Rucksack Fitting Guide | Expert Advice

10th December 2019

Why should your rucksack fit you correctly?

Having a professional rucksack fitting can be a godsend on your next adventure. Everybody is different and more often than not people may choose a rucksack based on various factors like price, look or its features. While those are all important, a poorly fitted rucksack can make all the difference between an enjoyable expedition and an awful one. If your rucksack or backpack is not fitted correctly, this can cause serious discomfort and unnecessary fatigue, two things you really aren’t wanting on a hike. We offer a free fitting service in all of our stores, ensuring that you are prepared for any upcoming adventure.

Factors to consider when buying your rucksack or backpack

The most important factor which you will need to consider at your rucksack fitting is what you are going to be using it for. This could be backpacking, travelling, hiking or extended walking. A rucksack is generally considered to be a larger backpack, but this can vary brand-to-brand and country-to-country (note the difference between the US and UK, for example).

If you are planning on an extended trip, camping or hiking then a rucksack will be the perfect companion for you, having the ability to transport all of your essentials long distances and evenly distribute the weight across your body.

Backpacks are usually better for shorter hikes, commuting and everyday use. They still hold the ability to transport your essentials long distances, but many may not have the technologies to evenly distribute weight or other key features which many rucksacks have.

Features your rucksack should have

Adjustable back system

You will find that many rucksacks will have an adjustable back system feature that can help to ensure your comfort. This is used to adjust the bag as per your height, allowing the shoulder straps to fit you correctly and also ensuring that the hip belt is not too high. This allows for even weight distribution.

Hip belt

Your hip-belt should be fitted correctly so that it sits firmly around your hips. A common misconception is that most of the weight from your bag should be carried on your shoulders but it is in fact this genius little feature that allows an even weight distribution. Your legs are the strongest muscle on your body and therefore should bear the brunt of the weight from your rucksack.

Shoulder straps

These should also be fitted correctly as your shoulders also bear a considerable amount of weight from your rucksack. Your shoulder straps should be padded and comfortable as possible for your adventure due to the fact they will be pushing down into your shoulders with the weight of the rucksack.

Note: the general rule of thumb for a correctly fitted rucksack’s weight distribution is around 70-80% on the hips and 20-30% for the shoulders.

How to properly fit your rucksack:

Step 1: Preparation is key

You should put some sort of weight into the rucksack for the fitting. Ideally something quite heavy to imitate what you will be carrying when putting your kit to use. Don’t overfill as it will be very difficult to adjust the rucksack, but something of a moderate weight is ideal. You should also loosen all the straps on your back so that you can easily get into them. Don’t worry we will tighten these later on.

Rucksack Fitting Step 1: Preparation is key

Step 2: Adjustable back system

Now adjust the movable back system or ladder to fit your own back. You should not judge this by how tall you are, but by the span of your back. It is important to bear this in mind as two people the same height can have a very different sized back. It should ideally span the distance between your seventh vertebrae (the most prominent bump at the top of your neck), and the bottom should be level with your hands when you put them on your hips.

  • If your back system is too short then this will cause the hip belt to sit too high and too much weight will be carried by your shoulders.
  • If your back system is too tall then this can cause serious discomfort in your shoulders.
Rucksack Fitting Step 2: Adjustable back system

Step 3: Hip belt

Next, as before when you put your hands on your hips, you should take note of where this is to properly fit the hip belt.

  • For males, the top of your hip belt should be in line with the top of your hip bone.
  • For females, the middle of your hip belt should be in line with the top of your hip bone.
Step 3: Hip belt

Once you have this positioned correctly, you should then tighten the straps so that this sits firmly in place on your hips.

Step 3: Hip belt

Step 4: Shoulder straps

Next you should adjust the shoulder straps so that again, they sit firmly around your shoulders but should still feel comfortable. Your shoulders do bear some of the weight so be sure these fit properly to avoid injury or fatigue.

Rucksack Fitting Step 4: Shoulder straps

Step 5: Chest strap

This is as simple as clicking shut and then tightening the strap to fit your chest. The key use for the chest strap is to keep your shoulder straps in place ensuring they don’t move around too much when you are walking.

Step 5: Chest strap

We would always recommend having your bag professionally fitted by one of our specialists in store. This service is completely free and our highly trained experts can walk you through every step. This rucksack fitting walkthrough is only intended as a guide. Please be aware that not fitting a bag properly can potentially cause discomfort or injury.

Shop our full range of rucksacks to ensure you are prepared for your next adventure.

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