How to Measure Backpack Torso Length
The most important thing when choosing your backpack is to pick one that fits your body. That means it needs to be the right size. Backpacks are measured based on your torso length – not your height.
For example, these two gals pictured below are hugely different in height; Jenny is 5'11 and Rosie is 5ft, and our backpack fits them both comfortably! So torso length, not height, is the key measurement you need to get right when picking out your backpack.
(By the way, Rosie has written a thorough review of her SunDrift backpack. You can check it out here.)
And hey – it’s not rocket science! Here, we give you a step by step guide for measuring your torso length yourself, at home. All you need is a measuring tape an extra pair of hands to help. We also cover how to adjust and fit your pack to make it as comfortable as possible for you, we know all those straps can be super confusing!
Measure your Torso Length
- First, you need to locate your seventh cervical vertebrae (C7). Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds! Tilt your head forward to look down and feel for the bony bump that sticks out at the back of your neck. This is the top of your torso measurement.
- Next, you’ll need to find your Iliac Crest, which is at the top of your hip bones directly below the lower ribs of your waist. Slide your hands down your ribcage with your index fingers pointing forward and your thumbs pointing backward to find them. Draw an imaginary line between your thumbs on your back to the middle; this spot on your lower back is the bottom of your torso measurement.
- Now stand up straight as normal – this is important. You don’t want to measure your torso length with your head bent forward.
- Have you friend measure the distance between the top spot (C7) and the bottom spot (imaginary line between your thumbs). That you’re torso length!
SunDrift backpacks are built for the average female torso length of 14-18 inches (35-46cm). The breathable back-frame is also adjustable by an extra six inches, which we will show you below. So, if your torso measures between 14-24 inches (35-61cm), our backpacks should fit your well.
Measure your Hip Size
Most backpacks have adjustable hip belts, so it’s rare that it won’t fit. For example, SunDrift’s hip belts stretch to 120cm (47 inches). But as most of the backpack weight is carried on your hips, a good fit is crucial so it is important to measure it.
But measuring your hip size will be super quick since you already located your iliac crest when measuring your torso length! To measure your hip size, wrap the tape measure around the top of your hips, hugging the iliac crest. This is slightly higher than your belt-line so you’ll find your hip size and pants size differ.
Adjusting Torso Length
As mentioned earlier, SunDrift backpacks have an adjustable back-frame to fit a wider range of torso lengths. If you find your need extra length on the back-frame, use the Velcro on the back to pull out the back-frame and adjust it to fit your torso length.
Make sure to fit this first as it’s the most important adjustment you’ll make to your backpack. If your other fit adjustments, such as the straps, don’t seem to work properly, re-check your torso length and readjust it if needs be.
Adjusting your Backpack Fit and Straps
- Shoulder straps
- Load lifter straps
- Sternum strap
Step 1: Hip-Belt
- Start with the hip-belt. Place the hip-belt at the top of your hip bones (your iliac crest! Aren’t you glad you found it?). If it sits too high or too low you will need to adjust the shoulder straps (tighten or loosen) until it sits in the right spot.
- Fasten the buckle and tighten the hip-belt to where it’s comfortable. Make sure it’s secure with being overtightened or pinching your hips uncomfortably.
Step 2: Shoulder Straps
- These are easy enough to adjust but it’s crucial to get it right. Just tighten or loosen the shoulder straps in small increments until they wrap your shoulders closely.
- It’s very important to make sure they are not too tight as they should not be carrying a lot of weight. If they are carrying the majority of the weight, you could cause undue pressure on your shoulder or neck which is exactly what we want to avoid.
- The shoulder strap anchor points should be 1 to 2 inches below the top of your shoulders. If they aren’t then something else must be wrong so go back and check your hip-belt level or your backpacks torso length.
Step 3: Load Lifter Straps
- These are the straps at the top that connect your shoulder straps to the back panel of your backpack. You might need to play around with these a bit but they should angle back toward the backpack roughly at a 45-degree angle.
- Again, don’t over-tighten these. It might feel good to have them tight at first but this will eventually lead to discomfort in your shoulder joints.
Step 4: Sternum Strap
- This is the front top strap that sits across your chest. SunDrift backpacks have an adjustable sternum strap so that you can find a height across your chest that’s comfortably for you.
- Buckle and tighten the sternum strap, but again not too tightly! Your arms should be able to move freely and over-tightening will constrict your chest muscles and restrict your breathing.
Now that you’ve read our step by step guide to measuring your torso length and adjusting your backpack correctly, it should feel sung as a bug! The most important thing is to make sure your backpack is comfortable, otherwise it will cause you pain and become annoying to use!
If you have any questions, comment below and we will get back to your with our best expert advice.
Feel free to share this article among your backpacking or hiking crews to ensure they too can measure their torso length correctly and can benefit from fitting their backpacks properly.