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It's commonly acknowledged that wearing a stuffed backpack during cycling is somewhat bad for your back. I see a lot of people saying they have back problem because of the usage of backpacks during cycling over the years.

Will wearing a backpack on your chest make any difference on the effect of a backpack weight on one's back? (picture below)

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  • Many people I know do not like to wear backpacks or camelbaks in hot weather, because they make your back sweaty. Like @AdamRice, I'm not aware that this is actually bad for your back (assuming a reasonable load). – Weiwen Ng Mar 6 at 17:54
  • If heavily loaded, that backpack may make a difference if you hit something, or fall. This is nothing pleasant even without being crushed with this extra weight. – h22 Mar 6 at 18:59
  • OK I'll say it - IMO people who do this look silly IMO. – Criggie Mar 6 at 22:01
  • Please clarify - this question is about wearing the backpack on the chest while riding a bicycle ? – Criggie Mar 7 at 2:04
  • A backpack worn in the front is just going to get in the way. Because you Re meant forward you legs will hit it as you pedal. – Argenti Apparatus Mar 7 at 17:35
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Maybe people around you use to say these kind of things. But it is not commonly acknowledged. I often wear heavy backpacks and I never had back problems. I cycled for years every Saturday from the cheaper supermarket to home more than 5 km with a backpack that with all the groceries weighs more than 10 Kg. Actually the Saturday ride is the less problematic because when I get home I can change, sweating on the back is a common problem and it may be as you say "acknowledged".

Wearing the backpack on the chest would probably worsen the way the weight is distributed*. It maybe useful to shift it for some minutes during the commute to let your back cool down before you start sweating. But if you have some back pain for some other reasons riding in this way you would probably be worse off.

If instead of 5/10 Km commutes you are talking about longer rides wearing a backpack on your back or on your chest won't change the result. it would cause a lot of sweating anyway.

*By worse weight distribution I mean that while the backpack is on the back if you are slightly leaning forward the backpack is leaning over all your back and the weight is distributed. If the backpack is on your chest all the weight is on the straps which then pull your shoulders.

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I am not aware that wearing a backpack is bad for your back when cycling. I've been doing it every weekday for the past 8 months without ill effect. Perhaps if the backpack is very heavily loaded it's different. I do know that a lot of people just don't like wearing backpacks when riding.

Wearing the backpack in front seems like it would put loads on about the same points on your skeleton as wearing it in back, with the added problem that it would interfere with your legs' movement unless you're in a very upright position.

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    If you're at all leaned over the bars, it seems that the pack on the front would be continually slipping off your shoulders, too. I cannot fathom how irritating that would be... – FreeMan Mar 6 at 20:35
  • "The bag interferes with your thighs" is absolutely true (heck my tummy interferes with my thighs while on the drops!) – Criggie Mar 6 at 21:51
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    I'd also be concerned about wobble - the bag is hanging from its straps, whereas in the conventional place its resting on your back and is less likely to move, due to friction. – Criggie Mar 6 at 22:03

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