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Rip & Equip: Backpacks

Finding a great fitting backpack is the key to happy backpacking. Plus, learn how to keep your pack looking and feeling like new.

Measure Your Torso
>> Recruit a friend and find a soft tape measure.
>> Bow your head so the C7 vertebra at the base of your neck protrudes. This is the top of your
torso measurement.
>> Find your hips. Place your thumbs on your iliac crests­ (tops of hipbones). Draw an imaginary line across your back connecting your thumbs. The point where the line crosses your spine is the bottom of your torso.
>> Take the measurement. Have your friend measure from the top of your torso to the bottom. Most adults fall between 15 and 22 inches. For a video demo go to

What’s Inside
Pack capacity is measured in liters or cubic inches. Multiply liters by sixty to get cubic inches–or use our chart to gauge real-world space.

Liters Cubic Inches Usage
20-40 1,221-2,441 Daytrip or overnight
50-70 3,051-4,272 Weekend or weeklong
80-100 4,882-6,102 Weeklong+ or family trips

Boost Comfort
Balance your load for a more comfortable fit—and to reduce wear and tear on your pack. Follow Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter’s tips for on-trail pack adjustments at

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    • russelldholm

      They don’t want you to print it – they want to entice (force) you to subscribe to the magazine if you want a non-electronic record. That’s why they also put it on multiple pages – to make it even more difficult. They could put “show on 1 page.” I personally like to create PDF documents from articles such as this and strategically file them for future reference in my outdoor living electronic library but Backpacker makes it very difficult to do this.

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      • nelser01

        I have a subscription and really like the magazine, but I don’t always save every copy. This is over 2 years old. The old web design allowed me to copy and paste text easily. This one does not. Very unhappy.

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