I'd imagine a good pack that puts the weight squarely on your hips would work just fine. An ultralight/frameless type pack would likely be worse, as they generally split the weight between hips and shoulders.
It would seem that a good pack with a well designed hip belt, and the shoulder strap on the offending shoulder left a bit looser, could be made to work just fine. My suggestion would be to get to a local gear shop, and try on different packs loaded with either your gear, or the weight packs they generally have available. If there's an REI near you, they might be worth checking out, because of their very open return policy. If you find out after a few miles on the trail that it's just not going to work for you, you can always take the thing back.
Light, Cheap, Durable... pick two
If no pain = no surgery under normal conditions, might it be that backpacking is not considered "normal"? That is, if your doctor knows how much hiking means to you, might the whole risk/reward equation change in favor of the surgery?
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That's what I was wondering! Curtis have another chat with your physician! I know that when I tore up most of the ligaments in my knee, my orthopedic surgeon was well aware that my life (outside of work) was hiking and backpacking, and he prescribed exercises, etc. accordingly--knowing that I was motivated to get back to the trail as soon as possible. If the unconnected collarbone is significantly cramping your life style, then it should be bolted together! I've had other medical conditions (vision problems) in which the physician's aim was to restore me to my former lifestyle. (Of course it just happened that one of my job duties was to calculate his year-end bonus, and I was at the stage where I couldn't tell 3 from 6 from 8 from 9 on my computer screen!) Maybe it's time to change doctors?
In the meantime, try on a pack that has load lifters which transfer practically all the weight to the hip belt. It may be that you can raise the load lifter high enough on the broken collarbone side so the shoulder strap carries no weight at all. It would be worth a try! Another possibility, if you can go really light, is to use only a fanny pack.
Edited by OregonMouse (05/26/1002:38 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: spotaylvania, va
if you're willing to go basic(really basic) there is a good waist pack from maxpedition called sabercat, it has more than 1000cu in of space plus you can add on pouches, no its not the lightest but its good. i use it for my weekend trips
How Heavy a pack causes you problems? it is not that difficult (or expensive) to get down to the 18 to 22 pound range for weekenders. Many people go a lot lighter than that. - So is it that you need a way of packing that takes everything off the top of you, or you just need to lighten up?
Which sparks another random thought: Civil War soldiers used a blanket roll: all the little stuff lays in the center of the blanket; the blanket lays on top of the shelter half (sleeping bag or quilt on top of tent and fly, in this case.) Everything then rolls into a long sausage, tied at each end (webbing strap?), then slung over your good shoulder and tied together (another strap) around waist-high on the opposite side. A water bottle could be secured to your belt, using any of the water bottle pouches available, or a waist pack with such a pouch, which might make even more sense.
Radical, possibly impractical except with very light loads, but since we're brainstorming here, I thought I'd add my cent and half.
Glenn I think your idea is good. I was just mentioning that someone had tried it out, so if the OP wished, he could see what someone else has done and not have to start from scratch. The person who tried it might not have liked it because he felt two shoulders with his pack felt better. But, if you only have one shoulder......
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Actually, I erased the first sentence and almost quite - my initial thought was that if it was a good idea, the Army would still be using it. (Given its record with integration and "don't ask, don't tell, the military is typically not an early adopter of things.)
I didn't really think of the idea that, if it's the only thing that works, it would be comfortable.