How to... Fit & Pack a Backpack

How do I Correctly fit my backpack?

There are various systems used to adjust the harness on back packs, one of the most common is the 'ladder system' shown below.

Regardless of the system used there are a few basic principles to remember:

  • The waist strap needs to sit with your hip bone positioned in the middle of the padding.
  • Shoulder straps should sit flush on your shoulders with no air gaps between the strap and your shoulder.
  • The small sternum strap should be positioned so that it is comfortable and stops your shoulder straps from moving off your shoulders.
  • The pack should sit high enough so that the bottom of the pack does not hit your backside when walking.
  • How do I pack my backpack?
  • Use stuff sacks to help organize contents of the pack, e.g. food bags, clothes bags, etc. Pack with accessibility and comfort in mind; sleeping bag at the bottom; heavier items on the top and close to the body; rain gear, torch or headlamp, water bottle should be easily accessible.
  • Keep fuel and stoves away from food – outside pockets are a good place for these, ensure fuel is contained in a proper fuel bottle.
  • Don’t clutter outside of the pack with items that may fall off or be damaged or get snagged on trees.

Pack Load Distribution:


Red - Heavy items close to your body.

Green - Light bulky items furthest away from your body

Blue - Quick access items easily accessible

When wearing your fully loaded pack, your centre of gravity should not be affected.

How Much should I Carry?

Normally the weight of the backpack should not be more then 20% of your weight....of course this depends on what type of trip you are doing and the type of gear you have inside your pack.

As a guide this works out to be:

60kg person  Maximum 12kg pack
70kg person Maximum 14kg pack
80kg person  Maximum 16kg pack
90kg person Maximum 18kg pack


A good tip is to pack everything you think you need, then unpack and consider each item and its importance to the trip.


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