A pack that comfortably fits your body’s specific shape and size can make all the difference between a joyful journey or a suffering slog in the backcountry.

There are two essential considerations in finding the right fit:

  • Your torso length.
  • A snug grip on your hips.

Many packs come in multiple sizes, including gender- and youth-specific designs, to accommodate different body shapes and torso lengths. Some designs offer an adjustable suspension system to custom-fit your torso. It’s also crucial to find a pack with a hipbelt that snugs in tight.

No matter what features and innovations a pack may have, a poor fit almost guarantees misery that multiplies with every step along the trail. There is no substitute for visiting an REI Co-op store and letting one of our staff members help you find the right pack with a perfect fit.

REI Seattle Flagship store staff member Andy Pelz places importance on learning to adjust and wear your pack. “Many people don’t know how to wear a pack correctly,” Pelz says. More than anything, he emphasizes learning how to correctly adjust your pack’s harness and properly distribute the load weight. At least 80 percent of the pack’s weight should ride on your hips and the hipbelt should be centered snugly on the crest of your hips. Removing any slack from the shoulder and load-lifter straps will help bring the pack body in close to your back for proper balance and support.

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