How To Protect Your Backpack When Checked as Luggage 

 July 29, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Spacious backpacks are ideal for conveniently traveling and exploring several destinations in one go. However, many of them may not meet the airlines’ requirements for carry-on, so you would have to check them in as luggage. But what is the best way to protect your backpack from accidents and loss when it’s in the luggage area?

There are many effective methods for ensuring your backpack is protected even when it’s checked in as luggage. The most popular techniques involve covering the pack with a backpack or rain cover, making sure all backpack straps are secured, and using combination locks.

It can be worrisome to check in your backpack, but there are tried-and-tested techniques you can do for peace of mind as well as the safety of your belongings. Read on below to learn more.

How To Protect Your Backpack When Checked In as Luggage

Backpacking is always a great way to discover new cities.

However, careful planning is essential. Many travelers prefer to use backpacks because they’re a more convenient way to carry all your belongings around and help to distribute weight equally, as opposed to a suitcase. These models, for example, are popular among backpackers:

Given the sheer size of the backpacks used for this kind of travel, they would have to be checked in as luggage when traveling via plane. Because of this, travelers want to ensure that their backpack and belongings are safe even when tossed into the baggage conveyor belt or moved around by baggage handlers.

Here are effective ways to protect your backpack – and remember, you can use more than one of these tips at the same time for the best results:

Cover the Backpack

If your backpack comes with a rain cover or you have a detachable one, it’s a convenient way to protect the exterior of your backpack. Rain covers do a good job of protecting backpack fabrics from getting torn because it already provides a layer of protection.

Perhaps you already have the ideal backpacking backpack, then you just need a rain cover or simply want to reinforce the existing cover, you can do by using one separately. Below are some recommendations from Amazon that you may find helpful (we earn a small commission if you decide to purchase from any of these links):

What You’ll Need:

For this process, you’ll only need a waterproof backpack rain cover that can fit the size of your backpack:


Backpack covers are straightforward and easy to use- they usually come with buckle straps and elastic to keep them in position. Wrap it around your backpack ensuring that all corners are covered though the shoulder and hip straps are still exposed so that you can carry it. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to be sure.

Securing All Straps

Loose backpack shoulder, waist, and chest straps can easily get caught up with other bags on the conveyor belt. These should be secured by tying them together using zip ties or tape to keep them in place.

What You’ll Need:

-   Zip ties are a quick and easy solution for keeping backpack straps in place:

-   Packing tape is a good alternative to zip ties as you can simply tape up loose straps:


To use zip ties, gather the straps in each backpack section closely together. For example, both backpack shoulder straps should be wrapped together. Place the straps inside a zip tie, then put the strap into the small hole to leave a secure, zipping effect as tightly as needed.

Here's a video tutorial on using zip ties.

On the other hand, duct tape can press loose straps in place outside of your backpack. Duct tape can also provide added protection for the bottom seams, zippers, and straps of your backpack.

Combination Locks

Combination locks, or TSA (Transportation Security Administration)-friendly locks, prevent anyone from getting into your backpack especially if your pack doesn’t already come with lockable zippers. These protect your backpack from theft and give you peace of mind.

If you are traveling around the United States, using a TSA-friendly lock is recommended because they have the authority to open bags and luggage for screening if they see a legitimate reason to do so even if the owner isn’t around. A TSA-friendly lock makes the process simpler for them as well as for you, because without a TSA-friendly lock, they may have to cut or break existing locks to get through your backpack.

However, combination locks are always a good alternative if you are traveling outside of the country. You simply have to remember the PIN that you’ve entered in order to open it up – or at least write it in a safe place.

Either way, when using a lock on your backpack, it’s helpful to use tape to press it onto the body of the pack so that the lock isn’t loosely hanging. Loose locks, along with your backpack, can be pulled into the space between two conveyor belts. The force is strong enough to rip the locks off the baggage and even cause damage on to the zipper or entire backpack.

What You’ll Need:

Use the lock of your choice; combination locks come in a few varieties such as the single-dial lock or multi-dial locks, which require a 3 or 4-digit PIN. Depending on the style of your bag, you may need more than one lock to secure all the zippers.


  1. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to open the lock and check for the reset code though it’s usually 0-0-0 depending on the number of digits.
  2. Open the lock and swing the arm over a zipper (or two, or three if they can fit). If you want to use one lock for several zippers that are far away from each other, a large zip tie should be first tied around several zippers, then attach the combination lock onto the zipper.
  3. Turn the shackles to align the notches to the other slots.
  4. Hold the shackle down then set the dials to enter your PIN.
  5. Release the shackle and go back to the regular position. The new lock will now be secure with your own personal PIN.

Seal All Liquids Inside Your Backpack

Liquids and alcohol are among the things you can’t bring on your carry-on bag. These will need to go into your checked-in luggage, but be sure to seal and wrap all containers and bottles that contain liquids or alcohol. You can simply use some duct tape to seal the containers in place, preventing accidental spills that can wet or ruin your clothes and other belongings.


These are useful and effective tips for keeping your backpack protected when it’s checked in. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry especially when it comes to your belongings when you travel; this guide helps you ensure your pack is secure.

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

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