Question: Every time I read something, I feel like I’m back at square one. I had no idea there was going to be this much to know when it came to bushcraft, hiking and camping. I’ve already learned a lot though, so I’m pretty psyched about that.
Has anyone ever heard of a “tumpline”? I know it’s a strange word and it’s not one I’ve ever heard before, so I’m wondering if anyone here has experience with these things. I know they are some sort of a rope, but I’m not quite sure how they’re used with a backpack. Also, I do a lot of hiking. Should I be looking into getting a tumpline? I guess I should learn what they do before I consider buying one, eh?
Answer: Awesome question and yes, if you do a lot of hiking and if you carry a lot of weight, you should definitely look into picking yourself up a tumpline. You can either purchase one or make one yourself. You’re probably better off making one yourself because tumplines aren’t the most popular pieces of gear to find out there. They’re actually kind of tough to find. I was just on Patagonia’s website where they have/had a tumpline for sale for $19, but it’s not available anymore. You can make yours from organic material or even paracord. If you’re decent at weaving, you can craft one that’s very comfortable.
Basically, a tumpline is a rope or strap that you can either tie into a bedroll or attach to your rucksack/backpack on either side. Think of it as a long belt. You can attached it or tie it around any piece of luggage, really. Then, once attached, you would place the strap on your head and use your head to hold most of the weight of your cargo as opposed to using your back. If you’ve ever had your pack straps dig into your shoulders, you may see the value of this. From what I’ve experienced and from what I hear, the weight of your pack is distributed very effectively through your spine as opposed to just your shoulders, making the weight of what you’re hauling feel noticeably lighter. People all over the world use tumplines for all sorts of things. You just need to use your head about it. Haha. That was a joke.
If you search in Youtube, you’ll see a bunch of videos on this piece of gear. I want to tell you though that not everyone uses the tumpline over their head every single time. Sometimes, people wear it around both shoulders to distribute the weight of their cargo through the arms and shoulders and sometimes they wear the strap over just one shoulder, like they’re carrying a regular bag. It’s up to you how to use yours. I’d say they are very beneficial.
Answer: Tumplines are popular when canoeing and portaging. They help tremendously with the weight of all the gear that folks bring on the canoe. They’re also popular and are used with pack frames and baskets. Trappers use tumplines all the time because their gear is heavy. As said above, this handy strap spreads the weight out through the spine instead of just the shoulders.