Backpack Fitting & Sizing | How Should My Backpack Fit

Last Updated on May 20, 2021

backpack fittingPeople buy backpack that doesn’t necessarily fit their body.

They buy a pack to put the gear in, take it to their back and have an uncomfortable experience.

You need a backpack that fit your body, so it’s comfortable.

If you are not comfortable, you are not having fun with your backpack.

Typically in the industry, you are fitted with a backpack according to your size.

That is not the best way to fit a backpack. Backpack fitting is everything. If your backpack is not fitting properly, it will create more pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back.

You will feel less weight if it fit correctly.

How to Measure Torso for Backpack

Measuring your torso length is important.

There are some factors you need to check while selecting a backpack for hiking, camping or any other outdoor activities.

You must choose an appropriate backpack for your outdoor activities. There are many things to consider like backpack size, capacity and how you will use this backpack. If you want a backpack that will fit you properly, then your first checking point should be the measurement of torso length and make sure you have got a pack with the appropriate torso fit range.

Taking your torso measurement is not difficult.

In fact, it is pretty easy!!

You can check your torso length by yourself, but it may be difficult for you. You can follow the easy way. Just ask someone to take the measurement. Standing upright as you would as thought you just put on your backpack and are ready to take off.

Now if you lower your chin towards your chest, a vertebra will protrude from the top of the shoulders to the base of your neck.

torso length

You need to use a soft tape measure to measure the torso length. You don’t want to use a hard ruler because the ruler cannot follow the contours of spine exactly.

If you cannot use a flexible tape eventually, you can improvise by using any rope. Just do the measurement and then hold it up against a ruler to get the proper measurement. But the right tool for this is soft tape measure

The starting point of measurement is C7 vertebrae or 7th cervical vertebra. It’s very easy to find. Just get a person to tilt your head forward. It’s the one vertebra that protrudes from the base of the neck. That’s the starting point right at the middle of that vertebra at any point.

Using a flexible tape measure follow the spine, the contours of the storso lengthpine right down to the point that is even with the top of the hip bones, the iliac crest.

Keep in mind that torso sizing can differ in regards to backpacks with torso measurement as it might be spoken of with clothing. Men’s torso length with backpacks often falls between 17 and 21 inches.  Women’s on average maybe 14 inches to 18 inches, but that range can differ dramatically. We are all different. It’s important actually to take the measurement. height is not the factor to measure torso length. You could be 6’6” and be all legs with a short torso, you could be 5’2” and have a longer torso than average torso measurement. Again important to actually take that measurement.

Choosing correct frame size

You know your torso size. Now it’s time to choose the right frame size. As you know the torso length, it is not a problem to know the right frame size. You can use the following guideline to choose frame size.

Torso Measurement

Frame Size

14’’-16’’/35-39 cm


16’’-18’’/40-44 cm


18’’-20’’/45-49 cm


20’’-22’’/50-54 cm



Measure your hip size

If a backpack fit your torso length, then it will fit your waist. In the rare case, it may not match. So it’s important to check your hip size as you will carry weight in your hip. You can use a soft tape measure. Cover your soft tape measure around the top of your hips, hugging the iliac crest you found when measuring your torso length.

Hip Line


22” – 27” hip-line (56 – 69 cm)


28” – 34”  hip-line (70 – 87 cm)


35” – 39”  hip-line (88 – 100 cm)


40” – 45”  hip-line (101 – 114 cm)

Extra Large


Pick the right harness and waist belt

The next thing to consider how much volume you need of your harness and waist belt. For male and female, you will get a different harness. The difference between male and female harness is the shape and width. For women, it’s a little bit narrower and shape is a bit more extreme to fit a women chest. The result of picking the right harness and right waist belt is a custom fit. The hip belt should sit over your pelvic bones. Hip belt should be padded and adjustable.backpack fitting

Typically when you put your backpack on all the harnesses and waist belts are loose. Some people try to put their waist belt on first but you shouldn’t do that. You need to tighten your shoulder straps first which will bring the pack up so that the back torso length of that pack will match your torso length. When you have got the pack up on the shoulder, you can snug your shoulder by going up.

Now you are ready to take the waist belt which brings the waist belt so the top edge in 1 inch above the top iliac which will be a perfect fit. You need to make sure the top edge of the waist belt and bottom edge of the waist belt are flush against the body. The harness should be lying perfectly on the shoulder that has no gaps that mean the harness is fitting you perfectly. Even when you tighten the shoulder stabilizer trap slightly harder, the harness should lie down and must fit perfectly over the top of the shoulder.

Sternum strap placement

You will get a lot of well-designed backpacks. But not all the backpack has the sternum strap. You can get sternum strap which is integrated or you can buy a third party sternum strap and get better support from your backpack.  Fasten the sternum strap. Place it between chest and collarbone level. When the sternum strap is too low it will limit chest expansion and you will have the problem of taking breath. When correct it will keep the shoulder strap from slipping outward during scrambles, while letting you breathe deeply.

Where the weight should fall

You may think your shoulder is strong enough to take the load of your backpack. But taking the load in the shoulder is not the correct way. If your backpack is fitting correctly then most of the weight will fall in the hip region. Your legs are stronger and can support extra load of your pack. You surely don’t want the entire weight on your shoulder!!

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