My Backpack: Which One Do I Choose?

Often little choice is given to choosing the backpack, or simply choosing one by “design”, “color” or “brand” and this can be translated into “many problems” later.Choosing the backpack that fits your height, weight and physical shape will prevent you from damaging your spine and shoulders, and it will be easier and more comfortable to carry it throughout your trip.

Although in the last years the technology applied to the backpacks has improved a lot, many people do not use it and buy without informing before. As many times the store sellers, whether specialized or not, have little knowledge about them, it is better that you are the one who knows how to choose your ideal backpack, taking into account the essential characteristics of a cargo system.

So … what aspects should you consider when choosing a backpack?

  • Size and design of the backpack
  • Belt + lumbar support-> One of the most important aspects!
  • Compression, adjustment and chest stabilizer straps
  • Frame
  • Back
  • Shoulder pads
M Backpack Size And Design:

When choosing a backpack, remember thatbackpacks are measured in volume capacity, ie how much space covers the backpack and not how much weight it supports (this is why the measurements are in LITROS and not in kilos!). Even so, remember that the bigger a backpack, the more one usually fills it and therefore weighs more. Therefore we have to be aware of how much weight our body supports not to suffer injuries. Normally,the weight that a person should carry should never exceed 25% of his own weight and the ideal would be to load between 15% and 20%. For example, a person weighing around 60kg should ideally not carry loads over 15kg.

The size of the backpack has to be the right size for your torso, and the design must be ergonomic (allowing the distance between the shoulder pads and the belt).

The size of the backpack is not always proportional to your height. That your measure, for example, 1.80cm does not necessarily mean that you should buy a “big” backpack. The size of your torso, not your height, determines the size of the backpack suitable for you.

How To Measure Your Torso?

You will need the help of a relative or friend.You should measure the distance between the 7th vertebra (it is the bone that protrudes a little at the back of the neck, where it lies at the shoulders.) Bend your head until your chin touches your chest to make it easier to locate it. The iliac crest (if you place your hands on your hips, with the fat fingers of your hands on your back and create an imaginary line between your two fat fingers, the point at which they join is the other point of measurement). The length of your torso will be the extent to which you should base to choose the back size of your backpack.

Now, since many backpacks do not have “sizes”, ideally buy a backpack with an “adjustable back” system, which will allow you to adapt it to your torso.

An example, for you to take reference:


Stature Torso Approximate size

150 to 165 cm 40-45cm S
160 to 175 cm 45-55cm M
180 to 195 cm 55-62cm L (Unisex)


Stature Torso Approximate size

160 to 175 cm 42-50cm S
175 to 190 cm 50-57cm M
180 to 195 cm 55-62cm L (Unisex)

In relation to backpacks and their sizes:

Small backpack: Small conserve small ones that have capacity between 15 and 30 liters. Usually these backpacks do not have differentiated sizes.
Medium backpacks : Those that have a capacity between 30 and 50 liters are considered medium. Many manufacturers already make them in 3 different sizes: S, M and L and, in some cases, also differentiate between special backpacks for “man” and “woman”. In addition, as a plus, many also include a system that regulates the height of the shoulder pads, for a better fit.
Large backpacks : Large ones are considered to have a capacity of more than 60 lithos. In this case they also usually come in some sizes (S, M and L) and, like the medians, they include a system that regulates the height of the shoulder pads.

♣ Belt+Support Lumbar

The belt is the most important part of a backpack because with it we will transmit most of the weight to the waist and legs. This way you will avoid overloading the back, spine and neck. In order for the belt to perform efficiently, its purpose must be to hug the sides of your hip correctly and in the back, the lumbar support should be padded and well located.

Women have a different morphology than men. With this in mind, many manufacturers offer belts tailored to our body, and have created backpacks with designs designed for shorter torsos, belts adapted to the shape of the female hip and strategically positioned straps so they do not interfere with the breasts.

Women should wear the belt in a higher position than men. While in the man the belt hugs the hips, in the woman this one goes higher and takes advantage of the form of the waist to support it on them.

Ideally, the belt has to have a regulator that allows us to adjust the size of the belt, so that we do not get too big or too small, and with a design designed so that it does not let the backpack slide down because of the weight.

Three tricks to evaluate a belt* 1:

1- Put on your backpack and, once you have adjusted your belt, ask someone to forcefully grip the back of the belt or the backpack by its low side and make a lot of force down (not back), simulating weight. If the belt holds the force exerted it means that it is good.

2- The last test you can do to study the quality of the belt is to load the backpack-if we are in a store, fill it with products – and check that only with the belt adjusted to the hip, the backpack is able to support the weight. The shoulder straps should be loose to verify this point.

3- If you choose a large backpack (60 Lt or more), take the backpack by the belt and lift it (empty). If this rises like a block and the belt stays stiff in the air and holds the backpack, the design and quality of the belt is good.

♣ Compression Tapes And Pectoral Adjustment And Stabilizer

Compression tapes: these tapes allow you to compact the backpack and bring it closer to the chest, therefore to your center of gravity, and prevent it from moving.Ideally, always leave the backpack compact and rigid

Adjustment ribbons: When climbing or descending slopes or steep roads, our torso is advanced or delayed with respect to our axis. Tapes of adjustment are essential in backpacks with frame. Ideally, these form a 45° angle in normal position (on flat ground). Unlike the dorsal regulation, you must adjust these tapes along the way, according to what situation you are. However, if the backpack does not have a rigid back – with frame – its usefulness is zero, since when pulling them you will be doubling the foam of the back.

Pectoral stabilizer: This prevents the straps from entering under the arms and allows to transfer the “pull of the backpack” (tendency of the backpack to fall backwards) to the chest area, relieving the shoulders. Changing the regulation of the chest stabilizer throughout the day or even releasing it sometimes quite alleviate the discomfort of the upper part of the trunk. Women should pay special attention to this belt and verify that it is not just at the level of the breasts , but above these.

♣ Frame

The frame (some sticks that may be of different materials) must be rigid enough to support and transmit the load to the belt.

♣ Espalada

Large backpacks often haveadjustable back systems that fit the length of our torso. But if you choose a backpack with a fixed length make sure that it fits properly to your torso.

Ideally the back should bepadded for comfort and agood ventilation design. It is not necessary a too thick padding or a back too separate to our body (like ventilation system) since the load will be away from our axis.

How to adjust the back height of the backpack? Set the adjustment to the appropriate height and then adjust the backpack. With the belt at the waist, the shoulder straps should hug the front of the shoulders and the load straps should describe an angle of about 45 degrees. If in the test the back seems too short or too long, readjust until it is placed perfectly.

♣ Shoulder

What should we consider in relation to shoulder pads? We must look at its width, the possibility of regulating them and ideally that they are padded so as not to damage our shoulders. The shoulder pads are responsible for stabilizing the load and spread the weight-since if we strained we can make our shoulders carry some of the weight. The wider the shoulder pads the lower the pressure on the shoulders and chest and the more comfortable we will be. The “s” shaped shoulder pads are usually better considered to help us spread the weight better.

Women, by our morphological characteristics, need different porting systems (we have already seen the size and the belt) and the shoulder pads are no exception.These must be designed not to cause discomfort in the chest and the chest strap must be able to be positioned in a higher area so as not to crush the chest.

How To Adjust And Test A Backpack?

Before  traveling, pack the backpack with everything inside and see if you can bear the weight, and practice adjusting the straps. To do this loosen all the straps (straps, belts, load belts). Put on the backpack: fasten the belt, tighten the straps of the straps and adjust the load tapes. Now yes: move… walk, jump, turn your torso from side to side, if doing so the backpack is moving is not yet tightly attached to your body.

♣ Tip: It is not very common that there are waterproof backpacks, the great majority what they bring is a kind of impermeable layer to cover the backpack when it rains.This comes in a backpack compartment and is very easy to wrap and re-store so do not worry about finding a waterproof backpack. If the backpack you want to buy does not have a waterproof backing, you can buy a backpack and store it in one of the backpack pockets, so you can keep it handy.