How to Wear a Hiking Backpack

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If you like hiking and camping, you need a hiking backpack. However, hiking backpacks can be very uncomfortable.

For many, this can result in back, neck, and shoulder pain, especially if you don’t have the right size backpack and haven’t adjusted it properly to fit your shape. So, let’s take a closer look at how to wear a hiking backpack.

How to Wear a Hiking Backpack

It’s important to note that the type of backpack is essential. You need various adjustments and support straps you can adjust to fit.

Any good hiking backpack should have a hip belt, shoulder straps, load lifter straps, and a sternum strap.

Therefore, the first step is buying the right backpack. After that, you can adjust these four straps to fit.

How well your hiking backpack fits will depend on the quality. You need a hiking backpack with a good deal of padding in the back, on the hip belts, and on the shoulder straps. The wider and thicker the padding, the more load it will take off your joints and bones.

First, we recommend putting about 15 pounds of weight into the backpack so you can simulate a hiking load.

Let’s see how to adjust a hiking backpack to fit your needs.

Adjust the Hip Belt

The first step is to adjust the belt that goes around your hip. Next, put the backpack on and move the hip belt until the padding is snug around your hip bones.

If it is too high or low, loosen or tighten the shoulder straps to adjust the hip belt as needed.

Then, fasten the hip belt buckle and tighten it so it feels relatively snug. Next, ensure all the pads on the hip belt sit on the top of your hips. Also, the padding should extend just past the front of your hip bones.

Adjust the Shoulder Straps

The second step is to adjust the shoulder straps. Pull down on the ends of the straps to tighten them. Ensure that the straps are pretty snug against your shoulders but that they’re not carrying too much weight. The strap anchor points should be about 1.5 inches below your shoulders.

You can use the straps to tighten or loosen the tension on the shoulder straps. Remember that your shoulders should not be bearing all the weight.

How to Wear a Hiking Backpack

Adjust the Load Lifters

You now need to adjust the load lifter straps, which are the straps that connect to the top of the shoulder harness on the back top and then connect to an anchor point located at the top of the back panel.

When they have the proper tension, they should be angled backward by about 45 degrees toward the pack’s body.

Don’t tighten the load lifter straps too much; a lot of tension can feel good initially, but you can pinch your shoulder joints.

Therefore, you want the tension on the load lifter straps to be pretty snug but not too stiff. If you notice space at the top of the shoulder harness, loosen the load lifters.

Adjust the Sternum Strap

The final step is to adjust the sternum strap to be at a good height across most of your chest. The sternum strap should be just below your collarbone.

Buckle the sternum strap at shoulder width, so your arms can move freely. One mistake many make is overtightening the sternum strap, as it will distort the shape of the harness and the backpack itself. It can also constrict your breathing and your chest muscles.

Final Thoughts

Wearing a hiking backpack is easy, but it must be done correctly. As long as you have a hiking backpack with a good deal of padding and all of those adjustment straps, you should be able to carry your hiking load in relative comfort.

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