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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Backpacking Tips: Buying a Backpack That Fits

The fun of backpacking can be ruined by ill-fitting backpacking equipment. Getting a backpack that fits comfortably takes a bit of science and careful measurement.
There is one crucial measurement for buying a backpack that really fits your body. Overall body height is not it.
Male pelvisImage via Wikipedia
Two people who are exactly the same height won’t necessarily be comfortable with the same backpack. That’s because people of the same height may vary on other dimensions. Some may have longer legs and shorter torsos. For others, the opposite may be true.
The most critical measurement for getting a comfortable backpack is torso length. I’ll show you how to measure it.
TORSO LENGTH
Here’s how to get an accurate measurement of the length of your torso:
Step 1: Ask a friend or family member to help. It’s very difficult to accurately do the measurement alone.
Step 2: Place your hands on your hips as if you were throwing an attitude. Make sure you place your hands on your iliac crest or ilium (see illustration). You can feel this part of your pelvis on both sides. What you will feel are bony protrusions just below your rib cage. Place your hands so that your thumbs point horizontally at each other around your back.
Step 3: Ask your helper to find your 7th cervical vertebra (C7) on your spine. It’s not that difficult. It’s that prominent bump where your shoulders slope up and meet your neck. Tilting your head forward will make this bony bump stick out even further.
Step 4: Ask your helper to measure with a flexible tape measure the distance from your C7 down to the imaginary line that connects your thumbs at the top of your iliac crest.
Voila! You now have your torso length. Take this measurement to your outfitter and try on backpacks that are marked with a torso length range that your torso measurement fits into.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.
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