How to measure your torso to find the right size backpack

By Sigita B •  Updated: 12/13/20 •  4 min read

When you are planning a hike, finding a comfortable backpack is crucial. You have to know a few helpful tips and tricks like how to measure torso or how to find backpacks for big guys. And did you know there are packs that are designed specifically for women? There is a pack for every height, frame and body shape. Read through these tips and you will be fully equipped on your quest for the best backpack!

A man with the hiking backpack

Our bodies are very different and so are hiking backpacks. A backpack that is great for a tall guy probably will not provide the best fit for a petite woman and vice versa. And even though high quality hiking backpacks are adjustable you should look for one that fits your measurements.

How to measure your torso for a backpack

As surprising as it might sound, the right size does not necessarily depend on your height. The measurement you should be paying attention to is your torso length. You can easily measure it at home (with the help of a friend) or get it done in a specialty store with trained employees. For those hiking fans that do majority of their shopping online the first option might be more appealing!

First, touch the back of your neck where it meets your shoulders. You’ll feel an outward bump –that’s your 7th cervical vertebra. That will be the upper point from which you will later start measuring.

Now put your hands on your hips so that your palms are positioned over your hip bones. Make note of where your thumbs are placed on your back. Imagine a mark right between them – this is where your lower measurement will be. Then roll out the flexible measuring tape and measure the distance between these two points. Your back should be straight while measuring torso length.

You can follow the instructions in this useful video:

By the way, there is another high-tech and arguably more fun way of measuring yourself. Osprey has developed an app that you can use to take a photo and find the best size from Osprey range in just three easy steps. It is the first digital tool of its kind!

Find the right backpack size by torso length measurement

Every brand sizes their hiking backpacks slightly differently. If you want to get it right, find the brand’s sizing chart.

The Osprey range has several different sizes based on torso length: sizes S to XL for men and sizes XS to L for women’s backpacks. This chart will help you find the best fit in Osprey backpacks.

High Sierra also has a helpful sizing chart that uses torso length and waist measurements to determine which packs will suit you best.

Whichever brand you choose, they will have a handy sizing guide that you can use.

Adjust torso length on your backpack

Picking the right size is important. But you still need to adjust the pack to fit your individual frame perfectly. Most hiking backpacks have a lot of adjustable straps that ensure good fit and they are very easy to use.

Some packs have a feature that allows adjusting torso length. It is advisable that you look for this feature if you are either very short or very tall as the fit in regular packs might be a bit off. That being said, being able to further adjust the fit is a good thing for everyone.

A few backpacks with adjustable torso length to check out:

Osprey Men’s Atmos 65 AG

Osprey Atmos AG 65 Men's Backpacking Backpack

Anti-Gravity suspension - feels like you are carrying less weight than is in your pack.

Adjustable harness and Fit-on-the-Fly hipbelt to dial in perfect fit.

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Read more about this backpack in our article Best hiking backpack of 2021 – Reviews with comparisons.

Mountaintop 70/75L Internal Frame Backpack

MOUNTAINTOP 70L/75L Internal Frame Hiking Backpack

One side of the pack has a side pocket, big enough for your jacket or umbrella. The other side has a zippered access which can easily access to the main compartment.

Hip-belt adjustable length:79-155cm/31.1-61.0in. It's not typically worn at the waist, but somewhat lower, on the hips. 

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Osprey Kyte 46 Women’s Backpack

Osprey Kyte 46 Women's Backpack

Breathable AirScape ridged foam backpanel with adjustable torso length.

Integrated removable raincover and zippered hipbelt pockets.

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Gregory Mountain Women’s Amber 55 Backpack

Gregory Mountain Women's Amber 55 Backpack

Adjustable Suspension - VersaFit adjustable suspension with 4" of adjustment and Perforated breathable backpanel.

FitTune Adjustable Hipbelt - Quick and simple to adjust while wearing the pack, the FitTune hipbelt allows for 4 inches (10 CM) of adjustment for a custom fit.

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These tips will help you measure your torso length and find a backpack that fits like a dream. However, after spending most of your day on the trail even the most comfortable hiking backpack will become a bit too much. Adjust the straps on your pack as needed if you feel any aches or pressure.

When you get tired, use a well-known trick: tighten the shoulder straps and loosen the hip belt. It will help for a while. When fatigue starts creeping up again, do the opposite – loosen the shoulder straps and tighten the hip belt.

Take your backpack off every time you stop for a break. Even if it is a short one, your body still gets a chance to rest. Stretch your back and shoulders before putting the pack back on.

Sigita B