Backpack Fitting 101

posted in: ADVICE & TIPS, GEAR | 0

Ensuring you have a properly fitting pack is super important when it comes to the overall comfort and load carrying capacity of your backpack. When determining which pack size will fit you the best, it is determined on your torso length. It is important to note that litre capacity is different than pack size. Your torso length is the distance from your C7 (the most prominent bump at the base of your neck when you tilt your head all the way forward) to a horizontal line across your back connecting the outward protrusion of your hip crests. Once you have this measurement you will be able to to select your correct pack size.

TIP: If you are measuring your back length at home we recommend your use a belt and a measuring tape to accurately record the measurement. Place your belt on top of your hipbones (not around your waist or low on your hips- but so the middle of the belt is across the top of your hip bone). Have a friend locate you C7 (once located look straight ahead) then measure the distance between the two points. Use the measurement in inches to translate to the size chart for each pack. Each company will have different measurements for sizes so make sure you select the right size based on your specific pack.

Main Components


The hip belt should ride on your iliac crest (Hipbones) not around your waist or low on your hips. The padded section should wrap around the front of your hip bones, but should not meet in the front. Ideally you would like 2-3 inches on either side of your buckles to the foam. You want to ensure you have enough room to continually be able to tighten your hip belt, especially if you are out on a longer trip and lose some weight. When adjusting your hip belt, make sure you pull each side evenly so the buckle remains in the centre.

Shoulder Straps

When your pack properly fits, you should see even contact of the shoulder straps from the pack panel wrapped around to the front of your pack. The shoulder straps should start 2-3 inches below the top of your shoulder crest thereby, maximizing the surface area of the back panel against your back. The bottom of the padded section of the straps should be at least three finger widths down from your armpit but should not be maxed out at the bottom.

Stabilizer Straps

These straps connect the top of the shoulder pads to the top of the back panel. When tightened they relieve the pressure of the shoulder pads on your shoulders and help shift the weight down to your hips. The straps also help stabilize the upper part if the pack. The straps should have tension but not load bearing. If tightened too much, you will lift the shoulder pad completely off your shoulders and put excessive pressure on the front of your breast plate. The stabilizing straps should connect to the shoulder strap anywhere between your collar bone and top of your shoulder. Some models allow you to adjust the connection point. Ideally, you would want the stabilizing straps to have a 45 degree angle from connection on the shoulder strap to the pack itself, however an angle between 30-60 degrees is fine.

Hipbelt Trim Straps

These straps are located on the hip belt which attaches to the main bag. By tightening these straps you stabilize the bottom portion of the pack by bringing the bottom corners of the pack towards you.

Sternum Strap

The sternum Strap shoulder be set on the supper portion of your chest, a few inches below your collar bone. Altering the sternum strap’s position and tension periodically helps prevent muscle fatigue.

By following these guidelines above, you will ensure your pack properly fits and provides you the most comfort while wearing. It is important that every time you remove your pack, you loosen all the straps fully before removing. The main reasons for this will be to reduce tension on the buckles before clicking open and to force you to properly adjust the straps each time we put the pack on. If you have any questions on how to fit your pack, as always the staff at Outter Limits would be happy to help.

“Don’t let bad fitting gear, be the reason you don’t enjoy your next epic adventure. “

Saskatoon we offer free door to door delivery, contactless store pick-up or free Delivery on orders over $49!