View Full Version : Do you need a hip belt?

2007-02-01, 11:38
I have been playing around with my GG Vapor Trail. I am in between sizes and have regular, maybe should have gotten a long. But with light loads do you really need a hipbelt,? Seems to work pretty good without it. What is your take on this? Also anyone tried a ULA Conduit?

2007-02-01, 12:07
ray Jardine says you don't need a hipbelt, I wouldn't be without the hipbelt on my GG Vapor Trail. I guess it is a personal thing. In really rough terrain, IE scree slopes or tundra, you are much more sure-footed with a good hip belt. For trail walking I guess it is just personal choice. I've spent too many hours under an ALICE pack with 80-100# in it and a hip belt that doesn't work to not appreciate a well-designed pack.

2007-02-01, 12:26
Jardine's got a lot of good ideas based on his experience in his book, some of which I use and appreciate, some of which I take with a bucket of salt. I don't need a hipbelt, but I wouldn't voluntarily go without one for even an 8-pound pack. A few pounds drags uncomfortably on the shoulders after a short time, but a good hipbelt makes packs of 15 pounds or less practically disappear.

Now you know what works for me and Ray, go have fun finding what works for you!

2007-02-01, 13:51
i've got a Gust. it weighs about 21oz and has a hip belt. i use it when bushwhacking into a stealth campsite, up and down steep hills, and when my shoulders need a rest. wouldn't go without it.

the Conduit is on my wish list, at least to try out.

i re-read jardine's book a lot. some parts i wholeheartedly agree with, but the margins are filled with comments where i disagree too. take what works, leave what doesn't.

2007-02-01, 17:08
Personally I think hipbelts are really hit-or-miss. Some people love em,
some hate em. And then it also makes a big difference the type of pack.
Normally I hate them. Just can't seem to get comfortable with one. Also,
I like access to small items on my regular pants belt. Pretty uncomfortable,
if you have a hipbelt over top. Have to agree with seeker on the golite packs.
The only time I have been really comfortable with one is on the Golite Jam and the Golite Gust.

2007-02-02, 09:29
Interesting subject. Here are my thoughts.

There are really two kinds of hip belts, or at least two different ways in which hip belts can work. One way depends on the shape of your hips and somewhat on friction to take some weight. The other depends more on a slight forward lean in order to put the weight on the back of you hips. Of course you can have a combination of the two. To take advantage of the first mode you have to have some shape there to take advantage of, and the right shape of hip belt to take advantage of it. To take advantage of the second mode you need a slight forward lean. This is easiest for tall skinny people that are not overweight.

I am 6' and currently 220# on about 150# of lean body mass, and I've always carried most of my muscle in my legs and (discovered later in life) most of my excess fat on my stomach and sides. On day hikes with 10# I don't use a hip belt or waist belt. With 15# to 25# carries my preference would be to walk erect by carrying about 15# on my back and 10# in front. With 15# the hip belt is not that critical. The even distribution of weight allows the shoulder straps to be loose, and a waist strap helps stabilize things. However, at 25# using this method I think there might be to much weight on the shoulders and the grinding of the spine is probably not healthy, so it makes sense to transfer some of that weight onto you hips, so a form fitting hip belt is very useful. The hip belt doesn't need to be padded, but it should be wide and form fitting. I like the kind that has and over and under strap to tighten rather than a single wide strap. The clothes you wear under is important also. They need to work with the pack you are carrying.

Beyond 25# carried I think it should all be carried on your back with as much weight on the hips as you can manage to achieve comfortably. If I ever get down to 170# again I could probable carry a heavy pack very easily. Until then I try to avoid it, as my back gets enough punishment as it is, being a dad. Anyone with kids knows what I'm talking about.

I think it makes sense for a hip belt to be detachable, because it is something that really should be made to fit the individual.

2007-02-03, 02:01
I like a hip belt. I've been using them for years.
I've even added them to packs and rucksacks that didn't have them.
Anytime I use a pack without one, I end up getting tired faster and having sore shoulders and/or back.

Not trying to disagree with JAK, however for me it doesn't need to be some great big form fitting belt (might be my build - I'm built like a tall midget).
I do just as well with a belt made from 1 inch webbing.

It just needs to snug the bottom of the pack to my back, eliminate some freeplay, and shift a bit of the load to my hips.

The first pack with a belt I ever had, had a 1 inch strap attached to the external frame and a cheesy metal buckle that kept coming loose.
I actually didn't use the belt for the first summer I had it. I had it hooked up out of the way with rubber bands. I kept thinking about taking it off but luckily didn't.

One day just after I started on the trail for a weekend trip one of the rubber bands broke. I kept trying to tie it to the frame but it kept bugging me. Finally out of desperation I gave it a try.

It was a revelation! It made the pack feel so much lighter, and hiking much more enjoyable. Added miles to my range.

I won't go without now.

2007-02-03, 04:27
I have one pack that doesn't have a hip belt, a daypack with hydration, that I find is the most tiresome bit of gear I own. Put a load in it for me and the kids, say 15#, and about an hour and a half in my shoulders are tired and I want out of it. The weight shifting around is incompatible with my physique.

I also have problems with hip belts because of the pocket access, holstering, and difficulty finding places to put accessories that I want close at hand. I cannot imagine my pack without one.

2007-02-03, 20:16
Agree with KEA, hip belts can cover access to pockets...can be a pain. My hip belt rides above and rests upon my holster on my handgun. Does not interfere with drawing the weapon.... Rides pretty good there. Maybe I should carry two guns......

I think that hip belts offer too many options to consider leaving it off the pack. Just the flopping around/swaying can tire you a bit... I find that sometimes I completely unhook my hip belt to get a bit of relief from the belt. Then I crank it down and give my sholders some relief. Nice to have two options.

2007-02-04, 09:58
Perhaps I should have been more clear that with up to 10# I am happy with my daypack without a belt, but when I wear 15-25# front and back I like some sort of waist or hip belt. My daypack is a Northface Ed they don't make anymore. It is built heavy and is rather small but it fits my back really well and I can run with it by loosening the straps and hooking my thumbs into the straps.

I haven't made the front and back pack I am looking for hiking with 10-25# skin out, but it will have one set of shoulder straps some and sort of wait or hip belt tieing it all together and taking some of the wieght. I have experimented a few times with my daypack and a large fanny pack worn in front and it was very comfortable for a 3-4 day hike. It was just built heavier than it needed to be with all the extra straps and padding and bullet proof nylon. I would like a very simple trash can style backpack, but large volume, and use the front pack for denser stuff and keeping smaller things organized.

I have a regular backpack. I paid too much for it and it is way too heavy to be useful. I might end up canabalize it for parts. The hip built is too heavy to be useful for a lighter pack though, unless maybe I really ripped the stuffing out of it and knocked it down to just one ply of nylon. Might do that. I'm not that great at sewing and making stuff, but I am pretty good at taking stuff apart. :)

2007-02-04, 10:13
1) Naked hikers don't worry about covering up the pockets of the shorts they're not wearing.

2) Lots of companies add pockets to their hipbelts now

3) Granite Gear makes some very nice pockets for their hipbelts, as do some other companies, most of which will easily fit almost any pack's belt

4) I still think all of these things are matters of personal preference, so just get out and experiment

5) I think cabin fever is taking hold, so I'm going to strap on my snowshoes and head into the woods for a while until the Superbowl starts