How To Size And Fit A Backpack: Fit And Torso Measure Guide


When you look at the facts, finding the best backpack or the best Camelbak backpack is one of the most important things in hiking. Not just because it will carry your gear and it will protect it from the rain and all other bad weather, but also because, when you calculate the time it will spend on your back, getting the one that fits you well is a must from the comfort point of view.

That’s why you’ll have to find the backpack that fits your body well and to do that you’ll have to learn how to take the right measure. This article will teach you how to measure the torso, and also how to fit a backpack so it doesn’t hurt or make you regret getting it and going on an adventure in the first place.

How To Measure Your Torso

To do this properly, you’ll need a helper and a flexible tape measure. First, move your head forward and find the bone bump between your shoulders. This bone is called “seventh cervical vertebra”, or simply said “C7”. This is the top point of your torso length and from here you’ll start measuring.

Now slide your hands down the ribs to the top of your hip bones (or the iliac crest, if you prefer calling it this way) on both sides of your body. Place your hands on your hips so your index fingers are on your stomach, and your palms are on your back, facing each other and forming a line this way. This line is your torso bottom.

Have your friend measure the distance between the C7 and the line your thumbs have formed. This value is your torso length. If you’re not sure you’ve done it right, visit the local sports store and ask someone for help.

How To Measure Hip Size

While you carry your backpack, most of the weight will rely on your hips. It is not so common to have the correct size of your torso with your hips not matching, but never the less; it is good to learn how to measure your hips, because you may need to get a hip belt.

The first step in measuring your hip size is wrapping the tape measure around the top of your hips, letting it hug the iliac crest (the same one from the torso length measuring section). This line should be a bit above the beltline, meaning that the hip belt size is not the same as your pant-waist size. Again, if you’re not sure, visiting the local store and talking to a professional should help you find the best fitting backpack for you.

How To Adjust The Length Of Torso

Most of the packs have the ability to adjust suspension, so it can fit each user individually. The system used for adjustment can differ from brand to brand, but it shouldn’t be too hard figuring it out. If the pack you’ve chosen has this option, learning how to adjust torso length is important, and it will probably be the first thing you’ll have to do on your backpack. If the other adjustments don’t fit the way they should, it is time to reset the torso length and try again.

Doing It At Home

Adjusting the straps will provide you with more comfort and ease the weight a bit. Their main goal is to adjust them so the majority of the load is being carried by your hips, not your back because your legs are most likely stronger than your hands and your back.

There are four primary adjustment straps – hip belt, shoulder straps, load lifter straps, and sternum strap.

For the best outcome, add about 15 pounds of weight into your backpack to serve as a load, and ask a friend to hold a mirror, so you could check how it fits after every adjustment step. Loosen the adjustment straps – all of them! – Slightly right before you begin adjusting.

It will take two separate phases. The first one, and the main one, consists of shoulder straps and hip belt adjustment. Then, as the conclusion and the finale, comes load-lifter and sternum strep adjustment.

1. Hip Belt Adjustment


Put on the backpack. Move the hip belt until you feel the padding starts to hug the top of your hip bones. If it is too high, loosen your shoulder straps. If it is too low, tighten it up to raise it until it comes to its place. Now fasten the hip belt buckle and tighten it up. But be careful, if you overtighten it, there is a great chance you’ll feel the uncomfortable pinching in your hips. When done, check the pad and make sure it lays still on the top of your hips. If it has moved or it doesn’t fit nicely, readjust the shoulder straps and hip belt. Feel free to try out a few different positions until you find the right one.

2. Shoulder Straps

On the ends of the shoulder straps, pull down and back to tighten them up. They should be wrapped closely around your shoulders, but most of the weight shouldn’t be carried by them. If they do carry the majority of the weight, your shoulders, neck, and upper back will be under a great amount of stress.

See if your shoulder strap anchor points on the backpack are from 1 to 2 inches below the top of your shoulders, somewhere at the top of the shoulder blades. If they are not, your hip belt is probably at the wrong level, or your pack’s torso length is wrong. Change their tension by playing with the straps and find the best position. It is good to learn how to change the pressure in small parts so you can do it while you’re hiking.

3. Load Lifters

This part of your backpack serves as a connection between the shoulder harness and the anchor point located at the top of the back panel. When you tension them, this should result in angling back to the backpack body at something like a 45-degree angle. Although it does feel good at first, when you overtighten them the shoulder joints could get pinched and you’ll feel bad. So, try to achieve snug tension instead of a stiff one. If there is a space at the top of the shoulder harness, loosen them up and do it all over again until you reach the desired level.

4. Sternum Strap

Start by sliding the sternum strap until it reaches a comfortable height across your chest, which will probably be around an inch below collarbones. Buckle the sternum strap and tighten it to set the shoulder straps width enough to move your arms freely. If you overdo it and they become overtight, you could end up changing the fit of your harness, which could lead to narrowed space for chest muscles and your breathing could be harder.

Adjusting On Trail

No matter how good your fit has been at the beginning, after a while and some distance covered it will start to bother you, so to maintain it as comfortable as possible you’ll need to keep an eye on it along the way.

The best thing for adjusting the straps on the track is knowledge and routine. First, start by playing with your straps and figure them all out when you buy your backpack. Don’t be shy and change if something hurts. If it doesn’t help, try something else, until you find the right place.

Most likely tightening the shoulder straps and loosening the hip belt will help at first, but make sure you’ve memorized the positions so you could turn them back later. You could also lean a bit forward during your hike so it will feel more balanced.  Every time you stop, make sure you take your pack off and stretch out a bit, so your back could relax a bit and take a break before you continue.

If Too Complicated, Ask For Professional Help

If this sounds too complicated for you, don’t be shy to admit it and feel free to visit the nearest sports shop and ask if there is something you think you’re doing wrong. And if your backpack still doesn’t feel right, even after you’ve consulted the professionals, maybe it won’t be a bad idea to go and get the new backpack, because the one you’ve previously bought clearly doesn’t fit.

Globo Surf Overview

Getting the new backpack is filled with enjoyment and excitement, especially if you think about all the adventures that lay in front of you. But to get the most out of your new best friend first, you’ll have to learn how it works and how to adjust it properly, so you don’t regret getting it.

Feel free to explore and play with your backpack, find out what settings suit you best, but don’t stick to them at all costs. Sometimes this all could change along the way, and you won’t if something is better until you try it out. And it can make an amazing camping trip even better!

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!