Tomorrow, when I should be feeling more serene, I will write about my weekend trip.
Today I journeyed to an unfamiliar REI because their website claimed they were the only store forever around that had my medium hipbelt in stock. My one mistake was to trust that. When I was finally able to obtain assistance in the store, they couldn’t find one. They also couldn’t order it for an inexplicable reason, so they voided the return of the large one I’d brought to exchange, as well as canceling my purchase for the few things I’d picked up looking around. Damn. I was done. They failed me. There’s zero chance I’ll spend another penny there until I have my new belt (ordered on Amazon within five minutes of returning home) and am able to return the one I have to REI before my return year expires. After all, I bought it from them in the first place because of their excellent return policy! Yet the collective employee response seemed to be “Oh, that’s too bad.” This isn’t an Osprey problem, it’s an REI problem.
My small pack is a great fit in the torso length department, and I can adjust it if I think it might ride better a little higher or lower. The straps are the most comfortable in existence, as far as I know. The small hipbelt, banished to the peak of my closet, not so much. The cushioning doesn’t wrap around my hips like it should, but barely reaches the edges of my bones, which means the straps cut into me in front.
I was having nerve pain which makes my lower back and my whole right leg ache. No good on the trail. Comfort is key. So I sized up, all the way up. I knew it might be overkill, but it felt so good. I thought I had it! The pain was much better, but would still happen, just less severe. When I learned the key to avoiding the nerve pain was less a cushioning issue and more a positioning one, I ended up wearing the large hipbelt higher on my body, closer to my natural waist, which means now I am cinching the straps as tight as they will go, but it isn’t quite enough to keep my pack in the sweet spot in the small of my back. I have to keep adjusting up as I go. No good. This isn’t an Osprey problem, it’s a River problem.
So the only way to go is medium! If I ever get my hips into one, that is. If only I had known I should’ve stayed home today. Back to my bargain-hunting roots.