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How to Hike

How to Fix Loose Backpack Straps

There's nothing worse than having loose backpack straps flopping around. They can snag onto branches, they can get annoying when they constantly swing or tap you, and they look sloppy. In this guide I'm going to show you some simple ways to fix loose backpack straps in a minute or so.

In this Guide:
  • Prep Before Adjusting Straps
  • 3 Ways to Fix Loose Backpack Straps

Prep Your Pack First

The first thing that you want to do is fill the backpack to the maximum that you will ever fill it. We're doing this because we need to fit the backpack correctly before we deal with the loose straps.

Fill The Backpack Up
The best move is to make sure it's as heavy as it's going to get, and then fill the rest with a puffer jacket or sleeping bag so that the volume is full as well.
Putting Backpack On
Put the backpack on and make sure it's fit correctly. Then find which webbing straps are too loose.

Once you have identified the loose ends, take the backpack off without adjusting any of the straps. Now you can deal with the straps with loose ends.

Loose Straps Method 1: Tape

The first method for tidying up the loose ends involves using electrical tape or duct tape (which you might have to trim down with a scissor). You want to find a tape that is tough and will withstand the elements. You can spend more on a tape made for the outdoors, but I find it's easy enough to pick up electrical tape at the hardware store for under $5. At some point all the tape will deteriorate from moisture and UV, and then you just replace it. I get a decent life out of electrical tape.

Peice Of Tape For Backpack Strap
Break off about 3 inches of tape and put it to the side.
Finding Right Backpack Strap Length
Pick a point about an inch or so away from the end to trim to. You still want to give yourself a little bit of room on the strap to adjust and pull on.
Rolling Backpack Strap Up
Roll the strap up from the end to the point that you picked in the last step.
Tape End Of Backpack Strap
Take the piece of tape from earlier and wrap it around the rolled-up strap.
Rolled Up Backpack Strap
Now you'll have a nicely wrapped up backpack strap, all done.
Rolled Up Backpack Strap In Use
Here's what it looks like in action. The bulk of the rolled-up strap is also good to pull on.

Loose Straps Method 2: Velcro

This method of wrapping up loose straps is the same as the tape method, but instead we're going to use two-sided velcro, which you can also pick up in any hardware store. The velcro is good if you want to adjust the length of the straps when you're using the backpack. The downside of this method is that the velcro can get knocked off easily, especially if you are hiking through overgrown branches.

Loop At End Of Backpack Strap
This method works best when there's a loop at the end of the strap.
Cutting Two Sided Velcro
First cut a piece of the two-sided velcro about 3 inches long.
Cutting Velcro In Half
Then cut the velcro strip in half.
Velcro In Backpack Strap
Put the velcro strip into the loop at the end of the backpack strap. If you don't have a loop, you can just hold it next to the strap.
Rolling Backpack Strap With Velcro
Roll the backpack strap up with the velcro hanging out of one end.
Velcro Around Backpack Strap
Then just wrap the velcro around the rolled-up backpack strap and you're done.

Loose Straps Method 3: Cut the Strap

If you're confident that you'll never need the extra backpack strapping, you can just cut the strap. For this method you just need some scissors and a lighter or candle.

This method only works on nylon (plastic) backpack straps. It doesn't work with cotton or natural fibers.

Cutting Backpack Strap
Pick a spot were you want to cut the strap. Measure twice, cut once, as they say. Don't forget to leave a little room. You don't want to cut right at the buckle.
Frayed End Of Backpack Strap
After you cut the strap, the end will be frayed. We want to seal that end so that the strap doesn't unravel.
Backpack Strap Over Flame
Gently run the frayed end over top of the flame. You don't want to put it in the flame, but rather right above it so that the heat melts and seals the frayed end.
Sealed Backpack Strap
And that's it, you have a sealed backpack strap that's shortened. Just take care not to pull the buckle off the back of the strap.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.