Tips For The Trail: The Sweet Spot For Backpack Comfort
Packs should always be picked last before each trip. To do so beforehand would be like moving a couch into a room without measuring the space first. Once you've determined the proper gear for your trip and have picked the pack suitable for the task, follow these methods below to get a proper fit* and boost comfort.
1. Loosen all of the straps on your pack. These will include: load lifters, shoulder straps, sternum strap, hipbelt and compression straps.
2. Load your pack up with what you are pplanning to bring on your adventure. Once you have it filled, tighten the compression straps around the pack before putting it on. This will allow all of the weight inside to be pushed to the back panel, and closer to you and your center of gravity. It will also allow the gear inside to stay secure, preventing it from shuffling. The following steps are best done starting with the waist and moving up.
3. Place the hipbelt over your hip bone and slowly tighten it. The hipbelt pads should fully encompass your bone (a little up top, a little below). You will want it snug around your hips so that it doesn't slip over time. If this happens you will feel more of the weight in your shoulders.
4. Cinch the shoulder straps so that the pack is comfortably against your back. Don't pull them too tight though.
5. Buckle the sternum strap and pull only until it is snug. Most packs will have a vertical slide or adjustment for the sternum for a proper placement. This should be right across your chest bone.
6. Pull the load lifters in toward you. These are the straps attached to the back panel and shoulder strap. Load lifters should be pulled in to around a 45 degree angle from the shoulder to the pack. Pull too tight and the shoulder strap can lift off your shoulder, causing stress and extra weight on the shoulders. Leave them too loose and the pack will feel like it is trying to pull off of your back.
7. Once you dial in on comfort sometimes a pack can become slightly tweaked from climbing a ladder or scrambling down a scree field. Simply make small adjustments whenever necessary to relieve any pressure points and avoid rubbing or chafing.
*Our packs are workhorses and help us carry the essential gear to get us through our trip objective. If you are in the market for a new pack you will want to find an additional component to a proper fit, your personal torso length. This can make a world of difference on any trip. To find yours take a measuring tape and measure the distance between the C7 (large bump in the back of the neck) and the iliac crest (the very first bone you should feel below your rib cage around the waist area.