T Nation

Packing/Waring a Rucksack


If any of you pros out there could give me some pointers, I would greatly appreciate it. I have been rucking to get ready for the military, using from 40-70 lbs. My problem is not in my legs, they seem to do fine... it is in my shoulder/trap area. They get worn out/fatigued very quickly to where I can't bare to go any longer. I have tried numerous adjustments to better distribute the weight, but every damn time my traps kill me. Thanks in advance!


Your pack must suck? Does it have a hip belt at all?

IMO You shouldn't feel it in your shoulders at all. I'm a 135 lb female and I can carry ~55lbs for long distances without pain! Because all the weight is on my hips and my legs and butt are carrying the load. Make sure you have a low centre of gravity.


Yeah it has a hip belt. I have it right at the top of my pelvis pretty tight. I use 10 lb sand bags, so I just stack them on top of each other and tighten the pack really good and tight.


Holy Mac and Ink, your opinions are needed.


Have you tightened/adjusted all the straps on the hip belt and shoulder straps? It's hard to say without seeing but have a look and make sure you know where all the adjustments are and that you have them tightened so the pack is snug against your back and not pulling.

My pack has at strap at each side of my hips on the belt that pulls the pack close to my lower back and it has straps for the shoulder straps to pull them snug and another set of straps at the top of my shoulders that pull the pack in close to my upper back. If you can find those, try playing around with them.

Unless a military rucksack is really different from a typical backpack, in which case I'm sure someone will tell me to shut up at any moment :slight_smile:


Do you have an alice pack? What kind of ruck sack are you using? Can you post a pic?

With a normal military-issued pack, I never used the hip belt at all, it never did anything for me but get in the way. What helped was loosening up my shoulder straps so the bottom would dig in to the top of my upper ass area. This way, the pack will be applying most of the force to the lower back/hips, and the shoulders are just anchors really. I loosened it to the point where if someone looked at me from the side, they could see a space between my mid/upper-back and the actual pack.

But in all honesty, while you have to learn how to distribute the weight properly, you shoulders SHOULD be fatigued after a long/tough ruck. A ruck beats the shit out of your body, plain and simple.


Wol what's the deal man. I've seen you posting on military topics and whatnot, you joining or is it just an interest?


The new packs out there are similar to the private-sector ruck sacks, much more padding. The old packs, like the Alice pack, are rough. Search an image of it, you can just tell.


Wol, I'm thinkin about taking offense for not giving me a shout-out... But, alas, we have a situation here.

Deb, you sound as though you know what you're talking about, so I don't imagine anyone telling you to shut up. However, I have to wonder what OP's gait is like, what type of pack is he using, so on and so forth.

OP, the above questions, and what type of physical training do you do on a daily basis? It almost sounds as though you jumped into the deep end pretty quickly. What is the suspense on your training time before you join? Hit us with your info please. It is probably not the pack that is causing you problems. Pics will help immensely.


I have a weighted vest. Throwing seventy pounds on your back when you're not used to it will fuck your traps up.

Start with twenty and work your way up.

But really, you should be concentrating on running/bodyweight stuff. If you don't have that shit squared away, rucking isn't something you should even think about.


You may have your shoulder straps too tight, so that none of the weight is carried by your hip belt. On long hikes, you can tighten and loosen to move the weight betweeen your hip belt and shoulder straps. Back in the day, when I was a young Marine our old ALICE packs didn't really have hip belts. Shoulder pain was always a problem and many times it was due to pulling the pack too tight. Does your pack have a sternum strap (strap on the shoulder straps that goes across your chest)? That helps keep the pack straps better aligned over your traps, or at least it works for me.

Mostly you just have to suck up the pain. These days I am an old Marine and the current packs we have still suck. Humps suck, life goes on. I became a tank officer to avoid that stuff.


The alice pack is low and sticks out far behind the body to make it easier to move through thick brush. This makes it terribly uncomfortable and very unlike the standard hiking pack. The real key is load distrobution. You want as much weight as possible close to the body and high in the ruck. Again....the alice carries much differently than a backpack.
In the long run though......you pack it to best distribute the weight.....and then build killer traps and shoulders.


Yeah they do look rough!

After I hit submit I realized I was probably not being all that helpful talking about the kind of pack I was wearing and that it was probably different. I do have one similar (after looking at an image search) and I only use it for short trips because it's very uncomfortable. My pack for long trips sits right on my butt like a shelf and when I have it adjusted right it doesn't pull on my shoulders at all. I remember when I started it was a problem and a lot of that had to do with putting the weight too far from my body when packing.


OP, post pics of this rucksack, and we can offer more specific advice.

Depending on which branch you join, you may or may not get better packs for hiking than you're using now.

Of course, your shoulders/traps just not being adjusted yet could be the problem as well. Best way to fix that is to keep on ruckin'!


shut up deb :stuck_out_tongue:

OP - what kind of ruck are you using?

instead of taking a picture of your ruck, have someone take a picture of you wearing it while it's fully loaded.

aftermarket rucks are much better than standard issue (which goes for pretty much everything) but if you have to use standard issue gear for whatever it is you're doing, there's no sense in training with a different ruck.

if you have something significantly heavier than other items, have it placed as close to the inside part of the ruck (closet to your back). also, don't put that item in first.

sorry if this stuff was already covered in other posts.

bottom line, know that there isn't a 'magical way' to load/wear a ruck that allows you to go forever with no trap/shoulder fatigue.


for example, you could go join the usmc and be given a hefty bag and some 100mph tape and told to go eff off.

right hungry? lol


Haha, see, I told you Beast :wink:

I am surprised shoulder pain is expected though.


OP, please listen to what sjoconn is saying.

I would add that I was always taught to have the ruck as high on your shoulders and traps as possible, with the weight distributed as sjoconn pointed out. Trust me, you will want the weight distributed on your traps/shoulders. You don't want to be on a long ruck march with your ruck weight tiring out your lower back.

Your shoulders are going to ache a bit, but that is part of it. As others have said, ruck marches suck, not much you can do about it.


notice i said fatigue deb, not pain.


Sorry everyone, I should have been more specific. I am using a large Alice pack. Picked it up at the Army Surplus store for like $40. It has shoulder straps, chest strap, waist strap, and the ones on the shoulder straps that you pull to adjust the load (I will put up pics tonight of the bag and me wearing it)

As far as my routine goes for getting in shape, I have been following Sealfit.com It has been great, I absolutely love it. I am joining the Army, actually ship 9/13, and have really been thinking about trying for SF on and off.

You guys are probably right, my body probably just isn't used to doing that kind of work. On top of that, my traps/shoulders are always sore from the WODs I do. But I have to say, from what I have read from other people, there should be more weight sitting on my hips/ass than on my traps and it honestly feels like they are carrying most, if not all, of the load. I will mess around with the adjustments more tonight, and as I said I will get some pics up as well. Thank you guys for your time, it is appreciated!