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I have a backpack that I often wear on my (outdoor) walks to and from work each day. The walk is 30 minutes one-way and mostly in an open field/park area, so in the afternoon it's usually warm enough that a great swath of my back gets incredibly sweaty from the backpack resting directly against my back.

Is there some accessory or relatively simple modification/method to keep the pack from resting directly against one's back?

I've thought that something simple like a small, partially padded rack attached to me or the pack such that the bottom of the pack is pushed out and away from my back would suffice, as long as my pack was stiff enough up and down the back-facing wall.

I've tried to do some online research into what such a thing might be called, but the closest thing I could find was an unnamed and integrated part of some fancy new backpack that I don't want to have to buy.

Needless to say, if I found a nice solution for this I'd use it each and every time I go hiking, too.

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I know you do not want to buy a new backpack but i have been using a Deuter backpack with the air confort system and I have been very happy with it. It might be a good starting point. However I am not sure that it can be applied to all backpack without a major redesign. –  Amine Sep 11 '13 at 13:23
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@AugR I think a new backpack is the solution. Some have raised mesh grids that separate the pack from your back. Especially newer framed backpacks. –  theJollySin Sep 11 '13 at 16:37
    
Good question - I've had the same experience with my Vapor Trail. It's got a slot for a Camelback bladder, so I think I'll try slipping a frozen bladder in there to see if that makes any difference. –  Don Branson Sep 12 '13 at 1:18
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After further research in light of the comments and answers, I think I have to agree with @theJollySin and RoryAlsop below that a new pack is the only (or at least easiest) reasonable option. If I discover any neat way to nicely convert my old pack, I'll post it here. Thanks, all! –  billisphere Sep 13 '13 at 0:10
    
I won´t make that an answer because some already sugested it. I am sure that on most backpacks any changes and modifications (like putting something between back and backpack or loosening something) will affect your carrying comfort since your changing the bearing system in an unsupported way. So you would need a new one. –  Paul Paulsen Jul 15 at 12:46
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think you won't be able to do much with your existing rucksack, but there are many out there specifically designed to avoid the sweaty back.

Deuter make a range of rucksacks with their Airstripes system:

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This holds the rucksack away from your back as much as possible and allows air to flow over your back to evaporate sweat. Various other manufacturers do the same, but Deuter had the best pic I could find to describe it.

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This technology has been recommended to me as superior (it is present in many marks of backpacks). I haven't tried it, though, my backpack uses the technology mentioned by Rory. A key point is not to wear cotton clothes underneath - either carry something breathable or go naked from the waist up. –  Vorac Sep 17 '13 at 8:25
    
My backpack uses this Airstripes system, and I've found a rather large, but personal, flaw (and a subsequent solution) ... the flaw being that having 1m long hair it automatically blocks the top of the vent, however it does fit neatly into the vent. Whilst that leaves me not as cool as otherwise, I've found it is still better than my other half's backpack that does not have a Airstripe vent at all. –  Aravona Jun 30 at 13:37
    
Wear a high pony tail. Problem solved :-) –  Rory Alsop Jun 30 at 19:59
    
My hair is too heavy for those! ;) –  Aravona Jul 15 at 7:01
    
@Vorac The technology you linked is present in Deuter´s day- and medium packs. I think it cannot be combined with a big trekking backpack, at least I never saw it on one. For the smaller packs it is better, though. –  Paul Paulsen Jul 15 at 12:48
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This is what backpacks like the Osprey Atmos were designed for. They're slightly elevated/separated from the users back so that ventilation can improve. However, these sorts of backpacks (not just the Atmos) aren't designed to carry heavier loads that conform to the users back. This is because the further the pack is from your back, the more difficult it will be to carry. So an Atmos with 25 pounds of gear feels heavier than a backpack that sticks to your back carrying the exact same items and weight.

If you're done with work in the afternoon and you don't have to head back or be somewhere else where nice attire is required, you should wear a synthetic shirt such as a running shirt or lightweight merino wool shirt. Both these fabrics will help move the moisture away and you won't be as warm since you'll only have one layer.

If that still doesn't satisfy your thirst and you really want to save money, take some cardboard, roll it up. and tape it to the back of your bag with some strong duct tape. Do this for the middle, bottom, and top and you've got a DIY ventilation system. I guarantee it wont last long nor be very comfortable.

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It's been a while since I posted this question, but I found an interesting alternative answer some time ago:

Loosen your shoulder-straps such that the bottom edge of your backpack rests against your lower back (or butt in some cases I suppose) and the rest of the pack leans away from the rest of your back.

Based on very limited fiddling around I did with this, it seems to work best when the back-facing wall of your pack is relatively stiff (keeps the pack up, out, and away) and also when your shoulder straps have a chest strap link (puts some of this awkward load on your chest rather than your shoulders).

I might emphasize that I only do this for my short half-hour commute-hike. For real hiking, I'd definitely go with another answer.

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