Tips and tricks
Fitting your pack
First, loosen all of the pack’s straps and hipbelt. Start by putting some weight into the pack to simulate a loaded pack. When carrying big packs you should carry most of the load on the hip belt (70-80%). The shoulder straps should mainly stabilize the pack and keep it close to your body. For smaller packs you carry a larger portion of the load on the shoulder straps.
- Put the pack on your back.
- Fasten the hip belt around your hips and tighten the belt firmly. The upper edge of the belt should be slightly above your hip bone (1-2 cm). The backpack should rest against the lower part of your lumbar spine.
- Tighten the shoulder straps so they fit snugly. The shoulder straps should follow the curvature of your shoulders all the way, and the end should be at least one hand width below your armpit.
- Gently tighten the neck stabilizer straps.
- Place the chest strap at the level of your armpit. Tighten gently to prevent the shoulder straps from obstructing free movement of your arms.
- Pull the stabilizer straps (located on either side of the hipbelt) to draw the pack towards your hipbelt and stabilize the load.
Shaping the frame strays
If the shape of the backpack doesn’t fit well on your back, several of our models allow for shape customisability. Aluminium stays/rods on the pack can be bent, a small amount at a time, to fit the arch of your spine.
Adjustments on the go
Carrying comfort can be greatly increased by actively adjusting your pack as the terrain varies. It’s most important to evenly spread the pack load between your shoulders and hips. Here are a few helpful hints:
When walking in flat terrain, tighten the hipbelt and loosen the neck straps slightly, so that most of the load is carried on the hips and you can move in a natural, upright manner. Make sure the neck adjustments always have at least a little bit of tension.
In rough terrain tighten the neck straps for better control of the bag. When you walk uphill you might want to loosen the hip belt slightly, to maximize blood circulation to your legs as they work hard. In downhill terrain, loosen the neck adjustments so you are able to “lean back”. Make sure the pack is stable, so you have control when going downhill.
How to load your pack
Properly packing your backpack will greatly improve your comfort whilst carrying heavy loads. Another factor to consider is having convenient access to things you might need along the way, eliminating the need to unpack on the trailside. Pack unnecessary items such as extra clothing, cooking utensils and dry food stores in the bottom of your pack. Heavy items should be placed midway up, as close to your back as possible. This will help bring the pack’s centre of gravity closer to your back, between your shoulder blades where it is most stable. Try to pack everything except your mattress inside your pack. Items attached to the outside create an unstable load, and are prone to snagging on tree branches and rocks.
Touring with a heavy pack increases the strain on your knees and hips. Weight is always an issue to be considered when hiking, and all additional weight will lead to fatigue and discomfort regardless of how well packed and adjusted your backpack is. A general rule of thumb is to not pack more than 1⁄4 of your body weight. If you’re inexperienced with hiking and carrying heavy loads in a pack, the maximum ratio should be closer to 1/5th. Walking with poles helps to distribute stress over the rest of your body, reduces fatigue, and aids your balance.
When your pack is on you want it to be as stable as possible. Walking for a whole day with an unstable, heavy load uses a lot of energy! And, if you’re skiing down a mountain slope, a pack moving around on your back will upset your balance. Be sure to use the compression straps to stabilize the load, particularly on the shoulder straps and hip belt. Attach as little as possible to the outside of your pack. However if you do need to, attach things securely so they don’t move around. Follow the advice for loading your pack correctly: if you’re ski touring with a heavy pack, stability will be the main concern. In addition, you’ll be using your upper body more, thus requiring more freedom of movement. We suggest lowering the centre of gravity in the pack, down towards your lumbar spine.
Although we use only the best materials when constructing our packs, no backpack is completely waterproof. We provide rain covers for all of our larger hiking and expedition packs, which help keep your gear dry in rainy or wet conditions. Any equipment that absolutely must be kept dry should be packed in either waterproof bags or plastic. Over time and with use, the fabric on your pack will become less water-resistant. Therefore we recommended you treat your pack with a waterproofing product from time to time. Your local sports dealer should have these products for purchase.
We all come in different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to consider your torso length when choosing the right pack. Our Helsport LINK TM allows you to fine-tune the back length of your pack, meaning our packs are highly compatible for most people.
Irrespective of height, everyone has a different back length. Depending on the type of pack and use, we offer packs with different back lengths, so everyone can find a model that fits.
You can find your torso length by measuring the distance from your C7 vertebra (the one that sticks out at the back of your neck) to the top of your hips.
SMALL/MEDIUM (S/M) – bags will fit for torso lengths from 39 to 45cm*. Body height about 160-175cm
MEDIUM/LARGE (M/L) – bags are suitable for 45 to 51cm torso lengths. Body height about 175-195cm
*S/M bags are also, in general, designed for smaller people. We use a shorter hip belt, a smaller distance between the shoulder straps, and narrower shoulder straps.
In our specifications we give the volume for each bag, measured in litres. This represents the maximum amount you can pack into the bag if you use all the compartments. For most models you can also attach gear to the outside of the pack, using the gear attachment points. We physically measure the backpacks.