7 Types of Backpack Straps You Need To Know About

When it comes to the different types of backpack straps I am pretty sure not a lot of people know what they are used for.

An image of a backpack

It turns out you can get the most out of your backpack if you are aware of what the straps on your bag are used for.


In today’s post, I am going to reveal to you everything about the straps of a backpack and their uses.

Think about it:

Don’t you think you would be able to get more out of your backpack if you know what all the parts of a backpack are used for?

I know I would.

Some straps present in a pack are so important that by making use of them the right way you can make your pack more comfortable…

…to the extent that your bag would pose no health challenge to you.

For example, I have read of how the shoulder straps of a backpack caused a sore on the shoulders of a bag owner.

Can this be avoided?


But here’s the kicker:

This can only be avoided if you are familiar with what to look out for in a good shoulder strap…

…or maybe you are lucky to get a pack that has the right features.

Either way, you would get the best out of your bag if you know what the straps of your bag are used for.

1. Luggage Strap: One of The Types of Backpack Straps

The upright handle of luggage passed through the trolley sleeve of a bag

Located at the back of a backpack the luggage strap also commonly called trolley sleeve of a pack is used to make the pack sit comfortably on rolling luggage.

Unfortunately, these type of straps are not present in every backpack but they are a very useful addition especially when traveling with luggage and when making use of more than one bag.

They are extremely easy to use.

All you have to do is to pass the upright handle of your rolling luggage through the luggage strap. By doing this you would make the bag sit comfortably on the luggage.

This is most useful especially when carrying more than one backpack when traveling. One of the bags can sit on the rolling luggage or checked wheeled bag while the other stays on your back.

When I used packs during my tenage years I had no idea what these straps were used for and I am pretty sure if I did it would have made some of my travels more comfortable.

If you have a luggage strap on your bag you now know what they are used for.

If you intend to purchase backpacks with this type of strap make sure you read the specifications or details of the bag as most of the time if they are present as features it would most likely be mentioned.

Some of our selections of the best laptop backpacks for men and anti-theft bags have luggage straps.

2. Sternum Strap or Chest Strap

Sternum strap of a pack

The sternum strap also commonly referred to as a chest strap is another very important type of backpack straps with a backpack strap adjuster.

Here’s the deal:

If you wish for the weight of your bag not to be as heavy as it might seem…

…then you might want to make use of the chest strap of your pack.

This strap is located on the shoulder straps of a bag.

You might be wondering:

Why do backpacks have chest straps or sternum straps?

The answer to this is very simple.

Chest straps help to disperse the weight of a backpack which can help prevent sore on your shoulders

They also help keep the backpack shoulder straps in place preventing them from sliding from your shoulders.

Let me ask you a question…

How many people have you actually seen putting on the chest strap of their bags?

I am pretty sure your answer to that question is “very few people”.

This is crazy:

Most of us know the importance of this feature but yet very few of us actually constantly make use of it.

I am not an exception as I have to constantly remind myself of this very important feature and to always make use of it.

Some of us feel it makes us look like a nerd…

…or makes us look less stylish.

OR should I say it makes me look like a nerd or less stylish.

Whatever our reasons may be the fact is that we cannot ignore the importance of this very important feature of a backpack.

It is most useful especially when you are carrying a heavy rucksack.

It literally takes some loads off your shoulders.

Most backpacks actually come with it attached to the shoulder straps but other packs don’t.

Due to how important this feature is they are now even been produced separately. This means if your bag does not come with a chest strap you can easily purchase one and attach it to the shoulder straps of your bag.

Again, unfortunately not all packs are designed to be able to accept sternum straps from being attached to a shoulder strap but most of our packs these days are designed to accept sternum straps.

To learn how to fix your sternum strap on your backpack you can check out the video below.

3. Waist Strap


So you hate putting on your chest strap?

How about at the very least you try putting on the waist strap of your backpack.

This is another important feature of different types of backpacks users don’t like making use of.

How would you feel if by making use of just one feature of your backpack you end up drastically reducing the load being exerted on your shoulder by your bag?

I bet you would feel good.

That is the job of a waist strap of a backpack.

The waist strap of a backpack helps reduce the weight exerted on your shoulders by distributing the weight on your hips.

This is one of the features needed if you want to properly know how to wear a backpack.

Just like the chest strap it definitely does not look cool but the most important thing is your health.

Some packs come with hip belts which might have attached to it a waist strap.

These are more effective than bags with just a waist strap and unfortunately, a lot of packs don’t come with hip belts. They are more common with hiking backpacks but are also found in a few regular backpacks.

What are common in our regular packs are waist straps and although they are not as effective but still can be of huge help in reducing the load on our shoulders.

If your bag does not come with a hip belt you don’t have to worry as they can be bought separately and fixed to the bag. To learn how to do this you can check out the video below.

You need to make sure it is well padded so it can feel comfortable around your waist.

4. Shoulder Strap


These are the straps that make it possible for you to carry the bag on your back. Without these, you might as well just consider your bag useless as you would not be able to carry it on your back…

…unless you probably carry the bag like a new born baby then you are good to go.

Your best option would be to make use of the top handle of your bag.

The most important feature you need to look at for in the shoulder straps of a bag is its padding.

If you need your bag to feel very comfortable when you put it on even while it is heavy then you need to make sure the shoulder straps are well padded.

A shoulder strap without padding would leave your shoulders with sore especially when the bag is heavy.

It gets worse:

Your shoulders would also feel tired or fatigued.

I have made use of a pack with lots of padding on its shoulders and I was really glad I did.

My shoulders felt extremely comfortable even when the bag was loaded.

Please note:

No matter how the padded backpack straps at the shoulder of the bag are made, if you carry your bag for a very long time they inevitably would become tired or fatigued.

Just make sure from time to time you rest your shoulders.

According to backpack inspector, there are three shoulder strap types.

  1. Bridged
  2. Contoured
  3. Straight shoulder straps

The contoured shoulder straps are curved inwardly above the shoulder and below arms. The straight shoulder straps are as the name implies which is straight and they are more common among bags that are fashion-focused.

Bridged shoulder straps connect near the top of the bag making the straps act as just a piece. This has its disadvantage as it forces the user of the bag to wear the bag lower than they plan to.

It also has a disadvantage of making the space between the straps fixed which means they would not be able to stretch more than the width allowed by the bridge.Types_of_backpack_straps

Whatever type you prefer just make sure you are able to identify them in a bag.

5. Load Stabilizer Strap or Load-lifter

The load -lifter helps keep a bag close to your body.

This is one feature that needs to be present when carrying a heavy backpack.

They are called load-lifters because they help to bring the upper part of your bag closer to your back which can help your pack from flopping around on your back.

They are called load stabilizer because they help to make the load-balanced which in turn lifts the bag off your shoulders better securing it to your back.

You need to make sure the load stabilizer strap forms an angle approximately 45 degrees with the back panel of the backpack and also with the horizontal plane that is tangent to the top of your shoulders.

Make sure they are not over tightened as that can make you feel uncomfortable.

You need to know that this particular angle is not set in stone for everyone as it might be more or less depending on your body structure.

The most important thing not to forget is to make sure it is not too tight or too loose.

6. Compression Strap


There are times whereby we over pack our bags which ends up making our bag look bulky even while it still has some space in it.

This is where compression straps come in. A compression strap gives you the ability to compress your bag which helps to reduce the size of the bag especially when it is not fully packed.

This helps make the bag more compact and it minimizes the appearance of the bag.

Compression straps also serve the purpose of being able to hold items you probably don’t want inside your bag.

The common locations of compression straps are at the side and bottom of the bag.

The side compression straps compress the volume of the bag bringing the load closer to your core muscles.

When making use of these straps to carry your gear it is best to make use of both straps at both sides of the bag so you can balance out the weight in order to avoid the bag leaning to a particular side.

This principle should also be applied if they are located at the bottom of the bag.

To learn more about compression straps you can check out the external attachment guide by sectionhiker.

7. Haul Straps

A bag showing the types of backpack straps

These serve as another way to carry your bag without making use of shoulder straps. They are located either at the top, side or bottom of a pack. They provide a secondary way to carry a pack by making use of the hand.

The best way to carry a bag without making use of the shoulder straps is by making use of the top handle of a backpack.

The handles are different from haul straps as they are usually well-padded and are more comfortable to use than a haul strap.

Some packs have both a handle and a haul strap at the top of the bag and a typical example of this is black ember citadel.

It has both handles and a haul strap but the handles are bought separately and can be fixed onto the bag.


Now you know about the different types of backpack straps and I am confident you should know exactly what to look out for if you intend to purchase a backpack.

Of course, the straps of a bag are not the only factors to consider when making your purchase but by going through this post you should have gotten a better understanding of the straps of a backpack so you know exactly what to look out for and the questions to ask.

To learn how to make backpack straps more comfortable you can check out this post by love the wilderness.

If you have any questions regarding all that was discussed in this post please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.

8 comments on “7 Types of Backpack Straps You Need To Know About

  1. I was aware of the first 4 points on backpack straps, and each one is for a different occasion. You get the one for traveling, such as hiking and so forth. You get the one for when traveling on a bus where all your clothes are in.

    These straps should be used so your backpack can be safe on you by closing it around your chest and so forth.

    This is good information on what backpack straps are supposed to be used for.

    Thank you for sharing and all the best.

  2. This is an another excellent article from you on backpack’s straps. Though I play ignorance to the usefulness of most backpack straps types you have listed above especially the chest and waist straps. It just doesn’t feel cool with me when I have them on. Nonetheless,  there are some occasions where it is a necessity to have them on but then, I do prefer to go without them. Nonetheless, the health benefits of all the straps are cogent enough to have a rethink about using them. Though I’m not used to using them but I will try to engage in using them henceforth due to the health benefits solely.

    1. I constantly have to remind myself to make use of the chest and waist straps of my pack. It makes one look kinda awkward but the health benefit should be what we should be thinking about.

  3. And I always thought I was the only one who used those chest straps, though I don’t use them in the conventional way. For years now, I’ve been using them to rest my arms on them while walking and to “pull” myself while walking. I’m so used to walking like that due to always having a backpack on me because of school and uni, that without chest straps to hold walking feels strange. Good thing to know that most backpacks have them, and even those who don’t,  have the posibility for them to be added.

    1. I have come to find out that a lot of people really don’t make use of their chest strap. Most really don’t feel comfortable making use of it even if they are aware of its health benefits.

  4. My back pack has a variety of straps but I haven’t ever bothered  to find out about them. Glad I found this post as it will make carrying mine much easier as I often have laptops and ipads in mine which can be heavy. I didn’t realise the difference the shape of the shoulder straps can make.

    Spreading the load by using the straps is a very sensible solution and I am glad I came across this post so I can use them properly.

    Sharing the post on twitter and pinning it too, to assist others. 

  5. To me, your article makes a lot of sense. I have not used backpacks for many years now but when I did they only came with shoulder straps and I always found them uncomfortable, to say the least.

    It is good to see the developments that have been made in both securing the bag to your person and the weight distribution problem.


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