Backpacking packs

Hi everyone!

I've posted about backpacking here before, but I'm back with a new issue! I got my pacemaker placed in Feb 2020 at 23 years old. Due to my age (and for cosmetic reasons) my EP put my pacemaker further to the left than normal, and under my muscle (sitting directly under a backpack strap). I am a big hiker/backpacker, but only got to go on 2 trips this year (both under 50 miles each, 2-4 nights). For each trip my pack was pretty light as I never had to carry more than 3L water and 3 days of food- I took my 30L pack with me without issue. As I am looking at longer trips for 2021, I cannot find a larger pack that is comfortable for me. Once I add the weight in and tighten everything up, the backpack straps push on my pacemaker. I can deal with it but don't want to cause any type of damage to the leads or my device if I will be out in the backcountry for a week or more. I am not UL but my gear is on the lighter end (budget reasons lol). does anyone have any suggestions for gear or brands that will work with you to fit a pack around your device? I have been in contact with ULA and they said that would help with my fit but have only had mixed success with pacemakers, so I am nervous to spend the money for a custom pack if it will still not work for me. I am looking for something in the 50L range. With my 30L pack I put a homemade cloth pad under the site to help with rubbing and it was fine, but for longer days/heavier packs I am worried about the weight distribution (ie if a pad will change the fit of the pack on my shoulders/back).

Thanks everyone!


*I will edit to say that on my first trip which was 4 months after surgery, my pacemaker settings were apparently not correct because it did a "mode switch" 400 times in 3 days- basically everytime my HR went above the upper threshold, my PM thought I was in afib and would adjust the pacing to "correct it", resulting in a nonsynchronous beat between my heart and my PM. this is not related to my post but i thought interesting



by Pinkit94 - 2020-12-09 13:47:22


I wear a backpack while mountain biking, with 3L of water in it, so heavy but definitely not as heavy as a backpacking backpack. I am 26, but got my pacemaker/icd when I was 23. After I got my device, much like yourself, the straps were "digging" in and were a little uncomfortable, I asked my EP, and he said to expect some tenderness around the pacemaker for awhile(sometimes the tenderness can last up to a year), but as long as there is no redness, and device perimeters are fine, I can continue wearing it and letting my body get adjusted to wearing a heavier backpack. I did this by doing trials, every week I would wear my backpack and would slowly increase the weight of it. The only problem I had with my backpack was that the magnetic clasp that holds the mouthpiece made my ICD beep(that was because the magnet used for the clasp was strong), luckily I was able to change sides of the mouthpiece (left to right) and I've never had any further issues. As a young person don't let pacemaker/icd limit you more than necessary,  worry when you need to worry, but also go out, have fun and enjoy your life! I hope this helps.


by ar_vin - 2020-12-09 14:02:27

I backpack, hike, climb and run all the time - I got a PM about two years back. The PM was placed sub-pectoral at my request.

My day hikes (where I carry a pack) range from 10-20+ miles. The day packs I carry some times cause slight rubbing on the PM but I'm now used to it. It never hurts but it can be a bit uncomfortable especially if I carry extra water. It's a trade-off between having the pack very snug (more rubbing the PM site) or a bit loose (the pack moves around a bit).

My backpacking trips are up to 9 days without resupply - the pack weight can get up to around 35-40 lbs with all the food. As you know already consumables (food, fuel and water for the day) are the difference between a one night trip and longer trips.

For backpacking trips I carry a Seekoutside Divide pack - it carries weight perfectly! I've also heard great reviews about the Seekoutside Flight pack from folks that own it. I'd suggest calling Seekoutside and speaking with them about pack fit. The packs are not cheap but they are very well built and very comfortable even carrying 40 lbs. I'm just a very satisfied customer with no financial or other interest in the company.

For more information about backpacking in general I suggest checking out - great forums, excellent tutorials and product reviews, and a great Gear Swap forum for used gear. Also has good product reviews. 

ULA does make great packs - I've used both the Circuit and the Catalyst with my PM with no issues. But as you know pack fit is very personal. If you can find a retailer that carries the packs I'd suggest trying it out first.

Feel free to send me a private message if you'd like me to ship you my ULA Catalyst to try it out. May or may not work depending on your size etc. Shipping a pack can be expensive. Or just post questions here.





Underlayer MTB

by quikjraw - 2020-12-11 04:43:44

I am not at the stage of returning to my hiking and mountain biking yet as it's only been a month since my PM was fitted but I have already been looking at protection from the back pack straps and impact.

If none of the advice above works then you could consider an MTB shoulder or chest protector even a cheap thinnish one that the straps will rub against rather then the straps rubbing against you.






Backpacks and Running Vests.

by runpacer - 2020-12-17 00:04:52

I had a pacemaker implanted about 13 months ago. A few months post surgery I ran with a running vest for 10 miles. There was the irritation as others have mentioned with their backpacks. Just like many of you, the running vest strap rested directly over the pacemaker and incision area. When I returned to my phyisological cardiologist to talk about the difficulty I had wearing the running vest, he noticed red streaks on and around the incision area of my pacemaker. I was immediately placed on antibiotics. He told me, never wear a running vest again. If the area becomes infected from the irritation to the incision the pacemaker may have to be removed, the area cleaned up and a new pacemaker cannot be implanted for perhaps up to four (4) months after the removal. I decided to listen to the doc and not wear the running vest or any backpack. Instead, I returned to fanny packs. There are multiday fanny packs that some of you may consider as an option. Some of the best are made by Ultimate Direction. They are super light weight... 

Pack straps

by Mike417 - 2020-12-21 15:45:47

I do not do the long distance hiking that you do, but rather day lon hikes with photograpic gear weighing about 30-35 lbs.  What I do is put Glide (for runners) over the entire area, then I weara good polypro comression shirt.  That combo should reduce friction.  Next, add a lambs wool pad on your shoulder strap to further reduce rubbing.  Re distribute the weight to the waist belt, and loosten the strap lifter on that side.



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