PACK FIT TIPS: 5 SECRETS FOR FINE-TUNING CARRYING COMFORT 1. First, measure your torso to find your size. Go to backpacker.com/torso for a primer. 2. Loosen all straps, put the pack on, then tighten straps in this sequence: 1) hipbelt 2) shoulder straps 3) load lifters 4) sternum strap 5) hip stabilizers. 3. Assess fit. The bottom of the pack should curve snugly in the small of your back, weight should feel evenly distributed between shoulders and hips, and shoulder straps should hug shoulders with no gaps at the top. 4. Try different brands to find one that fits you best. And don't be afraid to test a pack marketed to the opposite sex. Slimmer guys might find a women's pack fits better, and vice versa. 5. Bend removable stays: Curve them to match your spine by placing them over a counter edge and applying gentle pressure. It will take a few rounds of trial and error to get the perfect shape.
WHEN TO CALL AN EXPERT Skilled sewers (like Stitchlines; stitchlines.com) can fix major strap blowouts (a popped shoulder harness or load-lifter repair costs about $20) or big gashes ($20-$45).
WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS
Packs can last a lifetime—but large swaths of threadbare fabric mean it's time to go shopping.