I cannot stress this enough: It is so incredibly important to get the right gear for you. Sometimes that means taking months to find the right shoes or pack. But it is entirely worth the end result. When you’re hiking long distances it can really take a toll on your body; you need to be comfortable. Don’t sacrifice on shoes just because they were on sale. If you’re backpacking you really do need those shoes with the ankle support! And you need a pack that fits well, it’s not worth getting one that’s too big or too small because it was cheaper. Your body will thank you later when you get one that’s just right.
I’m a small person and that has made it really difficult to find gear that fits me well, especially backpacks and packs. I spent well over an hour at REI trying to find a pack that fit me well. And the staff there were amazing and were not giving up. I tried every brand they had, even in the kids sizes. Everything was just a little bit too big. The kids sizes fit pretty well, but the packs weren’t big enough to get me through the AT. Luckily for me Osprey has interchangeable parts, the tricky part will be getting the sizes I need. It turns out I need a size small pack but extra small belt and harness. So I need mine special ordered (if that’s possible… I have to go back and find out). But the REI staff were so wonderful and really determined to get me into the best fitting pack possible. It can really hurt you in the long run if you’re in something that doesn’t fit to you.
The point I’m trying to get across is this: Take your time. Don’t rush the buying process. Go somewhere where the staff is knowledgable and willing to take the time to help you. Don’t give up hope if you’ve tried on several packs and none seem to fit just right, trust me, there’s a pack out there for you. Every brand fits a little bit differently, so unless you’re 100% sure of the fit avoid buying online especially if it’s your first product from that brand. And if you’re small, like me, don’t lose hope!! You can, and will, find a pack that fits you!!!