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Need a hiking backpack and have Lymphedema all over

jwoo Member Posts: 931
edited September 2021 in Working on Your Fitness

Hey everyone!

I'm looking for a backpack for long hikes that will be as gentle as possible on my LE which is through my entire upper body- arms, chest, trunk, back.

Needs to be able to hold several days worth of supplies.

Anyone find one that they love?



  • doxie
    doxie Member Posts: 700

    That may be a tall order. I've struggled with mostly breast LE and carry my groceries in a cheap unstructured backpack. Overloaded it has irritated my LE in my upper arm.

    I'm planning a long hiking trip with day hiking only and just got a xs/sm women's Ospreys backpack that has a waist strap. I'm not planning on carrying much weight. Mostly water, snacks and extra clothes.

    That may not work for you as much as a pack that puts a lot of its weight on your hips. Before they made packs sized for small women, years ago I had one of these and packed overnight comfortably in it.

    I'd suggest going to a top quality hiking store like REI, Erehwon, LL Bean and ask for assistance. Insist they load packs with weights and help you adjust the packs to work around your LE. It may have to be a man's pack to get the length you need.

  • jwoo
    jwoo Member Posts: 931

    Thank you for your reply Doxie!

    You are right- I should go into a store for some help. It's hard to explain LE to people that have never heard about it, but they should be the experts on fit and functions of their products. Thanks for the tip about having them add the weight in the store. I'm so used to ordering things online these days, I wouldn't have thought about that at all 😄

    After my DIEP, i now have LE in my lower body as well as on top :( Breast cancer is just the gift that keeps on giving!

    I love hiking though and am determined to get back to it.

    Have a great night

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,068

    Jwoo - please post when you get something. I was told people with LE should never use a back pack. Ergo I didn't fight 'city hall', and I guess I should have. My LE is breast & truncal so it's difficult.

  • doxie
    doxie Member Posts: 700

    Two summers ago I hiked for two weeks in Glacier National Park, but used a fanny pack. LE flared a bit if I swung my arm walking. Did fine as long as I held onto a shirt at breast height and pumped it off and on. I walked with one pole, avoiding using the LE arm.

    The new back pack I got fits much better so pressure points are located all over. Still I purposely got one smaller than I really wanted just so I wouldn't overload it.

    One option is to get a smaller pack, but a large fanny pack and put heavier items in that. Or better yet, hire a mule or donkey.

  • ksusan
    ksusan Member Posts: 461

    I don't have LE but do active prevention. My PT was concerned about ongoing pressure from the straps on the lymphatic channels of the shoulders. She will allow me to carry a light backpack with hip and sternum straps to move some pressure off the shoulders. I remove the pack and do MLD every hour or so. Like doxie, I try to put more weight in a fanny pack.

  • cowgal
    cowgal Member Posts: 625

    Interesting ideas on backpacks. I have been thinking about getting a purse that converts from hand held to over the shoulder to cross body to backpack. Since the straps are fairly wide, I thought that the backpack would be better for my lymphedema for distributing the weight more evenly. Granted, it would be significantly less weight and smaller then what you all are talking about with hiking gear in it but am I wrong thinking this would be better then having one strap over the shoulder for when I need to carry more them what will fit in a fanny pack?

  • doxie
    doxie Member Posts: 700


    I would think that distributing weigh over more pressure points would be better than one, but all our bodies and LE are different. It takes trial and error to find what works.

    I'm also working around minor back problems and find the backpack better for carrying heavy loads than on one shoulder or the other.

  • cowgal
    cowgal Member Posts: 625

    Thanks Doxie. That was kind of what I was thinking as far as the weight distribution. I think I am going to give it a try.

  • Peartree
    Peartree Member Posts: 1

    Hi, I know this is an old post, but in case anyone else finds it useful, I don’t have LE but have pain where I had nodes removed/ radio and my big pack with thick straps causes me pain with more than 8 kilos in it. I’ve come across Arnn packs, (NZmade) and people with neck/ shoulder injuries rave about them. I have tried it in store, and the system is very different than traditional. It has a frame that enables the body to move under it, with packs that hang off the front to counterbalance, i was sceptical but when the assistant loaded it up it pulled the weight off the breast and axilla. I’ll post an update on how it works out as overheating is my other issue

  • beeline
    beeline Member Posts: 193

    it might also be worth looking into trail running vests, sometimes called hydration vests. They make women-specific models with lots of capacity for people who do ultramarathons. There are no shoulder straps since it is a vest so goes all the way across the back with clips in front Not sure if this would be better or worse for truncal/breast LE but maybe worth a try? Nathan’s is a good brand or Ultimate Direction. I’ll see if I can find a good one to share. Also very interested in the solution as I have mild LE currently and hoping to keep it that way. Good luck!

  • dani444
    dani444 Member Posts: 215 know this is an old thread but I came across this product and thought I would share in case anyone is searching.