Here are 6 easy ways to extend the life of your backpack

T.Trekking and mountaineering are expensive sports. In fact, the biggest expense is the good quality equipment they need.

In my experience, good equipment is important to hike without problems. Using substandard or damaged equipment makes you more prone to injury.

Most trekkers consider purchasing trekking equipment to be an investment. This is the average price list for frequently used equipment:

  • Backpack – Rs 4,000-5,000
  • Trekking Shoes – Rs.5,000
  • Two anti-shock walking sticks – Rs 4,000
  • Padded jacket – Rs.2,500
  • Down jacket – Rs 6,000

Like I said, pretty expensive.

Knowing how to maintain your expensive trekking equipment is important. If done well, these items can have a long lifespan. You don’t want to buy equipment before every hike.

I’ve put together this series of articles on how to maintain your trekking equipment to help you out.

Let’s start with one of the most important ones – your backpack.

A good backpack is important for a comfortable hike

Your backpack is almost like your best friend on a hike. It carries all of your belongings and protects them from rain and snow. It distributes the load evenly across your body to avoid straining muscles or joints. It literally has your back!

I always take good care of my backpack. I’m going to share some simple hacks to help extend the life of your backpack.

1. Store your backpack with the back facing up

The most important part of your backpack is the back padding and shoulder strap. These two parts are in constant contact with your body. They absorb movement friction and shocks.

Without good padding, you will experience severe shoulder pain when you carry your backpack. So these two parts need to be well cared for.

I’ve seen a lot of hikers store their backpacks the wrong way as soon as they reach the campsite. Exhausted from the day’s hike, take out the backpack quickly and keep the cushioned side on the floor!

Backpack - IndiahikesAlways store your backpack with the back facing up

This will damage the back upholstery. Stones scratch its texture. Dirt penetrates the porous surface and makes cleaning difficult. There will also be more pressure as the weight presses on the padding.

The correct way to store a backpack is with the front lying on the floor. Or if you want it to stand, lean the front part against the wall or tent.

When you get home from your hike, keep your backpack separate. I’ve noticed how many people keep it at the end of their wardrobe and forget about it until their next hike. At this point it will be buried under a pile of clothes and other stuff. This quickly shortens the life of your backpack!

How to save your BackapckDo not pile clothes on your backpack. Keep it separately

2. Avoid unloading your backpack

Once you unload your backpack, you lose control of how it is handled.

Porters or mules carry several bags at the same time. Inevitably, they carry the bags inappropriately. They tie several sacks together with ropes and crush many sacks.

It’s not good for your backpack.

I’ve seen mules bump into rocks on the way. They are fully aware that branches are scratching the surfaces of the bags. Even if porters cover all pockets with a sheet, they cannot always keep an eye on it. There will still be significant damage.

In addition, the back padding is irreversibly damaged by simply tying several bags together.

Buran Ghati - IndiahikesThe mule and porter carry several bags tied together. This can damage the back upholstery

Instead of unloading, I strongly recommend that you prepare physically to carry your own backpack. Practice carrying your backpack and climbing stairs as you prepare for your hike.

This article also provides tips on how to easily carry your backpack.

3. Always use a rain cover, even when it is sunny

Put a rain cover on your backpack every day of your hike. Regardless of the weather – sunny, rainy or snowing.

Every backpack has a water-repellent layer. This layer will be damaged if it is exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time.

Rain cover also provides additional protection against invasive branches and thorns in forest trails.

Backpack - IndiahikesAlways use a rain cover on your backpack regardless of the weather

4. Use two rain covers during transport

I have seen that backpacks are more prone to damage during transport than on a hike.

If you are traveling by bus or car, your backpacks will be tied and loaded onto the vehicle. Most of the mountain roads are dusty and bumpy. Imagine the damage this can do to your backpack upholstery!

I recommend using two rain covers during transport – one at the front and one at the back to protect the padding. Otherwise the back upholstery could get dirty and tear easily.

5. Loosen or unfasten the shoulder strap when storing it

The curve of your shoulder and hip belt is snug against your body. This makes it more convenient to carry a heavy load for long periods of time.

Backpack design - IndiahikesLoosen or remove the shoulder straps and waist belt to maintain their shape

If you use your backpack together for several days, this curve becomes tense. As soon as you get home, loosen the shoulder and hip straps. This ensures that the curvature of the shoulder strap is not easily damaged and will last longer.

If you have a backpack with a detachable shoulder strap, you can remove it entirely.

6. Follow this procedure to clean your backpack

I suggest that you carefully clean your backpack after every hike. This will reduce the buildup of dirt over time, which is harder to clean.

– Before washing, remove the frames (if they are removable).

– Use a cotton or soft cloth for washing. Do not use a hard brush or vigorous rubbing.

– Do not use harsh detergents. This will damage the water-repellent membrane.

I always use Nikwax Cleaners. These are specially designed for cleaning waterproof mountaineering equipment. You can get it online for around Rs.1,700 – Rs.2,200. It’s a worthwhile investment in cleaning up all of your equipment.

After washing, dry it in direct sunlight. But don’t leave it out for long so it doesn’t get damaged. 2-3 hours should be enough.


Here are a few simple tips that will help your backpack withstand multiple hikes. If you know of any other ideas that worked for you, leave a comment below.

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