Beginner Basics: Fitting A Backpack

Even the best backpack isn't comfortable if you don't fit and adjust it correctly. To start: Pick a pack that's the proper gender and general size for you. For example: women's small or men's medium.

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Step 1: Load the pack with about 20 pounds, then loosen the hipbelt, shoulder straps, hipbelt stabilizers, and load lifters.


Step 3: Properly sized, there should be no gap atop the shoulders, and the load lifter anchor point should be at collar-bone level.


Step 4: The hipbelt should sit over your pelvic bones.


Step 5: Once the basic torso length, hipbelt and shoulder strap length is dialed in, snug the hipbelt stabilizer straps.

fit a backpack

Step 6: Snug the load lifter straps for a more stable load.

fit a backpack

Step 7: Fasten the sternum strap. Position it properly between chest and collarbone level.

fit a backpack

Step 8: If the sternum strap is too low, it will restrict chest expansion and breathing.

fit a backpack

Step 9: When correct, it will keep the shoulder straps from slipping outward during scrambles, while letting you breathe deeply.

Photos by Jennifer Howe /

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