Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native American (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe) woman using a tumpline
Tumplines in use in Mexico by silleros

A tumpline (/ˈtʌmpln/) is a strap attached at both ends to a sack, backpack, or other luggage and used to carry the object by placing the strap over the top of the head. This utilizes the spine rather than the shoulders as standard backpack straps do. Tumplines are not intended to be worn over the forehead, but rather over the top of the head just back from the hairline, pulling straight down in alignment with the spine. The bearer then leans forward, allowing the back to help support the load.[1]

The indigenous natives in Mexico (and other Latin American countries) traditionally have used the tumpline for carrying heavy loads, such as firewood, baskets (including baskets loaded with construction materials and dirt for building), bird cages, and furniture.[2] In Mexico a common name for tumpline is "mecapal". Modern highland Mayans of southern Mexico use tumplines for various pedestrian transport.[3] During World War Two, the Canadian Army developed special supply-packs with tumplines for moving supplies over rough terrain.[4]

Tumplines are used commonly by porters in Nepal. Climber and outdoor equipment manufacturer Yvon Chouinard started using tumplines in preference to a backpack to solve chronic back pains after seeing how Nepalese porters developed muscles down the sides of their spinal columns.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Conover, Garrett, 1991. Beyond The Paddle - A Canoeist's Guide to Expedition Skills: Poling, Lining, Portaging and Maneuvering through Ice.
  2. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (2023-02-24). "These scientists lugged logs on their heads to resolve Chaco Canyon mystery". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  3. ^ Brill, David (2004) [1975]. In Focus, National Geographic Greatest Portraits. pp. 344–345. 'Mayan Children in the Mexican Highlands', photo of Maya girl [ca. age 10], man [ca. age 60], and boy [ca. age 13]. The girl has a bandana tumpline across the top of her head with each end tied to each side of a cloth sack; the man has a narrow woven-strap tumpline across top of head.
  4. ^ "Troops Use Indian Tump Line To Pull loads." Popular Mechanics, December 1944, p. 55.
  5. ^ "Yvon Chouinard: Ode to Tumplines". Patagonia website. 4 March 2020.

External links[edit]