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Feeling The Burn

I always get a rash on my shoulders where the pack harness rests. Is there anything to prevent that?

Question:

I always get a rash on my shoulders where the pack harness rests. Is there anything to prevent that?

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Answer:

Lighten your load, for starters. Like blisters, rashes typically appear where pressure and friction meet warm, damp skin. Smear petroleum jelly on your shoulders, and wear a wicking synthetic shirt. If these tactics fail, try a different backpack, one with straps that rub you at a slightly different angle. And get it fitted by a professional.

1 Comment

  1. Kodiak

    Most of weight of your pack should be sitting on your hips, not your shoulders. The shoulder straps should mainly be holding the pack in place–in fact, its not uncommon with a well-fitted pack to have an inch or so gap between the strap and the top of your shoulders. It sounds like either your pack is too small, too heavy, not fitted correctly, or your hip belt isn’t supportive enough. Any good outfitter should be able to help you figure out what’s wrong and suggest alternatives.

    Now, if the rash is on the front of your shoulders and chest, that’s another story. When I was in high school I hiked a lot but didn’t have the means to purchase fancy technical clothing. I’d sometimes get a rash where my back and my internal frame pack met because I’d sweat into my cotton t-shift and the moisture couldn’t get out. Breathable synthetics help a lot with that problem, at least for me.

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