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How To Fit A Backpack

How To Fit A Backpack
19 June 2019

How to fit a rucksack

Having a correctly fitted rucksack when enjoying the outdoors can be the difference between a hard slog and a great day out. Similar to the way ill-fitting boots are bad for your feet, an ill-fitting rucksack can leave you feeling sore and irritable, even more so on multi-day treks when your pack can be considerably heavier.

We have collated a few steps to help you fit a pack properly so that you can focus on enjoying your adventure.


Prepare

Firstly add some weight to your pack, be it the kit you plan on taking or some token tins from the kitchen cupboard. An empty pack won’t highlight any uncomfortable niggles that need to be sorted out before you set off. Once you have some weight in the pack, use the compression straps to stabilise the load so that it stays in place when you are moving.

Before putting the pack on your back, loosen the hip belt straps, the shoulder straps, and the chest strap. You may also have stabilising straps at the shoulders and hip belt, these should be loosened too.

Backpack with loosened straps

Fasten the hip belt first

Once you have the pack on, the first strap to tighten is the hip belt. Find the top of your hip bone and position it ideally in the centre of the hip belt wings before tightening the straps. This will ensure the main bulk of the weight is carried by the lower part of the body where the biggest bones and muscles are. If possible try to keep the buckle central, it will be more comfortable.

Backpack hip belt

Secure the shoulder straps

Once you have the hip belt secure, you can secure the shoulder straps, these should sit flush, but not tight, to your shoulders without lifting the load from your hips. If your shoulder straps aren’t sitting flush to the curve of your shoulders you may need to consider the length of the back panel. Some packs have adjustable back panels while others are fixed but may be available in different sizes.

Backpack shoulder straps and adjustable back panel

Fasten the chest strap

Once you are happy with the hip belt and the shoulders, you can fasten the chest strap. Ideally, this should be in-line with your armpits but you can usually adjust the height to something that might be more comfortable for you. The chest strap is there to stop the shoulder straps from falling off your shoulders.

Backpack Chest Strap

Secure any other straps

Now is the time to secure the load stabilising straps if you have them. This helps to keep the weight of the pack secure to the harness of the pack so that when you move, the weight moves with you. They don’t need to be particularly tight but the webbing straps should be taught rather than slack, there is usually one at the shoulders and there may be one at the hip belt.

Backpack Stabilising Straps

Keep it on for a bit

Once you have fit the pack, have a wander around with it and consider how it feels. Is it comfortable? Does it feel stable? Are there any parts that could become uncomfortable a few miles into a walk?

If it doesn't feel quite right then you may need to make a few more adjustments to get there. Equally, it may not be the right pack for you. Trying different styles of backpack, as well as different brands, will give you an idea of what you find comfortable and what will work best for you. 

About the Author:

Charlotte Fish - Outdoor Expert

Charlotte discovered her passion for the outdoors in her early teens and has never looked back since. Her pursuit of outdoor activities has taken her all over the world but she truly believes there is no place like home.


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