How to Attach a Backpack to a Suitcase: A Step-by-Step Guide 

 September 11, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Navigating through hectic airport terminals or crowded train stations with heavy luggage can sometimes feel like an exhilarating obstacle course. Add a stubborn backpack to the mix and the adventure becomes even greater. But no more of that! Imagine being able to effortlessly attach your backpack to your suitcase, cutting the load in half and turning the chaotic walk to the boarding gate into a relaxing stroll.

There are several ways to attach a backpack to your suitcase, including bungee cords, additional straps, or existing straps such as hip, chest, sternum, or shoulder straps. It's important to choose the right method depending on the size of your backpack and luggage. Always test the attachment before heading out on your trip to make sure it's secure and the weight distribution is balanced to prevent the backpack from tipping over.

We show you in a simple step-by-step guide how you can make this dream scenario a reality. Say goodbye to the hassle of lugging multiple bags around by their respective handles and enjoy the convenience of streamlined travel.

Understanding Different Attachment Methods

Many travelers love the convenience and freedom of traveling with a backpack, but the thought of lugging it around while hauling a suitcase can be stressful. Fortunately, there are methods to attach a backpack to your suitcase to make traveling easier and more comfortable. Here are some different attachment methods you can consider:

  • Luggage straps/sleeves: Many modern suitcases are equipped with luggage straps or sleeves on the back to securely fasten a backpack. This method is popular because it requires little effort and provides excellent stability. Once your backpack is in the sleeve, fasten the  strap with the buckle, making sure it doesn’t hang loose.
  • Add-a-bag straps: Another practical option are the add-a-bag straps, which attach to the handle or top of your suitcase and wrap around the bottom of your backpack. They’re usually adjustable in length and have buckles to secure the backpack tightly and safely to the suitcase.
  • Belts: A simple solution is to tie your backpack to the suitcase with belts or bungee cords. You can attach one or two belts around both bags to keep them together when you move.
  • Using existing straps: If you're in a pinch and don't have any extra equipment with you, try using the existing straps on your backpack. The chest, hip, or sternum straps may be sufficient if they're long enough to wrap around the handle of your suitcase.

Although these methods of attachment vary in ease and safety of combination, each carries its risks. 

Some travelers have argued that belts or bungee cords are cheaper solutions than buying special add-a-bag straps. However, using makeshifts like belts can cause problems, even though they keep costs down—because they can slip awkwardly during transport and need to be reattached frequently. Also, if your bag falls and gets damaged during transport, you may incur additional costs, such as repairs or lost time.

Others argue that add-a-bag straps offer the best combination of convenience and security when attaching a backpack to a suitcase. While this is true for many bags, you should definitely make sure that the straps or clasps can support the weight of your backpack. In rare cases, these clasps can accidentally loosen and fall off during travel, causing inconvenience and costly expenses for lost or damaged luggage.

Think of attaching your backpack to your suitcase as building a bridge. Make sure that both constructions are stable before connecting them. Check both bags for defects or breaks. If one falls apart, there is a good chance that the other will fail as well.

Using A Luggage Strap or Sleeve

With a luggage strap or sleeve, you can easily attach your backpack to your suitcase. Most modern suitcases have built-in straps on the back that are specifically designed for this purpose. If you have a sleeveless hard case or an old suitcase model without straps, don't worry – there are external luggage straps you can buy online.

If you want to use a luggage strap/sleeve, follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure there are no unwanted items hanging in the side pockets.
  2. Pack all fragile items in the middle of the backpack.
  3. Open the sleeves of your suitcase if it has one; otherwise, secure the back with a tight-fitting luggage strap.
  4. Push your backpack through the sleeve until it meets the bottom end.
  5. Secure the strap firmly with the buckle over the top handle of the suitcase and adjust as necessary.
  6. Check that there are no loose or dangling parts that can cause accidents or unnecessary movement.

Suppose your backpack or suitcase has an adjustable shoulder strap, chest, hip, and waist belt. In this case, you should stow it well so that it doesn't get tangled up with other passengers when you move your luggage around. If possible, you could even slide your bag through the cover and tighten the straps strapped at the front for extra stability.

A luggage strap/sleeve is probably the safest way to connect backpacks to suitcases. They ensure optimal weight distribution and reduce the pressure on your body when you push or pull while keeping your balance at rest.

However, one disadvantage of using a luggage strap/sleeve is that not all suitcases are equipped with them. Also, some backpacks don’t fit into the sleeve due to their odd shape, and while people are still experimenting with different times of duffel bags, they may need a unique system to attach them to the suitcase.Now that we understand how different these attachment methods are, let's dive into a step-by-step guide on how to use the one that works best for you!

Employing Add-a-Bag Straps

Add-a-bag straps are adjustable straps that come in different sizes and styles and allow you to securely attach your backpack to the telescoping handle of your suitcase.

Imagine running through an airport trying to catch your connecting flight with a heavy backpack on your shoulders. You might be sweating profusely, tired and uncomfortable. With the add-a-bag straps that attach your backpack to your suitcase, you can easily move through the crowd without carrying extra weight on your body.

Add-a-bag straps are quite affordable and typically cost between $5 and $20 depending on the brand, durability, and length of the strap. They come in a variety of materials such as plastic clips or metal clasps and as either elastic or adjustable nylon straps.

However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when using this attachment method. Firstly, make sure that you buy an add-a-bag strap that is compatible with your suitcase. Check that the strap will fit through the telescoping handle of the suitcase before buying.

Next, always double-check that the strap is firmly attached to both your backpack and the handlebar of your suitcase. Otherwise, your backpack could slip off and get lost or cause inconvenience to everyone around you.

While add-a-bag straps are a sturdy method of attaching luggage, they also ensure that the luggage is positioned higher than other methods, like belt attachments. This higher positioning can cause some imbalance and affect stability when you are trying to move around with multiple bags.

In addition, if the bag is not properly secured, it could be stressed by wobbling as it moves next to the suitcase. In such cases, if the add-a-bag straps are not tightened enough, the backpack or bag may wobble out of position and become an obstacle for the user instead of an added comfort..

An example would be someone who tried to secure their backpack to a piece of hand luggage using add-a-bag straps but did not check that all three connection points were securely fastened. As they walked through the airport, the backpack slipped out of its attachment point and dangled on one side, causing pain in their lower back and forcing them to carry the weight on one shoulder for the rest of the trip.

Therefore, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the best methods to ensure that you securely fasten your backpack to your suitcase.

Key Takeaway

Using add-a-bag straps can make traveling with suitcases and backpacks more comfortable and convenient. These straps are affordable and come in a variety of styles, but make sure they are compatible with your luggage and can be securely fastened. While add-a-bag straps offer a stable attachment method, the luggage can be positioned higher, which can affect stability if you’re traveling with multiple bags. Therefore, it is important to familiarize yourself with the best methods to avoid discomfort and injury when traveling.

Step-by-Step Guide: Attaching Backpack to Suitcase

Preparation is key when attaching a backpack to a suitcase. Make sure both bags are light enough and manageable before you think about putting them together. Also, consider what goes where and pack each bag carefully.

An example of this  would be to pack heavier items such as laptops, books, and toiletries in your backpack and leave lighter clothes in your hand luggage. This way you can balance the weight distribution of both bags and increase comfort at the same time.

Next, attach the two bags with add-a-bag straps or other means such as belts and bungee cords. Use what works best for your body type so that you don't put too much strain on your spine when carrying both bags.

Think about how you would balance small packages on a stroller. You want to make sure that you distribute the weight evenly so that you have optimum balance and can move around easily while keeping your hands free. The same applies if you are trying to attach a backpack to a suitcase.

After you have fastened the bags, check thoroughly that everything is in place before you take the first step. Walk with balance and check during the movement that nothing comes loose unexpectedly.

Following the above steps could make your travel experience more comfortable as you can significantly reduce the amount of work involved in carrying both pieces of luggage.

Preparation, Process and Safety Check

Attaching a backpack to a suitcase may look like a simple task, but it requires good preparation, execution, and safety measures. Before attaching, ensure that you have an appropriate attachment method for the size and weight of your backpack and luggage. Careful placement of items in your backpack will also help you maintain balance while attaching it to the suitcase.

First, open your backpack and remove any bulky items or those that could damage other items in the bag or your luggage during transport. Also, remove any items that could prevent access to the important pockets of the backpack that are used for attachment. Clearing out your backpack will make it less heavy and easier to maneuver.

Before attaching a backpack to your luggage, be sure to check airline policies regarding carry-on weight restrictions as these regulations vary from airline to airline. Some airlines prohibit the use of add-on straps such as bungee cords, while others only allow special add-on straps designed specifically for this purpose.

If you use add-on straps such as bungee cords or belts, you should test them thoroughly before departure by pulling on both ends of the straps after attaching them to both items. A safer option would be to use luggage covers or special add-on straps with buckle closures that securely attach to the backpack.

When fixing, also make sure that heavy items are placed evenly at the bottom and lighter ones at the top. This arrangement distributes the weight evenly across the backpack when it is carried on a suitcase. Be careful not to overpack as this can cause bulges that are uncomfortable when put on and can cause instability.

Double-check that all straps and pouches used for attachments are securely fastened. Pull a little on each item after you have closed all clips and zippers. This will help you determine if there is still a loose attachment point that could cause an accidental fall during transport.

After attaching my backpack to my suitcase, I once left it unattended for a few minutes until it fell off and scattered all my belongings. Since that incident, I always make sure that the add-on straps are fastened.

The next step in attaching the backpack to the suitcase is to distribute the weight properly between the two items.

Tips to Balance Weight Distribution

It's important to keep your balance when attaching your backpack to your luggage to prevent unexpected swaying due to too much weight on one side. Thus, it's crucial that you distribute the weight evenly between the backpack and the suitcase. Here are some tips on how to distribute the weight evenly and transport your luggage safely:

  1. Pack the heaviest items down - If you pack heavy items first, the weight will be evenly distributed between both pieces of luggage. Put heavier items of clothing such as boots and jackets at the bottom of your backpack and position them above the wheels of your suitcase.
  2. Use compression bags - Compression bags help reduce the bulkiness of your luggage and create more space accordingly. This allows you to place lighter items on top of lighter gear without compromising weight distribution.
  3. Distribute the weight evenly - Distribute the weight between both pieces of luggage. If your backpack is mostly empty, fill it with lighter items rather than filling one side of the suitcase to the brim. This way, your backpack is on the same weight level as your luggage.
  4. Balance when pulling - When you start walking after attaching your backpack and suitcase, lean slightly forward to use the wheels of your luggage to gently maneuver both pieces of luggage over bumpy roads.
  5. Adjust during transport - If you feel that your backpack is causing your suitcase to tip over, adjust the straps or the distribution of the litter in both bags. Regular readjustment can help reduce the likelihood of the backpack tipping over during transport.

On my last trip, I thoughtlessly placed all my heavy items at one end without paying attention to the weight distribution. The result was that I could hardly cope with the swaying caused by the unequal weight at each step.

Think of weight distribution as a game of dominoes. Small adjustments are essential to prevent everything from toppling catastrophically; it’s best to anticipate any imbalance before you start moving.

In addition, regulations differ from airline to airline, so it's always advisable to check the respective guidelines for weight baggage before your trip.

Airline Regulations for Attached Luggage

If you are traveling with attached luggage, it is important that you know the airlines' regulations to avoid complications. Most airlines allow travelers to attach a backpack to their luggage, but there are certain guidelines that must be followed. Airlines have size and weight restrictions for carry-on and checked baggage. If your luggage exceeds the airline's size or weight limit, you may be charged an additional fee or even not be allowed to board.

For instance, let's say you're flying with Delta Air Lines. The maximum size for a carry-on bag is 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 cm), including wheels and handles. If you attach your backpack to a suitcase with add-a-bag straps or bungee cords, make sure the combined size of both bags does not exceed this limit. If you've checked in your suitcase and want to take your backpack as a personal item, it should meet the airline's size and weight requirements.

Checking your airline's website before you travel can help you understand their specific requirements. Most airlines provide detailed information about baggage restrictions on their website under "Baggage Information" or "Baggage Regulations."

Some people may argue about whether it is unnecessary to attach a backpack to your suitcase and whether this can be a hindrance when traveling. However, if you follow the appropriate safety measures, you can increase efficiency and comfort when traveling to different places.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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