Outdoor Life Guide – Fitting Your Backpack
Quick, what's the most important gear a hiker needs? While good fitting boots are priority number one, you backpack comes in a close second. There's nothing worse than suffering through a trip with a pack that makes everything feel ten times heavier and leaves you with an aching back at the end of the day. And since good quality packs are an investment, getting one that fits you will save on the chiropractic bills for a long time.
In the store
Try, try, try it on. And use these tips to help you find your perfect fit.
- Put something heavy in the pack and slip it on your shoulders. Most of the weight should be absorbed by your hips. If not, either adjust the straps or move onto the next pack.
- Ensure the waist belt sits just above or below the hipbone, which will force your hips to earn their keep.
- Measure the space between your shoulders and the shoulder straps. It should be no more than ½".
- Fit it like a glove. Your pack should move with you and be an extension of your body, not a cumbersome load with an inertia all its own.
- Ditch anything uncomfortable. If it hurts in the store, it's going to hurt on your hike.
Most fit problems can be solved by making simple adjustments to the strap system. Play with the pack or ask an experienced salesperson to help. A few tweaks might make you feel like you're wearing a completely different pack.
I've experienced my unfair share of backpacks, and it's no fun. For years I owned a 70L hiking pack and spent more time complaining and adjusting than I did enjoying the trails. I assumed all heavy packs led to bruised hip bones and sore shoulders - until I purchased a new pack. Sure, my shoulders still ache at the end of a long hike, but not the bone crushing ache I felt before.
When you find the right pack, your shoulders and hips will thank you. Mine did.
Nomadik is your best resource for finding the right pack for your back.
Read more: Packing to Stay Dry
Nomadik Personal Fitness Expert