I have a backpack that I often wear on my (outdoor) walks to and from work each day. The walk is 30 minutes one-way and mostly in an open field/park area, so in the afternoon it's usually warm enough that a great swath of my back gets incredibly sweaty from the backpack resting directly against my back.

Is there some accessory or relatively simple modification/method to keep the pack from resting directly against one's back?

I've thought that something simple like a small, partially padded rack attached to me or the pack such that the bottom of the pack is pushed out and away from my back would suffice, as long as my pack was stiff enough up and down the back-facing wall.

I've tried to do some online research into what such a thing might be called, but the closest thing I could find was an unnamed and integrated part of some fancy new backpack that I don't want to have to buy.

Needless to say, if I found a nice solution for this I'd use it each and every time I go hiking, too.

  • 1
    I know you do not want to buy a new backpack but i have been using a Deuter backpack with the air confort system and I have been very happy with it. It might be a good starting point. However I am not sure that it can be applied to all backpack without a major redesign.
    – Amine
    Sep 11, 2013 at 13:23
  • 3
    @AugR I think a new backpack is the solution. Some have raised mesh grids that separate the pack from your back. Especially newer framed backpacks. Sep 11, 2013 at 16:37
  • Good question - I've had the same experience with my Vapor Trail. It's got a slot for a Camelback bladder, so I think I'll try slipping a frozen bladder in there to see if that makes any difference. Sep 12, 2013 at 1:18
  • 1
    After further research in light of the comments and answers, I think I have to agree with @theJollySin and RoryAlsop below that a new pack is the only (or at least easiest) reasonable option. If I discover any neat way to nicely convert my old pack, I'll post it here. Thanks, all!
    – William
    Sep 13, 2013 at 0:10
  • I won´t make that an answer because some already sugested it. I am sure that on most backpacks any changes and modifications (like putting something between back and backpack or loosening something) will affect your carrying comfort since your changing the bearing system in an unsupported way. So you would need a new one. Jul 15, 2014 at 12:46

10 Answers 10


I think you won't be able to do much with your existing rucksack, but there are many out there specifically designed to avoid the sweaty back.

Deuter make a range of rucksacks with their Airstripes system:

enter image description here

This holds the rucksack away from your back as much as possible and allows air to flow over your back to evaporate sweat. Various other manufacturers do the same, but Deuter had the best pic I could find to describe it.

  • This technology has been recommended to me as superior (it is present in many marks of backpacks). I haven't tried it, though, my backpack uses the technology mentioned by Rory. A key point is not to wear cotton clothes underneath - either carry something breathable or go naked from the waist up.
    – Vorac
    Sep 17, 2013 at 8:25
  • My backpack uses this Airstripes system, and I've found a rather large, but personal, flaw (and a subsequent solution) ... the flaw being that having 1m long hair it automatically blocks the top of the vent, however it does fit neatly into the vent. Whilst that leaves me not as cool as otherwise, I've found it is still better than my other half's backpack that does not have a Airstripe vent at all.
    – Aravona
    Jun 30, 2014 at 13:37
  • 2
    Wear a high pony tail. Problem solved :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Jun 30, 2014 at 19:59
  • @Vorac The technology you linked is present in Deuter´s day- and medium packs. I think it cannot be combined with a big trekking backpack, at least I never saw it on one. For the smaller packs it is better, though. Jul 15, 2014 at 12:48
  • Osprey, Lowa, etc. all have the same sort of air flow mesh.
    – ahron
    Sep 9, 2022 at 4:43

I found a solution! I have a Frost River Arrowhead Trail (roll top) canvas backpack that was posing the same sweaty problem when taking it on hikes. You can find several makers of beaded (wooden) motorcycle seat cushions online. They’re the perfect size and some come with 4 small bungee chords at the corners. This worked superbly for my backpack and allows air to flow between the Pack and Your back. The only down side - only comes in black.enter image description here


It's been a while since I posted this question, but I found an interesting alternative answer some time ago:

Loosen your shoulder-straps such that the bottom edge of your backpack rests against your lower back (or butt in some cases I suppose) and the rest of the pack leans away from the rest of your back.

Based on very limited fiddling around I did with this, it seems to work best when the back-facing wall of your pack is relatively stiff (keeps the pack up, out, and away) and also when your shoulder straps have a chest strap link (puts some of this awkward load on your chest rather than your shoulders).

I might emphasize that I only do this for my short half-hour commute-hike. For real hiking, I'd definitely go with another answer.


This is what backpacks like the Osprey Atmos were designed for. They're slightly elevated/separated from the users back so that ventilation can improve. However, these sorts of backpacks (not just the Atmos) aren't designed to carry heavier loads that conform to the users back. This is because the further the pack is from your back, the more difficult it will be to carry. So an Atmos with 25 pounds of gear feels heavier than a backpack that sticks to your back carrying the exact same items and weight.

If you're done with work in the afternoon and you don't have to head back or be somewhere else where nice attire is required, you should wear a synthetic shirt such as a running shirt or lightweight merino wool shirt. Both these fabrics will help move the moisture away and you won't be as warm since you'll only have one layer.

If that still doesn't satisfy your thirst and you really want to save money, take some cardboard, roll it up. and tape it to the back of your bag with some strong duct tape. Do this for the middle, bottom, and top and you've got a DIY ventilation system. I guarantee it wont last long nor be very comfortable.

  • I've never worn the Atmos, but I hike with a Stratos (meant for dayhiking, not backpacking) that has a similar system. Yes, it's a bit heavier, but it's so much more comfortable that the tradeoff is well worth it. Dec 21, 2020 at 4:53

Back before frameless and internal frame backpacks, there was a time when external frame backpacks were all the rage. They are heavy, sometimes uncomfortable, and can break in spectacularly difficult ways to repair, but provide much better ventilation. You can still buy external frame backpacks (e.g., the Kelty Sanitas is a 34 liter external frame pack). You can also buy just the frame. Potentially better would be to go with an ALICE frame if you can find one or make your own https://lifehacker.com/5892205/make-an-external-backpack-frame-with-3-of-pvc

  • 1
    I have a gregory external frame backpack. It's probably a pound or two heavier than my serratus. I much prefer it, as it also keeps the weight closer to me. The actual pack is small, but it has both bottom and top shelves that you can lash or strap an additional bag to. Oct 13, 2018 at 15:08

I was reading you post and thought of something. And its free. Works for small light backpack.

You have to put something semi rigid/flexible (like cardboard) at the inside back panel of your bag. Cardboard should do. You attach the waist straps through the top handle. It form like a triangle. You tighten it until the back panel bends a little.

Unless you have a lot of weight thr bend of the back panel should let some air circulate as you back touches the waist straps.

Just detach the waist straps if not confortable. https://goo.gl/photos/VJ4tDZw2LmpyAUR27

  • Maybe try to incorporate pool noodles instead or cardboard to the backpack to create a channel and move the pack off your back a little.
    – Jason Pepe
    Aug 1, 2016 at 2:16

Maybe something like this could help: http://www.ventragear.com/shop/mainframe

enter image description here

enter image description here

However, I have not test that, so I cannot really tell if is it good or not.


Disclosure: I'm the producer of this product

I have struggled with this problem many years when biking to work in New York City, arriving with a sweat drenched shirt at the office. Check out a new invention VENTAPAK that was designed to solve the sweaty back problem when biking with a backpack. It attaches to and lifts your favorite backpack off your back for major airflow and cooling. It doesn’t stop you from sweating but it does make you sweat much less and stay cooler (versus back suffocation and heat) as you cycle, so you enjoy the ride more and aren’t a sweaty mess when you get to the office.


  • Mark - self promotion is not wanted here. If you are posting about your product you need to make full disclosure. Please read our tour and How to Answer pages
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 21, 2020 at 16:04
  • It's the best answer, who cares if it's self promo. Jul 27, 2022 at 13:18

How about putting a mesh back support (this thing you see on some office chairs) and maybe modify it to fit better with your back? I've been asking myself how to modify my backpacks and this seems like somewhere to start from?

  • Perhaps you'd like to elaborate on how to achieve this more en detail, so your answer doesn't feel so handwavey...
    – knitti
    Jun 12, 2017 at 22:28
  • Are you proposing this as an answer or is it a different question?
    – Chenmunka
    Jun 13, 2017 at 7:47

I find I still get a very wet back with the packs that have a large mesh area touching my back. For my larger backpacks, two approaches that work well are:

  • an external frame pack with strips of mesh (ca. 10 cm wide) at hip and shoulders.
  • an internal frame pack where only the hip belt and the shoulder straps touch my back.

In both cases, the hip belts work very well, and that is really the secret here: as long as the terrain is not too difficult, the hip belt will carry almost all weight, and I leave the shoulder straps quite loose. I tighten only when I need more control, and release as soon as possible. The external frame pack is IMHO actually better for the same weight since it is wider and flatter, so less leverage to the back. The downside is that due to the width, it is/used to be cumbersome for railway travel (always hitting the inner doors, but the old carriages with narrow inner doors are rare now).

Since this is overkill for a day pack, my smaller pack is a compromise with mesh area shaped roughly like the Deuter airstripes (but a bit smaller). I prefer to carry that 45 l pack with good ventilation system over a potentially lighter, say, 30 l pack with less ventilation.

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