Why your pack has a hip belt


The seasons are changing.

It’s day two of my 13-day hike from Waynesboro, Va. to Harpers Ferry.  Hiking like this offers a certain amount of contemplation time, and my musings have uncovered a new reality.

Everybody thinks the purpose of the hip belt on their pack is sort of like the belt on their pants – to hold the whole thing up.  That’s a big and important job.  If your pack weight is resting on your shoulders rather than your hips, you’re in a heap of trouble, not to mention a pending big ouch.

That said, the real reason packs have hip belts is not what you think it is.  Before I go there, allow me to digress. 

One of my secret goals for my fall training hikes was to lose some weight.  I mean, what’s the point of whittling your pack weight under 30 lbs. if you’re packing that much in a spare tire or muffin top? 

The two go together.  What’s the point of floating a 25 lb. pack up the hill if it’s off set by a 25 lb. spare tire that you have to haul up the mountain at the same time?

I was having lunch in late June with a thru hiker who flipped to Maine.  Just before complaining about adding extra weight to accommodate warmer gear, she noted that she’d lost 35 lbs. since Springer. 

Ever the idiot wit, I quipped that she had a 35 lb. margin to work with.  What’s the big deal, I thought?

So, back to the purpose of the hip belt.  It’s real function is embarrassment! 

How does it do that?  Strap one one on and you learn that it functions like an underwire bra for your belly. 

Somehow it manages to lift, round, mound and curve every ounce of flesh from your navel on up.  Cinch it tight and there it is, like Dorothy Lamour/Dolly Parton for all to admire. 


I hate to admit it, but from the side I look like I’m in late term pregnancy. Everyone takes note. That’s motivation to make tracks and burn some calories. Sisu – Making tracks.

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