Tips for choosing a proper fitting backpack – Part 2 Packing and Adjusting

Categories:Gear | Hiking Advice | Hiking Tech | Tips Tricks DIY

In part one we discussed how to measure yourself or a friend to help choosing a properly sized pack. The next step in making sure the pack fits is to fill the pack with weight and adjust the straps.

Packing the backpack!

When packing a backpack especially for long hikes you will want to make sure that the weight is distributed evenly so that when wearing the pack it is not top heavy.  Here is a handy diagram for packing  a backpack to ensure comfort.

backpackpacking

Your most heaviest items such as water and food need to be packed so that they are the closest items to the middle of your back. Sleeping bag, clothes and lighter items are best packed furthest from your back. Also make sure that if you put weight on one side of the pack the other side has the same amount of weight. If your pack is heavier on one side you will notice that there is more weight on one shoulder strap than the other. Having a lopsided pack can cause shoulder pain, back strain and even muscle and joint discomfort in your hips and legs.  Many gear shops will allow you to pack up a backpack full of weight bags or even test gear to help you find out if the pack you are looking at fits your frame and needs.

Adjusting the straps for a comfortable fit.

Before you put the backpack on your back make sure to loosen all of the straps. Hip belt strap, sternum strap, shoulders, load lifters and any other straps that you find. Put the pack on and you will instantly feel all of the weight on your shoulders. To get the pack seated properly on your back following these adjustment steps.

Step 1. Clip and adjust the waist belt.
Step 2. Adjust your shoulder straps to bring the pack up against your back.
Step 3. Clip and adjust the sternum strap.
Step 4. Locate the load lifter straps.
Step 5. Pull the load lifter straps out and down. This will shift the entire load from your hips to your shoulders.
Step 6. Release both load lifter strips until you feel the shift of weight from your shoulders to your hips. (There will be a noticeable shift if the pack has weight in it)

StrapDiagram

If you try to adjust the pack while empty, you will end up adjusting it again once pack it. It is also recommended that you adjust all of your straps before any big trip. However, it is not necessary to adjust the straps daily unless you find hot spots from the straps. As you use your pack more often you will learn and adjust to the pack’s quirks.

When you pack your backpackpack do you find you pack certain items in the same places all the time? What do you find works the best when packing your backpack?

Adam Nutting relishes being an avid backpacker, hiker, and all-around adventure junkie. While he currently spends his time hiking in the backcountry of southern Arizona, he grew up in Missouri, where he was naturally inclined to spend as much time as he could outdoors. Adam’s passion for the outdoors grew as he climbed the ranks of the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

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