A month ago while hiking my 60 liter bag packs main Shoulder strap got broken at the very first hour of 4 day high altitude trek in a dense forest. I have tied a knot in that area and because of that tight fixed knot I was having very heavy pain in one shoulders because no more I can adjust it to distribute the weight.

here is the image of that buckle.

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I also remember in early hiking days one of my bagpacks hip buckle also got broken.

Is there any particular way we can tie that part so that the weight is not focused on one particular part of our body or we can tighten or loosen it depending on the situation during the hike?

  • 1
    I'm thinking a water knot though it's not really adjustable
    – user2766
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 12:49
  • 1
    tighten or loosen is going to be complicated, as it is the whole point of that ladder lock. I you carry thread and needle, you can salvage another one or a buckle from another part of your pack, for example the side compression straps, or the sternum strap.
    – njzk2
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 16:27
  • a knot like the prussik or the machard should work well enough on a strap, possibly if you fold or roll the strap. tie a cord to the remains of the buckle, then attach to the strap using your favorite friction knot.
    – njzk2
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 4:55
  • @Liam the link you provided is very helpful! thanks Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 5:43

6 Answers 6


Do you have 2 split rings (keyrings) with you? If so, here's how to make a buckle like that (or rather its D-ring predecessor):

Attach both split rings to the upper strap, where the old buckle is/was. Pass the lower strap up through both split rings and back through the first.

Here's an ASCII-art sketch before you pull it tight:

    | //|
    |//  -//------- Lower strap, free end
    //---//-------------------- Lower strap, weight-bearing part
  //   // |
-----------   Upper strap (stitched loop)

// represents split rings

It won't hold as well as the original buckle, you'll need to adjust it more often, but I've used this for medium-term repairs quite successfully. Normal keyring size split rings work well for the 20-25mm webbing tapes used on backpacks.

The "proper" way of doing this would be to sew in 2 D-rings, but this way you don't have to break or stitch anything (you might need to remove the remains of the old buckle).

Bonus: I've found a video of how to fasten them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8G2VpI_SHk

  • assuming no split rings, do you think this could work with for example simple loops of cord (tight enough so the upper one does not pass through the lower one once the webbing starts pulling down)?
    – njzk2
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 4:51
  • @njzk2 I've never tried. My gut feeling is that you need the buckle parts to be stiff and pretty much the same size as each other. Too tight and the webbing will roll up so loops of cord might be hard to get the right size even if the stiffness doesn't matter. A couple of cable ties might work. An experiment would seem like a good idea. Maybe tonight.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 6:53
  • @njzk2 I've just tried it with 2 thin cable ties and they were too flexible, so I doubt cord would work. You might get away with a prussik on webbing, but a few 10s of cm of rope tied to the slack end would help a lot. I've never tried tying a prussik onto a strap, and failed to do a good eneough job onto cord.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 13:19

Feed the strap through the remains of the buckle, or the fabric loop it was formerly attached to. Then tie the strap to itself using a rolling hitch. By sliding the rolling hitch up and down the strap, you will be able to alter its effective length.

  • That could actually work. I was a bit skeptical of how a rolling hitch would hold on a nylon strap like that, but I just tried it on a similar backpack I have, and it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:49

The only knot that's I'm aware of that's any good at securing straps like that is a water knot. though I'm not convinced it's going to work in your case. You don't have a lot of slack, it tends to slip and it's not very adjustable.

A better solution to your problem I think might be to change how your backpack works. Remove the strap that works from the bag and re-attach it to the other buckle:

|\        |
| \       |
|  \      |
|   \     |
|    \    |
|     \   |
|      \  |
|       \ |< buckle

this should now more evenly distribute the weight on your shoulders and allow you to continue, in relative comfort


It looks like the webbing for the sternum strap is similar size to the webbing for the shoulder strap. In this pack you could unthread the left side of the sternum strap buckle (keeping the snap buckle), then thread in webbing that was attached to the broken buckle.

This is a quick, easy repair that won't require any extra parts. As a bonus you can use the sternum strap buckle as a quick release for the strap like you see in an old US military ALICE rucksack. It is also very adjustable because you can use the same adjustments that were present for the sternum strap.

Alternatively you can remove one of the cam buckles from the sternum strap and use that alone because it appears as if there is enough space to thread the webbing through the loop that attached the broken buckle to the upper shoulder strap. This would be a stronger solution and could even be a permanent fix. Plus you have two cam buckles in the sternum strap so you still have another spare incase your other shoulder strap breaks.

Depending on how your buckle is broken you might be able to rethread it in a way that allows it to still function. More details on how it is broken might be useful.


Carry a spare

Things break. If you're expecting to be far enough for long enough, it helps to be able to repair your gear.

In addition to needle and thread, I have in my rucksack a half-meter of webbing with two different spare buckles on it, it takes very little space, weight and money but has saved me a lot of pain a few times already.

  • 3
    You can't carry spares for everything, so you need to assess what you need to spare, what you can jury rig, what you can rely on your partners (if any) to spare, and what failures will cause you to immediately turn around (and you take some serious risk if they happen at the middle of the trip). But if you have broken one, you could easily break another. Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 3:45
  • 1
    You can't carry spares of everything, but you need the following in your repair kit to fix pretty much anything: Spare buckles, Shoe laces, Cable Ties, Duck Tape, Safety pins, some cord. Now I'm adding split-rings to my little repair kit.
    – Johan
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 12:40
  • @Johan the nice thing about split rings is that you're not relying on the strength of your stitching, unlike a spare buckle, which would have to be sewn in.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 13:20
  • In my trekking days some running repairs were carried out using the straps intended for carrying a sleeping mat on the outside of the rucksack, and tying on the sleeping mat with paracord/string/a rolled up plastic bag. If your rucksack has such straps in a removable form, they should be your spares.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 13:22
  • 1
    @ChrisH I've recently discovered a replacement buckle for the sew-in type. You break the damaged buckle to remove it. Then open up the replacement buckle which has got a screw-in mechanism allowing it to be opened and inserted through the existing loop. Example: amazon.com/Sea-Summit-Field-Repair-Buckles/dp/B00DG807ZQ .... I have to add though that in 40 odd years of hiking I have yet to see the sewn in half fail.
    – Johan
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 14:38

Tie it together with two (2) bits of 5mm accessory cord (right size for general camp use, bear bags, BDSM games at home, etc.) or light weight climbing nylon tubing.. Light weight tubular webbing (like you would use for climbing, esp. winter climbing, maybe 5/8") can also be sewn to anything/anyone with dental floss and the awl of a Swiss Army knife, and backed up with an attractive wrap of duct tape. You can also just poke holes w/ awl and use cable ties to attach straps. I used to carry some seam seal in my repair kit (haven't looked in their for a while).

You will always find a need for both the light webbing (although I do have friends who hate me tying off ice screws with it) and 5mm accessory cord (not the 550 cord, not the 5.5 mm kevlar/spectra cord designed for string hexes) all the time, so throw out the boot laces (either will work just fine). While the webbing will hold leader falls (I tend to reserve it for snow), don't use the 5 mm for climbing, other than Prusiks (both the webbing and cord will work for this, although you should use a KKlemheist knot, Prusiks are for chumps).

I like the split ring idea a lot, but would use a pair of aluminum rappel rings (which I likely have anyway) or some steel D rings w/ sufficient strength to double as rap ring. These should not be confused with split peas, which are for eating Plastic abseiling rings*, while light, should be avoided at all costs.*

I like Peteris' idea of carrying webbing and buckles, but I would sew these to the outside of the pack and use it to carry my rope, shovel, jacket (always nice to have handy), camera, or other things where you can easily stuff them in the pack/under the lid of the pack if needed, and are light weight so they don't rip things out.

Use mono-filament fishing line (but be careful with knots--a dab of seam sealer or blue on the end of the not is not a bad idea) at home in a running slip stitch. Cut the knot and pull the thread and the whole thing just pulls apart. Dental floss is essential to getting still-wooden freeze-dried beef out of your teeth (your mates will thank you), and is a very strong. Waxed is harder to pull through multiple layers, but sort of water resistant. The Goretex stuff I use at home seems strong, but is slippery as an eel, so use fisherman knots.

If you have a lot of duct tape just tape a little bit around the broken strap area, and have a friend wind a half-dozen turns of it around you and your back. Not comfortable, not Eco-friendly, not attractive, but if you go w/o a shirt you can probably aim the tape to skip some body waxing/shaving you have been putting off for a while.

Page 1, rule 6: "Scramble, be flexible". (Philmont Ranger's Handbook)

Having shit go wrong is how you get experience, so if you want to get more experience try to carry a bit more repair stuff, first aid stuff, fire making stuff, etc. when starting out so you can try different things out. Then if things are not breaking down enough to give you experience as fast as you want, start drinking. Nothing makes catastrophe occur quicker in the outdoors than a few too many. So if you are just starting out, go out of your way to make a lot of (safely protected and/or minor) mistakes just to get experience fixing/recovery.


*There is no such product and I suggest never making one. While there are polymers which can probably handle the load, who wants some punter putting a polystyrene loop of plastic chain up?

The only exception is for the Australians who jumped in front of me on a climb at Red Rocks in NV only to get stuck w/ loudmouth leader who couldn't lead a 5.7 without bolts, didn't know how to self-rescue, and who took a dump on the climb and didn't clean up).

  • Lol. I enjoyed this read
    – Johan
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:07

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