Anyone have any tips or tricks on fitting pack stays? From what I've read, they basically need to fit evenly against the back, and then at the top where they no longer touch the back kick back away from the head. I haven't found anything other than that though. I've probably had the pack on and off a hundred times so far, and it doesn't feel like I'm making that much progress. I realize it's going to be a slow process, but I feel like I may be missing something here. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Does the pack actually have removable stays? Back when internal frames first came out, they all did, and bending them to fit your pack was critical, and time-consuming. Of course, we were carrying 40 and 50 pound loads in those packs, just for a weekend.
With the trend toward lighter loads and the development of frame sheets, many current packs don't actually have stays (or, if they do, they are a part of the frame sheet and therefore can't be bent separately.) The last few packs I've used had a frame sheet but no separate stays.
In my older packs that used stays, I don't ever remember adjusting them; I was always lucky that the pack seemed to fit OK off the shelf. If your Elate pack does have stays, I wouldn't be in a hurry to pull them out and bend them, especially if you're carrying less than 30 pounds. (This assumes you don't have some sort of spinal condition that gives you other than normal posture; if you do, you might want to go to a good backpacking shop and pay them to custom-bend the stays - that won't be easy to find.) I'd leave the stays as they are, load the pack, and take it on a couple of trips. If it's really uncomfortable, and you can't improve it by tweaking the other adjustments, you can then start working on the stays. (If you do, you'll need someone to help you, since you won't be able to keep a normal posture while trying to hold the stay against your back as you fine-tune the curvature.)
Yes, it does have removable stays, I've had them out about a hundred times too :P. It also has a frame sheet. What I've been doing is actually putting the pack on, tightening everything up, and checking it by feel and a mirror to see where it needed adjusting. Then taking it off, taking the stays out, guessing at the bends, putting them back in the bag, and going through the whole thing again. I guess I would be better off to just wait for some help from a friend from the sound of it. Do you have any idea what a shop would charge to fit them?
No idea at all; I'm not even sure if shops offer this service. I suspect that my local shop might offer to do it for me for free, since I buy a lot of stuff from them and send other people to them - but they may not, if I didn't buy the pack there. Also, you'd need to get comfortable with the staff's expertise; their younger salesmen may never have seen stays in a pack, depending on the brands they sell.
I did just think of another possibility - if you have a college nearby, contact their outdoor program (most have one) and you may find some of their staff willing and able to help.
Also, if you've got access to a copy of Colin Fletcher's Complete Walker series, I seem to remember that he discussed bending stays. I'm not sure it's in Complete Walker IV, or an earlier edition. I'll try to remember to look tonight, and let you know if I find anything.
I have an Aarn pack. It has stays in the back pack and each of the front packs, but it also has instructions on how to fit the pack with the help of a friend.
It does not have a framesheet, however. I wonder if the framesheet has something to do with the problem?
The temptation is to really make a noticeable bend in the stay. I found that we adjusted too far the other direction and was able to remove the stay and bend it back somewhat without a lot of duress. But the pack is clearly made to be adjusted this way, with instructions that reflect this.
Have you looked for documentation on the Coleman website? Granite Gear doesn't send their literature but you can download it from them.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Stays serve as the frame of internal frame packs. The curve provided by the factory should be sufficient for a comfortable fit for most people. However, if after fitting your pack you feel further adjustments are needed to provide the most comfortable feeling of the pack against your back, the aluminum stays are removable and bendable Stays are located in pockets on back of pack. Pull down the lumbar pad to locate openings for stay pockets. Ask a friend for help. Have that person hold the bottom of one stay against your back over one hip. Mark it with a pencil or tape where your spine makes the greatest deviation from the stay. Place the stay over a durable surface and gently bend the stay to the desired shape.
I guess I just need to wait till I have some help and finish it up then.
Glenn, there is a college near by (the one I graduated from last May). I'm not aware of an outdoor program there. They do have a backpacking class, taught by the owner of a local outdoor shop, that I've been told is somewhat of a scam just to get him business. I'll look into that though, and I may check with the Biology department. They do a lot of field research, so I could see them having some people pretty knoledgable about things like this. I dont have the book, but I may be able to find a copy somewhere.
I just pulled out my copy of Complete Walker IV, and I'm afraid there's not a lot of help there:
"Once all these ponderables have been duly pondered [adjustments to the rest of the suspension], then it's time to think about bending the stays (if they're aluminum, that is). Some stores have stay-bending experts, to save your trying to do it by yourself. But here's the drill. With the pack on and weighted, feel where the bottom ends of the stays rest on your back. Then take them out, which might take some head scratching and a few grunts. If they slot into the hipbelt, you should take the hipbelt off the pack, slip the stays in, strap it on, and scrooch it down a bit at the sides to simulate the effect of a load. A properly bent stay follows the contour of your back, which is hard to see from in front, so get help or at least use a mirror. Bend the stay over a rounded surface - your thigh or the back of a sofa. The bend the other stay to exactly the same curve and reinsert. Test by walking around with a load. In the pack, that is."
That's it, for whatever it's worth.
Edited by Glenn (03/16/1109:46 PM) Edit Reason: correct typos
I've never seen or done any method other than trail and error on this. And it sounds like you have a good start on both the trials and the errors. grin.
Seriously, you can't see your own back, you so can't see how to adjust this very well. And I also worry a little bit that you may be trying to fine tune something that may not need it. Try hiking a few miles with the pack the way it is, then see if it needs fixing.
I once suggested a simply adjustment for my wife's pack, because it looked crooked to me. It took us about three hours and five miles to get it back to where she was comfortable!
Loc: California (southern)
I'm in Balzacom's camp on this.
The one time I bent stays on my pack, a little bit of very approximate bending helped quite a bit. Bend, try, and bend again if necessary. It's really not that big a deal.
While you have the stays out of the pack, I would suggest boring about a 3/16 - 1/4 inch hole at each end. This makes the stays more usable for potential emergency applications (splint, etc.). And since this a light backpacking forum, I must point out that drilling the holes makes the pack lighter.....
Glenn, thats basically what I have already found, other than that one of the few sources I found suggested doing the stays before anything besides the hip belt. Thanks for looking that up for me.
Balzaccom, I've been working it with it using mirrors, so I can see it alright. I do have the trial and error down for sure :P, and I may well be putting too much effort into something that may not need it, but there were some very sizeable gaps to begin with. I figured while I'm adjusting a litle, I might as well really get it nailed down.
Oldranger, I really like the idea of the holes at the ends for emergencies, as wide and thick as it is, I dont see how a few small holes could hurt anything.
I put about four and a half miles on it yesterday with about 35 pounds in it. Clearly didnt need near what I had in it for the short trip, but I wanted to try it out loaded pretty heavy just to see how it did. I was amazed how comfortable it was. I do think it would be a bit more comfortable with a little more adjustment on the stays, but I was amazed how well it carried. Thanks for all the input everyone.