How to Fit Your Backpack the Correct Way

Are you in search of a new backpack? With the countless options available in the market, finding the right one can get overwhelming. Make things easier for yourself by figuring out how backpack fitting works. In this way, you’ll be able to narrow your choices down to the ones that fit you best.

Comfort is just one of the things to keep in mind in your search for a great-fitting backpack. Today, we’ll be walking you through the different steps of backpack fitting to ensure that you land the one that meets your outdoor needs.

How a Hiking Backpack Should Fit

What Size Should I Go For?

When it comes to backpacks, the size determines how well it’s going to fit. If you start off with something that’s either too small or too big, then it will never be a comfortable wear no matter what you do.

Contrary to what some people believe, it’s actually the length of your torso, and not your height, that helps determine whether or not a backpack’s size is a good fit for you.

Measuring My Torso Length

Measuring the length of your torso is an easy process. All you need is help from a friend and a flexible tape measure.

The first thing you do is tilt your head forward and have your friend feel around your neck for a bony lump. This area indicates the top-end of your torso. The lower-end of your torso can be found at the top of the hip bones. You should have an easier time finding this spot when you settle your hands comfortably around your hips. It’s the area on your back where your thumbs are pointing at.

Once you’ve figured out where these points are, ask your friend to measure the length between them using the tape measure. Now you have your torso length.

Your Ideal Backpack Size Given Your Torso Length

For modern hiking packs, it’s usually recommended that you use torso length to determine the best size for you. In the event that your size falls somewhere in between small and medium or medium and large, don’t worry because most of your current options will have a shoulder harness allowing you to reposition the pack to suit your needs and comfort.

Our guide below should help you find the best size for you:

  • Up to 15.5-Inch Torso Length: Extra Small
  • 16 to 17.5-Inch Torso Length: Small
  • 18 to 19.5-Inch Torso Length: Medium
  • 20-Inch Torso Length: Large

Pro Tip: When fitting backpacks at the store, make sure the shoulder harness is in the right position. This is to ensure that you can set it up to meet your specific needs.

Steps to Fit Your Backpack

Now that you have a pack that’s the right size for you, you can now move on to the steps ensuring it fits properly.

Step #1: Put at Least 20 Pounds of Weight in Your Backpack

Before you start pulling on those belts and straps, make sure your pack weighs at least 20 pounds. You could also aim for the total weight of supplies you expect to carry on your next hiking trip.

Step #2: Loosen All Straps and Belts

All belts and straps must be loosened before you carry the backpack. These should include the shoulder straps, load lifters, sternum strap, and hip belt. The following steps will cover how to fasten these parts properly.

Step #3: Try on Your Backpack

Put on your backpack as you normally would and get a feel for it.

Step #4: Secure the Hip Belt

If it fits well so far, you can start comfortably and snugly securing it to your body. Fasten the hip belt in such a way that it settles snugly at the top portion of your hips.

The belt should neither be completely below or above your hips. It also shouldn’t be overtightened that it pinches the skin around where it’s fastened. The belt should be secure but also allow you to move around comfortably.

Step #5: Adjust the Shoulder Straps

You’ll want to pull down on both ends of the shoulder straps until they feel tight and secure. The straps should be snugly and comfortably wrapped around the shoulders.

Step #6: Adjust the Load Lifters

When pulling on the load lifters, don’t do so too tightly since it could result in a pulling strain on your shoulders. This can lead to discomfort as you hike.

Step #7: Secure the Sternum Strap

This strap, which wraps across your chest when fastened, adds extra balance and security on your hike. Not only does it keep your shoulder straps in position, but it also helps distribute your backpack’s load equally.

A Hiking Backpack That Fits Just Right

Aside from meeting your design and style preferences, the backpack you take on your hiking trip should be a size that takes into account your torso length. It should have a snug and comfortable fit overall once all the straps are properly secured in place.

Feel free to research your options on which pack can give you the best fit so that your next hiking experience will even be more fulfilling.

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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