other stuff. i thought backpacking was all over for me , as well as alot of other activities. but with yoga, a little chiro work and deep massages are making it happen again. especially the yoga. i've been working out with my MMR to see if the back can handle it.Since the suspension puts the weight on my hips ,apparantly I'm doing OK. (i ran the last click in the soft sand on the beach today so yeah,i'm stoked)So i'm gearing up for a walk in a couple months. my KU 5200 is in the works and when that comes, even though I like it,the MMR will go out in the same box to someone. Then I'm on the walkabout. So I'm a real firm beliver in yoga and the ab work. Good luck to you mate!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Good advice for bad backs

    Man, you guys keep good info flowing! I agree that a lot of my problem stems not only from a torqued back but also from a core that has weakened over the last decade spent mostly behind a desk. I am taking some steps to help with this, not the least of which was joining a kendo club. It's A LOT more work than most people would think!

    As for the packs, the point that jhayes brings up is one of the nagging issues in the back of my mind. This pack will primarily be for EDC, and since I can't afford to buy a bunch of packs for a bunch of purposes right now, I pretty much need a do-it-all pack. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be spending weeks (or days, for that matter) out in the wilderness with a pack holding a small fortress and supplies to provision a legion strapped to me, but I would like to be able to carry supplies for a family for a day hike with extras for the just-in-case scenarios. My torso is 25" measured from the base of the neck to the base of the spine. I really like the design of the X-ray, but I do wish it was longer, like the Mollex. The larger packs really aren't feasible for EDC for me as I can't lug something that big around. I think an ideal pack would be an X-ray that keeps its zipper and pocket layout but is stretched to the length of the Mollex. Call it a Z-ray or something like that!
    Last edited by moley; 03-19-2012 at 10:31 PM.

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