How To Fit Your Back Pack for Comfort

February 7, 2017 Off By Honesty Cooper

Choosing the right rucksack might seem easy but so many get it wrong and suffer the consequences. No matter what you’re up to and what type of pack you need, it HAS to fit you right.

Everyone is a different shape and size, so you need to put as much thought into getting the right pack as you do the right pair of trousers or the right pair of boots. There is a wide variety of different sized bags on the market but sadly not all packs are ‘one-size-fits-all’, although a lot of them do have enough adjustment options that one pack may fit many members of one family, or you could share the pack with your partner, once you know how to adjust the fit for each person. Some packs have different size options which are based on you back size or length which you can measure this at home but we suggest you come in to store to get measured up to get it right first time.

That said, here’s a super quick guide to getting the right fit for your pack. Try each pack on, packed out, with a little weight in and once you narrow it down, try it on fully packed and partially packed too. 

  • Find your hips
    These are the bones that you can feel on both left and right side of your body, just above where your front trouser pockets are (unfortunately some of us have to prod a little deeper to find this, but that just means your rucksack should be more comfortable!)
  • Place your sack
    Now you’ve got your hip bones, you need to position the hip strap over this. This means that when you have the right position your legs, which are the power-house of your body, will carry the bulk of the weight, not your shoulders.
    Go for the rule of thirds – one third of the strap needs to sit above your hipbone, the other two thirds of the strap below.
    The buckle needs to be in the middle of your body to make sure the weight is distributed evenly. Tighten the hip strap enough to keep the pack in place but not so much so that it is cutting you in half, remember that you need to wear your pack in all weathers so make sure you will have room to loosen and tighten the straps.
  • Tighten your shoulder straps
    Pretend you’re taking off in a jet pack and pull your shoulder strap tabs down and backwards, towards your backside.
    The straps should be flush to your shoulders, front, back and on the top.
  • Adjust your chest/sternum strap
    This holds the shoulder straps in place and makes sure they don’t wiggle off your shoulders as you walk (or climb, run, cycle, ski etc).
    This needs to be taut, but not tight (it shouldn’t change the shape of the shoulder straps or pull them away from the body).
    Most good packs will have an adjustable chest strap, allowing you to choose exactly where you want the chest strap to sit – this can be especially important for women!
  • Adjust the ‘Load lifting straps’
    These are the tension straps you’ll find on most packs at the very top of the shoulder straps. What most people do is tighten them as much as possible, because they’re within hands reach so it feels good to pull them. Wrong. These are there to pull the pack in towards your body and support the top part of the pack from swinging sideways or backwards. Again, the load lifters need to be taut but not too tight – the shoulder strap needs to be flush to your shoulder at all times.

  • Tighten supporting straps
    Lots of larger packs have tension straps to pull the pack closer in to your body – adjust these when the rest of the pack is set up but remember – taut but not too tight.

Now you’re all set! Have a look at yourself in the mirror, side on. Any pack needs to sit vertically on your back, not listing to any side and you should feel the bulk of the weight on your hips. Have a walk/run around, up and down some stairs (bend over in multiple directions if you’re buying a pack for running, cycling etc) and try to feel how you’re connecting with the bag.

Watch your hands! If you’re touching, pulling or pushing the pack or straps anywhere while you’re walking around, something’s not right. If you’re lifting the hip strap from below – its too low or not tight enough. If you’re sticking your thumbs in and pushing your hip strap down, its too high or too tight. If you’re hooking your thumbs into your shoulder straps, your chest strap is too loose or in the wrong place. Equally, if you’re pulling at the straps from inside, your chest strap is too tight.
Watch your movements! If you’re leaning forward while walking around – your shoulder straps and/or load lifters are too loose and the bag is pulling you backwards. If you’re counteracting the bag swinging around on your back you need to tension it in to your body in one or several places, or the pack simply doesn’t fit you.

So there you go, you can go forth with the power to find the perfect pack for your adventures, whatever you may be up to. The key points to remember: Take your time, try lots on, you need to find the right pack. Try your pack with weights, fully packed and partially packed. Taut, not tight. Check yourself out in the mirror and listen to what you’re body is telling you. This guide doesn’t take into account different measuring techniques to get back length or size etc be we can do all that and more in store if you need. For all our packs and an expert fitting, pop in anytime and we can do all the hard work for you.

Happy packing!