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Packs that take weight off the shoulders.

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  • Frank Dumville
    I have started to have some issues with my neck so I m looking for a pack that would get most, if not all, the weight off my shoulders onto the hips. I m
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 27, 2012
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      I have started to have some issues with my neck so I'm looking for a pack that would get most, if not all, the weight off my shoulders onto the hips. I'm pushing my base weight down but would like to be able to carry up to 30 pounds total for long hauls.
      Any suggestions.
       
      Snap
       
    • John Ladd
      ... US Dept of Defense tends to design packs with excellent weight transfer to the hips. The new (issued 2012) Marine Pack would probably do a great job of
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 27, 2012
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        On Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 8:18 PM, Frank Dumville <nccctsd@...> wrote:
         

        I have started to have some issues with my neck so I'm looking for a pack that would get most, if not all, the weight off my shoulders onto the hips. I'm pushing my base weight down but would like to be able to carry up to 30 pounds total for long hauls.

        US Dept of Defense tends to design packs with excellent weight transfer to the hips.  The new (issued 2012) Marine Pack would probably do a great job of it, but is still hard to find and pricey. 


        I use the MOLLE II (Army) large rucksack, which I love for the weight transfer capability.  I've reviewed it here and the review discusses weight transfer issues.


        Both the Marine and the Army versions are heavy (about 9 lbs empty) so your baseweight will go up. But they move the weight off your back and onto your hips.  That works for me, as my legs rarely tire on a hike and my back often does with more typical packs. It may also work for you.

        MOLLE II packs are usually available online. One that I see at present (a slightly newer version of the one I reviewed) is here for $100 and $25 shipping. You may be able to get it for less, esp. if you are willing to buy a used one


        There are various versions in the MOLLE family. You will be looking for the "large backpack" or "large rucksack", not the smaller "assault pack" or "3-day pack".

        If you live in or near San Francisco, give me a call and I'll let you try mine out on the hills behind my house.

        PS: I've already received plenty of abuse about this pack from those convinced by the need for minimizing baseweight. I don't need any more.

        Looks like this when configured for a 75 liter capacity. There are various add-on items when you meed more volume (up to about 105 liters)

        Inline image 1

        John Curran Ladd
        1616 Castro Street
        San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
        415-648-9279



      • shawn peterson
        Who cares about the abuse from others....mine served me very well for many years with real gear and looooooong humps and lots of ammo.  i tried one of those
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 27, 2012
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          Who cares about the abuse from others....mine served me very well for many years with real gear and looooooong humps and lots of ammo.  i tried one of those ultralight packs....IMHO after years of humping a good ruck...I think some of the Ultralight stuff is a funny gimmick and the one I tried didn't fit well, wasn't very adjustable, and very little padding in the shoulder straps.  I'm not into buying new gear every year.....one of these rucks will last forever if you treat it right....

          --- On Thu, 12/27/12, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:

          From: John Ladd <johnladd@...>
          Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] Packs that take weight off the shoulders.
          To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Thursday, December 27, 2012, 9:37 PM

           

          On Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 8:18 PM, Frank Dumville <nccctsd@...> wrote:

           

          I have started to have some issues with my neck so I'm looking for a pack that would get most, if not all, the weight off my shoulders onto the hips. I'm pushing my base weight down but would like to be able to carry up to 30 pounds total for long hauls.

          US Dept of Defense tends to design packs with excellent weight transfer to the hips.  The new (issued 2012) Marine Pack would probably do a great job of it, but is still hard to find and pricey. 


          I use the MOLLE II (Army) large rucksack, which I love for the weight transfer capability.  I've reviewed it here and the review discusses weight transfer issues.


          Both the Marine and the Army versions are heavy (about 9 lbs empty) so your baseweight will go up. But they move the weight off your back and onto your hips.  That works for me, as my legs rarely tire on a hike and my back often does with more typical packs. It may also work for you.

          MOLLE II packs are usually available online. One that I see at present (a slightly newer version of the one I reviewed) is here for $100 and $25 shipping. You may be able to get it for less, esp. if you are willing to buy a used one


          There are various versions in the MOLLE family. You will be looking for the "large backpack" or "large rucksack", not the smaller "assault pack" or "3-day pack".

          If you live in or near San Francisco, give me a call and I'll let you try mine out on the hills behind my house.

          PS: I've already received plenty of abuse about this pack from those convinced by the need for minimizing baseweight. I don't need any more.

          Looks like this when configured for a 75 liter capacity. There are various add-on items when you meed more volume (up to about 105 liters)

          Inline image 1

          John Curran Ladd
          1616 Castro Street
          San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
          415-648-9279



        • charliepolecat
          Snap, I use an REI Flash 65, the weight is entirely on my hips (you do have to keep racking in the waist straps) and no weight on my shoulders. If I don t have
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 28, 2012
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            Snap, I use an REI Flash 65, the weight is entirely on my hips (you do have to keep racking in the waist straps) and no weight on my shoulders. If I don't have a finger width between the shoulder straps and my shoulders, I pull the waist straps tighter.

            The thing I found this year was losing weight during the hike caused the waist straps to reach their maximum adjustment. This problem was solved by tying an item of clothing around my waist. I will have to do some work on the waist straps to achieve a permanent solution.

            My total pack weight - as measured on the scale outside the Wilderness office in Yosemite - was 32 pounds. This was about 4 pounds heavier than calculated at home.
          • Spencer Goodwine
            My suggestion: Find a pack with the correct torso length. I m tall (6 4 ) with a long torso and my first pack (a Kelty Redcloud) had a shorter torso lenght
            Message 5 of 18 , Dec 28, 2012
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              My suggestion: Find a pack with the correct torso length. I'm tall (6'4") with a long torso and my first pack (a Kelty Redcloud) had a shorter torso lenght than I did. It didn't matter how I adjusted it, there was always some pressure on my neck/shoulders. I bought a Six Moons Starlight pack with a long torso (and adjustable) and it's amazing the difference it makes. I dialed in the torso length and I can carry virtually all the weight on my hips, or if my hips are sore, I can put a some of the weight on my shoulders. It made the difference not having a sore neck/shoulders when I was hiking 10-12 hour days on the JMT. BTW, the Six Moon Starlight is an Ultralight Pack that uses a sleeping pad as the back support, I hauled 37lbs comfortably with it after the MTR resupply. But, really, there are several different brands and types (UL or not) of packs with long and/or adjustable torso lengths, so find a couple that you like, load them up with some weight and see how they feel and pick the best one.

              On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM, charliepolecat <kennethjessett@...> wrote:
               

              Snap, I use an REI Flash 65, the weight is entirely on my hips (you do have to keep racking in the waist straps) and no weight on my shoulders. If I don't have a finger width between the shoulder straps and my shoulders, I pull the waist straps tighter.

              The thing I found this year was losing weight during the hike caused the waist straps to reach their maximum adjustment. This problem was solved by tying an item of clothing around my waist. I will have to do some work on the waist straps to achieve a permanent solution.

              My total pack weight - as measured on the scale outside the Wilderness office in Yosemite - was 32 pounds. This was about 4 pounds heavier than calculated at home.


            • John Ladd
              On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 6:34 AM, charliepolecat
              Message 6 of 18 , Dec 28, 2012
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                On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 6:34 AM, charliepolecat <kennethjessett@...> wrote:
                >
                > Snap, I use an REI Flash 65, the weight is entirely on my hips (you do have to keep racking in the waist straps) and no weight on my shoulders. If I don't have a finger width between the shoulder straps and my shoulders, I pull the waist straps tighter.
                >

                I agree with Charlie in great part, but do have a few disagreements which I'll express here.

                I agree that Snap's problem (he describes it with his neck) may be solved with an internal frame pack with good load lifter straps, which DO take weight off the top surface of the shoulders and transfer it downward -- though I'd argue that they are mostly moving the load to the pectoral muscles and the shoulder blades, rather than to the hips.  The finger width test may be good way to tell if the load lifter straps are doing their job of relieving the top of the shoulder but I fear that it doesn't really show transfer to the hips. And, as noted below, REI advises against "overtightening" the straps to the point of "causing a gap".  

                I also agree the REI Flash does a better job than many internal frame packs of moving weight to the hips. It has internal stays and a wide hip belt that wraps around the pelvis girdle well. (Like Charlie, I found that I have to adjust the waist belt tighter at frequent intervals)

                However, having used both the REI Flash and several external frame packs, I think it is very hard for an internal frame pack to be as efficient an a good external frame one in weight transfer all the way down to the hips (as opposed just to the chest/back). Both the Army and the Marines tried internal frame packs and it was largely the complaints of the soldiers and the grunts after field use that caused them to return to their current external frame pack designs.  About a year ago, the Marines replaced their internal frame ILBE pack (based on the Arcteryx Tango) with the new external frame "USMC pack". The Army experimented with internal frames before adopting the external-frame MOLLE. 

                The field complaints by Marines about the Arcteryx/ILBE internal frame pack included "stresses the neck"

                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johnmuirtrail/photos/album/788764525/pic/2134124903/view?picmode=&mode=tn&order=ordinal&start=1&count=20&dir=asc

                I don't know of good way to quantify the actual percent of weight transfer to the hips, but I have seen figures from apparently knowledgeable people (I think it was Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins in Complete Walker IV) that an internal frame pack will typically transfer no more than 20% of the total weight to the hips. I note, however, that REI says that "most" of the weight can go to the hips in their fitting video (which uses a pack that looks like the Flash)

                When thinking about this post, I went to the REI "Expert advice" site on fitting of backpacks and was somewhat surprised to see this warning about overtightening the load lifter straps, since I had previously (like Charlie) thought that a small gap was good.

                "Gently snug the load-lifter straps to pull weight off your shoulders. (Overtightening the load lifters will cause a gap to form between your shoulders and the shoulder straps.)"

                http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacks-adjusting-fit.html

                On the video on the same page, REI suggests tightening the straps to "ease the pressure" off the shoulders and have them be at a 45 degree angle but does not show them tightened to the point of creating a finger-width gap.

                I suspect that REI's concern is that if you have too much of a gap, the pack will shift around as you walk, requiring that you use muscles to counter the repeated weight shifts.  The sweet spot may be to tighten until the weight is off the top of the shoulder but to avoid a noticeable gap.

                John
              • rand
                ... The only way to go is an external frame pack. I have the same problem as you, and my solution was to go with the only UL external frame pack on the
                Message 7 of 18 , Dec 28, 2012
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                  John is absolutely correct when he notes:

                  > it is very hard for an internal frame pack to be as efficient an
                  > a good external frame one in weight transfer all the way down to
                  > the hips (as opposed just to the chest/back)

                  The only way to go is an external frame pack. I have the same problem as you, and my solution was to go with the only UL external frame pack on the market....the Luxury Lite.....you can find it here:

                  http://luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

                  It not only keeps the pack off my shoulders....off my chest....and off my back.....but it is purely, 100%, loading my hips. Further, the unique design of the pack I have found to be superior to traditional *big bag* designs. With the tube modules, they are essentially stuff sacks that can be removed, changed around, swapped with other sizes, etc.

                  I love this pack and have never seen anything else to compare.

                  Rand
                • charliepolecat
                  I m taking another look at my pack. I have the right size according to the video link you provided, but it says if the waist doesn t fit, you should use
                  Message 8 of 18 , Dec 28, 2012
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                    I'm taking another look at my pack. I have the right size according to the video link you provided, but it says if the waist doesn't fit, you should use another waist strap. Trouble is, the strap is not removable. So the pack would have to be rebuilt. Pulled in as tight as it will go, the waist strap does not have enough 'hold' on the waist.

                    It seems the Flash 62 must have replaced the Flash 65. It would have been nice if the REI site explained how they differ.

                    Thanks for the input, John.
                  • Frank Dumville
                    Thanks for all the responses.   I ve been using internal frame packs for years but I haven t had much luck using the load lifters or moving the straps up to
                    Message 9 of 18 , Dec 29, 2012
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                      Thanks for all the responses.
                       
                      I've been using internal frame packs for years but I haven't had much luck using the load lifters or moving the straps up to relieve the tension my neck and shoulders.
                       
                      It looks like I'll have to try an external frame.
                       
                      Snap    
                       
                       
                       
                    • Frank Dumville
                      Rand,   Thanks for your reply. I m aware of the Luxury Lite.   Do you use the front pack? If so, do you have any problems seeing the trail? Do you think it
                      Message 10 of 18 , Dec 29, 2012
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                        Rand,
                         
                        Thanks for your reply. I'm aware of the Luxury Lite.
                         
                        Do you use the front pack? If so, do you have any problems seeing the trail? Do you think it is essential?
                         
                        Thanks,
                        Snap
                         
                        From: rand <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                        To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 2:17 PM
                        Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: Packs that take weight off the shoulders.
                         
                        John is absolutely correct when he notes:

                        > it is very hard for an internal frame pack to be as efficient an
                        > a good external frame one in weight transfer all the way down to
                        > the hips (as opposed just to the chest/back)

                        The only way to go is an external frame pack. I have the same problem as you, and my solution was to go with the only UL external frame pack on the market....the Luxury Lite.....you can find it here:

                        http://luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

                        It not only keeps the pack off my shoulders....off my chest....and off my back.....but it is purely, 100%, loading my hips. Further, the unique design of the pack I have found to be superior to traditional *big bag* designs. With the tube modules, they are essentially stuff sacks that can be removed, changed around, swapped with other sizes, etc.

                        I love this pack and have never seen anything else to compare.

                        Rand

                         
                      • rand
                        Frank: No....don t use the front pack....while I like being a little odd on the trail, that front pack concept went just one step too far :-) What I did
                        Message 11 of 18 , Dec 29, 2012
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                          Frank:

                          No....don't use the front pack....while I like being a "little odd" on the trail, that front pack concept went just one step too far :-) What I did was to have a couple of water bottle holder bags made for me that I attached to the hip belt.....and I also use a fanny/front pack around my waist for other goodies.

                          Rand :-)
                        • Roleigh Martin
                          I like the idea of a front pack off-setting the weight of your pack just enough that you feel more centered but not so that it hinders your eyesight of where
                          Message 12 of 18 , Dec 29, 2012
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                            I like the idea of a front pack off-setting the weight of your pack just enough that you feel more centered but not so that it hinders your eyesight of where your feet are.  I love the idea of my water being up front so I went with a Camelbak front-pouch.  I have used it on 3 different JMT hikes now and would not consider anything else.  I've turned two other people onto it and they both love it.  Here is an image of me on Glen Pass in 2009 -- (I had lost my cap, Sahara Flap attachment and used a bandana instead, and that white near my nose is the sunscreen that I did not realize was visible until seeing the image.)

                            It is amazing how much more centered one feels with that little front pack.  I don't notice the weight of it at all.  The Camelbak pouch easily attaches to the chest sternum strap.

                            Inline image 1
                            -------------------------------------------------
                            Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
                            _

                            You can get it at amazon now:

                            The Pakteen has plastic circular loops to enable snaking the hose through it to avoid it hanging down near your legs (shown above).



                            On Sat, Dec 29, 2012 at 12:51 PM, Frank Dumville <nccctsd@...> wrote:
                             

                            Rand,
                             
                            Thanks for your reply. I'm aware of the Luxury Lite.
                             
                            Do you use the front pack? If so, do you have any problems seeing the trail? Do you think it is essential?
                             
                            Thanks,
                            Snap
                             
                            From: rand <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
                            To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 2:17 PM
                            Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: Packs that take weight off the shoulders.
                             
                            John is absolutely correct when he notes:

                            > it is very hard for an internal frame pack to be as efficient an
                            > a good external frame one in weight transfer all the way down to
                            > the hips (as opposed just to the chest/back)

                            The only way to go is an external frame pack. I have the same problem as you, and my solution was to go with the only UL external frame pack on the market....the Luxury Lite.....you can find it here:

                            http://luxurylite.com/stackpackindex.html

                            It not only keeps the pack off my shoulders....off my chest....and off my back.....but it is purely, 100%, loading my hips. Further, the unique design of the pack I have found to be superior to traditional *big bag* designs. With the tube modules, they are essentially stuff sacks that can be removed, changed around, swapped with other sizes, etc.

                            I love this pack and have never seen anything else to compare.

                            Rand

                             


                          • John
                            Interesting set-up Roleigh, but while it may provide better balance, I can t help but think that all or most of that Camelback s weight falls on your shoulders
                            Message 13 of 18 , Dec 30, 2012
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                            Interesting set-up Roleigh, but while it may provide better balance, I can't help but think that all or most of that Camelback's weight falls on your shoulders (albeit forward weight).  To me, skin-out weight is felt least when positioned/directed on or near the centered strength of our pelvic girdles (waist).  I think we would all agree that the lion's share of our pack's weight must ride on the waist rather than the shoulders to minimize pain and discomfort, while maximizing endurance.    

                            Even though I own two types of hydration bladders for other activities, I am not a fan of bladders used inside the main pack and prefer easily accessible hydrating vessels for the following reasons:

                             - ease of filling without unpacking/re-packing the bladder.
                             -  lost internal pack volume due to stowed bladder.
                             - potential leak problems with an internally-stowed bladder (eg. saturated equipment such as down bag, jacket, or other hydro-phobic items.
                             - ability to easily monitor fluid intake and fluid stores.
                             - multiple plastic bottles (such as G-rade bottles) still weigh less than a hydration bladder, hose, and mouthpiece.
                             - ease of/cost of replacement should a vessel leak. 
                             - no disinfecting or clean up hassles - just get new disposable (and recyclable)  bottles.  

                            On my abbreviated 2012 JMT trip, I experimented with a Marmot fanny/lumbar pack (sorry...unknown model) which houses two pouches for bottles between a main pouch that was perfect for quick access to things like maps, snacks, etc.  I donned the waist pack (facing forward) before putting on my primary pack (Osprey Atmos 50).  While this concept is nothing new to the backpack world, I was very satisfied with the fit, feel, and functionality of the set up.  I usually carry between 1-2 liters for most Sierra excursions, so this works great for me.  YMMV

                            Here's a pic of my set-up with the black Marmot waist pack fitted with two Gatorade bottles on either side of the "kangaroo pouch".
                             
                             
                          • Ned Tibbits
                            To each his own, really, on the subject of choosing a pack that takes weight off the shoulders. You have to experiment in-store with weight inside and the
                            Message 14 of 18 , Dec 30, 2012
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                              To each his own, really, on the subject of choosing a pack that takes weight off the shoulders. You have to experiment in-store with weight inside and the sales people making adjustments alongside. Some places do have various packs in their rental system, so experiment with them first.
                               
                              We have not had any luck here at Mountain Education carrying two weeks’ gear on extended courses using most any UL pack. Thus, we still use 1980s Kelty packs, winter or summer.
                               
                               
                              Ned Tibbits, Director
                              Mountain Education
                              www.mountaineducation.org
                               
                              Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 9:41 AM
                              Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] Packs that take weight off the shoulders.
                               
                               

                              Thanks for all the responses.
                               
                              I've been using internal frame packs for years but I haven't had much luck using the load lifters or moving the straps up to relieve the tension my neck and shoulders.
                               
                              It looks like I'll have to try an external frame.
                               
                              Snap   
                               
                               
                               
                            • charliepolecat
                              Real men carry Kelty packs, ultra lights are for girly-men. ;-)
                              Message 15 of 18 , Dec 31, 2012
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                                Real men carry Kelty packs, ultra lights are for girly-men. ;-)



                                --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "Ned Tibbits" <ned@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > To each his own, really, on the subject of choosing a pack that takes weight off the shoulders. You have to experiment in-store with weight inside and the sales people making adjustments alongside. Some places do have various packs in their rental system, so experiment with them first.
                                >
                                > We have not had any luck here at Mountain Education carrying two weeks’ gear on extended courses using most any UL pack. Thus, we still use 1980s Kelty packs, winter or summer.
                                >
                                >
                                > Ned Tibbits, Director
                                > Mountain Education
                                > www.mountaineducation.org
                                >
                              • Darryl
                                We may want to consider posture in the equation. In A.J. Jacobs book Drop Dead Healthy , the author quotes a walking specialist who says that in America we
                                Message 16 of 18 , Dec 31, 2012
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                                  We may want to consider posture in the equation. In A.J. Jacobs' book "Drop Dead Healthy", the author quotes a "walking specialist" who says that in America we tend to lean back too much when we walk, like Robert Crumb's immortal Keep on Trucking' image http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-70s/images/482814/title/keep-on-truckin-photo
                                  The walking specialist suggests that it is more natural to lean forward and stick your butt out more a-la Mick Jagger's peacock stance. I tried it and it worked for me. It may not look cool, but it shifts the center of gravity back towards your hips and takes a lot of weight off the shoulders.
                                  I recognize the conventional wisdom is that walking upright is the correct posture, but I found it much more comfortable bending over slightly and taking more weight on my hips. If you look at Sherpas, you'll notice they do the same. I'm sure this may be quite controversial and the vision of thousands of Mick Jagger's prancing along the John Muir trail may not be palatable to many....
                                  Darryl

                                  --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Frank Dumville <nccctsd@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > I have started to have some issues with my neck so I'm looking for a pack that would get most, if not all, the weight off my shoulders onto the hips. I'm pushing my base weight down but would like to be able to carry up to 30 pounds total for long hauls.
                                  > Any suggestions.
                                  >  
                                  > Snap
                                  >
                                • John Ladd
                                  On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 6:37 AM, charliepolecat
                                  Message 17 of 18 , Dec 31, 2012
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                                    On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 6:37 AM, charliepolecat <kennethjessett@...> wrote:
                                     

                                    Real men carry Kelty packs, ultra lights are for girly-men. ;-)



                                    Nah. I think Ned's point was that it was harder to carry a load in a UL pack. You UL guys are the real men.  
                                  • rnagarajan
                                    ... Is this the same school of thought as the opinion that runners should keep weight on the ball of their feet rather than the heel? Maybe a more forward
                                    Message 18 of 18 , Dec 31, 2012
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                                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "Darryl" <dabrahms@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > The walking specialist suggests that it is more natural to lean forward and stick your butt out more a-la Mick Jagger's peacock stance. I tried it and it worked for me. It may not look cool, but it shifts the center of gravity back towards your hips and takes a lot of weight off the shoulders.
                                      >

                                      Is this the same school of thought as the opinion that runners should keep weight on the ball of their feet rather than the heel? Maybe a more forward lean is the "natural" way to run/walk for humans before the development of modern footwear. I know that I've had far fewer running injuries since adopting a forward leaning running stride.
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