Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How to fit your pack

Fitting a pack properly is one of the most important things you can do to make you trip as comfortable as possible. With that in mind I have put together this post to make the process a bit more easy to follow. Now it should be noted, there are many different instructions on "the right way" to fit a pack...this is simply the one I liked the best.

There are three landmarks used in fitting a pack:

  1. The hip belt should be centered at the hip bone
  2. The lift strap locator at the collar bone
  3. The lift rising at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees from horizontal

The following steps will walk you through the process, so keep your landmarks in mind and the result will be a perfectly-fitted pack.:

  1. Load the pack with 20-30 pounds of gear. Try to pack the weight as you would when actually carrying the pack–if it is one dense lump at the bottom of the pack, it will be difficult to fit the pack properly.
  2. Remove the back pad (if possible) this will be replaced after fitting. Then, loosen all straps which include lift straps , shoulder straps , anti-sway straps , and reverse lift straps .
  3. Pull the lift strap locators to their lowest position.
  4. Ensure that the shoulder pads are spaced at an even distance from the wedge for your height. For small-framed people with thin shoulders, the pads should be touching the wedge; for average-sized people, allow about an inch of webbing between the wedge and the pad. For those with weight-lifter shoulders and barrel chests, start with at least two inches of webbing between the pad and the wedge. Micro adjustments of the shoulder compensator will be addressed later; however, before you proceed, it is essential that both shoulder pads have the same amount of webbing between the pad and the wedge.
  5. Put the pack on and tighten the belt with the center seam on your hip bone . If you prefer the belt to ride a bit higher or lower, make sure the belt is at that position before you proceed. At this point, you are essentially wearing a 30-lb fanny pack; have a friend hold the pack in to your back, but do not tighten the shoulder straps.
  6. Have your friend hold the lift strap locator at your collar bone. You should then pull webbing through the shoulder strap adjustment Tensionlock until all slack is out of the webbing and the bottom of the straps are touching your chest, a few inches below your underarm. If you are a smaller person, you may want to slide the lift strap locator up an inch or so.
  7. Now have your friend push the wedge system down, until the shoulder pad wraps smoothly around your shoulder and the lift straps are rising at a 30- to 45-degree angle off horizontal when pulled snug. The wedge should end up approximately one inch below the top of your shoulder blades with the lift strap locator
    still at your collar bone. If you need to adjust the width of the shoulder pads in or out from your neck, slide a credit card under the diagonal strip at the top of the pad (15) to release the hook and loop.
  8. When putting on the pack, loosen the lift, shoulder, and reverse lift straps . Put the pack on and tighten the belt at your hip bones. Pull the shoulder straps to a comfortable tension and adjust the lift straps to shift the weight to your shoulders or hips as desired. Then pull the reverse lift straps up tight. The anti-sway straps should only have moderate tension when in use mostly on rough terrain. Otherwise, the anti-sway straps should not be needed. As you hike, adjust the lift strap to shift the weight between the legs and shoulders as desired.

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