GearHiking
Gear Guy
Q:

Will a heavy pack cause circulation problems?

I have a new Dana Design Shortbed pack, but after packin' for a long ten miles, I noticed that my hands and fingers were swollen. Was this just a bad pack fit, or was it too much weight for the long haul? Ray Kuna, Idaho

A: The Dana Design Shortbed ($279; www.danadesign.com) was a revelation when it came out about five years ago. An external-frame pack from an internal-frame pack company, it really combined the best of both worlds: the good flex and balance of an internal frame with the ventilation and packing options of an external frame. Alas, it and the other external-frame models are no longer in the Dana lineup. Earlier this year I got a Terraframe—a Shortbed frame with a Terraplane bag—for $99. They were close to $300 new.

Anyway, this isn't answering your question. You don't say how much you were carrying. A lot? As in, 60 pounds or more? As my old high school biology teacher Bill Oberteuffer once said, slumping to the ground under a loaded Kelty pack (back when they were da bomb) during a school-sponsored hike: "There's no magic in any pack if you overload it." So big loads will tax any pack. And ten miles is a pretty long march, so I'd not be surprised to see my own hands swell up a little.

Otherwise, it could be a little tight around the shoulders. You can always just loosen the shoulder straps to put a bit more weight on your hips. Or, spend some time adjusting the pack with the idea that you want the curve of the pack straps further up the frame, for a greater distance between hipbelt and shoulder straps. And, of course, it never hurts to sit down every hour or so and take your pack off. Have a nice drink of water and enjoy the surroundings! That'll help solve a lot of pack problems.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
More Gear