How to Adjust a Hiking Backpack

How to Adjust a Hiking BackpackWearing a pack while backpacking can result in discomfort, not to mention long-term back problems if it is not adjusted properly. Your backpack is your home away from home while out on in the backcountry. It should not only carry what you need in an organized way, but feel as comfortable as possible. A few simple adjustments will have you carrying your pack in a whole new way.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Backpack
Step 1
Make sure the pack you are using is the right size for your body size. Most packs have an adjustable torso length. If you are a petite woman or child, you will want a small-size pack. Most people will find an adjustment in the medium-size packs to fit them well, unless you are extra tall, in which case you may need a large-size frame.
Step 2
Adjust the torso so that the bottom of the pack rests at the base of your lower spine, at the small of your back and at the top of your shoulders. The packs top compartment may visibly rise above your shoulders but the structure of the pack should mimic the length of your spine.
Step 3
Fasten the hip belt so that it snuggly rests just above your hip bones. You want a larger percentage of the packs weight to rest on your hips and legs and not your shoulders as this can cause upper back and neck problems. Adjust the waist belt so the straps are the correct length for your waist.
Step 4
Load the pack with the amount of weight you generally carry on the trail and put the pack on, adjusting the belt as before. This should be simple because you already preadjusted the waist belt. Then pull the shoulders straps so the remaining weight is balanced out by being brought closer to the core of your body.
Step 5
Pull the straps near the lid of the pack to bring the pack's weight in even closer and to create an even more snug fit at the shoulders. These are the straps that you can reach when the pack is on.

Tips & Warnings

Always pack the heavier stuff toward the bottom of your pack and closer to your back. The lighter stuff can go on the outside of the pack (farthest from your body) and toward the top. Balancing the weight inside in combination with correct strap adjustment will enable you to more swiftly carry your pack.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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