Control Your Backpack

All those straps on your packbag have specific functions. Learn how to use them
properly and you'll be treated to a more stable, comfortable wilderness
experience. The founder of Mountainsmith packs, Patrick Smith, spends heaps of
time analyzing the effectiveness of his backpacks' straps. He offers the
following tips for better load control.

• Before you start packing, be sure all the compression straps are loosened in
order to maximize the interior space of the pack.

• Once you've loaded your pack, tighten any internal compression straps (usually
found at the top opening). This creates a comfortable space above the shoulder
straps for your head.

• Next, tighten any side compression straps, evenly. No yanking!

• Fasten the vertical straps (there are usually two) that secure the top lid
over the pack. No need to crank down hard: The key is to compress the load
profile so it rides closer to your spine, not shrink the overall height of the

• If your top lid has compression straps, adjust them so the contents of the lid
settle away from your head, then tighten. This prevents your gear from slipping
forward and bonking you in the head during a hike.

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