All Exo Pack Systems feature the adjustability you need to fit your unique body shape and size. The process for adjusting the pack to you is a simple one, and is best explained in our detailed fitting video…
That video shows you what ideal pack fit looks like, but it can also be helpful to know what improper pack fit looks like. What are the "issues" to look out for and avoid?
In this article, we will take a look at several photos from real Exo customers and highlight the areas where their pack was adjusted improperly or could be improved upon for optimal fit, performance, and comfort.
If you haven't watched the fitting video yet, please do so before reading this article. Many of the concepts we discuss below will only make sense when you understand the context and background explained in the fitting video.
First Example — "RICH"
Before we dive into addressing fit and adjustment for Rich, or anyone else, we need to establish a very important principle...
When fitting a pack, start at the bottom (with the hipbelt) and then work up. You do NOT adjust the fit of a pack by starting at the top (with the shoulder harness) and working down.
With that principle of order in mind, let's take a look at Rich's fitting and adjustment.
#1 — The 1st point of Rich's correction is the hipbelt, which is positioned too low. You can see that the hipbelt is riding on his "waist" line, and not up on the "iliac crest", which is the highest point of the hip bones. This causes the lumbar pad to ride down on Rich's butt. And because the pack's hipbelt is not able to work with the physical bone structure of Rich's hip bones, the pack will be prone to sagging even further. The first and most important step in pack fitting is to start by making sure the hipbelt is centered on the crest of the hips.
#2 — It appears that Rich has a frame that is too short for him, since it isn't extending at all above his shoulders and he has a flat load-lifter angle. The real problem isn't the height of the frame, but the fact that his hipbelt is positioned too low (the earlier point), and that he has too much tension in the load-lifter adjustment before putting the pack on and adjusting the shoulder harness.
#3 — One of the fitting reference points we look at is the top slot of the MOLLE on the pack's shoulder harness. As you can see on the 3rd point in the photo above, the top slot of the MOLLE is up on the shoulder, above Rich's collar bone area. This top slot should be further forward/down on Rich. We want that top slot to be around the collar bone, not up on top of the shoulder. If Rich had perfect hipbelt placement (which he doesn't yet!), the MOLLE position reference would tell us that we want to raise the shoulder harness position on the frame, which extends the torso setting of the pack, allowing the shoulder harness to wrap further over the shoulder and more forward on Rich.
FIT FIXED — As you can see in Rich's "after" photo, the hipbelt is positioned higher — around the crest of the hip bones, and not sagging down on Rich's butt. We also had Rich loosen all tension from the load-lifters before putting the pack on, and ensured that he did not add any tension to the load-lifters until he had already placed and secured the hipbelt, connected and snugged the sternum/chest strap, set proper tension on the shoulder harness adjustment — and then, finally, add slight tension on the load lifters.
You can see that Rich's frame height looks much better and that he has a good load-lifter angle. This improvement came from hipbelt positioning and proper order of adjustment when putting the pack on.
These changes will create a massive improvement in comfort and performance for Rich.
Second Example — "JACOB"
#1 — The first thing we noticed is that Jacob does not have any weight loaded when fitting the pack. We want there to be at least 25lbs of weight loaded (in the bag or on the frame) to properly assess and correct any fitting adjustments.
#2 — The shoulder harness will want to "float" above the shoulder because the pack is empty (first point) and there is no gravity to help the pack "settle". You can also see that the significant gap of Jacob's shoulder harness has a "peak" shape to it, and isn't perfectly rounding over Jacob's shoulder. That peak or pinch of the shoulder harness is caused by having too much tension pulled in the load-lifters.
#3 — As mentioned previously, there is too much tension in Jacob's load-lifters. If you look at the gray piece of hardware on the load-lifter webbing, you can see that it is very close to the shoulder harness itself. Compare that to the position of the gray buckle in the After photo and you'll see how it is positioned away from the shoulder harness padding, with a good amount of load-lifter webbing between the buckle and the shoulder harness itself.
FIT FIXED — As you can see in Jacob's "after" photo, he loaded ~30lbs of gear in the pack, so that we can properly set and assess the pack's adjustment. That weight helped the harness settle over his shoulder. There was still a bit of a gap between Jacob's shoulder and the shoulder harness, so we had him lower the harness-to-frame connection slightly. The shoulder harness is now contouring his shoulder with slight contact and no pressure, which is exactly what we want. Jacob's pack fit is dialed-in and will perform extremely well, no matter what type of weight he is hauling.
Third Example — "TYLER"
#1 — You can see that Tyler didn't add enough tension to the pack's hipbelt to keep it in place. Because the hipbelt is only loosely tensioned, the back of the hipbelt wants to sag down and you can see that it isn't wrapping around the back side of his hips well.
#2 — Tyler also didn't apply enough tension to the pack's shoulder harness. While it is normal (and desired) to have a small gap between the pack and your back in the low-to-mid back area, we want the pack's shoulder harness to make contact with your upper back and shoulder blade area. With the large gap that Tyler has in the before photo, he will feel like the pack is pulling away from him and is very unstable.
#3 — Tyler has a low load-lifter angle, partially because of the hipbelt riding low (#1) and partially because he has too much load-lifter tension pulled BEFORE he set the shoulder harness tension (#2).
FIT FIXED — We had Tyler set the hipbelt in the proper position on the iliac crest, then pull it in nice and snug to keep it in place. With the load-lifter loose, we had Tyler add shoulder harness tension to bring the harness in contact with his upper back and rounding nicely (without pressure) over the top of his shoulders. As the final adjustment, we had Tyler add slight tension to the load-lifters as the final step in putting the pack on. You can see that with all of these adjustments, Tyler has a much improved fit, which translates to great comfort and stability when wearing the pack.
Perfecting Your Pack Fit
We hope these examples, along with our detailed fitting video, will help you find your perfect pack fit.
Being able to see photos of yourself wearing the pack is truly helpful, so we recommend that you grab a friend or family member and have them take photos of you wearing your pack. The most helpful photos are full-length from the front and the side. Once you have those photos, compare them to the before and after shots you see in this article to ensure your pack is adjusted properly.
As always, we are happy to help you directly. If you want a second opinion on your pack adjustment, send your photos to us by email to email@example.com.