How to Measure Backpack Dimensions

How to Measure Backpack Dimensions: Finding the Best Size

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Most travelers and backpackers don’t realize the importance of finding the best travel backpack size for their body until it’s too late.

Taking the time to figure out how to measure backpack dimensions can help make sure that you not only have the perfect backpack but that you’re able to protect your body from irreversible damage. 

Knowing how to measure your shoulder width and being able to measure your waist, this guide will help you choose the perfect backpack size for every occasion.

The Important Body Measurements


The very first measurement you’ll have to get is your torso, and you’ll surely want to recruit a friend or a family member to help you out. This is by far the most important measurement you’ll need, and so it’s vital that it’s as accurate as possible.

You’ll want to measure from your C7 to the top of your iliac crest, which is easier than it sounds. By tilting your head down, you’ll be able to feel a protruding bone where your shoulders and your neck meet, and this is your C7 (the top of your torso). You’ll then want to feel for the top of your hipbones (iliac crest) and keep your thumbs on either hip, having your friends measure from your thumbs to the top of your torso.


Next, you’re going to need to measure your hips as an extra measure, although the majority of manufacturers will design bags to fit your waist size based on the size of your torso. When you wear your backpack, you’re going to find that the majority of the bag’s weight will be rested on your hips, which is why it’s so important to find a comfortable hip strap.

Measuring your hips is a little less complicated than measuring your torso, as all you have to do is wrap the measuring tape around the top of your hips.

Tips for Sizing Your Backpack

Tips for Sizing Your Backpack

Once you have the two measurements that you need to find the ideal backpack size, it doesn’t mean that your bag is going to come ready right out of the box from the manufacturer since you’ll still be responsible for making a few small adjustments. By using these tips, you’ll be able to prepare your bag for your upcoming trip sufficiently.

Find a Fully Adjustable Backpack

Some backpacks on the market only allow you to adjust the shoulder straps and although that’s one necessary tweak you’ll need to use to your advantage, you’re also going to want to make sure that you can make other adjustments such as loosening and tightening your hip belt. It’s essential that you choose the most adjustable backpack on the market to get the most use out of your backpack, as your body will change over time.

Consider Adjustable Suspension Systems

Most high-quality backpacks come equipped with something called an adjustable suspension system, which can take a lot of pressure off from figuring out how to measure backpack dimensions. An adjustable suspension system gives you the ability to customize the fit of your backpack regardless of the measurements you’ve acquired. This means that if you’re off by an inch or two, you can use the system to custom fit your bag to your body type.

best backpack for your body type

Adjusting the Hip Belt

You’re first going to want to put your new backpack on with 15 pounds worth of equipment inside, as this is a good weight for any further adjustments. You’ll then want to make sure that the hip belt is sitting comfortably at the top of your hip bones and this can be done by lowering or rising your shoulder pads.

Make sure that you secure and tighten your hip belt without overtightening; it should feel snug without suffocating your hips. You should also be able to play around with the tension of your hip belts until it sits comfortably.

Adjusting the Shoulder Straps

Shoulder straps are important, but they should not be bearing most of the weight in your bag as this can lead to a lot of stress on your upper back and shoulders. The anchors for your straps should sit up to two inches below the very top of your shoulders, and you can adjust the straps by pulling down or up on the front-facing ends of the straps.

Adjusting the Sternum Strap

The last adjustment that you’ll need to make is your sternum strap, which is the strap at the front of the bag that sits across your chest. For most backpackers, having the sternum strap sit just below their collarbones is the most comfortable.

Similar to your shoulder straps, you can loosen and tighten the strap with the help of its buckles. However, it’s essential that your arms feel loose and can move freely which is a clear sign that you haven’t over-tightened the sternum strap.

The Right Adjustments Make a Difference

Even though backpacks are very convenient, they can also wreak havoc on your body if they’re not adjusted correctly. Regardless if you’re going backpacking through Europe or if you’re commuting to and from work, it’s imperative that you know how to measure backpack dimensions to get the best backpack for your body type. With all the adjustable features on most travel backpacks, you’ll be able to create a comfortable, customized fit for everyday wear.

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