Where Should a Backpack Sit on your Back?

Wearing your backpack properly can help you prevent shoulder and back pain. In this article, I am going to show you how to get the right position each time when you put on your backpack.

First off, the weight of the backpack is more important than how you wear it. Ideally, your backpack should sit as close to your mid to high spine as possible. That way, your hips will be carrying most of the weight rather than weight pulling you backward. Always wear your backpack using both straps. It takes a movement but this habit will prevent future shoulder pain.

Adjust Shoulder Straps

Adjust your shoulder straps so that they keep your pack high on your back. Make sure the straps are comfortable on your shoulders. Your pack should ride an inch above your hips and it should not extend past your waist. When you are wearing thick clothes, you will want to adjust the straps accordingly so they do not fit too tight or too loose. Never wear your backpack with just one strap. This will put all of the pressure on one shoulder and may cause shoulder pain. Also, you won’t be able to walk with a good posture when carrying heavy loads in your pack.

Most people wear backpacks tool low on their back, which increases the pressure on shoulders leading to lower back pain. People do this because it is easy to wear a pack with loosed straps. One exception is that when you are wearing it with an overcoat but always readjust them when you are not wearing a coat.

Measure your Torso Length

In order to get a proper fit, you need to measure your torso length. Get a tape measure and ask your friend for help. Once you find out your torso length, use this information to find your pack size. Torso ranges for pack sizes vary so check the size chart for any pack you are considering. You must try different sizes at the store if you fall between sizes because your home measurement is not always correct. If possible, always try on backpacks physically for a perfect fit.

Most premium packs come with torso adjustment settings. If your pack has this option, use it to adjust it to your torso size.

Adjust the Hip Belt

Hip belts allow you to distribute weight over hips and shoulders. Ideally, you should carry most of the weight (about 80%) on your hips rather than shoulders. Your hip belt should be snug and secure but be careful not to over tighten the belt.

Learn how to use Load Lifters

Load lifters are basically the straps that pull the weight of the pack forward. So you are not careening backward while you are hiking. They are simple to use. Just tight those a little bit to the point where weight starts to come forward. The load lifter straps should make a 45-degree angle. If it looks very steep or shallow, it means you need to readjust the torso length within the size of the backpack.

Adjust the Sternum Strap

You can use the sternum strap to further secure your backpack. Just buckle and tighten it to a width that allows your arms to move freely. Do not overtighten it because it may ruin your overall backpack fit.

Walk around while Wearing your Pack

Wear your pack and walk around for about 20 minutes. It is a good idea because you will know how your pack will feel on the trail. If it doesn’t feel good for 20 minutes, you may want to consider a different pack.

Make Adjustments on the Trail

After a few miles, your backpack fit may need some adjustments. Make small adjustments by playing with all of your straps. Make you know how to get your old fit by memorizing what it looked like at home. When you stop for a break, always take off your backpack to give a rest and breathe to your back.

Osprey Atmos AG: The most Comfortable Pack

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpacking Backpack
Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
Adjustable Torso: Yes
Gear Capacity: 65L
Pack Access: Top/bottom

This pack takes innovation to a whole new level. The anti-gravity system the Osprey released a little while ago was excellent but they didn’t stop improving it. Osprey continues to improve on innovations they bring to the backpacking world. The big story with the Atmos AG is the back panel. That’s where most of the innovation is present. There’s a big broad spacious mesh panel. Osprey’s taken this mesh and opened it up even further than some of their other mesh-panel packs. So you get even more airflow without compromising on the structure.

The hip belt doesn’t have any padding but because of how the pack sits, you don’t need it. The shoulder straps are a bit beefier and you have load lifters. The harness can easily be adjusted. There are indicators on the side where the harness attaches to the main pack. Just grab the red tabs and slide that harness up or down. Depending on what your torso size is. The pack does come in different sizes so make sure you snag the one that best sits on your back.

Features are abundant in this pack. The top lid has a few pockets. You can load it up with gear and adjust it depending on how overstuffed the rest of your pack is. You even fully remove that lid if you don’t need it. Osprey’s got a cover built-in so you can still protect your gear even if the lid is left at home. You’ll get a lower sleeping bag compartment with an internal divider. There are compression straps on either side of the pack to lock down the gear and cinch down load. There are side stretch mesh pockets and a bit front stretch mesh pocket. You’ll also get two loops and bungee tie-offs on the front. They also include a trekking pole attachment point on the shoulder harness.

Pros: Great ventilation, super comfortable, tons of features, good balance of weight and durability

Cons: No zipper to the main compartment

See the Osprey Atmos AG 65


Wearing your backpack properly can make your backpacking trip more enjoyable. Your pack’s position on your back is important because it is critical to your overall comfort. So always wear your pack with both straps and use chest straps and hip belt to further secure it.