Leading with a pack (or even following) can be quite the energy drain. Even if the pack is light, you’ll still have an extra bit of bulk on your back will prevent you from squeezing through chimneys or scuffing up flares. Though one pack is nearly always necessary for longer climbs (6 pitches or so it seems?), its easy to go without a second one most of the time. Hiking in as a party of two with only 1 pack means the second in the party typically carries the rope. While in the Bugaboos, Jimmy and I experimented with some other options for balancing out weight between a party of two with only one pack. In addition, to figuring out how to balance the weight, we also wanted to see if we could make it comfortable, and less cumbersome and noisy to carry additional gear.
Here are some of the tips we ended up with:
1) Push those leg loops to the side
You might not believe me, but walking with your leg loops off is complete game changer. To do this, just undo your harness, step out of your leg loops, then put the harness back on. The leg loops should both be on the same side. Next, clip the leg loops as far to the back of your harness as you can, which keeps them out of the way.
2) Take the slings around your shoulder
Taking the slings off the rack, and throwing the around your chest can help to even the load between the two of you. While the bugaboos, we typically had 7-10 slings with us, several of them with 2 biners each, plus some double lengths. Getting these out of the pack definitely ended up making a difference.
3) Carry and secure larger cams
To even the weight even more, take some of the larger cams out of the pack (#4 or bigger seems to be worth it). Clip the cams to the gear loops near the back of your harness, then take a second carabiner (possibly from the slings on your chest), and clip the biner through the lobes and then to your harness. This will stop the cam from swinging as you walk.
4) Wear your jacket around your waist
Wrapping your jacket around your waist, instead of hanging it off your harness, can help with two problems. First, it will prevent all of those biners that are hanging off the slings on your chest from jangling as it muffles their movement. It also means you wont have the big mass of a jacket hanging off your harness, swinging around by your butt!
5) Rack things so they don’t make noise
Like #3 above, you can get a bit clever with the racking order of other items on your harness. For instance, if you have gloves hanging off the harness, put them on a biner between other metal items. Simple and pedantic but if you’ve got an hour walk, its quick, easy, and worth it.
6) Hang your shoes by the laces
Jimmy is a bigger fan of this than I am, but it does seem that your shoes swing around less when you hang them by the top couple laces.
Two notes here:
a) In general, its a good idea to tie your shoes together via the laces to make sure if one falls off, it doesn’t go anywhere
b) Don’t go chimney climbing with shoes hanging off your harness via your laces. I did this, squeezed through a slot, heard a pop, and looked down to see a shoe hanging near my ankles (luckily I had done “A”)
7) Clip your helmet to your harness through the both internal straps in the back
Pretty obvious, again, prevents stuff from swinging, nuff said.
8) Get creative with the rope(s)
There are great how-to’s online if you don’t already know how to make a rope backpack. Some things to think about:
- Wrapping the rope from one end means you don’t have to un-flake it when you get to your destination
- You can wrap multiple ropes together to form a single backpack