How to choose the perfect frame height for your hunting backpack

You learn many things about how to choose the proper backpack for hunting.  From materials, suspension system to capacity and features for carrying your gun/bow, selecting an adequate pack for hunting is a challenge for most.

One of the many aspects to observe while scrolling through the many options is to figure out if the frame height of the pack will work for you or not.

Why check the frame height of the backpack?

No backpack will be good for hunting if it’s not comfortable, and numerous features and elements on your pack affect the level of comfort. A comfortable backpack will properly take the weight from the shoulders to your hips.

Shoulder muscles get tired very quickly even when you’re only carrying a medium weight, whereas your hips and legs will take much heavier loads for a long time; it’s because they have the largest muscle groups.

The backpack frame should be tall so that the load lifting straps can draw the shoulder harness, giving best fit to the shoulders; the mechanism makes the frame capable to transfer loads from your shoulders to the hips and legs.

For years, backpack manufacturers only made specific sizes for their backpack, forcing you to choose between small, medium, or large frame heights. Nowadays, many models come with features for adjusting the frame’s height for best fit, according to the weight of your load.

Your torso length and expected loads will affect the frame height you need for the backpack. To give you an idea, here’s what the frame height should be relative to your torso length and weight of your load:

  • Torso length 15-16”- the frame height should be 24” for loads ranging from 30 to 50lbs. Go with 24” if the load goes over 50lbs
  • Torso length 17-19”- you can choose a backpack with 24/26″ frame height for 30lbs load and 26″ for loads ranging from 30 to 50 lbs. If your load is heavier than 50lbs, make sure to select a pack with 26 or 28″ frame.
  • Torso length 20”+- go with 26” frame for 30lbs loads and 26 or 28” for 30-50lbs loads. Choose a pack with 28” frame if your load goes over 50lbs.

Adjustable frame height

Some prestigious manufacturers developed articulating frames and suspensions to ease out selecting the frame height on your backpack.

You no longer have to buy small, medium, or large frame height; you can now purchase one frame and adjust it to your specific needs. You will find 24” frames that allow adjustments to 26” or 28” with the frame extensions.

How do you know the best frame height for your needs?

Finding the torso length is just one step to take before selecting the proper frame height; you should always consider the expected load weights.

Figuring out the torso length

Torso length actually refers to the distance between the bump (C7, a vertebra that sticks out) and the bottom of your back.

It’s not possible to measure your torso length on your own so call someone to give some help. Have someone use a soft measuring tape, placing it in the center of C7. You should also identify the hipbones’ top points, drawing an imaginary line across your back between the points.

The distance between the tiny bump (C7) and that imaginary line that connects the iliac crests is known as the torso length. If you need to use words like “short” or “long,” 15″ is considered to be a short torso, whereas a 22″ is considered to be a very tall one. Most adult males have an 18″ torso.

What do you do next?

When your torso length ranges on the lower part (15 or 16”), you should find backpacks with a base frame height of 24″ as the most comfortable options.

People with torso lengths ranging from 17 to 19” will find reliable and comfortable all three frame heights. They should pick the frame height according to the expected load weight, though.

Hunters with torso length in the upper end of the scale (20″ and up) will find packs with 26 or 28″ frames comfortable for their hunts.

How does the expected load impact the frame height?

It’s matter of time until you see that it’s more comfortable to carry a taller frame for heavy loads than it is with a shorter frame. If your torso is 15” long, a pack with a 24-inch frame will be considered a tall frame for you.

A hunter with 18in torso planning to carry over 50lbs weights should use a backpack with 26 or 28 in the frame.

Backpack hunters will have to carry cumbersome loads, especially when they come back from the hunt, so 28in frame backpacks will make the most reliable choice for all torso heights. The reason for this is the reality that a taller frame eases out your efforts to carry cumbersome loads; these backpacks will also ensure effective load distribution, and 70% of it will be concentrated over the shoulder blades. You will experience a nice balance while backpacking without feeling “tipping.”

If possible, you should check yourself in the mirror after altogether loading your backpack. If your load is light, the frame height will go below your ear; for medium loads, the frame will go mid to low ear. Any heavy loads will take the frame mid-ear and higher.

Sizing and fitting your hunting backpack- never skip any!

Look for backpacks that provide various adjustments so that you find the best fit, according to your trail and load. You should continuously adjust the hip belt, harness, and shoulder straps on a pack with adjustable frame height.

Shoulder harness adjustment

Two ladder locks may provide shoulder harness adjustment; you should also touch them when wearing the pack. You tighten the adjustment straps before putting the backpack on and loos them for raising the harness when wearing the backpack. It takes a bit of practice to get it right, but it’s an essential skill to develop when backpack hunting.

Hip belt adjustment

It would help if you moved the lower frame’s connection to a grommet extending from the belt for hip belt adjustment.

The top grommet allows fit for long torsos, and the bottom grommet works for people with a short torso. Because the grommets are held by a nylock nut and a machine screw, you will need some essential tools to adjust the grommets at home and not on the trail.