How to Properly Fit Your Backpack for Hiking and Backpacking

see this gap here this is not your

friend that means you have a bad fitting

backpack well hey we can do better than

that so in this video I'm gonna be

teaching you how to properly fit your

backpack now that I have your attention

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that you've done it let's go having a

properly fitted backpack is a critical

component of comfort on the backpacking

trail so I like to say that backpacking

is an accumulative sport so just because

your pack might be comfortable for the

first mile or two or feel good in that

store it's not necessarily going to feel

good at mile 15 mile 25 on the trail or

after you just have a heavy load and a

long day so properly fitting your

backpack is critical for maximizing your

energy and making sure that you're

enjoying yourself on the trail let's say

you're starting out from zero you know

nothing about backpacks you're standing

at the wall in front of in front of that

wall in REI with all of the backpacking

options and you're wondering what to get

so let's start there let's start from

the base first of all it's really

important to know what goes into sizing

a backpack for a given frame so you can

be a six foot tall person and you might

need a small framed backpack you could

be a six foot six person and need a

medium size backpack and you might be a

five foot six person and need a medium

or a large frame backpack because it has

to do with torso size and not

necessarily exactly just based on how

tall you are or how round you are

perhaps so if you're first starting from

that one of the things that I really

recommend is getting your torso measured

now there's a small a medium and a large

of pretty much every backpacking

backpack that's on the market and in

order to get the smaller medium and

large to fit for you you need to know

how long your torso is so right here is

where your I think it's the c6 I'm not

sure I'm not a medical expert but that

knob that's kind of right at the base of

your neck that's where it's going to be

measured from down to just above your


that's the two points that are being

measured with a tape measure like you're

getting tailored you're getting tailored

for your backpack as well so that this

backpack fits exactly how you need it to

so if you have an say an 18 to 22 inch

torso then that means you are a medium

sized torso length and that is the

backpack that you need for you and if

you are under that 18 inches you need to

size small and if you're over 22 inches

you need the size large so therefore

this backpack is going to be built and

constructed just for your frame so

that's really important like step 1 like

we need to get the right backpack off

that wall and onto you so that when

you're at the trail it's a lot easier to

get everything else adjusted just right

ok so let's go from there we have the

frame that the frame of the backpack

that fits your torso now there are

straps all over the place on these


and it's important to know what they do

because I see all the time people with

their backpacks that just look off and

while that may be fine for a really

lightweight or a short mileage trip if

you're doing a big trip or certainly

like a thru-hike that is going to lead

to a bad day for you so let's start with

some of the basics

you've got your hip belt which is kind

of like the main thing that is what

makes a backpacking backpack a lot

different from just kind of like your

regular day pack or something like that

this is a beefy belt and you want about

I like to say you need about 50% of that

weight to be going right on your hips

and then the rest of that weight is

going to be distributed throughout the

rest of your back and over your

shoulders so having this sit up high so

right about my belly button is right

here and then so I want this to be

sitting nice and high and tight on the

actual hips not where my belt is my belt

is actually still below here below the

hip belts and that's important you don't

really want the you're not putting the

hip belts exactly where you wear your

pants belt because the fit is actually

quite a bit different you want to create

a thing that's going to be basically

resting on top

of your hips and so that's where

typically people don't like to cinch

this down to the proper weight and

that's a big mistake that I see a lot

and then so all of that weight is

actually on their shoulders here and we

don't want that and as you can see here

I now have kind of this big gap here so

that means something is off with with

with the way that my pack is fitting

right now and so one of the other first

steps you can do is just simply cinching

these guys down like so and I actually

still have a bit of a gap here so that

means that there's still something

that's not quite adjusted quite right

and there is something else that I can

do so let's take this off for a second

and then let's look at what else is in a

most backpacking backpacks for how to

make it fit just right for you so I've

got the 50 litre tara frame for mr. e

ranch here and mr. e ranch makes a

really cool framed backpack and i really

like some of the things that you can do

with changing the the frame style but

this is a kind of across the board not

just a mystery ranch thing but this is

like a backpacking backpack thing is

adjusting the frame size of your

backpack but mr. e ranch has done some

cool things with their exact specific

design that make it easy and pretty

intuitive so here i've kind of

deconstructed the backpack a little bit

and then within this where your back

actually sits there's this cool sheath

that pulls out and then allows me to

create a separation between that velcro

so pretty much all backpacks have a

little bit of velcro back there and then

then you can adjust the frame width by

removing the velcro and then replacing

it at a different point so here I might

need to pull this and make this if I

need to maximize it out I'm at the top

end of my my frame say I'm a really tall

guy or just right at the upper edge of a

medium frame backpack so maybe I'm gonna

pull this out quite a ways and extend

this frame up this is pretty extreme but

but I actually need to shrink it just a

little bit for it fitting me I need

reduce if you have a little bit of a gap

in between where your shoulder strap is

and your shoulder

that means you need to shrink that frame

down a little bit so that's what was

happening for me so I need to get this

down kind of mmm well we can we can test

it so let's see if that works put this

back together

okay so I've actually had to adjust this

two or three times just to really dial

it in and get it exactly where I want it

to be and that might be the case for you

and then another important note is that

when your backpack is not weighed down

it might actually fit and feel a little

bit differently than when you have 45

pounds of backpacking gear in it

so it's possible that when you're

actually fully loaded for the trail you

might need to do another tweak

adjustment to get it dialed in just

right okay so now we have the torso

length ready for you and that means that

you know what your straps need to be

doing from there the rest of your

adjustments are basically hip belt

shoulder straps and then these often

missed straps that are incredibly

important we'll get to those in just a

second okay

so let's get we've got your hip belt

dialed in just right not too tight but

you had sex I it's holding a good bit of

the weight there now now I'm dialing in

my shoulder straps and trying to get

that to feel just about right and then

an overlooked part is these guys here

what this is doing is it's either

allowing the backpack to fall away from

you or to really Snug it in tight your

shoulders most people don't know that

their pack is ill-fitting because these

guys are moving around on them and they

actually need adjustments throughout the

trail so just because you did at the

trailhead five miles in you might need

to readjust this as the weight is kind

of shifted around okay so I want

everything to be sucked in nice and

tight so that that pack really cinches

forward down to your shoulders and you

will notice this when you have 45 pounds

of gear in your backpack how that

actually feels so I like to say that


are like a lever and if all of the

weight is far away from your back it's

going to pull you backwards and make you

have a miserable time because that 40

pounds or 45 pounds is going to have the

effect of a heavier weight of say 55

pounds because the levering action of

pulling you back backwards further away

so we don't want to do that so just pull

in everything in sucking it in nice and

tight so everything has really got a

nice nice weight right over your hips

that's kind of what you want and then

you don't have to be hunched when you're

hiking and you're not being pulled

backwards here either okay what do you

do with this buckle a lot of people see

me hiking without that buckled and they

have questions about it and this is

purely a comfort buckle this is not a

support strap buckle what this can do is

it can pull the straps away from your

armpits so that as you're hiking you're

reducing that friction and making it

more comfortable for your armpits and

that can be really important depending

on your body type especially it gives

you some more latitude and freedom to

get this to fit just right for you but

at the same time it may constrict your

breathing and when you're hiking and

backpacking on the trail keeping your

breath is pretty important so I often

have mine unbuckled but that's strictly

for comfort and so just find what works

for you but one of the things that you

really want to avoid is not having it

ride up to hide around your collarbones

really bring that down basically for me

for most males you want out to be just a

little bit kind of above your nipples

and for women the fit can be a little

bit different so making sure it's still

that it's riding usually above your

chest and that's usually the most

important and comfortable way to do that

so just thought I'd let you guys know

about what this buckle is really for so

the next is really just getting your

pack fit with the right stuff we're

going to be talking about a whole video

over there on just packing your backpack

right so that is the next step so make

sure you tune into that video because

that's coming up here but if if you are

still just wondering what you can do

we've got blog posts as well that'll be


for for that so check it out that link

will be below the video here and yeah I

think that that is really the critical

things it's it's pretty basic it's not

doing rocket science here but still I

see people doing it wrong all the time

so just make sure that you have a

comfortable backpack that fits you fits

your body type and not all packs are

gonna be the same for your body type so

making sure that when you are trying it

on that it fits the broadness of your

shoulders maybe the wideness or how

narrow your hips are making sure that

you get a backpack that fits for you and

then doing those things to do all the

micro adjustments that when you're

actually on the trail it's works for you

I hope you found this video helpful and

that you really got something out of it

especially if you're a new backpacker

that this might have solved some

problems for you before you get out

there so stick around subscribe to our

videos I know that we have lots of stuff

for you especially for people learning

how to do this how to how to backpack

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around for more this is back Viking TV

I'm Eric Hanson thanks so much for