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OK, I had the great idea to use the lead weights that came with my weighted vest, rather than pea gravel. These weights are, I think, lead shot wrapped up in small cordura bags and there are about two dozen of them. This works well. The pack now weighs about 45 pounds.

But: my shoulders still hurt, but in a different place. With the weighted vest, they hurt on top of my shoulders because they supported all the weight. Now the pain in on the front of chest, where the pectoral muscles meet the shoulder. I suspect the cause is that the weight is now further from the center of my body and the bag wants to rotate backwards and it's the front part of the shoulder straps that prevent this.

Is there any sort of padding that can distribute this force more broadly across the front of my chest? I'm thinking even a small piece of plywood that stretches from shoulder strap to shoulder strap might be more comfortable.