A strap running through a buckle is typically easy to loosen and tighten as desired. Usually, it stays in place. Sometimes, however, it slowly (or quickly) works its way loose, as though the thickness or smoothness of the webbing doesn't quite match the size or shape of the buckle. What can I do to make the strap more grippy?

The specific problem I have is with a new backpack (no wear and tear), and it happens in dry conditions (not wet and slippery). There are two places where it happens:

  • On the hip belt, where the straps even have cloth-elastic bands wrapped around, right next to the buckles, but only function to keep things tidy, not grippy.

enter image description here

  • Where the stop of the shoulder straps are tightened/loosened against the top of the pack.

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One method could be to add a separate clasp, as per this question. Also, I imagine I could intentionally soak it in sea water and then not rinse it, leaving the salt crystals to gum up the works (I know this happens to kayak gear and it's usually a nuisance). Other techniques? I consider replacing either the strap or the buckle to be too drastic a solution.

  • can you replace the strap? (or the buckle?)
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 1:08
  • 1
    I don't think it's salt water that does it on kayaks. The back rest straps on my old WW boat became so stiff to adjust that I broke a buckle. I think I used it in the sea once ever, for surfing.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:03
  • In my experience, we just have to learn to deal with it. Especially when the straps are wet, they get more slippery. Plus the buckle itself gets worn over time and grips less. I haven't found any solution that helps for more than a few days, like sharpening the teeth in the buckle, or lightly roughing up the strap with a rasp.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:41
  • an alligator clip on the strap and the excess may work Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 13:34
  • 1
    @ChrisH: Maybe not salt but silt, algae, etc (river gunk).
    – Martin F
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 19:55

6 Answers 6


The solution on my backpack/bike helmet is a rubber band/hair tie like cord around the straps just below the buckle. In order to readjust the buckle you have to loosen the elastic cord around the straps and pull it away from the buckle.

Not sure exactly why this works, but I haven't had any problems with my helmet coming loose or backpack straps loosening either.

  • The hip belt of my backpack already has elastic built around the strap, and wedged up against the buckle, but it still slips.
    – Martin F
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 5:45
  • 2
    Strangely enough, all the bike helmets I've had that use this approach tend to work loose wire than backpack straps. I reckon this is because there are two straps going through one buckle. The rubber band is more successful at keeping the straps from flapping in the wind
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:01

If you've got the strap to the perfect length and want to maintain that length, you can sew a small fold in the strap, similar to what's used at the end to stop the whole strap running through. Slitting the stitches means you can change your mind later. Realistically this won't help for a waist belt that needs to adjust to different clothing, except as a backstop to limit the slippage.

These buckles work by friction between the two layers of webbing that want to move in opposite directions, so you need to increase the friction, probably by increasing the pressure. One way to do this is to sew another layer of webbing on the outside, but this could be a fairly tedious task if the region that needs building up is long. You'd probably need to find lighter webbing of the same width as the existing strap. You may be able to test this by just threading a length of webbing through the buckle with the strap, and pinning it.

Another way (that I haven't tried) should be to build up the buckle itself. Depending on the shape, a couple of cable ties around the past that presses together the two straps should be enough.

  • I might be able to have a play with that last point on the train to work later this morning
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:14
  • My buckles would need a little filing to make cable ties stay in place. I'd do that on a slipping strap but couldn't test it on my backpack
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 7:14
  • Some good points there (despite all the typos). Sewing a fold won't be good because it is the hip belt which definitely will need adjustability. Did you try adding another layer of webbing? Sounds like a could work.
    – Martin F
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 4:11
  • @MartinF I've put a spare length through to pack the buckle out, which helped. I didn't sew it, because I have the mens with me at the time, and didn't need to keep adjusting it. Sewing would be needed to allow it to adjust nicely without getting caught up, but a couple of safety pins could be used to try it out. My own backpacks haven't been too bad, but my daughter has had a couple where the shoulder straps come loose
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 5:57
  • I can't imagine what perfectly adjusted is--the hip belt certainly isn't at the same position in the summer and the winter! Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 22:52

I find that simply tying a half knot below the buckle keeps it from slipping:

half knot below buckle

  • Albeit slow to adjust.
    – Martin F
    Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 18:56
  • @MartinF, right. But if it gets adjusted frequently, it likely won't slip much between adjustments. This is a suggestion for what to do after (semi-)permanent adjustments. Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 18:59
  • On a multi-bar buckle like that, you can add much more friction to the system by weaving the moving strap through the bars: take the strap out, thread the strap up through the bottom slot, down through the top slot, fold it over the top bar, and feed it back down through the bottom slot. Or you could take it as shown, undo the moving-strap's half-hitch, and tuck it up and under that top bar so it ends upwards along the anchor strap.
    – Dave X
    Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 14:46

Double-back your buckles as on a climbing harness?

If you can weave the strap around the bars in the buckle differently, you can change the level of friction at the expense of convenience. Here's a common 4-bar buckle:

enter image description here

You can add some friction by tucking the loose end upwards under the top bar (double-back):

enter image description here

Or you could rethread it a couple ways (These are also good if a bar breaks):

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You can also add friction on a simpler buckle strap by adding hardware to make it work like a double D-ring strap:

enter image description here

It's a tradeoff between reduced friction for easy adjustability, and increased friction for security at the expense of adjustability.

  • Some really good ideas here. It might take a while before i try any.
    – Martin F
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 22:07

I added a bit of velcro to my shoulder straps with hot glue and it's worked perfectly. Get velcro at any fabric or craft store.

These are for my shoulder straps, which often slipped when I took big steps down on a descent. I added a small (1.5") piece of the "hooks" velcro to the end of the strap and then several inches of "loops" velcro to the same strap back near where it connects to the pack. Then I can get my straps adjusted, and secure the end so it won't slip.

I bought black velcro so it would blend into the straps.

Straps with velcro added


I learned this tip from a former Navy Seal.

Dip your finger in rubber cement and rub it on the full length and width of web straps. Both sides. Let it dry, then rub off whatever comes off. It adds a tremendous amount of "stay power" to your straps.

  • Haven't tried it yet but it's the closest to what i was thinking of...
    – Martin F
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 22:09

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