Best Backpacks For Back Pain and Shoulder Pain [UPDATED 2018]

A lot of people complain of neck and low back pain problems linked to their backpacks. Backpacks that are too low on the back or are carried over one shoulder brings about back pains.

The reason for this is that instead of the bones supporting the weight, it’s your muscles doing it. Such a continued posture may lead to serious back problems in the future. To avoid these problems, you need to make sure that your backpack is not too heavy.

You also need to carry it properly as you move around so as to address any current back pains and prevent future occurrence of the same.

Name Image Volume Best Use
Osprey Parsec 31 Liter School, Casual Check Price
Osprey Farpoint 38-40 Liter Travel Check Price
Deuter ACT Trail 30 Liter Hiking Check Price
Osprey Atmos AG 62-68 Liter Backpacking Check Price
Kelty Redwing 44 Liter Hiking Check Price

Table of contents


For School

1

School Pick: Osprey Parsec

Best Use: School, Casual
Capacity (L): 31
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): 1,892
Weight: 1 lbs. 10 oz.
Dimensions: 20 x 12 x 11 inches

This daypack brings you one essential requirement that school packs should have but all too often lack; organized space. Osprey is master fabricators when it comes to daypacks and the Parsec is no exception.

School often means toting around a fair share indispensable paraphernalia ranging from books to laptops; this pack avails ample space for your daily academic needs and so much more. And the best part is that it’s designed to vent any excess pressure off your shoulders and back.

Hauling this backpack around is a no-brainer since there’s more than one way to do it. For one, you can use its super drafty straps which are sufficiently padded for comfortable ferrying. In cases where the load maybe all too unwieldy, the pack has a removable webbing hip belt which helps bolster its stability.

Alternatively, it’s top grab handle comes in handy for inevitable basic totes. The Parsec also includes a suspended mesh ventilated back panel.

Further, it is fitted with several easy to reach pockets that make retrieval duck soup. It features a front panel shove-it pocket, two padded laptop or tablet sleeves, scratch free-heat etched pocket for teeny objects such as sunglasses and a thoughtful waterproof pocket.

Most impressively, a blinker light attachment on its front panel helps keep its users well visible even after darkness comes knocking.

PROS:

  • Firm and exceptionally brawny in build
  • Copious storage space for your most basic requirements
  • Sleeves for laptop and tablet safe storage

CONS:

  • Some of its users think its base is a bit too thin


2

School Pick: JanSport Agave Daypack

Best Use: School, Casual
Capacity (L): 32
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): 1,952
Weight: 1 lb. 9 oz.
Dimensions: 19 x 13.5 x 10 inches

Just single look at the JanSport Agave daypack will have you in agreement with the fact that there’s not a more school acclimatized pack out there.

Made from a nylon – polyester blend fabric, this backpack has an adequately resilient construct that makes it a suitable way to ferry necessary impedimenta from place to place.

Considering the pack is designed to take up quite the load, it’s back panel is well cushioned and ventilated to uphold comfortable carriage all through.

It’s perforated foam shoulder straps go on to further to shelter body muscles from unnecessary strains which often lead to back pains. Off backhauling is easily achievable with the aid of its webbing tote handle.

In terms of storage space, the JanSport Avage comes with a remarkable supply of it. Besides two major compartments, it also features a series of additional pockets and attachment provisions to adequately house the heftiest of luggage.

On the inside, it comes fitted with a 15″ laptop sleeves which could also alternatively hold a hydration system( comes complete with a hydration tube fixed on its shoulder strap).

Last but not least, it features side compression straps to help hold its contents in place and daisy loop chains for extra gear.

PROS:

  • Adequate compartment divisions for uncomplicated organisation
  • Expandable main compartment
  • Lightweight, comfortable and airy back panel and strap construct

CONS:

  • Base material is a bit too light and may wear out faster than expected


3

Casual Pick: Unisex Big Shot by The North Face

This is a perfect pack for back pains due to its FlexVent back panel. The panel has a layer of Atilon foam to provide you extra support during movements.

The bag has been made from durable and resilient materials. Its large compartments and ample pockets help you get your load more organized. It contains padded, fleece-lined sleeves for carrying and protecting your laptop and tablet.

Its FlexVent suspension system comes with a padded mesh back panel and injection molded shoulder straps to ensure maximum ventilation and support. It also has two D-door front pockets to organize further your items.

The main compartment has an internal organization for cord management. This includes a secure zippered pocket, fleece lined media pockets, and elastic webbing. You get a 360 degree of reflectivity with its reflective shoulder straps, water bottle, and bike light loop.

Read our comparison of other North Face backpacks – Recon vs Borealis vs Jester

The ability to conceal contents is manifested in its two water bottle pockets that have been made of a stretchable mesh. Other great features accompanying this pack include a removable waist belt, a sternum strap whistle buckle and external fleece lined pockets.

PROS:

  • A well constructed professional bag with lots of pockets and a fleece lined laptop sleeve
  • The stiff padded back allows you carry many items without any discomfort
  • The water bottle pockets are large enough to fit a 32 oz. bottle

CONS:

  • The location of the organizer pockets within the main compartment makes accessibility difficult especially if the bag is full
  • The top fleece pocket takes away considerable space from the main compartment due to its large size
  • Some customers have also complained about the bag not opening up as wide as earlier releases


For Travel

1

Travel Pick: Osprey Farpoint 40

Best Use: Travel
Capacity (L): M/L: 40 liters, S/M: 38 liters
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): M/L: 2,441 cubic inches, S/M: 2,319 cubic inches
Weight: M/L: 3 lbs. 2.7 oz., S/M: 3 lbs. 1.75 oz.
Dimensions: M/L: 21 x 14 x 9 inches, S/M: 20 x 14 x 8 inches

Competent carry-on compliant travel bags are hard to come by; that is why the Farpoint 40 pack is an ergonomic rarity in a rather packed market.

It is no wonder that this pack manages to sufficiently serve traveler while retaining a versatile and incredibly comfy haulage factor. It is, after all, a product of one of the industry’s top fabricators.

One thing you’re bound to love about this backpack is its Lightwire frame suspension mechanism that works to distribute the bag’s weight evenly although the torso for utmost stability. With a fully padded back panel, shoulder strap and hip belt this pack is unlikely to cause any throes all through its lifespan.

This pack’s main compartment has a surprisingly large capacity and comes complete with a lockable panel zip access that allows you a full-on rummage through its contents. It also includes a soberly guarded laptop designated lockable 15 ” sleeve.

The Osprey Farpoint 40 is one of the few considerably pliable travel bags. Why? Besides being a backpack, you can easily turn it into a suitcase style bag. It features a back panel flab that lets you stow away its harness and hipbelt when not in use.

You instead can haul the bag around using either its top or side handles; both of which are also padded.

Some of its other inclusions are a heat embossed scratch-free slash pocket and both internal and external compression straps to help secure the load.

PROS:

  • The stow-away back panel that makes it extremely versatile
  • Large panel zip access to the main compartment
  • Comes with a fair supply of space

CONS:

  • You have to undo the compression straps in order to unzip the pack
  • The laptop compartment is located on the outer side of the bag


For Hiking and Backpacking

1

60 Liter Pick: Osprey Atmos 65 AG

Best Use: Backpacking
Capacity (L): S: 62 liters, M: 65 liters, L: 68 liters
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): S: 3,783 cubic inches, M: 3,967 cubic inches, L: 4,150 cubic inches
Weight: S: 4 lbs. 3 oz., M: 4 lbs. 6 oz., L: 4 lbs. 8 oz.

Hiking means carrying a pack on your back hours on end; agreeably that could wreak an insane amount of havoc on your back and shoulders. But with the Osprey Atmos 65, you can rest assured of a seamless, hassle-free hike with no impending threats of unfathomable muscle aches.

Everything about this bag is made to ease a carriage for a hiker even in the most rugged of a milieu.

It’s most mind-boggling feature is its anti-gravity suspension system which keeps your back cushioned and pleasantly aerated regardless of how long you have it on.

It’s back panel is lined with a lightweight mesh that conforms to the body’s shape resulting in a snuggly, perfect fit. Its adjustable torso takes fit to another level by allowing its users to alter it within a 3-inch adjustment range. Its fit-on-the-fly design hip-belt is adjustable and therefore compatible with a wide range of hip sizes.

This pack comes with a total of 5 zippered external pockets and 3 slip pockets. Its main compartment goes in very deep providing its users a tremendous lot of storage space.

The Atmos 65 also includes a stow-on-the-go attachment for trekking poles and the likes, a zippered sleeping bag compartment (at the bottom) and both side and internal compression straps to secure the bag’s stability. Did I mention it comes with a removable floating top? This feature is meant to enhance weight control.

PROS:

  • Incredibly comfortable thanks to its anti-gravity suspension system
  • Provision for just about every hiking gear imaginable in terms of pockets, loops or lash points
  • Comes with an unsurpassed ventilation system

CONS:

  • The drawstring top access to the main compartment makes fetching items deep within its body a struggle


2

40 Liter Pick: Kelty Redwing 44

Best Use: Hiking
Capacity (L): 44
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): 2,700
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 12 inches

For a backpack that’s bound cater for all your hiking needs, look no further.

The Kelty Redwing 44 backpack is not only tough as nails, it brings its users a versatility factor that makes it super handy no matter how coarse a set up gets.

Above all else, this pack lets you juggle a whopping load without compromising the comfort element.

On the back, the pack is fitted with a dynamic airflow panel that keeps its users cheerfully dry through a climb. Its stability is endorsed by its padded shoulder straps and hip belt; besides that, it also includes additional load lifter and sternum straps.

Ideally, the ideal hiking backpack should have an ample dispensation of pockets and dividers; the Kelty Redwing 44 has just that. It features a total of 7 external pockets which include dual water bottle side pockets, a front stash pocket and a quick access zippered pocket on its dome.

The primary compartment includes a dual-use pocket which can be used to either stow away a laptop or as a hydration sleeve.

For additional gear attachment, it’s daisy chain loop get that job done neatly. Finally, it’s pass-through pocket lets you plant vertical objects such as trekking poles and umbrellas.

PROS:

  • Harness system makes carriage both easy and comfortable
  • Plenty of storage space; both internal and external
  • Dynamic air flow panel ensures sweating is kept on the low

CONS:

  • Zippers are not lockable
  • May feel a bit too bulky compared to an average carry-on pack


3

70 Liter Pick: Gregory Baltoro 75

Best Use: Backpacking
Capacity (L): S: 71, M: 75, L: 79
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): S: 4,333, M: 4,577, L: 4,821
Weight: S: 4 lbs. 14 oz., M: 5 lbs. 2 oz., L: 5 lbs. 6 oz.

Designed particularly for backpackers, this pack has all it takes to make a worthy hiking companion.

The Baltoro 75 liter backpack is ingeniously fabricated to ensure a stable carriage without exerting damaging pressure on the torso; and considerating its insane hauling capacity, that’s a pretty neat advantage.

It features an A3 (automatic angle adjust) mechanism that not only results in a perfectly adequate fit but also cogently transfers weight from the shoulders to the hips through its hip belt.

The shoulder straps and hip belt come with Lifespan foam padding that eliminates any discomfort during haulage. Besides being vented for optimal aeration, the back panel comes fitted with a detachable EVA foam shim/plate meant to serve as extra cushioning.

Armed with an array of both internal and external pockets, storage space is well catered for. Other than the main compartment, the bag also features an internal binate sidekick that serves as either a laptop or hydration sleeve.

The bag makes maximum use of space available by including two additional zippered pockets on its hip belt; one of which is waterproof and a perfect storage for phones.

Last but not least, it would be a mistake not to mention it’s integrated rain cover which comes stashed in its own zippered pocket.

PROS:

  • A3 suspension for hassle free carriage; this mechanism actively saves its users possible back strain
  • Water proof pocket for electronics
  • Sufficient storage space designed for reasonable organization

CONS:

  • Some customers complain about the packs bottom as a bit too narrow


4

30 Liter Pick: Deuter ACT Trail 30

Best Use: Hiking
Capacity (L): 30
Gear Capacity (cu. in.): 1,830 cubic inches
Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.

Now if you can overlook the heftiness that comes with this pack, it can very much be a game changer for you. There’s nothing particularly mind-blowing about it but it features everything you’d regard essential for a hiking backpack.

Made from a tough blend of PU coated nylon – polyester fabric, this pack is sturdy and mighty durable.

The ACT Trail 30 is built for solid stability and full on load control. It’s suspension system (AirContact) consist of dual mesh covered foam panels with an air vent between them for next level ventilation.

The AirContact back system comes with a bonus functionality that lets it contour the body resulting in super comfy super easy ferrying. In case of undeviating imbalance, it’s foldable hip belt offers an additional aid to hold down the load.

Other than being one of the market’s safest hiking packs, it also brings to the table a plausible assortment of pockets and storage sockets. They include a quick zip access, stretch side pockets and an internal hydration compartment. To battle unpredictable rainfall torrents, it features a built-in rain cover to keep its contents dry.

PROS:

  • AirContact suspension system; offers unrivaled ventilation and comfort
  • Even distribution of weight
  • Solid construct and durability

CONS:

  • Dully overbuilt and heavy


How to Choose the Best Backpack for Back Pain?

Experience has shown that wearing a backpack that is too heavy or wearing it incorrectly contributes much to the musculoskeletal (lower back) pains.

Other contributing factors include a duration of carrying the backpack, distance walked, poor placement of items and imbalanced distribution of weight. Apart from back pain, other issues include fatigue, discomfort, muscle soreness, and respiratory problems.

If you are used to carrying heavy bags on one shoulder then you need to know that this causes tense muscles and can ruin your posture leading to chronic back pains. Many people who have developed back pains have still found a way of carrying their backpacks around during camping and hiking. All that needs to be done is to make a few modifications to the gear and style.

The first thing that you need to do is to decide on whether to place the bag’s weight on the hip or on the shoulders. When it comes to back pains, there are three basic schools of thought.

The first school of thought suggests that centering the weight on the hip helps in minimizing the pains and spinal compression.

The second school of thought suggests that placing the weight on the shoulders is the best option for those with back pains.

The third school of thought believes that lightening the load is the best way to manage such injuries.


Let me share some of the general tips that will guide you in choosing the best backpack for your back and shoulder pain:

  • a) Always select the right size for a backpack
  • b) Choose the bag with a padded back panel and adjustable shoulder straps
  • c) Distribute the weight evenly by loading heavy items closer to the back and balancing out the rest
  • d) Choose a backpack that has a hip belt so as to improve the balance and remove strain on the neck and shoulder muscles
  • e) Ensure the packed bag feels comfortable enough to carry else remove some items to lessen the load
  • f) Wear it only when it is necessary. If you have taken some stops, it’s good to remove the bag and place it somewhere close to you

Once you have made a decision on a couple of backpacks, it’s good to try it out before buying. This is the only way to get the best fit, the right size and the needed features for your bag.

10 Total Score
Our Pick: Osprey Atmos 65 AG

It’s most mind-boggling feature is its anti-gravity suspension system which keeps your back cushioned and pleasantly aerated regardless of how long you have it on.

Overall
10
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