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    breetbree's Avatar
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    any servicemen/women out there or hikers with experience of hiking?

    Primal Fuel
    hi all. i want to start out doing some small ruck marches soon and build my way up to heavier weight and longer distances. i have my father's rucksack from when he was in the Army, but i'm having difficulties getting started! i pack the ruck with about 20 pounds and it just feels uncomfortable walking with it. it feels like no matter what i do in attempt of adjusting the weight, it all seems to shift to one side or the other? is this a problem with the backpack or am i packing it wrong? i'm putting 40 half pound weights inside of it so that may be a problem with them shifting to one side maybe? any input or tips or warnings would be much appreciated. when i get started, i plan on only doing it once per week, a few days before my sprinting session! thanks!!

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    1. Do you have a rack or frame for your ruck? You'll need one.
    2. Do you have a waist strap for your ruck? You'll need one.

    You'll probably do better to pack your ruck with things, rather than weight. If you do keep using the weight, add a bunch of old towels or clothes, so that the bag is full and the weights don't slide around. Many guys prefer to have the weight balanced up high on the shoulders, rather than all hanging down from the bottom.

    The ruck on a frame is far more comfortable (when adjusted properly) than the ruck by itself.

    Make sure you use your waist strap as well. That should be supporting a good chunk of the weight. If you don't have one, you need to get one.

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    I use an old Vietnam War era ruck that I got at a garage sale when I was 16. I just load it up with a 50lbs sand bag (40 .5 lbs weights? WTF?) and hike with it for about an hour. However, I have to put that thing very high on my shoulders. As jfreaksho said, get a frame and/or waist strap. I should too, but I have been using this thing for 25 years and it's fine for me.
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    Are you training for anything specific, or do you just think ruck marches are fun or something? I only ask because I know a lot of former soldiers who end up with knee problems from lots of heavy ruck marches/runs. I just carry what I need when hiking/camping--I've never seen the need for extra unnecessary weight. If your hike is too easy, go faster or somewhere more steep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfreaksho View Post
    1. Do you have a rack or frame for your ruck? You'll need one.
    2. Do you have a waist strap for your ruck? You'll need one.
    Neither are really required, but they do help. Waist/hip belts aren't even allowed in some military school. That being said it's a lot easier with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Anthony View Post
    I only ask because I know a lot of former soldiers who end up with knee problems from lots of heavy ruck marches/runs.
    The Army has a habit of teaching people to heel strike when rucking; i.e. "step it out." That can and will take a toll on the knees and ankles. However just like running with a correct foot strike, it's fine even carrying heavy loads.
    "Go For Broke"
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    Quote Originally Posted by breetbree View Post
    hi all. i want to start out doing some small ruck marches soon and build my way up to heavier weight and longer distances. i have my father's rucksack from when he was in the Army, but i'm having difficulties getting started! i pack the ruck with about 20 pounds and it just feels uncomfortable walking with it. it feels like no matter what i do in attempt of adjusting the weight, it all seems to shift to one side or the other? is this a problem with the backpack or am i packing it wrong? i'm putting 40 half pound weights inside of it so that may be a problem with them shifting to one side maybe? any input or tips or warnings would be much appreciated. when i get started, i plan on only doing it once per week, a few days before my sprinting session! thanks!!
    A few things to help make your rucks more enjoyable:

    -Ruck with friends, make it way more fun
    -Center the weight as high up in the ruck as you can, you want the center of mass between your shoulders
    -Secure everything down as tight as you can, add filler to take up space if need be (blankets, yoga blocks, pillows)
    -Ensure your feet strike underneath your CoG, try to avoid heel striking
    -I assume you're using an ALICE Ruck, Large; make sure you have all the correct bits, and put your weights into the radio pouch on the inside up nice and high.
    -Take care of your feet
    "Go For Broke"
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    If your using a military ruck suck I would recomend sticking a 20 pound weight plate in the radio pouch. Those packs are designed for heavy loads to be placed high and close to the body. I still use one on forced marches training with the Marines and I love them, I have no clue why the military switched pack styles.

    You may want to consider a cheap upgrade also. As your weight gets heavier you will start to notice it being uncomfortable because those packs wern't designed with a "suspension" system that helps lift weight off your shoulders. Google "Ruck sack modifications" and it will show you how to adopt a "molly" style suspension system to your current ruck sack bag which will make it super comfortable.

    "Humping" is what we call it in grunt land and it is a good mental conditioning tool as well as a good way to burn a shite ton of calories!

    MAN! I miss my Alice ruck! I didn't bring it to Japan but the newest pack variation is ok.

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    Not sure if you're aiming for an actual backpacking trip, or just hiking with lots of weight. In any case it's all about the fit of the pack. You may want to take the pack to REI or EMS and have one of the people there see if it fits you correctly. If not, backpacking bags go on sale pretty frequently at sport.woot.com and in the off-season in REI/EMS.

    If it fits, you don't necessarily need a frame for it, as there are two kinds of packs: internal and external frame. The external frame ones aren't made much anymore, and the internal frames shave some weight off the pack alone. If your pack is an external frame pack without a frame, then yeah, you'll need a frame.

    As someone said, if it doesn't have a waist strap, it's pretty worthless for heavy weight.

    Once you have a pack that fits you correctly, you need to learn to pack it. If you are actually taking gear, the sleeping bag should go in the bottom compartment, and the heaviest things should go in the main compartment at the bottom, closest to your back. You can stuff everything else (light or bulky) however you want , but you basically want to organize the weight so it is at the base of your spine close to your hips. If the weight is shifting around, you might want to consider making a 40lb sandbag and placing it at the base of your pack. It would be a good idea to stuff clothes or a sleeping bag around it to stop it from shifting, since those packs are meant to be full.

    Hope that helps!

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    I don't know why anyone would purposefully choose to backpack heavy. It's so much more fun to go light, fast and far. I can see if it is for training, in which case, you can use containers of water. 2lbs per liter it adds up quick. The trick to making a heavy load more comfortable without a frame is to pack things very tight so nothing moves and keep the heaviest weight closest to the body. Some like the weight lower, others higher on the back. I suppose it depends on your center of gravity, although I'm not a scientist about these things so I can't say which is better for what. A waist belt can transfer some of the weight to your hips relieving some pressure on your shoulders.

    If you really are wanting to go backpacking, go to Backpacking Light and learn how to make backpacking fun.
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    If you really are wanting to go backpacking, go to Backpacking Light and learn how to make backpacking fun.
    Heartily second this. I've been backpacking for over 40 years, and ultralight is definitely superior. I had a 32 lb pack on my most recent trip, which was for three nights. Of course, we were next to a river most of the time, so I only carried about 2 quarts of water most of the time.

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