What to Do With a Broken Backpack: Creative Upcycling and Repurposing Ideas 

 August 2, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

We've all been there: you drop your backpack, its contents spill onto the floor, and you realize you hear a crunch. Heart pounding, you turn the backpack over to find the strap torn, the zipper ripped, or the fabric cracked. All your supplies roll around, and you mourn the loss of your beloved bag. But don't mourn for too long – there's still hope for your broken backpack, and we're here to give you the best ideas for upcycling and repurposing.

From arts and crafts to amazing DIY projects, you'll be surprised at how many creative possibilities that come from a broken backpack. You don't have to throw your broken things in the trash heap – you can turn them into something fresh and new.

Depending on the type and severity of the damage, you may be able to repair your broken backpack with a few simple tools and supplies. If the damage is too extensive, you should take your backpack to a professional who specializes in backpack repair.

In this blog post, we'll go over how to upcycle and repurpose your backpack and show you how to turn its destruction into a work of art. So grab some tools, a needle, and thread—and let's get started.

Check for Damage and Visiting the Store for Help

If you have a broken backpack, the first thing you should do is inspect it for damage and make sure there is nothing that needs immediate repair. Consider whether the backpack might just need simple stitching to patch up a hole or whether it is beyond repair. It is important to determine the degree of damage before making a decision about upcycling or repurposing.

Some stores offer a free service to help you identify the problem and find possible repairs for the broken backpack. Although stores often cannot fix all types of damage, customers should ask if they offer goods or services that can help them such as patches or sewing kits as some stores are more willing than others to assist their customers. Customers should remember to check product guarantees and warranty policies in case their backpack is eligible for a replacement rather than an expensive repair.

Ultimately customers must decide for themselves which course of action makes sense in their particular situation. They must weigh the cost of repairing the backpack against the cost of buying a new one and then decide which makes more sense. After you have determined what needs to be done, it's time to move on to the second step: checking for torn zippers and straps.

This part of the process is about carefully inspecting all the components and zippers of the backpack and finding out exactly what needs to be repaired so that the backpack can be used properly again.

Check for Torn Zippers & Straps

Once you have noticed tears, broken straps, and other damage to the backpack, it is time to take a closer look at the zippers and straps. Depending on the severity of the tear, you may be able to do some minor repairs at home.

If the tear isn't too bad and only affects a small part of the zipper,you may be able to patch it up with colored tape or fabric note: this is not a long-term solution). However, if the damage requires the complete replacement of a zipper pull or metal slider, you will probably need to take the bag to a professional.

When assessing the quality of straps, pay attention to whether they are fraying or coming loose from their rivets and seams. Often, these components can be repaired, at least temporarily, with a patching kit or needle and thread. In some cases, however, an experienced tailor is required if you want a permanent fix.

Even if you are inspecting a seemingly intact strap and closure mechanism, make sure that all screws and snap hooks are tight and show no other signs of wear.

Due to the potential complexities and risks associated with DIY backpack repairs,the following recommendation should only be taken as supplementary advice if you aren't confident in making repairs yourself. 

DIY Fixes for Backpacks

If your backpack is showing more than simple wear and tear, fixing it yourself can be a detailed, time-consuming process that requires the right materials, patience, and precision. Depending on the skills of the craftsman, this may or may not be an option. Even if you have never sewn anything before, there areYouTube tutorials on sewing, stitching, and reweaving ripped material  to guide you through the process.

It is important to note that DIY backpack repairs are not infallible. Home remedies are no substitute for professional tailoring, which requires a certain level of skill. A failed repair is disheartening, but sometimes it is necessary to make mistakes in order to master the craft. Besides, the satisfaction of having created something beautiful outweighs any possible disappointment of a failed attempt.

Every DIY project carries some risk, but there are steps you can take to minimize mistakes. Do your research before jumping into the project as this is a good place to start. Find out which fabrics are compatible with each other and which needles are best for which fabrics.

Once you have gathered enough information, start testing your stitches and knots on scraps of fabric first until you feel confident enough to proceed with the main project. After you have done all the trials, your backpack will probably look better than it originally did!

It is not always possible or practical to repair every backpack issue with home remedies alone; in cases like these, switching to a new backpack might be the most sensible choice. 

Take Apart and Sew on New Material

Whynot simply take apart the worn or broken bag and sew together a new one from the same material? This method gives more freedom to repurpose your backpack without having to buy something new. You can even sew on a unique material and give your bag an original look.

On the one hand, this route requires more skill if you plan to make a functional backpack after taking it apart. You should also have the necessary skills in sewing and constructing bags.

On the other hand, tackling a project like this can be worthwhile because it boosts your confidence to do things yourself and improve your craft skills. Also, replacing old straps with longer ones, or using different bags or materials can make all the difference when you want to breathe new life into an old bag.

Remember that upcycling is always an eco-friendly option to extend the life of your backpack’s materials. For those who want to do something good for the environment and create something unique at the same time, disassembling and reconstructing a backpack seems like an ideal option - especially if you give it a personal touch !

Now that we have talked about creative ways to repair an aging backpack, let's explore some low-cost alternatives to expensive repairs.

Buy New Bags and Save Money!

Whether to recycle a broken backpack or buy a new one is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Buying new bags can be an effective way to save money, depending on what type of bag you buy. Many shops have sales from time to time where you can buy a high-quality product at a good price.

Also, many people buy several bags during their lifetime/ If you plan ahead, you can minimize the cost by taking advantage of sales or discounts at the right moment. On the other hand, buying a new bag can cost more in the long run than repairing the old one.

Another factor you should consider is quality. No matter how much money you spend, if you buy a bag of inferior quality, it may not last as long as you would like. In addition, different brands of bags come with different warranties, which means that if something goes wrong, you will be covered by the warranty policy of the respective company.

No matter what decision you make regarding your broken backpack, each option has its pros and cons; weigh them up before making an informed decision. Although buying a new bag is often cheaper than repairing and re-sewing the old material, there are still other factors to consider, such as the quality of the backpack and warranty coverage - savings should not come at the expense of quality.

Let’s take a look at another creative way to use your existing backpacks: visit bag outlets or online shops for new design material!

Visit Bag Outlets or Online Shops

Visiting bag outlets or online shops allows you to purchase new bags and save money rather than spending more on a replacement. With this approach, you are completely free to choose the style, color, and material of the backpack you buy.

For those who don’t have a strict budget plan and prefer unique styles, buying new bags is an excellent choice. Bag outlets and online shops have an abundance of fashionable backpacks for all ages, for specific uses such as hiking or school, and for all types of budgets (from affordable to more expensive models). Shopping for a new backpack can be exciting as it offers the opportunity to explore trends and styles that will fit your individual needs.

HOwever, some people find visiting bag outlets or online shops  too expensive and prefer upcycling or repurposing their broken backpack instead. The decision is in the hands of the individual, but both options offer financial savings compared to buying a brand-new backpack. In light of recent events around sustainability and climate change, choosing to upcycle over purchasing a new product may be even more desirable due to its environmental benefits.

When deciding what to do with a broken backpack, you have several options. You can look for a replacement in bag shops or online shops, or you can make something new out of the old backpack, such as an upcycled product. Each option has its advantages and is suitable for different preferences and budgets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to recycle a broken backpack?

Yes, it is possible to recycle a broken backpack. Most recycling centers and waste collection companies can accept items like backpacks that contain broken parts or zippers, as long as these parts are separated. There are also many creative ways to upcycle and repurpose a broken backpack.

For instance, you can use the straps and fabric pieces of the backpack to make a new purse, laptop sleeve, or tablet case. Alternatively, use the fabric and padding to make throw pillows, seat cushions, or even stuffed animals—the possibilities are endless!

What are some creative uses for a broken backpack?

  1. A broken backpack can be used as a small garden planter! Simply cut out the bottom of the back in the shape you want, line it with drainage material, and fill it with soil and your favorite flowers or vegetables. Add some handles so you can easily carry it around your garden or patio and you have a beautiful planter!
  2. If you love art projects, you can use your broken backpack to create a unique wall hanging. Cut out interesting shapes from the fabric, add batting and colorful fabrics to make a collage on the surface and decorate it with metallic threads or embroidery stitches.
  3. Use the straps of your broken backpack to create a useful storage space for small items. Take two straps, cross them over each other, and attach them to a wall, either with nails or adhesive hooks. Then hang smaller items such as keys, necklaces, or scooters on the crossed loops for easy storage and access.
  4. Repurpose your broken backpack into an organizer for your car's trunk. Cut off one side of the bag and sew the edges together to create a large pocket that you can hang over the back seat of your car. Put smaller items in this pocket to keep things tidy when traveling!

How can I fix a broken backpack?

When it comes to fixing a broken backpack, there are many different strategies you can use depending on the damage. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use a patching kit or superglue to repair tears in the fabric.
  2. Sew patches on broken straps and seams with a needle and thread. Reinforce the areas that are most stressed, such as the shoulder straps, by using multiple layers of thread and/or reinforcing with extra fabric.
  3. If any metal parts like buckles or clips need repair, solder them with a soldering iron or replace them if they are beyond repair.
  4. Clean dirty zippers and gears with a toothbrush or brush, some warm water, and mild soap. Rinse them off and let them dry completely before use.
  5. Replace missing seams with a whipstitch to make the bag look like new again!
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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