Anyone tried using sheepskin or something similar to cover their backpack's hip/waste strap/belt? I have bony hips, not much natural padding (there any way) and my Kelty Coyote's straps kill my hips on a long trek. This was my first modern backpack and I knew I'd quickly out grow it but would like to get 1 more trip out of it before retiring it to weekenders.
Loc: Central Texas
Have I tried a sheepskin strap cover? Yes. Both natural and synthetic.
The wool moves like roller bearings and reduces abrasion and absorbs sweat -- Very comfortable until it catches beggar-lice or grit. Then it wears holes in your skin. And it is hot. And heavy. And a lot of trouble to install properly. The only good use I found for it was on heavy packs - but I wised up and stopped packing anything heavy enough to justify using sheepskin. Slick straps seem to work just as well. If you insist on going this route you can experiment with synthetic sheep fleece to see if you like the idea. For long-term, I recommend natural fleece because it doesn't get as stinky as the synthetic.
Back in the '70's, there was a company (Segen, or something like that) that made external-frame packs out of all-natural materials. The frame was laminated wood, the bag was canvas, etc. The hip belt was leather, lined with sheepskin. With use, the leather belt was said to conform to the contours of your hips. I didn't own one, but heard good reports. So using sheepskin has been done.
I'm guessing a different pack may be the answer. Try a bunch of them on with weight in them. I have bony hips, too, and have had sore hips with some backpacks.
Over the last year I have experimented with at least a dozen hip belts, mostly home made. Drawing any firm conclusions from my testing has been elusive....but I'll give it a try.
Belt plus buckle can range in weight from about two ounces to over 12 ounces (and probably higher).
My most confortable belt was at the lower range and made of a nylon mesh without any padding. The key to comfort was the fit. It fit snugly all around my waist with no gaps on the top or bottom. It had a slightly conical shape and that is why it fit so well. I used two 5/8" buckles on the front so the entire belt was about 2 ounces. The mesh allowed for moisture to escape so I wasn't all wet under the belt as I would have been with a waterproof one.
Most of the heavy padded ones were comfortable but at a price weight wise. Some of them weighed as much or more than my pack and frame.
I couldn't predict, ahead of time, which belts might work best. It takes me at least a couple of hours on the trail with a full pack to determine what works. On the last trip I took along 3 different belts and switched them during the 3 day hike. Most belts feel good when first put on.
A simple belt to make is one out of 2" wide polypro or nylon webbing with a two inch dual adjusting quick release buckle. The lightest I've made is out of 2" velcro that folds back onto itself instead of a buckle. The hardest to make are the thick padded ones. My sewing machine has some trouble with the foam. The easiest way to get a belt is to find one at a second hand store.