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Backpacks: Adjusting the Fit

    • Step 1: Hipbelt
    • Step 2: Shoulder Straps
    • Step 3: Load Lifters
    • Step 4: Sternum Strap
    • Step 5: Stabilizer Straps
    • Step 6: Final Tweak

Backpacks: Adjusting the Fit Video

Once you’ve selected a pack with the right torso length and hip belt size, you need to get properly fitted. The pack-fitting experts recommend these steps to help you enjoy a comfortable fit every time.

Quick Read

  1. With all straps loosened, place hip belt directly over your hip bones and tighten it.
  2. Snug shoulder straps just enough so that they are not bearing weight.
  3. Snug load-lifter straps so that weight is off of your shoulders.
  4. Adjust sternum strap to a comfortable height across your chest.
  5. Adjust load stabilizer straps along sides of hip belt to bring load closer to your back.
  6. Go back and loosen shoulder straps to take some tension off of them.

Six Steps to a Great Fit

Your goal is to have 80% to 90% of the load weight resting on your hips. To achieve this, start by putting about 10 to 15 lbs. of weight into the pack to simulate a loaded pack. Follow the steps below in front of a mirror. Get a friend to help if possible, or visit an REI store for more assistance.

Step 1: Hipbelt

  • First, make sure all the pack’s straps and hip belt are loosened.
  • Put the pack on your back so that the hip belt is resting over your hip bones.
  • Close the hip belt buckle and tighten it.
  • Check the padded sections of the hip belt to make sure they wrap around your hips comfortably. Keep at least 1″ of clearance on either side of the centre buckle.
  • Note: If the hip belt is too loose or tight, try repositioning the buckle pieces on the hipbelt straps. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may need a different pack (or hip belt).

Step 2: Shoulder Straps

  • Pull down and back on the ends of the shoulder straps to tighten them.
  • Shoulder straps should fit closely and wrap over and around your shoulder, holding the pack body against your back. They should NOT be carrying the weight.
  • Have your helper check to see that the shoulder strap anchor points are 1″ to 2″ inches below the top of your shoulders.

Step 3: Load Lifters

  • Load-lifter straps are located just below the tops of your shoulders (near your collarbones) and should angle back toward the pack body at a 45-degree angle.
  • Gently snug the load-lifter straps to pull weight off your shoulders. (Overtightening the load lifters will cause a gap to form between your shoulders and the shoulder straps.)

Step 4: Sternum Strap

  • Adjust the sternum strap to a comfortable height across your chest.
  • Buckle the sternum strap and tighten until the shoulder straps are pulled in comfortably from your shoulders, allowing your arms to move freely.

Step 5: Stabilizer Straps

  • Pull the stabilizer straps located on either side of the hip belt to snug the pack body toward the hip belt and stabilize the load.

Step 6: Final Tweak

  • Go back to the shoulder straps and carefully take a bit of tension off of them. Now you’re ready to go!
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