I have "moderately large" disc hernias in L4 & L5 discs. But normally I have no pain, luckily. * When I backpack I make sure about 85 - 90% of the pack weight is on my hips (waist belt). This, of course, requires a decent frame in the pack and a good padded hip belt. The newer hip belts tighten by pulling inward on the two belt straps because this is the easiest way to tighten them (as opposed to pulling outward). Some of the very best hip belts have two inward adjusting straps on each side so you can better adjust the belt to fit your hip structure. This is especially important for women's hips. "Lift" straps at the top of your padded shoulder straps , running from the shoulder strap to the pack at or near the frame, help pull the top of the pack in toward your back on steep uphills or let it out to give you better balance on downhills. Getting achey shoulders after a few hours on the trail? Learn to adjust your shoulder strap tightness, lift strap/pack angle and hip belt. A different adjustment in these locations will likely give you some relief from the previous adjustment. Eric B.