Hip belt or not?

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Barn Owl

Old Age Punk
Apr 10, 2007
Anyone else find hip belts on rucksacks more of an annoyance unless trekking for more than say 3 days?

When i was younger and did some hillwalking, it was always with a largish sac with hip belt but i found them a bit annoying and rubbing.

Smaller sacs with just a stabilising strap were comfier for me on day trips.

Which brings me to the use of military type sacs that are made for wearing above belt order.

I love my Munro and Centurio by Berghaus and will happily strap gear on the outside for up to two or three days out.

Having read a lot of complaints about said type of sacs,'cos of back length and lack of hip belt,i'm wondering if anyone else feels the same as me and actually likes using them.

Should say for the three seasons apart from a real cold winter spell.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 15, 2010
I don't like hip belts either. Unless I'm carrying over say 12kg or doing something a bit more technical, I prefer not to use them.

I think it stops my back rotating properly as I walk and like you, a little annoying sometimes.

On the flip side, I wouldnt get half a mile with a 50kg pack witout a decent hip belt.


New Member
Oct 2, 2003
Hamilton NZ
My view is that like a lot of things it depends on where your going, what terrain you're on, how much weight your lugging and what your personal preference is.

I think a hip belt is a good idea on larger packs there seems to be a good deal of evidence around to support the basic premis that a waist belt effectively shares the loading of a backpack. I've also found them to be handy for stabilizing a daysack if your climbing but not essential on a daysack.

I had a Munro and it was a good day sack I didn't find the lack of a useable waist belt was an issue but I wasn't really using the Munro for heaps of kit... Same with the Karrimor Hot Earth / Sabre I have in fact the waist belt is cut off on that as it was forever getting caught on stuff.

A lot of the newer backpacking rucksacks have waist belts that are very ergonomic. Osprey for example actually thermoform them in store IIRC.
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Nov 23, 2008
Kings Lynn
I don't use the waist belt for light loads, anything involving an overnight I suppose it gets used, or day stuff with heavy loads. I love the stiff formed hip belts on modern packs, they seem to make heavy loads much more stable and manageable. The British Bergen relies in principle on a belt kit to support the load and it's civvy opposite number the vulcan that doesn't have to have a belt kit does come with a decent enough hip belt, so there must be something in it comfort wise.
Each to their own, but small light rucksacks don't need them, big heavy ones do. IMHO. I don't find them annoying in either.


Jun 6, 2010
I agree i find them very restictive when say trying to get through overgrown areas were im doing alot of bending and ducking. My pack has no waist or chest strap and as long as im not carrying to much its a lot more agile. I dont realy do miles of walking on my trips though


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 21, 2012
Eryri (Snowdonia)
I find that if it is a large rucksack (i have an old Berghaus Cyclops 70L) where the belt is actually on your hips, then it does make a difference with heavy or bulky loads, especially when moving quickly.
I have a couple of smaller sacks (a 45L Lowe alpine & 30L North face) both these have belts, but due to the length of the sack the belts are around my waist rather than hips, and dont seem to serve any purpose.
Nov 29, 2004
On a small pack (less than 30L) yes, for anything larger then I want to have a belt. I have tried carrying a largish load in a huge Duluth pack using a tumpline, maybe it was my technique but that wasn't for me.

Give me a well designed modern pack any day. :)


Full Member
Jun 17, 2010
Prague CZ, but hail from Devon
On a small pack (less than 30L) yes, for anything larger then I want to have a belt. I have tried carrying a largish load in a huge Duluth pack using a tumpline, maybe it was my technique but that wasn't for me.

Give me a well designed modern pack any day. :)
Essentially my preference too. I like to have a lot of the weight of a large pack on my hips but small day sacks I just don't bother with one at all.
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Nov 30, 2011
Cahulawassee River, Kent
I wouldn't buy any pack without a hip belt. Even smaller ones. Makes all the difference to me. True the hip belt can rub and become an annoyance over time, but I prefer sometimes to switch between it, giving my shoulders or hips a rest at a time. Sternum straps I don't see a point in. Those just chafe my collar like crazy.


Full Member
Sep 27, 2005
Oxfordshire and Pyrenees-Orientales, France
For years I used a 35 litre climbing pack with thermarest and tent strapped to the outside. This had a thin stabilising belt. It worked well except for longish treks when it gave me backache and I bought a Craghoppers 50litre sack with a wide, stiff belt adjustable back length and a flexing strap system. Although it weighs twice as much as the climbing sack, it actually feels lighter when carrying the same amount of kit -12-15kg. I think the trick is to adjust the back length and shoulder straps so as to ensure that the belt really is on the hips. I fiddled with mine on a recent trip and was amazed at the difference back length can make.

Some jackets don't work well with waist/hip belts as the pockets can be covered and become inaccessible. As to waist belts on daypacks, they have the advantage of holding the pack in the event of a tumble. Believe me, 12kg hitting the back of the neck unexpectedly is not fun and in some situations the sudden shift of centre of gravity could be serious.

Many modern packs I've looked at recently have detachable hip belts. Seem a good idea to me. I don't like shifting kit from one pack to another and prefer one multi-use pack with a small foldable daysack rolled up in it with waterproofs, emergency kit in etc in so I have all I need for a side trip.


Feb 3, 2011
Framingham, MA USA
Provided the back is the correct length, then a hip belt transfers a lot of the weight to the hips, which are much better suited to carrying load than shoulders. I recently broke a collar bone and couldn't carry any kind of load if not for correct size and good hip belt. To do any kind of daily distance, particularly with big(gish) elevation changes, correct length and a good hip belt is, IMO, essential. SSome 70-80% of the weight is transferred to the hips.
My day bag is a lightweight 18 litre REI Flash pack. It has both a sternum and waist belt. For level walking neither is needed, but I can get a more comfortable ride using the sternum strap. For climbing, if it involves any scrambling, I use both the waist belt and sternum strap to prevent the pack bunping all over the place.


Mar 30, 2011
Athens, Greece
Personally i much prefer them as i find it gives the rucksack some stability.

Can't say as i've ever had a problem with a hip belt rubbing either.


Aug 17, 2007
Depends on what you're doing. When running, any pack with hip belt is more stable. For walking, lightweight packs don't need the hip belt. The difference for more loaded hiking is very noticeable though. Even with only 10kg, I notice the difference, especially during a long day. Nice thing about them is the possibility to carry the weight on the hips, which I often alternate with carrying on the shoulders. Lightweight packs are no problem on shoulders, so there's no need for the annoying extra straps. All very personal of course.
The hip belts on my Kifaru packs are in a word - absolutely fantastic. Ohh that's two words.

Once you get those hip belts dialed in and all the load is on your hips rather than your shoulders, when that load seems far lighter because of the fact that it is on your hips, when you can move around far more nimbly because of it....uhhhh yeah. Again good design (ie not big, thick belts, but thin, shaped belts), good ergonomics, proper length of back, proper load transfer, etc. make all the difference. Quality costs, but it also pays.

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