This is one of the first posts I have ever written, it still holds relevant today:
Pack fit, It’s what we do. One of the most frustrating things for me to see is someone who has an ill-fitting pack. It seems to be a far too common occurrence, but a few minor things can help to find all-day pack comfort. And believe you me, I too, was once a skeptic.
I once thought shoulder/back pain, blisters, and sore hips were all a part of the natural progression that is backpacking. Then I came to Gregory where Wayne ‘fit’ me for a pack, and 40lbs later, I was an instant believer. I immediately recalled thousands of miles of pain and discomfort and I asked myself, ‘Why?’ It seems so easy, and yet so many get it wrong (myself once included). We always recommend seeing a retailer for a proper fit and recommendations, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Either way, finding the length of your torso is key. Every brand seems to do it just a little differently, even though we would like to standardize this process across all pack brands … it would help everyone.
If you have yet to see our fit video with the man himself, do be sure to check it out.
We measure ‘torso’ from the C7 vertebrate to the iliac crest. The C7 vertebrate is the largest vertebrate at the base of your neck. The iliac crest is the very top of you hip bones and not the boney ‘side’ of the hip as many assume. An inch or more can be all the difference in getting a pack that ‘fits’. We see this all too often. “I have a 24” torso, but you only make packs up to 22”, what am I to do?” Well, my answer to that is measure your torso again, and I’m right 100% of the time (that’s right). I’ve personally only seen one torso longer the 21” (not to say there aren’t more than one of you out there, and said gentleman, was definitely at least 7’ 4”), and only a handful that are near 21”. Contrary to popular belief, and one of the hardest things that we try to pass to our consumers is ** Torso length DOES NOT directly correlate to your height **. My best example is I’m 5’10” and my boss is 6’2”, both of our torsos are just over 18” (making us both a medium torso). Combined with his hearty waistline, and barrel chest, he too would have thought a large size pack would fit him better.
Along with being sure you are measuring from the correct points, you going to want the right tools. Know Gregory Fit-O-Matic? A flexible tape measure will do the trick, as your spine is not a flat surface to measure. No flexi tape, simply measure with a string or shoelace, and transfer to a ruler. Be sure you are measuring with a ‘natural’ stance, as if you are walking down the trail…we’re not measuring how tall you are and if you are close to two sizes, chances are you’ll measure into the larger size and get an ill fitting pack. Right on the border … we always recommend to err on the small side, always. If you have exactly a 20” torso, we’ll recommend a medium framed pack. Just over 20”, congratulations you’re a large.
So you have purchased a pack, how can you be sure it fits? First, check out the video. Hopefully you have already confirmed your torso measurement, and no it isn’t somewhere between 17” and 18 ½”, as it is a static measurement and doesn’t float between sizes. Couple things to look for with a pack:
AFS/CFS packs, along with the DenaliPro/PetiteDruPro – be sure you are in the correct slot of the auto cant panel (or where the shoulder straps attach to the back panel), and this adjustment is crucial.
With a pack on, weighted (with at least 20 lbs), you should be able to lift your leg to 90 degrees without the waistbelt interfering (that’s where my hip joint pain came from). A pack is not supposed to interfere with your natural walking gait, but a pack that is too big will sit too low and do exactly that.
Your shoulder straps should ‘wrap’ around your shoulder, minimal gap. If you have one, first be sure your load lifter straps are loosened (these are not designed to ‘bring the pack closer to you). The yolk, or where the straps connect, should be approximately 2” below your C7 vertebrate. On our fit guide you will note each pack series is designed with a different angle. These straps are designed to transfer weight solely on to your waistbelt, if you missed it check the post. http://www.gregorygoesthere.com/how-to/ask-george-what-the-hell-are-all-those-straps-for-anyway/
Side note: Purchasing a pack for a loved one or family member, maybe for the holidays? Save for the rare exceptions (such as adoption, or a Maury Pauvich episode), men will have the same torso size as their biological father, and women their mother, regardless of height. Don’t believe me, measure your mom/dad/son/daughter/siblings.
Next installment, we’ll talk about the proper way to put on a pack. Everyone seems to have their own ideas, many look silly doing so, we’ll show you our way.