I'm sorry if this question has been asked before or if it's a very vague question, but I'm just in the process of buying a new backpack for myself and I'm confused about how it's supposed to fit on the shoulders. I've no previous experience with backpacks and would appreciate a little help.

I was considering this backpack : QUECHUA Forclaz 40 Litre Air+ Women's Backpack - Grey/Blue. (It's in my budget and I trust decathlon. I can't afford a very expensive backpack at the moment).

It's an internal frame backpack that I've tried in the store and it does feel comfortable, however, the shoulder strap comes slightly above my shoulder (instead on sitting on my shoulder), almost like this: enter image description here

I asumed since it's shown like that on the official pictures, that's how it is supposed to be but on second thoughts, may be this is the wrong fit for me? Is this normal or should the strap be sitting on my shoulders?

It's a 2 weeks long trip where we'd be travelling hostel to hostel (so I won't have any camping or other heavy gear except for my hiking boots and a thick jacket).

  • 2
    How much weight is in that pack?
    – paparazzo
    Aug 17, 2017 at 20:32
  • Not much, I only stuffed it with a jacket and a few t shirts for now. Could that possibly be making the difference?
    – bambogli
    Aug 17, 2017 at 21:00
  • 4
    Yes, that makes a difference. I would recommend to try a pack on with at least 2/3 of the weight you expect it to have during your hike, if not the full weight. And keep it on for some minutes. In my experience backpacks are like shoes. Even if you fit them correctly, some will not fit you anyway. Aug 17, 2017 at 22:01
  • Thank you, I packed it with everything I want to take with me more or less and I saw the difference, it was fitting well on my shoulder and I walked around in it a bit and it felt okay. Thank you!
    – bambogli
    Aug 18, 2017 at 10:48
  • at decathlon they have sand bags that you can use to try the bag in real conditions. Try them.
    – njzk2
    Aug 22, 2017 at 4:34

2 Answers 2


You'll notice that the shoulder straps are adjustable by pulling webbing/strap through the locking slider on the front of the bottom of the padded part of the strap. It's not very likely that there is no range at which the pack will fit you.

The fact that the picture shows the strap lifting up off the shoulder a little does suggest that the wearer in this picture should tighten that lower adjustment strap a little, and it also suggests that there is no significant weight inside the pack at this time. There's probably a pillow or packing peanuts or something in it just for the photo shoot.

If the pack was packed with gear, food, water, or anything heavy, the pack's weight would ideally mostly be borne on the hips by the waist strap, and the shoulder straps mainly serve to keep the pack up straight rather than falling over sideways or falling off backwards. You can snug the straps up tight to move the load off your hipbones and onto your shoulders, but, I only do that when my hips get sore and need a 10 or 15 minute break. Then I'll loosen the shoulder load and let the pack settle onto my hips again.

You'll also see, above and behind the wearer's shoulder, another adjustment strap which controls how tightly the upper part of the pack is pulled toward the wearer's back. Again, this isn't to "fit" over the top of the curve of the shoulder, it's to hold the pack upright, so, it's not important that you see in the picture that that strap meets the pack well above the height of the wearer's shoulder. It's pulling the pack toward the front of her shoulder from above, it's not supposed to be hanging the weight of the pack off the top of her shoulder.

I don't think you need to worry about this particular pack not fitting you. It has several adjustments available and appears that it could fit quite a range of wearers. Just understand that the best fit for long hiking wear is such that the padded waist strap puts most of the load onto your hips, and the shoulder straps should hold the load above your hips up straight so it's not falling off behind or to the side and twisting at your waist. Also so that it's not shifting side-to-side and banging into your back with every step and is staying comfortably in place.

  • 3
    While I agree with the comments you make on how the pack should sit on the shoulder, I strongly disagree with your comment insinuating that it isn't possible that the particular pack would not fit them. In my experience, backpacks are pretty much like shoes - one that fits one person might be horrible for another. From the information in the question, however, I would also think that this one might fit @bambogli well, since you normally notice quite quickly if its uncomfortable. Aug 17, 2017 at 22:00
  • 1
    Thank you, that was quite informative! I packed it with almost the same weight as I would like to take, played around a bit with the straps and now it fits on my shoulder well. There's actually a 'back length' adjustment strap at the back as well so I adjusted it to my length. Thanks again!
    – bambogli
    Aug 18, 2017 at 10:51

Too long for a comment so will add this to complement the excellent answer by @Beanluc.

Referring solely to the picture.

Even with the apparent light weight of the pack, it appears that pack is adjusted too long for the person in the picture. The straps are attached to the pack well above her shoulders and the waist belt is sitting nicely on her hip bone. This means the harness length is an inch or two too long for a perfect fit. Adding weight will push the straps lower, but the waist belt might be too low to be well supported on her hips

This model pack does appear to have an adjustment for harness length. When buying, ensure that the harness can be shorten so the straps attach to the backpack at a height lower than the shoulder blade.


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