Are gear sling packs suited for a get home bag? After a hiking trip in July of 2016, my opinion is that it you use a gear sling for a get home bag there are some things you need to look for in the pack design.
The July hiking trip was a little short at around 6 – 8 miles. Up until then I had never taken a gear sling pack on more than just a couple of miles. At round maybe the 5 – 6 mile mark, the strap started digging into my shoulder. My arm felt like it was going numb from the pain.
I took a bandanna, folded it up and put it between the strap and my shoulder for extra padding. That helped for a little bit.
The pack I was using is a Red Rock Rambler. The strap is on the left side and can not be switched to the right. I ended up taking the pack off and carrying it by hand for the last couple of miles. The pain was so intense my shoulder was sore for a couple of days.
Get Home Bag
A get home bag is a backpack, gear sling, fanny pack… something that can carry basic survival gear that would allow someone to walk home in a grid down situation.
Contents would usually include stuff like a rain poncho, spare clothes, water filter, water bottle, hat, map, compass, cell phone battery pack, am/fm radio, knife, matches. Stuff that would allow someone to walk home and leave their vehicle behind.
Get home bags may be kept in a car or truck, so may be kept in an office or locker at place of employment. Some people keep a fully stocked get home bag in the trunk of their car.
Depending on how far one travels to and from work, to and from the grocery store, around town, etc, defines what kind of gear the get home bag would carry.
If someone works 30 miles from home, then plan on walking 30 miles in a grid down situation. I could not imagine carrying a gear sling pack for 30 miles. 6 miles caused me to have terrible pain that lasted for a couple of days.
Gear Sling Pack design
Due to Red Rock Rambler strap being on the left side, and not switchable from right to left, I experienced terrible pain after just 6 or so miles.
On a lot of gear sling packs there is no waist belt to help hold the weight of the pack. Everything is carried on the shoulder. After a few miles the shoulder starts cramping and may be rubbed raw.
There are some gear sling packs on the market that can be switched from right to left. Some have a waist belt. Having a belt transfers some of the load to your hips, rather than all of the weight being on your shoulders.
When you look for a gear sling pack, look for one that can be switched from right to left shoulder. If you plan on carrying some weight in the pack, get one that was a waist belt.
Packs that are not switchable from right to left shoulder and do not have a belt should be considered for short hikes only. A few weeks ago I took my Maxpedition Noatak on as trip to the Texas Ren Fair. While walking around the fair I was able to take the pack off and let my shoulder rest. Also, I was not carrying that much weight in the pack either.
I will not be taking a gear sling pack on anymore long hikes. Not when I have packs in my storage closet that are well suited for long hikes. Doing short hikes yes, long hikes, not.