Purchasing The Right Backpack

Many outdoor enthusiasts prefer internal frame backpacks for use during the winter because they feature a low center of gravity and fit snugly against the back.

Individuals selecting a pack for any multi-day trip will want to find a product that holds 4,000 cubic inches or more.

Tips for Choosing the Right Backpack

    The ideal internal frame backpack features:

  • A low profile
  • Loops for securing gear
  • Compression straps that stabilize the load
  • Lifter straps that raise the load off the tops of the shoulders
  • A harness without buckles that allows freedom of movement
  • A hip belt that distributes weight evenly
  • A design that does not prevent the wearer from moving the head
  • How to Measure Hip Belt and Torso Length

To measure your torso length, place one end of a tape measure on the seventh vertebrae and the other end at the lower back halfway between the hipbones. If your torso length is on the cusp between two sizes, choose the larger size so you have more room for adjustment.

The majority of the weight should rest on the hips with the lumbar pad protecting the lower back. The hipbone should be under the center of the belt.

To fit the pack properly, fill it with approximately 15 pounds of gear. Stand facing a mirror and have a friend help with the following steps:

Tighten the hip belt comfortably around the hips. Allow a minimum of one-inch clearance to either side of the buckle. Re-position the buckle pieces if necessary to make it comfortable.

Tighten the shoulder straps while holding the pack against the back. The weight should not be on the shoulders. Have your assistant verify the strap's anchors are no less than one inch and no more than two inches below the top of the shoulder.

Adjust the load lifter straps near the collarbone to lift the weight off the shoulders. If the straps are too tight, a gap will form between the straps and the shoulders.

Tighten the sternum strap until the shoulder straps do not restrict arm movement.

Tighten the stabilizer straps next to the hip belt to stabilize the pack.

Adjust the shoulder straps one final time to remove any tension.

Pack the majority of the weight in the middle for an internal frame backpack. Place extra clothing and a sleeping bag in the bottom.

Pack food, cooking utensils, and a stove toward the middle. Avoid packing fuel containers right next to cooking gear and food.

Pack the tent near the top because you will want to have easy access to it when you arrive at your destination. Place gloves, a windbreaker, a hat and any other clothing items you might want to access during the day right on top. Snacks, sunglasses, a camera, sunscreen and other supplies you may need throughout the day should go in the side pocket or adjacent to a side zipper.

Ultimately, you want to distribute the weight evenly to avoid making one side heavier. Keep the weight centered on your back to help you keep your balance.