How To Attach Trekking Pole To Backpack (Steps To Avoid Damage)
Young and seasoned hikers alike are turning to trekking poles for their travels.
These adjustable walking sticks are a handy tool on the trail, with many benefits. But do you really need another item to carry?
In this guide, we’ll discuss how to attach trekking poles to backpacks of various styles easily.
In fact, there’s a good chance that your hiking backpack is already equipped for this accessory.
Why Do Hikers Bring Trekking Poles With Them?
Trekking poles are a more advanced form of walking stick. They are typically sold and used in pairs – one for each hand – and can retract down to smaller sizes, making them quite travel-friendly.
Most trekking poles are made from aluminum or carbon fiber and are extremely lightweight.
These poles aren’t just an accessory to make you look like a serious hiker.
There are many benefits of using a trekking pole, including:
How To Attach Trekking Pole To Backpack (Proper Placement To Avoid Damage)
1. Using Trekking Pole Loops
Many hiking backpacks, such as Teton hiking backpacks , have loops and bungees put especially in place for holding trekking poles.
These might be advertised as “attachment points” because you can use them for various different hiking items. You can locate them on either side of the backpack, towards the bottom and the top.
You want to insert your trekking pole vertically so that the point is facing down and the handle sits at the top. The shape of the trekking pole is designed in a way that will naturally allow it to sit in the loop without falling through. You should be able to secure or tighten the loops around the handles.
2. Use The Side Pockets
If you’re carrying a more basic backpack , you may have to use the backpack’s side pockets or water bottle holders to store your trekking poles. The most important thing here is to make sure that your trekking poles are stored in their smallest folded-down state.
Which end you keep in the pockets is up to you. You may choose to put the handle side down into the pockets because the points could have the opportunity to damage your bag. On the other hand, you don’t necessarily want the ends sticking up into the open, either.
However you choose to store your trekking poles in the side pockets, I recommend putting trekking pole caps on your poles to protect you and your bag. They are pretty cheap and usually come in packs of multiples.
3. Use The Compression Straps
In many cases, you can use the compression straps on your hiking backpack to attach your trekking poles. Simple insert your poles and tighten the straps as necessary until they are completely secure.
4. Use The Top Carry
Should all else fail, nearly all backpacks have a top carry handle that you can use to attach your trekking poles. To do this, you may need to use some small tie-down bungee cords made for hiking in order to keep your poles secure.
How To Attach Sleeping Bag To Backpack
The internet is full of advice on packing your backpack. But sometimes you have extra gear. For example, maybe you have a toddler or need an extra warm sleeping bag due to Raynaud’s syndrome. Whatever the reason, sometimes the sleeping bag won’t fit. So, what’s the best way to attach it?
How to attach a sleeping bag to a backpack in 11 steps:
- Put Sleeping Bag In A Waterproof Bag
- Check If Backpack Already Has Straps
- Attach Sleeping Bag At Bottom Of Backpack
- Attach Sleeping Bag At Top Of Backpack
- Attach Sleeping Bag On The Side Of Backpack
- Attach Sleeping Bag On The Back Of Backpack
- Attach Sleeping Bag With Compression Straps:
- Attach Sleeping Bag With Bungee Cords
- Attach Sleeping Bag With Bungee Net
- Attach Sleeping Bag With Belt
- Consider Attaching The Tent Outside Instead
If you’re wondering how to attach sleeping bag to backpack – read on!
1. Put the Sleeping Bag In A Waterproof Bag
A wet sleeping bag is useless and dangerous on the trail. So before attaching your bag to the outside of your backpack, you need to have a waterproofing strategy.
The cheapest solution is using a heavy-duty black garbage bag. They work well so long as there isn’t a leaky seam or a hole. Unfortunately, these do have a high snag risk and are easily damaged. However, packing a spare or two is inexpensive and simple.
Dry bags are an effective and lightweight option for keeping your sleeping bag dry. A 20-liter will fit most sleeping bags and their liner. Some ultralight sleeping bags can fit into an 8-liter dry sack. However, a few larger sleeping bags will require a 35-liter dry sack.
Waterproof compression sacks are another excellent option. These typically cost more than a regular dry sack, but it will reduce the bulk, making it easier to carry. Even better, some compression sacks will reduce the bag enough to fit in your backpack.
2. Check If the Backpack Already Has Straps
Check your backpack and see what straps and loops it already has for attaching gear. The placement and type can impact how you attach it and wear it will best fit. If you have an external frame backpack, there are probably already tie points to secure your bag.
3. Attach Sleeping Bag At Bottom Of Backpack
Attaching the sleeping bag to the bottom of a backpack is a natural, comforting positioning. It cushions the gear on your bag and doesn’t (usually) restrict movement. After all, many backpacks put their sleeping bag compartment at the bottom for this exact reason.
Having your sleeping bag at the bottom of the backpack also shelters the bag from some debris, snags, and weather.
However, for certain people, attaching the bag at the bottom will lead to it pressing too low on the bum or thighs. While backpacks should be placed high enough for this not to be an issue, shorter humans have limited fit options and are often making do.
The other drawback of attaching the sleeping bag at the bottom is the risk of it getting wet or filthy when you remove the backpack. You also risk damaging the waterproof sack, especially if you have opted to use a garbage bag.
4. Attach Sleeping Bag At Top Of Backpack
Securing the sleeping bag to the top of your pack is a popular option. It allows you to take your bag on and off, and since it is relatively light, it doesn’t throw your balance off as it would, putting a slightly heavier load up high.
However, some people find it restricts their head, neck, and shoulder movements. Others find it harder to wear their sunhat. A few say it causes them to hunch. But the biggest complaint is that it will block the upper lid compartment, making it harder to reach essential gear, like the first-aid kit.
5. Attach Sleeping Bag On The Side Of Backpack
Attaching sleeping bags to the side works best if there are compression straps. However, having it hang off the side creates a snagging hazard. Also, as it bounces around, it can throw off your balance or be hard on your body.
But some people can’t find a comfortable way to attach it to the bottom or top, so the sides are the only practical option. Unfortunately, it is also the only external attachment option for most parents lugging a toddler hiking carrier.
6. Attach Sleeping Bag On The Back Of Backpack
Attaching a sleeping bag to the back of a backpack only works for some people. Some folks will be completely unbalanced by having it on the back and will have to hunch to have any hope of not falling backward. It really depends on the size and proportions of the person, the bag, and the pack.
Depending on how far the sleeping bag sticks out, it can also make squeezing through tighter areas nearly impossible. Also, don’t turn around fast near anyone you care about, as you might whack them.
But if the sleeping bag is compact and the person is taller, it is often no more difficult than carrying a toddler in a hiking carrier. In fact, with the proper setup, it can be pretty comfortable. The trick is to make it as flat and compressed against the bag as possible, so the weight isn’t hanging too far from the body.
7. Using Compression Straps
Compression straps can help attach a bag, keeping it tight and compact. These handy straps come with various release options, including a standard press buckle or the easy hook system. However, Velcro compression straps are not recommended, as they can easily be pulled open when snagged.
Many compression straps can be extended, which is helpful when the ones on your bag are too short. You just clip in your own straps, and it is long enough to go around your bag.
8. Using Bungee Cords
Bungee cords are another helpful tool for strapping your sleeping bag to your pack. There are kits that will help you strap all your gear. You can also buy bungee backpack hooks to add attachment points to your pack. Or just raid your parents’ or grandparents’ garage and use what they’ve got.
9. Using a Bungee Net
Bungee netting is the go-to for many hikers when they need to strap items outside their bag. For those that don’t like hooks, they replace them with small, lightweight carabiners. Bungee netting is easy to use and quick to take on and off.
10. Using a Belt
My friend’s father had a crusty old leather belt that would not die. He used it to strap gear to the outside of his backpack and was also used as a bicycle seatbelt for toddlers in the kid’s seat. (Do not do the latter. It was the 80’s; they were boomers, still letting kids ride in the trunk of station wagons.)
So while using your old belt is a bad-awful-horrible seatbelt alternative, it works fine for attaching gear. The downside to the belt is the weight, as leather and a metal buckle tend to be heavier than bungee cords and compression straps.
Also, leather technically needs to be cared for, or it cracks. My friend’s father never got this memo, and while the leather didn’t look pretty, it is still kicking around one of his kid’s closets. Yes, the belt outlived the man despite the neglect. It’s like a fridge made in the 70s – ugly but made to last.
11. Consider Attaching The Tent Outside Instead
If you can’t fit all your gear inside your bag, consider swapping the tent for the sleeping bag. Ideally, everything fits inside. However, you can survive the night with a rain fly and a quality sleeping bag. Trying to survive the night without a sleeping bag is much harder. Also, your tent will probably dry faster than a wet bag.
Ideally, you want both, of course.
Can I Attach A Sleeping Bag To A Child Carrier Backpack?
What you can and should do are entirely different. It isn’t advisable to attach items on the outside of these carriers due to the balance and weight involved when hauling young humans and the gear. It also increases the chances of dangerous snagging or compromising the safety of getting the pack off.
However, it is technically possible to attach it to the sides of the child carrier. Some also have space between the storage compartment and the child’s seat to fit a compressed sleeping bag.
But you must never put one at the bottom, as it interferes with the kickstand. Nor should you put it in front of the child’s face (suffocation risk, neverminded annoying for the child).
Ideally, people trekking with a baby or a toddler need a buddy to help carry the gear. Some people even enlist their dogs, getting them harnesses with saddlebags. Chat to your vet about the appropriate amount of weight your dog can safely carry.
In addition, you can free up storage space in the child carrier by carrying a smaller backpack in the front. All those handy child items, from snacks to sunscreen, can be put there, leaving more space for a sleeping bag.
James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.
How to Attach Hiking Poles to Your Backpack
Lisa Maloney is an avid hiker and the author of outdoor recreation-oriented articles and several guidebooks, including her latest, “Day Hiking Southcentral Alaska” available in April 2019.
Stanislaw Pytel/Getty Images
Hiking poles come in handy for a lot of things, such as crossing rivers, probing mud depth, and moving wet brush out of the way. Some people swear by them for helping support and balance the weight of a heavy pack, and they’re an invaluable aid if you happen to fall while snowshoeing. But those same poles become a burden when you’re not using them.
If you’re carrying old ski poles or any trekking pole that doesn’t collapse down into a manageable bundle, you’re pretty much stuck toting them around in your hands for the rest of the hike. But if your hiking poles are the collapsible kind that telescopes down to a manageable length you can stow them on or in your backpack, leaving your hands free for the rest of the hike.
Most backpacks have specific attachment points for holding trekking poles. See how to attach your hiking poles to your backpack the conventional way. Plus, explore a few alternative arrangements in case your pack doesn’t have the right attachment points.
Secure the Handle
The odds are good that, somewhere on your backpack, you’ve got a trekking pole attachment point like this. Some, like the one you see here, are just a closed loop that you can loosen or cinch tight. Loosen the cinch all the way and poke your trekking pole’s handle through it, pointing up toward the top of your pack.
A few packs have trekking pole attachments that open and close all the way, with a small hook holding them closed. If you have this sort of attachment just unhook the fastener to open it, lay the trekking pole in place (handle pointing toward the top of the pack) and close the fastener around your pole.
- Stick the point of the trekking pole through the loop on the bottom corner of your pack. The pole’s basket will keep it from falling through.
- Press the pole’s point toward the bottom of your pack to make sure it seats into that loop.
- Tighten down the cinch point around the body of the pole to hold it in place, and you’re good to go.
- Attach your other pole to the pack, and you’re ready to keep hiking hands-free.
But what if you don’t have a hiking pole attachment point like this? Let’s look at some alternative arrangements.
The Side Pocket Trick for Securing Hiking Poles
If your backpack doesn’t have a cinch point and bottom loop for holding hiking poles in place, but it does have a side pocket and side compression straps, you’re in luck. Just poke the handle ends of the poles down into the side pocket, then fasten the compression straps around the body of the poles and cinch them tight.
Securing Your Trekking Poles with Compression Straps Only
If your pack doesn’t have side pockets but does have horizontal compression straps, you still have options for securing your hiking poles. These straps can be anywhere on the pack; they don’t have to be on the sides. Sometimes packs have slots for you to add your own compression straps at different points, so look for those as well.
Loosen the straps, pass the poles through them (handles down, baskets pointing up) and tighten the straps around your poles. The poles’ baskets will keep them from falling through.
This only works if your poles have baskets on them. In some cases, the poles never had baskets, or you took them off and didn’t bring them with you on your hike.
If your pack doesn’t have compression straps, look for patches which have two or more slots. Those are where you can add your own compression straps. In this case, you can buy compression straps to add to your pack or thread webbing, cordage, in other ties through the slots to use as straps to hold your poles.
The Top Carry
If your pack doesn’t have a special trekking pole attachment point, side pockets or compression straps, there’s still an easy, if somewhat awkward, solution. Just lay the poles across the top of your pack and cinch them in place.
This works about the same as the other options for a larger pack. Lay the poles across the top of the large compartment, close the top of the pack over them, and cinch it in place. It’s not a perfect solution because now you’ve got a little crossbar (one end of which is pointy) laid across your back. But if you’re hiking in open terrain, it’s still a pleasant alternative to hand-carrying hiking poles when you don’t need them.
If your pack doesn’t have a top you can cinch down or at least straps across the top, your only other option is to stick the poles in the actual body of the pack, handles pointing down, points sticking out of the pack’s top. Shift both poles all the way to one side, zip the pack closed from the opposite end, and try to remember not to poke your hiking buddy’s eye out if you turn around quickly.