Chapter 37: How to Adjust Your Pack

Even an ultralight pack works better when it’s adjusted correctly. Adjusting is quick, and there are a few simple steps to make it easier.

After you load your pack, remember to tighten the compression straps on the pack to bring the weight closer to your body.

Let’s assume you’re starting with a back that fits your needs and torso size. Start with all straps loose. It’s always easier to adjust by tightening rather than loosening straps.

First, place most of the weight on your hips and tighten the hip belt.

Next, tighten the shoulder straps so that they bring the pack snugly to your back but don’t carry much of the weight of your pack. Then, tighten the load lifters that are on top of the shoulders. They should be at about a 45 degree angle between your shoulders and the pack. Some of the most ultralight packs don’t have load lifters.

If your pack has a sternum strap, tighten it next. Don’t over tighten it and make the shoulder straps restrictive. Make it tight enough to just hold the shoulder straps in place.

Next, if your pack has stabilizers on the hip belt, tighten them to bring the pack snugly to the hip belt. Some ultralight packs don’t have these stabilizers.

As you hike during the day, remember that you’re not locked in to one setting on your pack. You may want to tweak the adjustments a little as you go uphill or downhill. You may want to carry the pack on one shoulder and cool your back. You may want to increase or decrease the amount of weight carried by your shoulders.

Just remember to start with a light pack because it’s always more fun.