Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    101

    Heavy backpacks on a bike, bad for your back?

    So I have this bag I use for backpacking, its a northface Terra 60(http://www.usoutdoorstore.com/outlet...-backpack.html ). Really nice bag btw.. can hike for days with this thing.

    Anyways, I was heading over to my GF's for a couple days and wanted to bring some of my stuff over(tent, some other camping gear) so I just packed this up and rode over. On the way there I realized that this might not be the best for my back.

    I lean over when I ride normally, and while I didn't feel any more fatigued then possible it worried me. I normally take a "satchel" or messanger bag, or shoulder sling, or whatever you call it. However, I was thinking about maybe going on longer backpacking rides with this setup..

    Anyone know if its bad? Or had long time experience commuting with a heavy bag like this? I use the hip harness on it, tighten it correclty as well. It feels fine walking, but thats straight up.. leaned over I'm afraid too much is on my back.

    Thanks!

    Dan

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    6,736

    Yes it can be....

    with a pack that size loaded your looking at a considerable amount of weight. Where you'll likely experience problems is with your upper back and shoulders. As you noted the pack is designed for hiking not riding so it places the load higher on the back and uses a waist strap to stabilize the whole thing. I've found over the years that when on a bike, keeping the weight as low as possible makes for a more comfortable ride and keeps upper back and shoulder fatigue to a minimum. This is esspecially important the longer the distance you travel. Any load much heavier than a camel back or similar hydration pack, that you put on your back while leaning over in the riding position will eventually cause problems. Your back wasn't designed to handle loads like that in that position.

    For off road touring (what off road camping trips on a bike are called) and loads that include tents, clothing, food, etc. and exceed much more than 10 or 15lbs, a trailer is usually used. The best being the Bob Yak or Ibex trailers for off road. For road touring the most common set up is front and rear panier racks and bags, though I've seen trailers used for road touring as well. The advantage of a trailer is that it takes the load off of you so you are more comfortable (and cooler), and keeps the load down low and pretty much off of the bike so that it doesn't affect the center of gravity of the bike and maintains the handling. And most trailers can carry between 50 and 70lb loads. Quite a bit more than you can comfortably carry on your back while seated on a bike.

    I used to commute using back packs or a messenger bag and just never liked the load and the fact that no matter how secure the pack or bag is they do shift around. I've since gone to a seat post mounted rack and like it allot more than any pack or bag I've ever used. It changes the center of gravity and handling of the bike a bit. But I never have more than maybe 6lbs or crap (work clothes, lunch, and the inevitable pocket junk that has to come along) in the bag. If I needed to go heavier I'd deffinately start looking for a trailer.

    Your choice of course, trailers are quite expensive. But I'd deffinately consider something other than a back pack for off road or road camping trips on a bike. Having the load on you like that for short distances isn't that big of a deal. But start getting into day trips or longer and you very well could be headed for some back problems.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    4,673
    Keep the weight high so it rests on your back and doesn't pull on it.

  4. #4
    LCI #1853
    Reputation: PscyclePath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    328
    Whenever possible, put the load on your bike. Put on a rear rack, then use panniers, milk crates, bungee cords, whatever, to make your bike your mule. This also lowers your center of gravity (CG), making you a lot more stable and the bike will handle much easier.

    Carrying weight as you propose moves your CG way high, and you're a lot more likely to tip over, as well as making your bike handle like a greased pig. That's all before we think about the strain on your back, packing all that load...

    Tom

  5. #5
    Ovaries on the Outside
    Reputation: umarth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    4,361
    My only problem with the backpack is that it gets my back sweaty. It doesn't bother me to have a heavy backpack, even with my current back problem....

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    428
    Saddle pressure is going to catch up with you as well. If you plan on doing extended rides with a lot of gear, I would recommend panniers.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    101
    Great stuff guys thanks I'll snag a nice bike mounted carrying system in a couple of weeks here then. I rode about 14 miles yesterday with the bag filled with about 20lbs of crap.. I mostly noticed an increase in saddle sore. Although I took a nice run through an empty(and long ago abandoned) farm field on the way home and that seemed to help as I was off the seat for semi-long periods.

    Thanks again everybody

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    96
    Myself i use a backpack and have for years. Sometimes I must have around 50lbs of stuff in it and while sometimes i get a sort of pinched nerve in my sholder where the strap goes my back is still fine. I guess everyone is different.

  9. #9
    PM Me for Wood Fenders
    Reputation: TrekJeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,001
    Not quite the setup you have, but when I commuted with my laptop back pack I would loosen the shoulder straps and allow the weight to rest more on the waist strap. This helped a lot, lowing the feel of the weight, but still felt a bit strange when riding over 12 miles.

    Now I roll with a rear rack and panniers. The rack I've had for over two years and 1300 miles is now on sale at Nashbar. Compared to higher priced racks, this one kicks azz. The apnniers themselves...there's so many different styles, find one that suits.
    The wood is being bent! Let me know what you need!

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    101
    Really appreciate the link TrekJeff I was trying to find a nice cheap deal for one. I could hook my bag on there and bungie it down.

    Thanks again!

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    428
    If you aren't running fenders, the racks with the flat metal piece running down the middle are a nice option. They keep all the road spew off your backside.

    Trek, Blackburn and several others make them.

    Here's one for $20. I've never used it tho.

  12. #12
    HTFU and Ride
    Reputation: coachjon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    1,218
    i use an osprey transit for my 10 mile commute and it is pretty comfy. especially when i can leave my computer at home! it is a messanger style bag and i let it rest on my lower back. i couldn't imagine carrying the same weight up on my shoulders and upper back. i am very intrigued by a rack and some seal line panniers though...hmm.
    Winter is coming.

  13. #13
    Huge Bike Guy Person Man
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    85
    glad i happened across this thread!

    i was about to pull the trigger on >>> http://oakley.com/pd/5473

    would the same problems the OP is having apply? it is a mtb bag, i'd figure they would have thought about these things and attempted to solve the problem. only a 5 mile commute, not like it would matter much i'd think.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •