Modifying Hiking Backpacks for Tall People 4

Standard backpacks aren’t too much of an issue for tall people. But hiking backpacks with hip belts rarely fit us right; the hip belt ends up going more around our stomachs and even ribs instead of resting weight on our hips. And the internal frame support systems don’t match the longer curvatures of tall hikers’ longer spines. Certainly there are some hiking backpacks that are better for tall people than others. For example, the Rockwater Designs Killarney (image link below) is excellent for tall people with long torsos. But I already had a hiking backpack and didn’t’ want to buy a new one. So I modified it. In this post, I’ll explain how I did it.

Rockwater Designs 85L Killarney Hiking Backpack
Hip Belt Position of Hiking Backpacks for Tall People

By Anatomography (en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)) [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp], via Wikimedia Commons

The backpack I have is the Ozark Eagle. It’s adjustable but not nearly as much as I would like. So what I did was to sew (with fishing line) the shoulder strap connection higher up on the backpack. This same #TallHack will work on a variety of other hiking backpacks that use the same adjustment system such as the Teton Scout Hiking Backpack.

Ozark Eagle Hiking Backpack
Teton Scout Hiking Backpack

Adjustable Hiking Backpack for Tall People

Modified Hiking Backpack for Tall Hikers

The end result is that I’ve increased the torso length by half a foot. This modification is about right for someone my height given the backpack was designed for the average height person. You could make the connection lower if you aren’t quite as tall as me, but higher would be hard. By the way, the west coast style tall slim hoodie I’m wearing in the shot below is from the Vancouver based company, Navas.

Hiking Backpack for Tall People Before Modification

DIY Hiking Backpack for Tall People

The next problem is that the internal support structure just doesn’t suit my longer spine. Luckily, the Ozark Eagle has an aluminum strut that can be removed and reshaped. As you can see in the second image below, mine required some huge changes!

Backsupport on Hiking Backpack foro Tall People

Modifying Hiking Backpack Support for Tall People

Now, if you have some extra time, you might also attach the aluminum support strut further up (I took this a step further and bought a longer piece of aluminum for a few bucks). It helps to drill some holes for the fishing line to get more purchase. The higher support will help keep the backpack tighter to your back.

Support Structure of DIY Hiking Backpack for Tall People

I haven’t yet been able to take my modified hiking backpack for tall people on a good trip yet. But I have been using it on our weekly hike to get groceries (about 30 lbs). It’s held up well so far and is quite comfortable. I’m definitely looking forward to trying it out on the trail though!

Tall Hikers Need Tall Backpacks

What kind of hiking backpack do you use? Do you know of any that are particularly tall friendly?

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4 thoughts on “Modifying Hiking Backpacks for Tall People

  • Donald Walker

    it would be to much money for them to make packs to suit tall people
    how many tall people would use the packs
    can they adjust the normal packs to suit tall people
    it all boils down to money and cost
    good luck

    • Tall Life Post author

      Agreed, that economy of scale really dings us. But the Killarney pack I mentioned at the top of this post felt pretty good when I adjusted it all the way. For now though, the modification I demonstrated on my old pack is working out nicely. Thanks for writing in.

  • clyde 1251

    The only backpack I could find that fit me well was the Arcteryx Bora 95 it comes in a a tall version, and with some adjustment fits me pretty well. I am 6’9″ tall with a long torso, 36″ inseam. It is a big pack, and can carry a lot. I used it on the North Coast trail solo, and it did very well. It is a bit pricey, but it is built to last for many years, so worth it.