How to Make Backpack Straps Longer: A Step-by-Step Guide 

 August 12, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Imagine you're about to embark on a life-changing journey, an adventure that will take you beyond your comfort zone. You've planned everything meticulously and are ready to take the road less traveled. But just before you leave, you struggle with a seemingly mundane problem—your fully packed backpack refuses to sit comfortably on your shoulders! The straps are simply not long enough. 

You can lengthen the straps of your backpack straps by using an extender or adjusting the buckles that fasten the straps. Before making any changes, make sure that your backpack and its components are designed for a custom fit, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Now, take a deep breath, because what if I told you that hope is not yet lost? With our practical step-by-step guide to lengthening backpack straps, you’ll be back on track in no time. We've got your backpack crisis under control!

Determining the Desired Length of Backpack Straps

When it comes to determining the desired length of backpack straps, there are several factors that should be considered. The length of the straps can affect the comfort and fit of a backpack. Therefore, it is important that you choose the right length for your body type and activity level.

For example, if you plan to use your backpack for hiking or carrying heavy items for a long period of time, longer straps may be needed to provide more support and distribute the weight. On the other hand, if you only use your backpack for short periods of time or for lighter loads, shorter straps may be more suitable.

Incorrectly adjusted backpack straps can cause discomfort and even injury. This shows how important it is to adjust your backpack straps correctly and choose the right length for your body type and activity level. Your backpack must fit properly to avoid potential problems while hiking or doing other activities.

Some may argue that you don't need to worry about the length of the straps because most backpacks come with adjustable straps. While this is true to a certain extent, adjustable straps often have limitations when it comes to how far they can be lengthened or shortened. So if you determine the length you want in advance, you can ensure that adjustments can be made within the available range of adjustability..

Let’s take a look at how to measure your current strap length to determine how much extra length is needed.

Measuring Current Strap Length

Measuring your current strap length is the first step in determining how much extra length you need to achieve the desired fit. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to measure your current strap length:

Start by removing your backpack and measuring both straps separately. Make sure the straps are fully extended and not twisted or folded over.

It's important to measure both straps separately as they may not be exactly the same length due to wear or other factors, similar to measuring one foot at a time when getting fitted for shoes.

Next, lay the straps flat against a ruler or tape measure and measure from the top of the strap (where it attaches to the backpack) to the bottom of the strap (where it rests on your shoulder).

Remember that the measurement may not be exact as the straps may curve and bend depending on their shape and position on the backpack.

Some may argue that only one strap needs to be measured as adjustable straps should mirror each other. While this is true, it's still important to double-check both straps in case there are discrepancies.

With an accurate measurement of your current strap length, you can now decide on the additional length needed and obtain the necessary materials.

Deciding on the Additional Length Needed

Before you start gathering the materials and adjusting the backpack straps, you need to decide on the length you want your backpack straps to be. This decision is crucial as it'll determine the amount of additional length you need to add to your existing backpack straps. There are a few things to consider when deciding on the additional length needed.

For instance, if you experience discomfort when wearing your backpack, especially in your neck or shoulders, this could mean that your backpack straps aren't long enough. This can also lead to improper weight distribution, which puts strain on your back and shoulders. It is important that the backpack fits well and provides enough support to reduce the strain when carrying heavy loads.

Another critical factor is how you plan to use your backpack. If you're planning a multi-day trip with gear that requires bulky winter clothing or bigger tents, etc., then longer straps may be useful. On the other hand, if you're only going on a day trip, then shorter straps are sufficient.

However, some people might argue that short backpack straps don't always cause shoulder fatigue. There are, in fact, other reasons for shoulder fatigue, such as packing your backpack incorrectly. Packing too much gear in a small space makes the backpack too full, and placing bulky items in awkward places can lead to unbalanced weight distribution.

Think of it like baking: if you don't measure the ingredients correctly and alter them according to the recipe's criteria, the cake will probably not turn out as planned. Similarly, when adjusting the length of your backpack straps, think carefully about what is required and should be taken seriously.

Gathering Necessary Materials

Once you've decided on the desired length of your backpack straps, it's time to gather the necessary materials. It's a quick and straightforward project that doesn't require many components. You will usually need fabric, a measurement for the straps, and optional accessories.

For instance, let’s say you're looking for something durable and lightweight. In this case,ballistic nylon is an excellent choice for the straps of your backpack as it is very durable and easy to clean. If, on the other hand, you prefer extra padding, then a neoprene strap would be the ideal material for extra comfort.

Choosing the right fabric isn't just about durability, but it's also about how much weight the material adds to your overall luggage weight. You want to use a fabric that offers minimum weight and maximum support without compromising comfort.

However, there are also different types of extras that can be incorporated into the construction of longer backpack straps that can add both functionality and style – which brings us to the question of whether or not hardware is necessary. Some may argue that hardware like D-rings or snaps increase the likelihood of adding weight to your backpack strap. Others say that not having such things at hand when you’re on the move could prove impractical if you  do need them later.

Now that you have selected all the necessary components let's dive into our next section- the detailed steps involved in extending or lengthening backpack straps.

Selecting Fabric and Hardware

When choosing fabric and hardware for backpack straps, you should consider durability, the type of backpack, and your personal style. Choose fabrics that are sturdy and can withstand the weight of the backpack’s contents over time. Twill, Cordura, or canvas are excellent options as they offer excellent strength and rigidity.

Additionally, it is recommended to choose two different types of fabric to increase sturdiness. For instance, you could opt for a cotton twill fabric combined with a nylon Cordura fabric. This not only gives the straps extra strength but can also give the backpack a unique look.

Hardware is another important factor to consider when lengthening backpack straps. Buckles and adjustable clips are commonly used to lengthen backpack straps. However, if you want to further personalize your backpack straps or add embellishments, there are many other options such as clasps, carabiners, and rings.

For my own backpack strap project, I opted for nylon webbing coupled with metal D-rings in black color to enhance the overall look of the backpack strap while ensuring its durability.

To determine how much webbing material is needed, double the width of the original strap and then add half an inch. Make sure you buy enough material to complete both straps.

A tube turner is very useful when turning the fabric as it ensures precision and makes things easier since backpack straps are of different widths.

Once you have all the necessary materials, you can set about extending the backpack straps!

Detailed Steps to Lengthen Backpack Straps

Lengthening backpack straps may seem confusing at first, but  it's a relatively simple task that anyone can do even with minimal sewing experience.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to proceed:

  1. Start by removing the existing straps from the backpack. To do this, depending on the type of backpack, you will either need to cut the seams or unravel them with a seam ripper.
  2. Before you start lengthening the backpack straps, determine how much extra length is needed and note it down..
  3. Cut two pieces of fabric with the desired measurements from the previously selected fabric.
  4. Pin both pieces of fabric right sides together, making sure the straps are straight.
  5. Sew a narrow seam all-around, leaving a short side (not sewn), which will be used for turning.
  6. Use a tube turner tool to turn the strap right side out through the unsewn edge.
  7. Press your new backpack strap flat to make sure it has no wrinkles or ripples along the length and ends.
  8. Attach the desired hardware to both ends of the new strap either with clips or carabiners.
  9. In the final step, securely fasten each of the newly extended backpack straps to their respective attachment points on your bag according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Once the straps are extended, you can add more embellishments to create a unique design that stands out from conventional backpacks.

As you can see, it is quite easy to extend the straps of your backpack if you have access to some basic materials and sewing tools. When you are done with the adjustments, you will not only feel more comfortable wearing your backpack, but also when it fits like a glove!

Key Takeaway

Lengthening backpack straps may seem complicated, but it is a straightforward process that can be done by anyone with minimal sewing experience. It involves removing the existing straps, cutting new pieces of fabric, sewing them together, turning them right side out, attaching the hardware, and reattaching them to the backpack. Once the backpack is fitted and embellished, it will fit better and be more comfortable to wear.

Removing and Replacing Backpack Straps

One of the most crucial steps in lengthening backpack straps is removing and replacing them. It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually relatively easy once you get the hang of it. By following these steps, you can be sure that your backpack straps are securely attached and will not come loose while you’re wearing your backpack.

The first step is to place your backpack on a flat surface. Make sure the straps are fully extended and that there is no buckle or hardware blocking access to it. You may need to turn the backpack over or pull back a piece of fabric to see how the straps are secured.

Once you have enough access, you can begin to detach the original straps from your backpack.

Depending on the manufacturer, there are different ways to attach the backpack straps. So pay attention to how the straps are currently attached so that you can repeat the process. Most of the time, the backpack straps are either sewn directly onto the body of the backpack or attached with metal clips.

If the original straps of your backpack are sewn to the body of the bag, carefully remove all seams with a seam ripper or scissors. Make sure you only cut through the material that needs to be removed at the point. Carefully pull off any extra threads left behind when you ripped open the seams.

Once you’ve successfully removed all the stitching from one end of the strap, gently pull it until it releases from its anchor point on the bag. Repeat this process for all remaining anchor points that attach each strap to its respective side of the bag.

Removing backpack straps can feel like a toddler who has just learned to tie their shoelaces for the first time . It requires great focus and gentle hands as any misstep can result in damage to the backpack. Take your time, and if necessary, do it with a friend, family member, or someone who has experience with this task.

Once you have removed the original straps, you can now attach the new straps using the same anchor points.

Take one of the newly purchased straps and align it with the anchor point where one of the original straps was previously attached. Using a sturdy thread or a powerful sewing machine, sew the strap on just as tightly and securely as it was previously attached. Repeat the process on all remaining anchor points.

Attaching new backpack straps is like a reset button that breathes new life into an old backpack. Just like a revitalized phone after being reset to factory settings, your beloved backpack can be used again without worrying about the length of the straps.

After you have successfully replaced and sewn on the new straps, make sure your backpack is securely buckled before wearing it again and testing its fit.

Safety Precautions When Adjusting Straps

To avoid discomfort or injury when hiking with a backpack, proper adjustment of the backpack straps is crucial. While it may seem easy to adjust the straps to your needs, carelessness can lead to more problems than you expected.

It's important that you follow the manufacturer's instructions when adjusting the straps of your backpack so as not to compromise the safety features. If you do not adjust the straps properly, this can not only cause problems when walking, but also strain joints and muscles and lead to long-term damage.

Before adjusting the straps, hold on to the two shoulder straps of your backpack. Otherwise, you could lose your balance! From here on:

  • First loosen all the adjustment buckles so that the entire backpack hangs freely.
  • Put on both available shoulder straps and position the hip belt on your hip. Tighten this too.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps one at a time by pulling them down or up until both straps lie flat on your shoulders.
  • Most of the weight must rest on your hips, not on your back muscles. Adjust the hip belt so that it is tight but you can still breathe.

Here's a concrete anecdote last spring when my friend attempted to adjust the straps of his backpack without following the steps above. He wanted to make his backpack higher so that it wouldn't bump so hard against his back when he walked. This caused him to loosen the entire harness system, resulting in an unstable fit. In response, he leaned forward, put more strain on his back muscles and suddenly fell to the ground with all his equipment, damaging some of it!

Think of adjusting backpack straps like throwing a boomerang—if it is not thrown correctly or accurately, it will never return to your hand. Similarly, carelessly adjusting straps can lead to troubles that are not easily fixed.

Remember that adjusting your backpack straps is an essential part of a comfortable and unforgettable outdoor experience, so take your time and follow our steps to ensure a safe expedition.

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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