I like to carry a daypack that doubles up as a travel bag for a 2-3 day trip, so I don't have to repack my work gear into a travel bag. Last year I found an excellent candidate in the Osprey Radial 34 and did a lot of travel with it. This year I decided to upgrade to the 2016 edition and found it an immense regression.
After months of trying to like it (the bag has excellent organisation), I cannot make it feel comfortable on my back no matter how I adjust its straps and the position of my gear within. The bag always feels like its centre of gravity is away from my body. The shoulder straps pull outwards, and need the chest strap buckled to reduce strain on my shoulder blades. Since this is a cycling bag, I've tried cycling with it (road bike, so steep angle of lean forward), and yet it still feels like the weight is away from my back.
I've tried carrying the same load in cheap bags with no padding and I can manage hours of walking with them. The load is not the problem.
I'm trying to understand why this bag is so uncomfortable so I know what to avoid in a future bag.
The Radial 34 has a back mesh with an air gap. It's barely a centimetre, significantly less than the pre-2016 edition, but it manages to retain the air gap when I wear it. The bag makes contact on two shoulder blades -- which, coupled with the shoulder straps in front makes it feel like it's prying apart my shoulders -- and on the rounded bottom that goes on the hip.
I'm working on the following theories:
The centre of gravity is indeed off, and putting heavy objects close to the back isn't enough to help.
The bag is too tall. The M/L size is supposedly right for my 5'10" frame (I don't have torso measurements handy), but maybe I really need the S/M size to take pressure off my shoulder blades.
The elastic cord used in place of the load lifter straps (an unusual design feature of this bag) is the problem and needs to replaced with non-stretching cord.
The metal frame of this bag has the wrong shape and needs to be rounder or flatter.
Help me figure this out, fellow backpack enthusiasts. What is wrong with this bag?