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