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How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside)
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Eli Palmer

Locale: Kamuela, Hawaii
How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/06/2014 19:08:03 MDT Print View

Hey everybody.

I recently got a new SMD Fusion 65 backpack. This is only the second backpack I have owned (formally a Blaze AC 60). I've read online about how a backpack *should* fit, but I thought I would ask you all here what you think.

The hip-belt part is very comfortable and have no issues with it. It's the shoulders that I'm wondering about.

Here it is loaded with 30lbs. What I am concerned about is the height of the frame. I've heard that the load-lifters should be at a 45* angle, but it appears that the frame is not tall enough to make that kind of angle. If the load-lifters are pulled tight, there is almost no angle. If I loosen them a little bit, I can get an angle of sorts.

It is an adjustable backpack, and I've tried all different sizes, and the medium seems to work the best. Please tell me what you think and if it's anything I should be concerned about, or anything I can fix.


Load lifters loosened a little bit.

Load lifters tightened all the way.Full profile. LL a little loose.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/06/2014 19:13:40 MDT Print View


Your pics really help in answering your question.

While fit is subjective, I feel you are correct in your concern, unfortunately. You're going to experience too much strain on your shoulders. I assume that your belt is in the proper position, so if it is, I suggest you return the pack and size up.

A poorly fitted pack, no matter how sweet the pack, will never make you happy.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/06/2014 19:20:49 MDT Print View

Get some pointers from Ron at SMD before concluding it won't work.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
reply on 06/06/2014 19:32:17 MDT Print View

If I'm not mistaken the torso height is adjustable, so there is no other size pack, right?

Regardless of that the load lifters angle 'should' be..
-Are you comfortable?
-Is the load mostly on your hips?


What I mean is, you say the medium torso length setting is the most comfortable. At that setting do you carry a lot of weight on your shoulders or mostly on your hips? If your load is mostly on your hips, and your comfortable then I'd say you're fine. In my experience the load lifters are mostly to pull your pack closer to your back, or make sure that at least it's not falling away from you up top (that is only in my experience with my packs though, it might work different with other pack designs).

Edited by jakuchu on 06/06/2014 19:32:58 MDT.

Eli Palmer

Locale: Kamuela, Hawaii
More pics on 06/06/2014 19:32:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for the insight.

Here is some more pics, I moved my belt up a little bit, maybe that will help?

Right Side




Edited by Wonkbro on 06/06/2014 19:36:46 MDT.

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Re: More pics on 06/06/2014 21:21:13 MDT Print View


I felt the same way when I bought the SMD Fusion pack. Although the hip belt is an amazing fit i felt like i could not get a comfortable fit with the yoke.

The yoke is fully adjustable within the S, M, and L settings.

The directions say to leave at least 3 inches of velcro attached to the spine (max setting on any of the three sections of the spine adjustment)

I would play around with it a little more to fine tune the adjustments.

AND, i would contact Ron at SMD as well like a previous post'er suggested.

Straight from the source couldn't be much better advice.

As for my personal opinion it looks good and If you are comfortable with the fit then go for it.

I myself and my personal experience, although not picky with pack fit (more picky with the features of the pack any integration into my system), do not like adjustable torso packs.

Edited by werne1nm on 06/06/2014 21:21:45 MDT.

Ivo K
(joylesshusband) - M

Locale: Mid-Atlantic (PA)
Re: More pics on 06/06/2014 21:26:48 MDT Print View

Your harness ("Yoke" as SMD calls it) is off.
SMD has another size of these which might be a better fit.
The spot where the load lifters connect to your shoulder straps should be not at the apex of the straps, nor behind it, but _IN FRONT_ of the apex.
Provide SMD with your photos and sicuss with them, as I'm sure they can offer a solution.

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: More pics on 06/06/2014 21:28:12 MDT Print View

The point at which the load lifters meet the shoulder straps can be adjusted via tri-glide (right term used?)

Good catch! i didn't see that.

Edited by werne1nm on 06/06/2014 21:29:11 MDT.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Are 45-degree lifters valid for this pack? on 06/06/2014 22:07:15 MDT Print View

> I've heard that the load-lifters should be at a 45* angle, but it appears that the frame is not tall enough to make that kind of angle.

I've read a fair amount of commentary on how, with a short light pack, chasing the chimera of 45 degree lifters is yesteryear's standard. If you search around on BPL you'll find that sentiment expressed not rarely. For example, Ken from another thread, discussing a different pack:

"I doubt you will ever get a 45 deg angle on the load lifters on that particular pack. The load lifter angle varies alot pack to pack and person to person. That being said, in general, many of the packs nowadays have load lifters that are far from fully functional and really provide little actual function. Some are really only there for show. In order for load lifters to be 100% functional then the frame or stays of the pack need to extend almost to ear height. If the load lifters on any given pack are only attached to the pack material and not the frame then they are basically there for show. Packs without a frame, that have load lifters are definitely only there for show..."

Here's Matt:

"But I totally agree with you that packs carrying lighter loads may not "need" the angle to be at 45 anymore, and thats why I'd suggest to consult the manufacturer, but I believe it is still a general "rule of thumb"..."

...and so on. My point being, there seems to be considerable debate on the necessity of 45 degree load lifters, depending on the pack. So load lifters at less than 45 may or may not be a reason to reject a pack, according to many.

Edited by Bolster on 06/06/2014 22:42:12 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Too short on 06/06/2014 22:55:07 MDT Print View

Hi Eli,

For the most recent picture the torso length of your pack is too short for the most comfortable carry - around 2" too short. The angle of the load lifters is a complete red herring, it is just that when you have the torso length correct many packs will have them approximately at that angle. If your pack is the wrong size the load lifters may be weird, but it is not the load lifter that are the problem. I would suggest you get the next larger size, and start from there. The thing that primarily matters to find the right fit is how much wraparound you have. Different people have different preferences, but a rough rule is the the strap should go from straight back to no more that 1 or 1 1/2" below the tops of your shoulder. I personally prefer straight back when I can get it, but it has been more than a decade since I have carried enough weight to need to place much on my shoulders, and hence need a bit of wraparound. YMMV.

A lot of people have misfit packs, almost always too short when they are off, and try to use the load lifters to compensate for the bad fit. That was not the original intention for the load lifters, which were designed to make micro adjustments to get things right with the inevitable in-between sizes you will have, unless you have a pack custom made for you. They were not intended, nor are they ideal, for compensating for a pack that is a whole size too small for you. If you are using the load lifter just to get a fit that feel comfortable you are already on the wrong track, IMHO.

Its basic physics, but if your straps go straight back when worn loaded then it is physically impossible for there to be weight pushing DOWN on you shoulders, though the strap will of course push back on your shoulder. In this case all the weight (downward force) is supported entirely on you hips, and the angle of the load lifters would not matter except to pull the pack towards you body. There is no need in that case (straight back shoulder straps) to lift weight off your shoulders since there wouldn't be any in that situation. Hence the angle would not matter. If you get a bit closer to that situation I predict many issues will resolve for you. Again, start by getting the torso length a bit longer.

Edited by millonas on 06/07/2014 00:15:39 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/06/2014 22:56:42 MDT Print View

>> I moved my belt up a little bit

Have you tried walking some with it on (loaded)? Take a brisk walk around the block, so that your hipbelt settles into where it's going to be when you're hiking.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/06/2014 23:57:11 MDT Print View

"so that your hipbelt settles into where it's going to be when you're hiking."

This! The attempt to shift the belt higher is a classic response to a pack that is too short - and doomed to failure when you start using it for real.

FYI, while last picture is almost ok the rest are not so useful. You need to take a picture down well below the waist belt. The most important action is going on at your waist, not at you shoulders, and it that isn't correct everything else will not make sense. If you are carrying the pack too much on your shoulders or trying to fudge the belt up because the pack is too short it can usually be seen from a full length picture. Though there is a certain amount of variation as to where different people like to wear the belt, this is usually due to anatomy, and unfortunately isn't usually something you can choose at your whim.

Edited by millonas on 06/07/2014 00:01:42 MDT.

Eli Palmer

Locale: Kamuela, Hawaii
More pics. on 06/07/2014 03:12:10 MDT Print View

Thank you all for all your help!

I will be contacting Ron to see if he can offer any advice.

This is the only size of this pack that they have. It is an adjustable torso length, so when people suggest I go up a size I just adjust it higher.

The problem with adjusting it higher is that the longer I make the torso, the shorter the distance is between the top of the frame and the top of my shoulders. In other words, I move the shoulder straps higher in relation to the frame. If the load lifters are simply to bring the load closer to my back, and not lift off my shoulders, this might be ok?

Also, the hipbelt is a double strap, I really don't get any "sliding down" that I notice. The hipbelt stays where I buckle it.

I have been on a 12 mile hike with the pack. In the beginning, it is fine, very comfortable. There is absolutely no weight on the back of my shoulders. By the 8th mile or so, I get a little soreness in my neck. It is very minor, and only on one side of my neck. I believe this may be caused by the inside edge of the shoulder strap contacting the muscle that runs fro my shoulders up my neck, and may be able to fix this by loostening the sternum strap.

On different occasions, it has been my collarbone that gets a little sore. It seems to be the horizontal "pulling back" pressure of the shoulder straps on my shoulders, rather than the vertical "pulling down" that's my problem. I'm wondering if this is normal with all packs?

I've attached some more photos, please excuse the shirtlessness, I wanted to show exactly what was going on!

Here's a view from the front. Ladies calm down. Just to show where my hip belt is sitting.

Side view of belt.
Left Side

Side view of belt.
Right Side

Here is a view of the gap between my shoulders and the shoulder straps.
Right Side Gap

Anouther view.
Left Side Gap

I can easily fit a clothes pin in there.
Clothes Pin

Edited by Wonkbro on 06/07/2014 03:15:56 MDT.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: More pics. on 06/07/2014 08:06:16 MDT Print View

"If the load lifters are simply to bring the load closer to my back, and not lift off my shoulders, this might be ok?"

Yes, they keep the load from leaning away from your body, and are not part of fitting the pack.
Forget those load lifters exist while fitting the pack, and don't worry about the angle. Loosen them all the way until you get the torso adjustment down.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: More pics. on 06/07/2014 08:39:46 MDT Print View


Much better! You can now choose to go shorter a TINY bit depending on how you like it. But basically now it is in the sweet spot range, where as before you were just plain too short. Now at this point you can play with the lifter adjustments, both the tension and the shoulder attachment positions, as well as the shoulder strap lenghts knowing the foundation is correct.

A possible remaining issue now is that your shoulder straps are probably adjusted too long, and the lifters too short. When you put you pack on you are going to want to adjust the straps in this order - waist belt, shoulder straps, load lifters, sternum. Possibly reverse the last two. You need to loosen and readjust them again each time you put the pack on.

So yes, as you inferred, there is indeed a hard limit on the torso length for an adjustable pack. The load lifters should be attached to the top of the frame with the straps attached below that. So as you lengthen the the torso length the distance between the place where the straps attach and the load lifter attach gets shorter, ergo smaller angle. The good news is if you have the right fit the lifters will not need to lift the weight off your shoulders. It is better if you have a pack that, when properly fit, has the lifters attach above, but the torso length will do nearly all the work for you if you have the right fit.

If you are carrying a 60 lb pack and the fit is not absolutely perfect, there will be a small fraction of the weight transferred to your shoulders. The problem is that a small fraction of a lot is still a lot, and shoulders are sensitive. This is when load lifter come into their own - they adjust the load off you shoulders to make it bearable. Also they allow you to make fine scale adjustments on the fly while you are walking - very useful when things inevitably shift around during the day, and depending on the terrain. Ideally the load lifters BOTH transfer the weight off you shoulder and back to you hips through the frame AND bring the pack snugger to you back, hence the old chestnut about the %45 angle. But for lightweight packs the former is not as much of an issue. So ideally the angle IS supposed to be there, but a good torso length fit makes the lifting function almost superfluous.

So in the picture above it now looks like the shoulder straps are a bit too loose and lifters are too tight and possibly the attachment positions should be tweaked. A good way to adjust the lifters is to put on the pack and loosen them all the way. Make sure the waist belt is in the right spot and tightened. Now take a few laps around the room to make sure it feels OK and has settled. After that tighten the load lifters until they are JUST tensioned. This should be about the best, but you can go for a little more if it stabilizes thing more to you satisfaction. But that "just-tensioned" length is in the close vicinity of perfect.

All of the above said, unless you have wobbling or other stability issues, if where it is at now feels good to you (you should have almost no weight on your shoulders now) then you can probably stop and be satisfied. But it will not hurt to now learn about and play with the other adjustments.

Edited by millonas on 06/07/2014 09:07:42 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
The "Yoke" on 06/07/2014 10:12:32 MDT Print View


I also bought an SMD Fusion 65, and immediately felt that the yoke was not simply not usable. (Of course, I thought the reason was that it wasn't designed for the female anatomy, but now I'm beginning to wonder if it's just not a good design for anyone!) So I made a new semi-MYOG yoke, and tried the pack with that. MUCH better

In short, I think there is something lacking in the design of their yoke, and I hope they do a re-design of it very, very soon. I think if the pack had the features of a ULA Circuit, a new/improved yoke, and its current suspension system -- it would be nearly perfect!

I believe that the Fusion's yoke is not meant to have a noticeable gap between the shoulder straps and your shoulders (as you have in the later photos), and I was told on the phone by SMD not to "crank down on the load lifters too much". Because the suspension system transfers weight VERY well, I think the shoulder straps are merely there to stabilize the pack, and that may be why they fit the curve of the shoulders more closely. The yoke's shoulder straps are extremely wide compared to other packs (name your brand), and maybe that's what's causing your discomfort on longer hikes.

I still haven't decided whether or not to keep the pack, but I'm currently leaning towards sending it back because of the lack of features (minimally useful side bottle pockets; back pocket is not to my liking).

Edited by Wildtowner on 06/07/2014 10:28:35 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: The "Yoke" on 06/07/2014 10:23:10 MDT Print View

"a noticeable gap between the shoulder straps and your shoulders"

V. This might be because you also have the shoulder straps too loose and the "lifters" too tight, but the shape may limit what you can adjust there.

Full disclosure, I have never seen one of these new packs in the flesh, but for a biggish volume pack where you might expect to sometimes carry a lot of weight it seem weird to not have more torso sizes. Adjustable torso length are nice for small adjustments, but if large ones are required then you run into issues like Eli is having. Possibly I'm missing some crucial conceptual idea about the new design, but is seems to me that as a result there are going to be qualitative fit difference for different sized torsos.

Edited by millonas on 06/07/2014 10:25:09 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
RE: Re: The "Yoke" on 06/07/2014 10:33:55 MDT Print View


You'd probably have to see the pack to understand how the adjustable torso length works (or at least watch a couple of the videos!). Conceptually, it's like Deuter's adjustable pack sizing, which works very well for most theoretically, it could work just fine. But - again - I think the current design of the yoke is "off", and they need a "version 2.0"! :^)

Eli Palmer

Locale: Kamuela, Hawaii
Shoulder yoke on 06/07/2014 13:14:24 MDT Print View

Thanks for all your replies. I emailed Ron and hopefully he will get back to me soon. I don't have much longer on my return window.

Yeah the yoke is kinda strange in that the shoulder straps essentially connect to the frame waay down the back about where your shoulder blades are, where it attaches to velcro. It almost seems like the points where the load lifters pull the shoulder straps back against the frame act like the attachment points.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: How does my backpack fit? (Pics inside) on 06/07/2014 14:33:18 MDT Print View

Eli, I see nothing wrong with the fit in your first series of photos. The load lifters should work just fine. Whether they and the other components work for you is another question. One little twinge at mile eight of one walk doesn't seem like much to get excited about just yet.