Backpack Sizing…Please Help!


I have a relatively long torso, am 5’5″, 136 pds….My torso measurement is 18 inches. I need a smallish daypack that has a good hip belt (my shoulders get sore easily).

So far I have tried the Manta 30, the Aventura, and the Jade 28. According to my measurements I should be a small. All of the hip belts hit me above my hip bones and therefore I feel like the weight is resting mostly on my shoulders.

Any suggestions? I was under the impression that the waist belt should rest on the hips and not the actual waist area…am I wrong?



Hi Cammie!
CamelBak Aventura backpack
Thanks for your email. We appreciate that you read

Yes, you are definitely right that your backpack belt should rest on your hips. Generally they are even referred to as “hip belts”. If your torso measurement is accurate, you’re going to need a Medium size pack, not a Small. Check out this advice page from REI: REI’s Backpack Sizing Tips.

Hope that helps!

Happy trails! 🙂
Hiking Lady

Do you have a question for the Hiking Lady?


  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Tara, I am so excited that you and your husband are picking up backpacking! I would recommend considering a proper backpacking backpack, even if for just 3 days. You’ll find that a good one is very comfortable, assuming it fits right! I love my Gregory Deva 60 (See my review of the Gregory Deva here). It is now a few years old, but it is in great condition and I plan to keep using it for many more years. I also really like the Thule Guidepost 65 that I tested last summer. The Gregory Deva comes in 3 torso sizes (XS, S, M) and the Thule Guidepost is highly adjustable – it is “one size”, but the torso length is adjustable! These two backpacks are very customizable, and I think you’ll find that they will work for you. You will find that as you get into the larger packs (60L+), they tend to be even more comfortable than smaller backpacks because the hip belts are designed for heavy loads. In your situation, you may go for a heavier and larger pack like the Gregory Deva or the Thule Guidepost because you will *likely* be able to tweak the hip belt and straps to fit you comfortably. They are both overkill for an overnight trip but ideal for 3+ days. Hope that helps and please write back and let us know what backpack will be the one you use! Happy trails 🙂

  2. Tara Kennedy says:

    My husband and I are avid car campers and have set a goal to go on a 3 day backpacking trip next year. We are slowly replacing our car camping gear with lightweight, backpacking gear (ex: instead of bulky air mattresses we’re using ultra light air pads). We recently went on an overnight trip as a trial run. We hiked in about 1/2 mile and set up camp, unfortunately that 1/2 mile trek told me my new backpack wasn’t the right fit for me. I felt as if I was carrying the 23lb load on my shoulders. I couldn’t wait to get the pack off and my muscles were tight for several hours once I took it off. I’m a tall female, 6′ and weigh 175lbs. I’m a definite hour glass with curves and a bust but not considered overweight or anything. I’m having trouble finding a pack that is curved for a females shape AND is long enough so it sits on my hips. The pack I used for this trial run was a Gregory Jade 38L, Size M. The REI associates measured me for a size M but agreed the belt didn’t sit exactly where it should have. Depending on who is measuring, my spine measures around 21″-22″. I tried on every single female bag in that liter size range! I tried on several men’s bags too, which work much better for torso but I found the shoulder straps dug into my underarms and didn’t give me the range of motion I needed with my arms. I absolutely love the features of the Gregory pack and realistically think I need to increase the liter size (38L isn’t big enough for a 3 day hike) but I need to find one that fits my torso and then worry about what capacity to get. Are there any female specific packs that have a longer torso? Thanks for your help!!

  3. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Cheri!
    Excellent question and comments. A proper fitting daypack is very important, and ones with good hip belts are hard to find. I’m surprised that more companies don’t put the time and effort into making sturdy hip belts for daypacks like they do for backpacking packs.

    Anyways, I have never seen daypacks come in various sizes; generally just the backpacking packs have sizes to accommodate various torso lengths. However, as long as you find a daypack with a sturdy hipbelt you may be able to adjust the shoulder straps enough so that it is comfortable on your petite body.

    Have you looked at REI’s new Traverse Daypack? Another one you should consider is the Gregory Maya daypack. Both of these are women’s specific, have decent hipbelts, and sleeves for your hydration bladder/reservoir. I think the hipbelt on the REI Traverse bag may be a bit sturdier. REI has a 20% coupon right now for members, so you might want to order it and have it shipped to you to try on. You can always return it if you find it isn’t comfortable.

    I hope one of those works for you. You’re an inspiration to be picking up hiking again! Happy trails!

  4. Cheri Alderman says:

    Hello Hiking Lady,
    I cannot find an extra small daypack ANYWHERE!!!! I live in Vancouver, WA right across the river from Portland, OR which is close by. I am 70 years old and am 5′ 1″ tall and need an extra small torso size 14′ pack with a good hip belt (extremely important!). I have checked REI and online and cannot find one. Your REI Women’s Traverse Day Pack you show looks like the style I would like to find. I cannot use a daypack without a good hip belt due to back and shoulder issues. Can you help me? I really want to get active again and do a lot of day hikes in the beautiful Oregon and Washington areas. (In the “old days” I used to backpack with a lightweight aluminun frame pack with a ” wonderful hip belt” that made all that possible. I backpacked the Chilkoot Trail from Alaska up into the Yukon, through the Andes in Columbia, So. America, Mexico, Central America, the Alpujarras Mountains in So. Spain, the Trinity Alps and Yosemite in California and up the coast of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia). I’ve been inactive for years now, and want to get my body and soul back into gear. The number 1 most important thing I need is a good, PROPER FITTING daypack that will accommodate a BLADDER, and with a GOOD HIP BELT. I am even wondering if there is a place that could make one for me since I can’t find any extra small size 14″ packs anywhere. I hope you can help. Thank you, Cheri

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