White Mountain Backpacks Logo Preston Showroom Open for Appointments Only
Limited Stock at Less Than Wholesale Prices
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram
White Mountain Backpacks Banner

Backpack Construction

Harness Shoulder Straps

What are the Harness Shoulder Straps?

The Harness Shoulder Straps consist of two substantially padded straps that rest on the shoulders and hold the backpack to the upper body. This padding on all White Mountain Backpacks™ is made of two or three different foam densities, with the softer foam on the inside against the body and the more rigid foam on the outside. The material contacting the body is preferably an air mesh material. The Harness Shoulder Straps can be either fixed to the backpack or incorporate an adjustment for varying Torso lengths. The adjusting Harness Shoulder Straps are either connected to a single yoke and adjusted together, or are separate and adjusted independently.

After contouring the Internal Staves correctly these Harness Shoulder Straps are used to pull the backpack up into position on the back, this pull must be towards the back of your backpack or the ladder lock buckles will cause these adjusting straps to lock up. If this backward pull is difficult to achieve, have a partner help lift the backpack in position, or squat with the backpack resting on a hand rail, fence rail, back of a bench seat, or vehicle bull bar.

Pulling the backpack into position using the above method allows you to correctly place the backpack in the small of you back, which you cannot do if bent forward with a straight back attempting to do up the Hip Belt. After all we want you to walk upright not bent forward as though we were walking into a strong wind. Using the recommended technique, we prevent lower back damage that can occur when pressure is placed on the lower back while bending forward with weight and tightening the Hip Belt. Tightening the Hip Belt first can also result in lower back damage that can occur after standing upright and having the backpack fall backwards from the shoulders.

If the Internal Staves have been correctly contoured and the Harness Shoulder Straps Torso Length has been correctly measured and position, you will find the pull position of the Upper Stabiliser Straps at approximately 5cm below the top of your shoulder and the Hip Belt position at or just above or below the Iliac Crest. After all we don't want to carry the weight of the backpack on our hips and suffer soft tissue damage in the waist between your last bottom rib and the Iliac Crest.

What is the relationship between the Sternum Strap and the Shoulder Harness Straps?

A Sternum Strap is essential in the positioning and comfort of the Harness Shoulder Straps and has three (3) functions;

  1. To distribute some of the backpack weight to the chest
  2. To position the Harness Shoulder Straps flat against the chest
  3. To position the Harness Shoulder Straps away from the shoulder joints

The Sternum Strap should be secured fully around the Harness Shoulder Strap to prevent distortion of the Harness Shoulder Strap and provide correct functionality. Please note that poorly designed backpacks rely on the Sternum Strap to distort the Harness Shoulder Straps and achieve close contact to the body. Backpackers with improperly fitted, or poorly designed backpacks often tie the Harness Shoulder Straps across the chest, place their thumbs underneath, or grasp the Harness Shoulder Straps in their hands, in an attempt to achieve Shoulder Strap close contact and comfort, or relieve excessive pressure.

What are contoured or S shaped Harness Shoulder Straps?

Harness Shoulder Straps that follow the natural contours of the body is simply a matter of good backpack design. Contoured Harness Shoulder Straps have a customised curvature that follows the natural route of the strap over the shoulder, away from the neck, down the side of the body into the chest area and then away from the body underneath the arms. The position and angle of the anchor point of the Contoured Harness Shoulder Straps at the base of the backpack, also contributes to overall functionality and comfort. Quite obviously, Contoured Harness Shoulder Straps are more comfortable than a Straight Shoulder Strap. Backpacks designed for women incorporate Contoured Harness Shoulder Straps to allow for the natural body curvature at the bust. All White Mountain™ Harness Systems are a true Unisex Harness System.

How do you use the Harness Shoulder Straps?

Using the Harness Shoulder Straps to put the backpack on, would come after the Internal Staves are contoured to the individual back, the T-Yoke, Sliding Yoke or independent Sliding System is positioned correctly, the Back Cushion is in place on the SYS or SHS harness system, and the Upper Load Stabiliser Straps are tightened to form a gentle arc in the Harness Shoulder Straps.

For ease of positioning when the backpack is on the individual, pull both Harness Shoulder Straps simultaneously back towards the rear of the backpack. Use these two Harness Shoulder Straps in bringing the Hip Belt and the Upper Load Stabiliser Straps into position on the individual. This method of positioning the backpack prevents back injury, and negates the need to hoist the backpack up while bending forward.

After buckling and pulling the Hip Belt snug, secure the Sternum Strap and pull down or loosen these two Harness Shoulder Straps simultaneously as required until comfortably snug. The Harness Shoulder Straps when properly positioned should be far enough apart so as not to rub on your neck, yet close enough together to prevent the Harness Shoulder Straps slipping onto the shoulder joint, or off your shoulders.


Do not over tension the Upper Load Stabiliser Straps, as this would draw the Harness Shoulder Straps away from the shoulders, render the Sternum Strap ineffective, place excessive pressure on the chest, and cause the backpack to ride up from the hips.

It is very important to draw the backpack fully into place with the Internal Staves closely following the contour of the individual back.

There is a common misconception that adjusting the Torso Length and the anchor position of these Harness Shoulder Straps on the harness changes the size of the backpack. This is incorrect and you must choose the length of backpack that best suits the individual Torso Length range. The Torso Length adjustment on the Harness Shoulder Straps also accommodates the heavy, medium, or slight build of the individual. A heavy built individual would need longer Harness Shoulder Straps adjustment, whereas a slightly built individual would require a shorter Shoulder Strap adjustment.

619 Plenty Road,
Preston VIC 3072
Melbourne Australia
Company Information
About Us
Contact Us
Customer Support
Customer Service FAQ's
Customer Service Policies
Shipping Details
Repair Support
Gear Repair Kit
Gear Repair Zippers
Material Delaminating
External Links
Links Directory
Gear Repair Australia
Gear Repair International
Google Backpacks
Spinal Health
Hiking Equipment
Low Impact Camping
Tourist Refund