How to Measure Backpack Size

Written by stuart robertson
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How to Measure Backpack Size
Backpacks usually come in several different sizes, so knowing what size you need is important. (NA/ Images)

Much like a pair of shoes, a backpack should fit properly if you want it to be comfortable after long hours of use. An improperly sized backpack can make even a few days on the trail (or a few days of carrying heavy books) a painful experience, and worst of all, you will probably have to invest in a new backpack and discard the old one. Avoid back and shoulder pain by making sure your measure yourself, and your backpack, correctly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flexible tape measure
  • Pen and paper
  • Mirror

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  1. 1

    Feel across from the line of your shoulder towards your spine. You should feel the lump of a vertebra there, which is the 7th cervical vertebra. Use a mirror to help. If you are not flexible enough to do this on your own, have someone assist you.

  2. 2

    Measure from the 7th cervical vertebra down your spine. You want to stop when you are parallel to your hip bones. Record the distance between the two points. This is your torso-length measurement.

  3. 3

    Measure around your waist at the level of your hip bones, which is where the waist belt of your backpack will be positioned (if it has a waist belt). Record this measurement, which is your hip-belt measurement. This measurement is not as important as the torso-length measurement because hip belts can be adjusted, but it is possible for a hip belt to be too big or too small.

  4. 4

    Compare the two measurements to the backpack sizes listed by manufacturers. Find these measurements on backpacking retail websites or ask a sales clerk in a store that carries the backpacks you're interested in.

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