View Full Version : Front pack
Anyone else tried or thought about carrying more weight in front?
The idea is not just to center the weight, but also to allow the straps to be worn loose - two packs attached to each other rather than to you. Bigger and softer items related to sleep and shelter could be in the backpack, smaller but heavier items like water and cooking stuff could be in the front. Food could be evenly split.
1. Walk more upright.
2. Better balance.
3. Looser straps.
4. Access to more stuff while hiking.
5. Better kit organization while keeping backpack simple.
6. Both packs can act as extra layer of clothing.
7. Potential overheating offset by looser less padded straps.
8. Potential weight addition offset by shorter lighter straps and a smaller simpler lighter constructed backpack.
Not all that different I suppose than what we used to call light webbing in the military, but I think it could be lighter and more comfortable for our purposes. You can try this with a fanny pack worn in front, but wear the fanny pack at gut height and attach the two packs more to each other rather than each separately to yourself. I like the two bottles in front on each side. Even a rolled up sleeping pad on top in front works OK. Nice arm rest.
I have almost completed a front pack that I designed to go with a GVP-4 that I made a couple of years ago.
My reason for making this one was that I am a canoeist and a lot of my paddling is solo. Weight distribution in a solo canoe is an issue, as if you only have one pack then it throws off the trim of the canoe and it really helps to be able to split the weight.
The front pack that I have made can be attached to the front straps of the pack with couple of light 'biners that attach to D rings, and it also has a couple of light staps so that it can be hung in the canoe as a thwart bag. It has a roll top similar to a dry bag so it is also waterproof. Each side has a mesh pocket for a water bottle so they are accessible on a portage, and it is sized so the it will just fit in the top of the GVP-4 if I want to carry it in the pack.
Haven't quite finished it yet (got side-tracked to make a silnylon tarp) so I can't report how well it has worked.
If you need some sort of front pack, try military webbing. I've got a Canadian Forces web belt with some attachable rubberized nylon carriers on it. If you live in Canada, try a surplus store. If you're American, I can't help you. I will say though, that webbing is great for distributing weight for short trips, like a day or two. I'm sure Sgt. Rock has something to say about this. *hands over the soapbox*
Im not a fan of front packs...
First, I know it adds dreaded ounces, but a well chosen pack with a well made hip belt can relieve any shoulder contact or posture issues. The best I have yet found for this is the Omni belt with Delta straps (MountainSmith or Kifaru). With my MS Ghost, under 30lbs and the straps dont even touch my body if I loosen them up... the weight is fully supported on my hips and the frame. I use the straps only for functional support.
Having a bag across your front MAY help with your balance, but it would get in the way while crossing sketchy terrain. I wouldnt wear one while stream crossing, skree traversing, boulder hopping, or any time I might need an ice axe and an ability to self arrest... which around here, you cant GO anywhere without crossing creeks, traversing skree, hopping boulders, or worrying about a self arrest. I dont know about on the AT, but on the CDT or PCT, these things are a concern as well. Plus, I cant imagine that having a bag across your front would make it easy to get off in case you happened to fall over while creek crossing. I had a friend almost die by forgetting to undo his hipbelt and getting that hooked on a snag when he slipped and went down a shallow (2 foot) waterfall. I dont think you can adequatly seperate front from back enough while water crossing for safety... though that may just be the few designs Ive seen.
I've been looking at the possibility of using a tactical vest with pouches in front with an attached pack instead of just a big pack on my back. There may be others out there who have some experience with these vest in a real life tacticat environment who can chime in and shed some light on the subject. Specifically, I was looking at the line of vests from blackhawk ... there are two packs that attach directly to the vests and have quick releases and they come is different colors! desicions desicions desicions!
Any input is appreciated.
P.S. the weather in Honolulu is still great!
Im quite familiar with the Blackhawk tactical gear. Which vest are you looking at? Ill tell you right now that the attachment of the backpacks to the vests is uncomfortable to wear. Its a poorly developed idea at BEST. I actually bought the shoulder straps for the backpack after the fact and wear the small ruck with those rather than putting them directly onto the vest (which BTW was the Omega Utility Vest), though you might not have the same problems I do if your tall enough to wear the vest at FULL extention (if you have to adjust the shoulder length, youll have to either sew it down, or put duct tape on it, the velcro adjustment is not so hot.
Ill be honest with ya, Ive worn numerous peices of tactical chest harnesses/Tac vests/webgear... They are generally an inelegant solution to a life threatening problem... and thats about it. A few of the reasons people started moving to the Chest harness (RACK et al) was for leg mobility, sitting ease (in APCs and so on), and put more junk between their chests and bullets. They are mostly used for short, intense, patrols - same with the vests. Longer patrols tend to use the more conventional open chest lay out of the TA-50 type systems with the gear in buttpacks and rucksacks.
Im sorry, just having some difficulty seeing the advantages of a "front pack" for sport (hiking) purposes knowing what a PITA they are when used for Military/Law Enforcment/Search and Rescue purposes
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