Suggestions for a lightweight backpack for someone with scoliosis
January 4, 2015 8:11 PM   Subscribe

I recently found out that I have double minor scoliosis (near my shoulder blades and at the bottom of my spine with a degree of curvature around 16).

Since I walk uphill (a VERY slanted one indeed) everyday to go to work, I really need to minimize the weight of my backpack as much as possible. I try to reduce the contents inside my bag as well. The following is what I lug around on a typical workday:

Surface Pro 3 (placed inside a foamy mesh sleeve, very light) + plug + mouse
Lunch glassware (this thing is heavy as fuck but I don't like plastic ones :I)
Thermos (kinda heavy)
Lab notebook
Miscellaneous pens

My current bag is a High Sierra one which has way too many compartments, I find, hence attributive to its weightiness. I guess what I am looking for is a minimalistic bag with a main compartment and a few small pockets for my miscellaneous items. Most importantly, I need one featuring good back support with top and waist straps.

Any ideas? My back is killing me. =/
posted by pixxie to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One of my friends is a physio and our school is going through a school uniform (and bag) review. She says the most important thing is to have a compartment that keeps heavy stuff (text books, laptops (?)glass ware) as close to the spine as possible, reducing the pull on the spine. Ideally for you a proper laptop bag that had a compartment keeping it on your back is the most important thing. She also says a waist belt is good. (Kids won't use them though.)

Sorry I can't help with brands as we were dealing with school suppliers but that consideration might help narrow incoming suggestions.
posted by taff at 8:38 PM on January 4, 2015

You may want to give REI's Flash 18 and 22 a look - feather-light, minimal (main compartment + 1-3 pockets), with sternum and waist straps. I've had an older model for something like 15 years, and it has yet to wear out despite getting banged around quite a bit.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:47 PM on January 4, 2015

I don't have scoliosis or back problems, but I have issues with backpacks in general being too big for my body frame with too much weight dispersed unevenly as a result of poor fit. The one that seems to work the best for me is my Gregory Miwok backpack. The one I have is small but they do come in larger sizes. It is fully adjustable at the waist, with adjustable padded shoulder straps that have elastic for additional comfort. It has a large pocket in the back (closest to the spine) with a smaller one in the front with small pockets for pens, a glasses case, small wallet etc. Gregory is an expensive brand but I've used mine for hiking and basically beat it up, and the quality is amazing. I've hiked for 6+ hours in it filled with stuff and have never had an issue with comfort or ill fit. It appears that they've updated this model since I've bought it, and it's aesthetically better for use as a day-pack. It looks more urban and streamlined.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:55 PM on January 4, 2015

I have the Alite Ochiba backpack. It's compact and the right size I think. I carry about as much stuff as you do, and it fits great in the 23 L capacity. The build quality is also very good.

It doesn't have too many pockets, only 2 extra compartments. There's an organizer bag thingy in one of the extra compartments, but you can just unclip it and take it out if you don't need it.

It also has sternum and waist straps, and a padded back laptop area in the main compartment. (The padding may or may not be good for you since you are looking to reduce weight.)

There's also a handle on the front so you can lift it by hand. This is actually my favorite feature since I can give my back a break from time to time if I need to.

Good luck with your search!
posted by melvinwang at 9:03 PM on January 4, 2015

Best answer: You may want to give REI's Flash 18 and 22 a look - feather-light, minimal (main compartment + 1-3 pockets), with sternum and waist straps.

I think what you need is a thick waist belt that will transfer the weight to your hips, not a token waist strap like in the Flash 18 and 22. Many of the other bags at that REI site and store have good waist belts. Test one in-store with some of the dummy weights (bags of dried peas) they have.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:06 PM on January 4, 2015

This Nomadic Day Pack might work? (he talks specifically about the size in this review and has a slide show as well showing what fits in it.)
posted by gudrun at 10:35 PM on January 4, 2015

Like other folks said, I think you want a very lightweight daypack with a heavy-duty hip belt. Lots of suggestions in this thread, but unfortunately it's a couple years old so all the model numbers are out of date. You might further browse the Backpacking Light Forums for more recent threads--they are pretty obsessed with very lightweight bags.

I agree with sebastienbailard that your best bet is probably going somewhere like REI or your local independent outfitter and trying out their many options to see what size, shape, weight, and hip belt configuration work for your particular needs.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:50 AM on January 5, 2015

Response by poster: Hey, I forgot to mention one important detail is that I live in Canada! Due to this minor inconvenience, I can't really walk into a physical REI store to try out their backpacks. Based on the items I listed above, do you believe that a bag that can hold a 22 L capacity will suffice? Or bigger?

e.g. Columbia Treadlite 22 Pack - 2012 Closeout

Please tell me because I wish to place an order soon! Thank you all for your suggestions!
posted by pixxie at 3:39 PM on January 5, 2015

Try MEC's packs, if there's one in your province?
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:02 PM on January 5, 2015

Response by poster: Yes, I do have MEC in my province. I looked through their list of items and a lot of the backpacks either don't have the waist straps or are too heavy.

My ideal ones so far are:

1. Gregory Miwok 18 Pack Light, durable, but not sure if it's big enough for my need

2. Osprey Tempest 20 Pack - Women's
posted by pixxie at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2015

Response by poster: Guys, I think I will head down to my local MEC this weekend to try out the following two backpacks. Thank you everyone for giving me all these invaluable suggestions.

The final ones:

1. Black Diamond Nitro 22 Daypack (Unisex)

2. Gregory Miwok 24 Daypack

Will update on which one I'm about to get.
posted by pixxie at 4:29 PM on January 5, 2015

« Older I want a clock radio with some specific features   |   How should I prepare to do Starting Strength? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.