What Are All the Loops on My Backpack For? 

 June 29, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

These days, backpacks come with many useful features including loops. They are more common in hiking and outdoor backpacks, though they can also be found in some school, laptop, and work backpacks. However, many people are unsure about what they are used for.

Backpack loops are used for external load-bearing, so that you can increase the capacity of your pack by carrying things outside of it. Accessories such as clips, straps, cords, or carabiners can be used to attach camping gear or external bags to the gear loops outside of your pack.

Backpack loops are extremely useful for many reasons, but there are many things to consider to use them properly. Read on below to learn more.

What Are the Loops on a Backpack For?

When using your backpack, either for commuting to work or going on camping and outdoor trips, it’s important to keep your valuable gear inside your pack for protection.

Meanwhile, you can use the exterior loops for attaching a wide range of things that may not fit inside of your pack. Also known as gear loops, they can come in a range of designs including daisy chains, reinforced nylon webbing, plastic loops, and others. They also come in different sizes and strengths; some are more appropriate for attaching small and light items, while others are designed to be heavy-duty for attaching bulkier, heavier camping gear.

Backpack loops are handy for expanding the capacity of a pack because it enables you to mount things outside of it. It’s also beneficial for attaching items that you want quick and easy access to, without having to dig through your pack. You’ll need some accessories for attaching items to these loops, such as carabiners, straps, or cord.

Depending on the backpack type or its purpose, loops can be strategically designed in many parts of the pack. They are usually found on the top, bottom, back, hip belt, or shoulder straps. In some cases, haul loops can even be found on the side compression straps. 

For example, outdoor backpacks can have loops that are meant for attaching trekking poles, ice axes for use in the winter, or carrying sleeping pads.

Outdoor and camping backpacks are usually designed with multiple loops. Depending on what you need to attach, you may need just one loop per item or may decide to use several loops at once to ensure secure mounting especially for larger things.

Types of Backpack Loops

There are many different backpack loops that are designed with a purpose in mind.

Shoulder strap loops

Shoulder strap loops enable you to place some small or light items such as a knife, phone, water bottle, or GPS. Pouches may be purchased separately and attached to shoulder strap loops.

Carry loop

Carry loops are located above the shoulder straps. These are not intended for attaching gear but are used for picking up the bag.

Molle webbing

Tactical and military backpacks can come with mole, which are meant for attaching smaller bags or pouches outside of the bag. They are commonly used for attaching water bottles or first aid kits. However, you don’t have to be in the military to appreciate these features; you can also use these packs if you require heavy-duty backpacks because they are made with military standards in mind.

Hip belt loops

Hip belt loops are ideal for attaching items that you need to have quick access to, because they are easy to reach. Examples of items you can attach to hip belt loops include mobile phones, a map, GPS, water bottle, or a knife.

Back loops

A majority of outdoor backpacks usually come with at least 4 back loops, which are placed either horizontally or vertically. Back loops can be used for bulky equipment including cylindrical tent bags. You will need bungees, cords, or straps to connect both sides of the back loops.

Ice axe loops

Hiking backpacks with thin loops found on the bottom rear are for gear with sharp objects, such as ice axes, trekking poles, and backpacking shovels. The bottom rear is the safest place for attaching these items because you don’t want them to be moving about freely on other areas of the pack or they could be dangerous.

Bottom loops

Adjustable straps located on the bottom of a backpack are for attaching large items such as a tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad. Most overnight and multi-day camping backpacks already come with bottom loops.

Examples of Backpacks With Loops

There are many excellent backpacks with loops that are suitable for a wide range of purposes. Here are some examples that you can find on our website:

-   Osprey Hikelite 26 Hiking Backpack
-   N Nevo Rhino Internal Frame Hiking Backpack
-   Loowoko Hiking Backpack 50L

Uses For Backpack Loops

You can use backpack loops for attaching anything that you don’t want to place inside the pack. Here are some examples:

  1. 1
    Attaching smaller items that you will need quick access to. These include a GPS, knife, phone case, or ditty bag that are clipped onto the gear loops.
  2. 2
    Mounting external bags. External bags and pouches can be attached to loops. In fact, some backpack manufacturers already make small day packs that can easily be attached onto backpack loops so that you have more space. The same pack can then be use for going on day hikes from base camp.
  3. 3
    Carrying sleeping bags and sleeping pads. Gear loops that are located on the bottom of a backpack are made for carrying sleeping bags.
  4. 4
    Drying your clothes or shoes. When going on long excursions, backpack loops are an excellent way to dry your clothes or hanging dirty/smelly gear such as shoes, while ensuring that the inside of your pack is free from dirt and water.
  5. 5
    Bringing bulky or unusual gear. Avid adventurers who go on winter camps and excursions will need unusual equipment such as shovel for camping, ice axe, and other tools. Backpacks loops are perfect for carrying this gear, but be sure to balance the load to keep yourself stabilized.

Important Considerations

When planning a trip and deciding what to use gear loops for, it’s important to remember that there are some considerations that you need to think about.

If you intend to bring along heavy items such as heavy-duty camping gear, tents, or axes, these should be properly secured. It’s recommended that hiking gear be stored inside the pack, which places it near the center of gravity and close to your back. If you attach heavy items to a gear loop, it could pose a safety hazard by pulling you down and even causing you to tip over.

Any items that are attached onto gear loops can destabilize you especially if they are heavy. This is not only a safety risk but it can also be dangerous when you are trekking through rocky terrane, steep inclines, and descents. In addition, bulky items attached to the outside of your pack can cause you to get tangled in vegetation if you are walking through wooded areas of a trail.

To be safe, always make sure that any item you attach to the outside of your back has been fastened on securely and will not be moving around.


Using gear and haul loops correctly can make a big difference in helping you save time and space no matter how you intend to use them. They will help keep your backpack organized and enable you to efficiently fit the items you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use daisy chain loops on a backpack?

Daisy chain loops on backpacks were originally designed to carry gear used by rock climbers, though these days there are many beneficial uses for them. They are used to increase carrying capacity of a backpack by attaching gear on the daisy chains, as long as they aren’t too heavy.

You can put virtually anything on daisy chain loops as long as they fit. Some examples of these include wet clothing, camera, phone, or a water bottle. You will need some accessories to secure the item on the daisy chain loop such as a rope or carabiner, which also helps ensure that they won’t fall out.

Here are some tips to help you use daisy chains correctly:

  1. 1
    Make sure that the weight inside and outside the backpack is distributed evenly. Whatever you attach to the daisy chain shouldn’t compromise your balance while you carry the backpack. Heavier items should be kept in the bottom and center of the backpack.
  2. 2
    Provide additional support when loading heavier items. If you are using daisy chain loops to bring clothes and other light belongings, there shouldn’t be a problem but if you are carrying heavier things such as a sleeping pad, you should use additional support in the form of ropes or carabiners to tie it to the loops.
  3. 3
    Keep your gear still. Hanging anything from a daisy chain loop that swings as you walk can be dangerous and uncomfortable during a hike. They can throw you off balance or get caught in vegetation.

Last but not least, keep in mind that daisy chain loops on backpacks vary in size and width, which also means that its durability will vary. Thicker daisy chains can carry heavier items, while narrower ones can carry smaller gear.

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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