How to Choose & Fit a Backpack

1. Determine packs purpose.

  • Day Hiking– Day hiking packs are lightweight technical packs used for short day trips, carrying equipment, short climbing trips, school, and all around day use. They are not designed for carrying much weight as they do not have a frame for proper weight distribution.
  • Hiking– Hiking packs range in their features and support. Some are more designed for their ease in movement such as climbing, snowboarding, back country skiing, and trekking. While others have stronger support for carrying heavier loads for multi-day backpacking. All hiking packs should be designed to transfer the weight of the pack off of your shoulders and on to the hips. Features should include adjustable straps and lumbar support.
  • Expedition– Expedition packs are designed for long hikes and mountain climbing. They are designed to be ultra-light while allowing you to carry heavy loads without compromising freedom of movement.

2. What size pack do you need?

  • Measure your torso length. Have a friend help you use a soft tape measurer to determine accurate torso length. Measure from the seventh vertebrae(C7) to the lumbar vertebrae(L1). C7 is the most prominent vertebrae in your neck seen clearly when you look down. L1 is the first vertebrae above your hip bone which usually is where the bottom of your belt or waistband rests. Rest your hands on your hips with your thumbs pointing inward. The vertebrae your thumbs point to is L1.
  • Measure your waist size and chest size. The waist measurement is the same size as used for used for normal pant waist size. The chest size is the same as your bra size.

The North Face’s Women’s Pack Size Chart:

Hip Belt Size (Waist)
Shoulder Straps (Chest)

3. How to Fit a Pack.

  • Loosen all straps before trying on pack.
  • Tighten hip belt snugly on hips. If the padding in front touches then you need a smaller belt. FRROG will make arrangements to exchange hip belts as needed to ensure proper fit.
  • Tighten shoulder straps so that weight transfers from shoulder to hips. The pack should sit upright forming a 90 degree angle to the shoulders.
  • If the pack fits comfortably you can finish making minor adjustments and your on your way.
  • If the lumbar support is not fitted in the small of your back, remove pack. If it is a hiking or expedition pack it may have internal lumbar adjustment. If not you may need a different size pack.

4. Make sure you pack your backpack properly.

  • The lightest items should go on the bottom such as your sleeping bag.
  • The heaviest items should be fit directly against your back along the middle of the pack.
  • All remaining items fill the body and top of the pack.

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