Fitting a Backpack

These days there are a huge array of back system designs and fits available, which though confusing at first, does mean that the likelihood of you finding one that fits to perfection is pretty high! Before removing the tags from a new backpack, or even in a shop before you’ve purchased, it’s a great idea to put a bit of weight in the pack and try it on. Some shops will have special backpack weights; if you’re at home, some heavy books or full water bottles will do just as well. Before you do so, make sure that if the backpack in question has an adjustable back system, you’ve measured your back length and adjusted it accordingly. For instructions on how to measure your own back, head to our the Gear Guru guide to Choosing a Backpack.

Fitting – Step by Step Guide

Start off with all of the straps loosened – it’s best to adjust them once the backpack is on your back.

1. Put the bag on and tighten the waist belt – positioning it level with the upper part (crest) of the pelvis. It should be tight enough to bear the majority of the weight of the pack, but still comfortable.

2. Next, tighten the shoulder straps to fit, so that they are bearing approximately 25% of the weight of the pack. There should be no large gaps created between the shoulder straps and your shoulders. If there is space between the straps and your shoulders/upper back – i.e. the straps join the bag ‘too high’, this indicates that the back system is too long for your torso. If it’s adjustable, it should be shortened; if it’s not, you’re going to need a smaller model. If the shoulder straps fit around your shoulders and upper back well, but the waist belt cuts too high, around your waist rather than around the upper part of your hips, then you need to lengthen the back system, or go up a back size.

3. After adjusting the hip belt and shoulder straps, the hip belt stabiliser straps should be adjusted. These are the straps on either hip, which ensure that the main body of the backpack is held stable in relation to the hip belt and wearer. They should be taut, but not so tight as to make the hip belt feel as if the backpack is pulling backwards.

4. Next the shoulder strap stabilisers, or ‘load straps’  should be tightened. These are the straps which attach the top section of the backpack to the top of the shoulder straps. As with hip belt stabilisers, the load straps should be tightened until taut, but not so tight to produce a feeling of pulling the shoulders backwards. This will bring the pack in closer to your body, helping weight distribution and reducing movement. If correctly adjusted the shoulder stabiliser straps will be at roughly a 45 degree angle in relation to the ground, though there can be a 15 degree deviation.

5. Finally the chest strap can be adjusted. Ensure that it is positioned across the upper chest. It should stop the shoulder straps from cutting in too tightly in front of the shoulders, but should not bear any actual weight – it’s all about keeping your shoulder straps where you want them.

Once you’ve fitted the backpack to your back, have a move around. This should include going up stairs, around corners, and even jumping and down. While doing this, ask yourself; “Does it feel stable? Is anything digging in? Does the hip belt feel too hard or soft?” Only if the backpack in question feels completely comfortable should you make the final decision on whether or not to keep it long-term. If you’ve bought a bag from Webtogs that doesn’t feel right for you, don’t worry – you can use our Zero Hassle Returns Policy to exchange it for another model or back size within 60 days of purchase.