Last Updated: April 3, 2023

How To Fix A Backpack Strap: A Detailed Guide

Dealing with a broken shoulder strap on a backpack and you’re not sure how to fix it? Then you’re in the right place, because this guide includes all the things you can do to fix a broken backpack strap!

Whether you’re dealing with just a tear in the nylon cloth, or you need to fix both the backpack strap and the plastic parts of it, you’ll find some helpful information in this guide. I’ve included a step-by-step guide on sewing, which is the best way to fix any tears in a backpack strap, but also options for a quick fix that will hold the strap together until you can get your hands on some needle and thread!

Fixing A Backpack Strap By Sewing

Backpack Tree

Tools Needed

To fix a backpack strap by sewing, you will need some thread (preferably the same color as the strap, but it’s not a requirement), a thicker needle, some nylon cloth, and some scissors. You’ll also need your hands, maybe a needle threader if you’re struggling to see the actual thread, and just the basic knowledge and sewing skill.

Ideally, look for nylon upholstery thread since this works much better with polyester and nylon cloth.

Step-by-step Guide

Sewing Kit

First lay the backpack strap flat to get an overview of what you’re working with. Cut off any loose/excess fabric you don’t think you’ll be able to fix anyway and remove any threads that are just hanging and getting in the way.

Then thread the needle; be generous with the nylon thread because it’s better to have some left over after sewing than to be halfway through the job and realize you’ll need more thread. Align the ends of the thread and tie them in a knot, so they don’t come undone while sewing.

Take a small piece of nylon cloth, and attach it to the broken shoulder strap. You will use this to connect the broken parts of the strap and elongate the shoulder strap slightly. The cloth should be slightly wider than the shoulder strap so that you can wrap it around the sides.

When you’ve positioned the nylon cloth properly, start sewing. Sew the edge of the nylon cloth over the broken strap, then repeat the process on the other end. When you’ve sewn both ends, wrap the cloth around the side of the shoulder strap and sew it in place. Then just cut off any loose edges, fabric, or string.

Additionally, if the tear is at the top of the strap or the upper edge is detached from the body of the backpack, you should sew the backpack strap inside the bag.

Fixing A Backpack Strap Without Sewing

Duct Tape

Duct Tape

If you’re only dealing with a small tear and the backpack strap isn’t fully detached from the rest of the backpack, you can just use some duct tape to hold the entire thing together. Lay the backpack strap as flat as you can, and wrap the torn parts with duct tape a few times – this should hold it in place long enough until you can get it properly fixed.

It’s important to note that this solution works only if the tear is not towards the bottom of the strap. Too much duct tape means you won’t be able to adjust the strap as much, so keep that in mind. Also, make sure you’re using regular duct tape and not two-sided duct tape because the latter won’t go through the gear loops easily.

Super Glue

Super glue can work in a pinch, but it’s not the ideal solution for fixing anything on your backpack. Superglue doesn’t work that great with fabric or even plastic, and although it’s a decent quick solution, you will need to properly fix the backpack eventually, ideally before the superglue fails.

You can use superglue if any plastic pieces of the backpack come undone, to fix the zipper pullers, or even to glue pieces of the fabric back together.

Zip Ties

Zip ties are useful in many situations, and they can even work for quickly fixing a broken backpack strap. They’re particularly great for fixing the strap adjusters quickly since they can help you keep the strap in place.

You can also use a zip tie to hold a broken shoulder strap together, but keep in mind that this is a quick fix that won’t last forever. Keeping a strap together with a zip tie for prolonged periods can do more damage in the long run, so be sure to sew the strap together or replace it entirely sooner rather than later.

Backpack Repair Kit

A backpack repair kit isn’t something you can purchase online, but it is something you can create yourself and throw in your bag so that you can fix it on the go if you have to deal with a broken strap again.

Include some thread, a needle, some zip ties, superglue, scissors, extra buckles, wire, and pretty much anything you think could come in handy for fixing a broken backpack strap. Alternatively, purchase a pocket sewing kit and just add the other things to it and keep it in the pocket of your backpack.


Leatherman Wave Multitool

Scissors or multi-tools with scissors are essential pieces of any backpack repair kit. Use them to cleanly cut off the excess fabric, and loose threads, or just cut the strap in two, so you can fix it properly and then sew it back up.

They can also come in handy for punching a hole in a backpack strap, which you can then use to push a zip tie through it and hold the strap in place until you’re able to fix it properly. A multi-tool is a better solution than scissors because you’ll have a choice of tools to use for cutting; small scissors might not be able to do the job, and you might have to rely on a knife or even hard-wire cutters.

Small Torch

A small torch is a handy tool that can come in handy for fixing a backpack. While you can’t repair a backpack with just a small torch, if you have to deal with any issues in the dark, having a torch handy will certainly be helpful.

And if you’re thinking you don’t need it because you have a torch on your phone, think again; you need two hands to sew a backpack strap, use a zip tie, or even wrap it in duct tape. You can hold a small torch in your mouth while you work on the fix, and you can’t (and really you shouldn’t) try to hold your phone in your mouth.

Extra Buckles/Gear Loops

It’s smart to carry around extra buckles and gear loops in your backpacks, especially if you’ve had to deal with a malfunction before. There’s no guarantee that plastic components won’t fail again, and if you have to replace them mid-outing, it’s best to have them handy.

Carry a couple of replacement gear loops and one or two extra buckles, just make sure that they’re the good size for your backpack. The gear loops should be equal to those that are already attached to your shoulder straps, and the buckles should correspond to the buckles of the sternum strap/hip belt.

Tenacious Tape

Tenacious Tape

Tenacious Tape is a type of aggressive adhesive patch that works wonders on tears and rips in gear and clothing. If you’re dealing with a small tear on a backpack strap, this will definitely come in handy. Use it to keep the torn pieces of the strap together, or even to mask large holes in the backpack strap.

How to Fix Backpack Strap Adjuster

Backpack Strap Adjuster

Fixing a broken backpack strap adjuster usually entails replacing it with a new one. It’s a tiny piece of plastic and it’s often impossible to repair it entirely. You can try supergluing it, but it will most likely come apart again, especially if you keep using it to adjust the strap.

What you will need to do is get a spare strap adjuster, either directly from the manufacturer, a local scrap store, or a website like Amazon or eBay.

You can find these tiny pieces of plastic everywhere online, but I would recommend going directly to the manufacturer first and trying to get them to send you a replacement part since that is the only way to guarantee that the adjuster will fit on your backpack strap.

Then, take apart the broken adjuster and undo the seams of the strap. Don’t worry; sewing the strap back together is super easy, you just need a thicker needle. Also, pay attention to the way the fabric is looped through the strap adjuster – you will need to replicate this, to ensure that the adjuster works as seamlessly as it did before.

I recommend taking a photo or even a video, so you can easily replicate the original fabric placement.

Take the new adjuster, loop the strap fabric through it, and secure it to the body of the backpack with a safety pin or a sewing pin. Then try out the adjuster and see if it works fine – if you’ve made any errors, you can take out the pins and repeat the process. If everything works fine, just restitch the strap onto the body of the backpack.

Do it two, three, or even four times if you want, just make sure that it’s sewn on tightly so that it doesn’t come apart when you’re wearing the bag.

Tips to Prevent Damage to Backpack Straps

In all honesty, there really isn’t a foolproof way of wearing a backpack that ensures you avoid damaging the straps. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, the straps will get torn or ripped, and this usually happens at heavier loads. Also, if you’re dealing with a poor-quality backpack, there’s really not much you can do to prevent this.

However, it’s important to always treat your backpack right, to prolong its life as much as possible. I would recommend always wearing the backpack properly, on both shoulders, especially when it’s at heavier loads.

Wearing the backpack on just one strap causes a lot of stress to that strap, and can cause it to get torn or start falling apart. Also, be careful when adjusting the straps, and don’t pull on the adjusters too suddenly. Do it slowly and carefully instead, and only when you’re already wearing the pack.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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