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Backpack Sizing


For accuracy, it is a good idea to have a friend help you take these measurements.

  1. Place the end of a soft measuring tape on your 7th vertebra, the boney protrusion at the base of your neck where the neck joins the shoulders.
  2. Now find the point at the small of your back that is exactly level with the top, or shelf, of your hipbones. Slide your hands (fingers forward, thumbs behind you) down your sides until they rest directly on top of your hips. Your thumbs will point toward your spine. Have a friend ensure that your thumbs are on the same horizontal plane across your spine.
  3. Place one end of the measuring tape on the 7th vertebra (1) and follow the contour of your spine to the level of your thumbs (the level of the tops of your hip bones) on your lower back (3).

Write down the measurement in inches (in the United States) or centimeters.

Torso Length Pack Size
Under 18 in (45 cm) Small
18 to 20 in (45 to 50 cm) Medium
21 in (52 cm) and over Large

  • Hip Belts: Womens with straight or narrow hips will have little trouble with standard hip belts. Individuals (mens or women) with more curve to their hips will need a women's style waist belt.
    • Note that hip belts should cup your hips (1) and be sized so when cinched tightly, there is still a bit of webbing left and the pads do not touch.
  • Shoulder Straps: They should anchor to the backpack just below the 7th vertebra and near the crest of your shoulders. They should wrap comfortably, but securely, around the shoulders and the strap padding should end no closer than 5 inches (12.5cm) below your armpit.
  • Sternum Straps: These are meant to keep your shoulder straps from sliding off your shoulders under a load (2). They are not meant to support weight and should never be pulled so tightly that they restrict breathing.
  • Load-Lifters: These should form a 45-degree angle from the frame or top of the pack to a point at or above your clavicle.


Please keep in mind that this tutorial is to be used as a general guideline only. Individual manufacturer's sizes may vary.


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