The backpack is a crucial tool for an avid traveler. It is home for those struck with a serious case of chronic wanderlust. When the traveler leaves everything behind to chase the horizon, it is the backpack that holds what remains. But while a backpack is vital for a traveler, it can also be the cause for pain. As you make your great journey towards the ultimate destination through air, sea and land, your backpack can cause serious damage to your neck, shoulders and back. But these 6 tips can make your journeys less painful and help load up your backpack better. ALSO READ: Backpacking in India: 8 destinations where you’ll spend less than Rs 500 a day
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Measure your back for a correct fit

Rather than trying to work around the pain and discomfort of a backpack by adjusting your straps or carrying less weight, let’s look at how to prevent the issue from happening in the best place. In many cases, the issue is not with the straps or weight, but with the size of the backpack. If you are buying a backpack, do not just look at the capacity. You need a bag that suits your body, and for that you need to measure yourself first, and we do not mean your weight or height. Also Read - Coronavirus in Gujarat: 14-month-old Toddler Dies of COVID-19 in Jamnagar

Measure from the C7 vertebra at the base of your neck

Measure from the C7 vertebra at the base of your neck.

Measure the length of your back, starting from the C7 vertebra at the base of the back of your neck to your hip bone. The C7 vertebra is the bony lump that you can feel at the base if you bend your head towards your chest. It’s best if you measure it with someone, and remember to keep your head up when doing so. Get a backpack that matches the length of your back; a bag too short compromises vital space, and a bag too big increases the risk of injuries to your back, neck and shoulder, along with causing posture problems and making your trip less than pleasant. Also Read - New York Leads Coronavirus Death Toll With 731 Fatalties in 24 Hours

Adjust the shoulder strap yoke of your backpack

The yoke of your backpack is the area where the two shoulder straps converge at the back. A correctly-fitted backpack should have its yoke around 5 cm below your C7 vertebra. You can find a lot of backpacks with adjustable yoke and torso lengths for a better fit. An adjustable one is always recommended if you are carrying more than 10 kg on your back, because you can get a more accurate fit. With a backpack that fits well, you can be assured that your bag is correctly connecting to the points that should be carrying the load, and not unnecessarily stressing any other body part.

The yoke is the area where the two shoulder straps converge.

The yoke is the area where the two shoulder straps converge.

If you are a heavy backpacker carrying nearly 20 kg, a backpack with an adjustable torso and replaceable hip belt is more than just an option; it is a necessity. These backpacks can get expensive, but they are worth it for the pain and discomfort that they prevent. In any case, always try out your backpack and check to see if their torso length matches yours.

Get a backpack with a hip belt and use it properly

If you are a serious traveller, it goes without saying that you should get a backpack with a hip belt. The belt helps keep your bag closer to you and distribute the weight properly without raising the risk of damage to your muscles or back, but that is only if you use it properly. Ideally, when you wear a backpack, your hips serve as a shelf for the weight. For this to happen, you need to adjust your hip belt so that it lies square on your iliac crest, cupping it for the best grip.

Choose the right backpack for painfree travel

Choose the right backpack for painfree travel

Your iliac crest or hip crest lies around the same place when your back begins to curve outwards. If you do it right, your crest acts as a shelf to hold your backpack, taking the weight without putting stress your back itself. It seems a little tricky, but you will get an idea of where exactly to fix the hip belt as you use your backpack more often or practice with it. ALSO READ: 45 best hostels in India for backpackers on a shoestring budget

Properly load the backpack

For an avid traveler, properly packing a bag is a skill mastered through trial and error, but you do not have to subject your back to stress until you strike the right combination. You need to consider two things when you pack your bag: the weight of the item you want to carry, and how much and often you need it. For instance, your camera equipment is heavy but your clothing won’t be, but you will need to take your eatables and water bottle more often than your clothes. Organize your gear in ascending order of weight, starting with the items you need when you make camp.

Properly packing a bag is a skill every traveler should master

Properly packing a bag is a skill every traveller should master

You can place your sleeping back at the bottom compartment of the back, followed by your tent equipment. The poles, if any, can be carried outside. The centre of your backpack, which is closest to your back, should contain the heaviest items, like your camera and other hard gear as well as food items. Pack the rest of your gear so that the lightest equipment lies outwards from the centre. But remember to keep essential items you need along the way right on top or outside your bag, like your water bottle, energy bar or snacks, lunch, first-aid kit and emergency light.

Properly wear and tighten your backpack

After you have loaded your backpack, it is time to swing it on your shoulders, tighten up the straps and get going. Get your hip belt along the crest as mentioned earlier and snap the ends together. Once that is done, tighten the straps by pulling them towards your back, mimicking the action of taking your wallet out of your back pocket. Keep the ends of the belt around 6-15 cm away from each other. Next, tighten your shoulder straps so that the padded part stops around 5-8 cm down from your armpit.

Tighten your backpack before you hit the trail.

Tighten your backpack before you hit the trail.

After that, it is time to tighten the sternum strap that goes from one shoulder strap to another, across your chest. The sternum strap should be around 5 cm below your collarbone. Use two fingers to tighten the strap until it slips from them, so that the strap is not too tight. Finally, if your backpack has load lifter straps on top of the shoulders, grab them and pull hard to bring the backpack forward, shifting the weight off your shoulders. You are now all set to hit the road! ALSO READ: 10 cheapest destinations for backpacking in India

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