The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Backpacks

Sponsored by berghaus

Correct fitting of a backpack is important if users are to get the best from them. Poorly designed kit can result in back strain or worse. Most of the major suppliers of backpacks run training schemes and retailers or others engaged in  selling backpacks are always advised to seek product and fitting information from them first). The information given here is a simple guide to the specifics  and is not intended to be used as anything else. 


Controlling the shape:
No matter how scientific the design or the amount of material deployed, it is the pack frame that controls everything in a modern backpack and most importantly it controls the shape. It is the frame that prevents ‘rounding out’ in which the pack moves away from the shoulders, in the process causing the wearer to have to work harder when moving. 

Keeping it cool:
Ventilation is the key to comfort. If there is no space for air to freely circulate between the wearer’s back and the pack then even carrying the pack for a short time will become unpleasant. Modern systems use any number of ways of achieving this, some better than others.

Transferring the load:
The hipbelt (typically two wings either side of the lumbar pad) are crucial in reducing the effort required to carry a load. The hipbelt ensures that the weight of the load is carried on the hips and not on the lower back. As the hipbone(pelvis) varies in size, shape and relative positioning between genders, most manufacturers have a variety of different fit options to account for these physiological and gender differences, particularly in their larger packs that are designed for carrying heavier loads.

Keep contact even:
Like the hips, the shape of shoulders and upper bodies varies greatly from person to person, for this reason the shoulder harness must makes close and even contact across the upper back and shoulders. Poorly fitting packs sometimes rely on the chest or sternum strap to distort the shape of the shoulder strap in order to achieve this closeness of contact.

Freedom and control:
Good integrated pack design achieves the basic compromise between freedom of movement and control of the pack load. If the pack is designed the right way, then only a few adjustments will be required in order to get the fit right for the customers.


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