Backpacks come with a number of straps that let you adjust your load for maximum comfort. This article and video discuss how to properly adjust those straps so that 80% to 90% of the load weight rests on your hips.
Before getting started, you may want to be sure you have the right pack size.
The Steps to a Great Pack Fit
First, loosen all of the pack's straps and hipbelt. Start by putting about 10 to 15 lbs. of weight into the pack to simulate a loaded pack. If making these pack adjustments at home, follow the steps below in front of a mirror. Get a friend to help if possible, or visit an REI store for more assistance.
Step 1: Hipbelt
Put the pack on your back so that the hipbelt is resting over your hip bones.
Close the hipbelt buckle and tighten it.
Check the padded sections of the hipbelt to make sure they wrap around your hips comfortably. Keep at least 1" of clearance on either side of the center buckle.
If the hipbelt is too loose or tight, try repositioning the hipbelt buckle. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may need a different pack (or hipbelt).
Step 2: Shoulder Straps
Pull down and back on the ends of the shoulder straps to tighten them.
Shoulder straps should fit closely to hold the pack body against your back and thus keeping the load forward. They should NOT be carrying the weight.
Have your helper check to see that the shoulder strap anchor points are 1" to 2" inches below the top of your shoulders.
Step 3: Load Lifters
Load-lifter straps are located just below the tops of your shoulders (near your collarbones) and should angle back toward the pack body at a 45° angle.
Gently snug the load-lifter straps to pull weight off your shoulders. (Overtightening the load lifters will cause a gap to form between your shoulders and the shoulder straps.)
Step 4: Sternum Strap
Adjust the sternum strap as needed to a comfortable height across your chest.
Buckle the sternum strap and tighten until the shoulder straps are pulled inwards comfortably from your shoulders, allowing your arms to move freely.
Pull the stabilizer straps located on either side of the hipbelt to snug the pack body toward the hipbelt and stabilize the load.
Pull the stabilizer straps, if equipped, located on either side of the hipbelt to snug the pack body toward the hipbelt and stabilize the load.
Go back to the shoulder straps and carefully take a bit of tension off of them. This ensures the majority of the weight is carried by your hips.