How to Adjust the Backpack

When carrying a backback with 15-25, maybe 30kg of weight over long distances, the backpack's fit becomes crucial. A good backpack, well ajusted to your back, with balanced weight distribution and a few nifty features for easy access to water and snacks, can make you a lot more comfortable and less tired on your trek or hike.

So how to adjust the trekking backpack?

Adjusting a trekking backpack isn´t as tricky as you might think and the more you use it, the more you will get a hang of how it works and how you want it to feel. Here we have gathered a guide with the general principles to find a good balance between all the adjustments. A tip is to adjust your backpack properly at home, before you start your trek.

1. Adjust the carrying system according to your back length

Our Gnaur trekking backpack for example, has an adjustable back length so it can be adjusted to your exact back length for maximum comfort. This is highly recommended for bigger backpacks. Release the adjustment system, drag it into the correct position according to your back length measurement and lock it in position. 

If you do not know how to measure your back length, you can read more in our: 

Size guide for trekking backpacks>>

2. Release all the straps

If this is the first time you are adjusting your backpack to your back, release all straps related to the carry system to have a base starting point.

3. Put on the back pack

If your backpack is very heavy, a tip is to lift it up and place the bottom on your knee first, using your legs and not your back to lift. With the weight load on your knee, place one arm into the shoulder strap. Then with ”a little hop”, swing it onto your back while tilting a bit forward and put your other arm into the second shoulder strap.

4. Hip belt leveled with top of hip bone

Close your hip belt and tighten the straps. The upper edge of the hip belt flush with the upper edge of your hip bones and you should almost feel able to carry your backpack without the shoulder straps tightened.

5. Shoulder straps

Not until now, it´s time to tighten your shoulder straps. The main lifting points should always be your hips. The weight should rest approx 60-70% on your hips, and 30-40% on your shoulders. The shoulder straps should rest firmly around your shoulders without a gap.

6. Chest strap

Close the chest strap and tighten it, but not too hard. If it has adjustable height, place it where it feels comfortable. The chest strap determines where the weight of your shoulder straps is placed on your shoulders. During a trek, the shoulders can get sore and a tip is to move the weight around a bit by re-adjusting the chest strap every now and then.

7. Top pullers

Tighten your top pullers so that they are active, but not tight, ideally at an 10°-30° angle from a horisontal plane between your shoulders and backpack. The top pullers help to move the center of gravity and the weight between the shoulders and the hip and can be adjusted during the trek, for example when going steep up or down hill.

8. Side pullers

The side pullers are placed between the hip belt and the backpack to further stabalize the weight when moving. This is not an important feature in most cases but can be interesting to play with during the trek, to personal taste.

How should the trekking backpack feel on the back?

If everything is adjusted correctly, you should now feel able to carry this backpack for a long distance, almost like its a part of you. The weight from your backpack should rest 60-70% on your hip bones and 30-40% on your shoulders with the shoulder straps fimly around your shoulders front to back. The backpack should be sitting very close to your back and the center of gravity should feel close to your center.


Tips for common misstakes when adjusting a trekking backpack:


The weight is making me want to fall backwards

A very heavy backpack has this effect, but you should not feel to much of a backwards pull. To counter this, you might want to overlook how you have packed your backpack. Heavy gear should be placed as close to your back as possible. Light gear should be placed as far away from your back as possible. Remember also to pack weight-symmetrical so the pack is not heavier on one side.

I have a gap between shoulder and shoulder strap

If the hip belt is placed correctly and you still have a gap after tightening your shoulder straps, try shortening your back length setting a bit.

I feel too much weight on my shoulders

Try loosening the shoulder straps a bit. If the hip belt is placed correctly and tightened but you can´t loosen the shoulder straps enough without a gap between the backpack and your back, try lengthening your back length setting a bit.

The backpack is leaning to one side

You might want to overlook how you have packed your backpack. Remember to pack weight-symmetrical so the pack is not heavier on one side.