How do I bend the stays in my backpack?
Submitted by - Ron Dillard - Mokelumne Hill, CA
Packs that have aluminum stays are shaped to fit the majority of hikers--most of us won’t have to bend them at all. Put the (loaded) pack on and turn sideways in a mirror: does the shape of the pack follow your spine? If you see some gaps or feel some weird pressure points, you can do a little re-shaping (assuming your pack has flat aluminum stays). First, make note of the section that you want to adjust. Then remove the stays and make a tracing of them in their original shape. This is in case you go overboard and need to revert to ground zero.
To bend the stays, I just place them over my knee and pull gently on each end. Go slow and make incremental changes, trying it on for size each time. For the most part there are two places to focus on: the top of the stays and the lumbar area. If your pack doesn’t offer enough head clearance room, you can bend the tops of the stays away from your body, creating a cavity that lets you ogle freely. If you feel like your pack needs a little more lumbar support, you can increase the inward curvature at the bottom of the stay, to bring the pack in closer contact with your back. Again just be sure to go slowly, check your progress often, and make sure you bend each stay identically.