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What Makes a Good Backpack Strap?

by , March 11, 2011

What Makes a Good Backpack Strap?

Have you ever actually thought about that? Thought about what you should be looking for in a strap on your backpack? Comfort levels, materials used, width’s, etc are all factors to consider when looking at straps. And while it might not be front of mind, it’s pretty important. You’ve had bags that are real uncomfortable, chaffing, rubbing, unbalancing the load in your pack. Well, we’ve sat down in an attempt to try and put together a guide of what you should look for in a strap when purchasing your next backpack…

Some of the factors we think will help make your backpack more comfortable are:

For a hi res view of the image, click here

Wide Straps Spread The Load
Wider straps spread the load better across your shoulders. However go too wide, and they’ll rub on your neck & arms. Find your compromise.

Sternum Straps
Sternum straps are a great way to stabilise the pack and reduce the heavy feeling when the pack is carried around for a while. 2 things to watch out for:

1. Make sure the strap has enough vertical range that you can get it to a comfortable height (especially for girls)
2. Sternum straps that run on piping should not easily slide off the top or bottom, or you’ll lose them.

Strap edges
These have to be soft, or they’ll rub and irritate you as you walk. There are two main constructions – with binding and without… Straps with binding are flatter, which allows the use of high density thin foam – leaving a low bulk strap suitable for lighter loads and shorter trips. Straps without binding are commonly used for outdoor bags. The foam used inside those straps is thicker, giving more comfort with heavier loads.

Adjustment
This should be fast & easy. When the buckle & webbing are of good quality the adjustment is smooth, the release is easy, and the bag stays in position when in use.

Foam
EVA is one of the best foams used inside straps. It is a high density foam with good durability. You can generally tell it’s EVA if when you squeeze the strap, it really springs back against your pressure.

Strap Shapes
STRAIGHT straps work for infrequent or light use. They look good on fashion packs.
SHAPED straps fit your curves better, reducing rubs during active use.
ONE PIECE straps must be the right width for your shoulders (they slip off if too wide).

Strap Lining
A SOFT nylon jersey or mesh is better under the strap than the itchy ‘airmesh’ most often used. Always feel the lining material against bare skin, to see if it scratches or irritates.

Did we miss anything else worth noting? What else do you love or loath with backpack straps? Let us know in the comments…

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