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fitting internal/external frame packs

Here ya go..... :)    -Cindi
>I assume this was directed to me and the posting I did a while ago on how 
>to adjust frame packs.  I don't have a copy, but I'll do it again and try 
>to cover the basics.  (If this was not me, nevermind, go ahead and delete 
>As I've said before, pack fit, to me is one of the most important parts 
>of a trip, and an often neglected one.  How can you enjoy the scenery 
>when a shoulder strap is causing you to be in agony every step, or a 
>misfitted hipbelt won't let you high-step over a log and all you can 
>think about is making it to the next rest break?
>Our objective: to get most of the weight of the pack riding on your 
>hips, not your shoulders.  There are various opinions on exactly how much 
>should be on which, I usually say about 80% on the hips, but that is 
>really a matter of personal preference.
>If you think about it, this makes sense.  The hips are the weight bearing 
>bones of the body, not the shoulders.
>There are 2 main components to the suspention of a backpack then: the 
>hipbelt and the shoulder straps.  The hipbelt is what does the weight 
>transfer and it should ride so that it is able to press onto the 
>hipbones.  Don't wear it like a belt, it should be low enough to press 
>onto the hips.  Generally, I wear mine a little above even with the 
>points of my hipbones so it has some downward pressure onto the hips, not 
>just inward pressure.
>So, most of what we do is going to be with the end result to have a 
>properly placed hipbelt effectively transferring the weight.  To do this, 
>we have to adjust the shoulder straps.  This is where the difference 
>between internal and external frame packs comes in.
>Virtually all internal frame packs have an extra set of straps that go 
>from the front of the shoulder strap to the top of the pack.  These are 
>called "load lifters" (or sometimes "load stabilizers") they have 2 
>functions (as the names imply): a) to stabilize the pack b) to make sure 
>that any weight being borne by the shoulder straps is taken off and 
>lifted back onto the frame of the pack (putting it back onto your hips).
>We'll get back to those in a minute.
>The shoulder straps on an internal frame pack should be anchored to the 
>frame about 2 inches below the shoulder (sort of wrapping around the 
>shoulder, almost).  The padding should cover the area of contact with the 
>shoulder and extend a couple of inches down below armpit height.
>On some packs, the lower edge of the load lifter straps (where it is 
>attached to the shoulder strap) is adjustable with some sort of sliders so 
>you can control where on the shoulder it pulls from.  It should hit the 
>shoulder strap at about collarbone level.  From there, it should go up 
>and back at about a 45 degree angle, and hit the frame at about earlobe 
>height or so.  If the angle is really low, the strap won't lift up so 
>much as back, and it won't take the weight off.  Similarly, if the angle 
>is too high, it won't be able to do the job well either.
>There are also straps on many internal frame packs that go from the 
>middle/back of the hipbelt to the bottom of the pack on either side.  
>These are usually called "hip stabilizers" playing with these adjusts how 
>close the pack rides to the hips.  Also, playing with these and the 
>shoulder stabilizers can vary the weight distribution (that shoulder/hip 
>thing again).  
>Many internal frame packs also have a sternum strap which buckles from 
>one shoulder strap to the other.  Sometimes this is just a convenience to 
>keep them from sliding off the shoulders but I find that it is pretty 
>much necessary on my pack (a Gregory) to get the "harness" working well 
>for my body.  It is meant to go across the upper chest (sternum - duh).  
>Many packs have a sternum strap that can adjust up and down to get the 
>right spot.  A note to women: make sure when trying on the pack that you 
>can get the sternum strap to a comfortible position, I've heard/seen some 
>horror stories, 'nuff said!
>Moving along to external frame packs:
>many of the principles are the same, and in some of the high end 
>externals you get all of the neat-o adjustments that the internals have.  
>With or without them, you should be able to get an equally (or often 
>more) comfortible fit.  While the basic principles are the same, there 
>are some differences.  The biggest one is the shoulder straps.  Most 
>don't have load lifters.  If this is the case, then the shoulder straps 
>themselves should be going up at a 45 degree angle from your shoulder to the
>pack frame.  Even if it does have the load lifters, the shoulder strap 
>should anchor to the frame straight back, not down like an internal.
>I'll mention buying tips is a minute but to interject here, be warned, 
>that it is more complicated to make these adjustments on an external 
>frame than an internal, usually it involves taking out a pin and moving 
>some plastic spacers (it is usually much easier on an internal).
>For this reason, sometimes salespeople are resistant to doing this (or 
>even don't know how!).  If they don't want to and you feel like you need a 
>better fit, tell the guy to piss off and go somewhere else.  Don't let 
>them bully you into thinking that it will be OK when you get it on the 
>trail (more on that later).
>An adjustment that many external frame packs have that many internals 
>don't is a floating hipbelt.  You can change where on the pack the 
>hipbelt in anchored (actually, it is vice versa, but it is simpler to 
>think of it that way) and adjust for height that way.
>Which brings me to my next point: adjusting for height (on both internals 
>and externals)
>Just because you and your friend are the same height does not mean that 
>your pack size will be the same.  Pack (frame) sizes are determined by 
>TORSO LENGTH, not height.  You can be the same height as your friend but 
>have longer legs and a shorter torso.  You can measure your torso by 
>using a soft tape measure (like the fabric kinds tailors use) and having 
>a friend measure your spine from the 7th vertibre (the bump at the base 
>of your neck) to the point on your spine in between the points of your 
>hipbones (usually around to top of your back pocket on your jeans).  
>Generally speaking an extra small torso is around 16 inches and a very 
>large one around 21 inches.  (I'm about 18 inches, a medium in most cases).
>Often manufacturer specs will say which sizes are for what torso ranges.
>When putting on packs, don't worry if your internal rides lower than your 
>buddy's external, externals ride higher, you are not carrying more weight
>*do not adjust your set* (or pack)
>Also, before you take off your pack loosen the important buckles: 
>shoulder stabilizers, shoulder strap, and hipbelt in that order.  This 
>will do a couple of things: a) make it easier to take off because it fits 
>looser, b) put less stress on the hipbelt buckle when you unsnap it (so 
>it doesn't spring back and wear down) and c) make it _much_ easier to put 
>back on.  It is soooo much easier to aim for a big loose shoulder strap 
>than a super tight one and try to wriggle into it.
>When you get the pack on, shrug it up to the right position and tighten 
>in the opposite order (hipbelt, shoulder strap, shoulder stabilizer).
>OK, almost home.  A quick word about buying a pack.  The choice between 
>internal and external frames is a tough one, and we can discuss that 
>another time.  
>But I would like to say something about shopping for a pack.  You are 
>buying something that you will have to wear for a long time.  Think how 
>much effort you put into buying a car and you only spend a couple of 
>hours a day in that.  Don't let a salesman bully you into getting a pack 
>that he things is best for you.  If he/she thinks this is the case, then 
>ask him to explain the rationale for thinking so.  
>Also, try on the pack WITH WEIGHT IN IT!!!  Every pack feels good empty.  
>If possible, bring your stuff in (packed neatly in stuff sacks) and 
>actually pack the pack there (I would do this on second or third trip, 
>once you have narrowed it down to 2 or 3 packs).
>Keep the pack on for a while, walk around the store in it for at least 
>1/2 hour.  See if anything starts to chafe.
>Remember that on most internal frame packs, the 2 stays (which provide 
>the frame) casually be custom bent to fit your back.  You can do this 
>or have the salesman do it (usually they come pre-bent to general back 
>shape, you can customize it, but remember when taking the stay out, to 
>mark it so you remember which way it goes back in!)
>Also, most internal frame packs have a break in period, it should feel 
>better after a week or two on the trail.
>Well, I think that's it.  I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff, if you have any 
>specifics, feel free to ask.
>Jeff Mosenkis,                                                   
>University at Albany - Psych, Anthro, Judaic Studies             
>"Welcome to the psychotherapy hotline.  If you are obsessive-compulsive, 
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