I was hiking with some friends and we concluded that most/all our bags have ridiculously long waist straps that leave lots of extra strap that is annoying or must be tidied away. Additionally, some of us have to have the strap as tight as it will go to make it vaguely tight. Given that many hikers are fairly slight, this seems quite bad design.

Is there a sensible reason why its like this?

  • 4
    Although many hikers may be thin this is not the case for all hikers. Of course the backpack industry tries to catch as many as possible to get their customers.
    – Wills
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 9:46
  • 2
    "Given that many hikers are fairly slight..." and some of us are definitely not ;-) Throw on some winter clothing and I am grateful for adjustable straps. Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 13:12
  • 4
    I always cut off the ends of the straps when I buy a pack.
    – user2169
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 15:58
  • I've loaned bags that I need to tighten the straps on fully to chaps that had to suck in their guts with the straps maxed out to get the same bag to fit. Backpacking is one of those prestigious fitness activities that the industry makes a lot of money off of selling gear to unfit people that are convinced backpacking is going to make them skinny. I know lots of bigger guys that have big shiny backpacks they've used maybe once, or "intend" on using someday. The average person isn't exactly as slight as the average alpinist.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 16:25
  • 1
    Depressing moment; finding my old backpack in the cellar. I shortened the waist straps 10 years ago. Now they are too short. Must have shrunk in the cellar.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


Some reasons for the long waist straps are:

  • The most backpacks have only one size for everyone, so the backpack must fit a short/ tall/ tiny/ big person.
  • It also depends what your wear for clothes under your rucksack, if you wear it over a single shirt or over a big insulation-jacket.
  • For alpine backpacks or traveling: the waist straps need to fit around the backpack so you can clip them out of the way so they're not over your harness while climbing, or so they don't get caught on handrails, etc... while using public transport.
  • If you wear gloves, it's also handy to have the straps a bit longer than without gloves.

For some styles of backpacks you can find different sizes, these sizes include the length as well as the width of a person, which will offer a better fit.

  • 2
    The last point is especially useful because I guess most don't know this. If you are e.g. going with the backpack in public transport it is also very helpful to hide the straps on the other side of the pack.
    – Wills
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 9:50
  • @EverythingRightPlace thanks! Great point I will add this to my answer.
    – ibex
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 10:00
  • 2
    Also, you need considerably longer ends for handling when wearing gloves or even mittens. Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 12:26
  • In cases of emergencies the additional material could also be used to improvise some equipment, say a stretcher or a pressure bandage or whatever. Still easier and faster done than getting natural fibrous material.
    – Ghanima
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 21:43
  • I never had problems clipping my backpack with harness on me at same time. During alpine climbing or XC skiing I actually always have my harness on me. It just takes to long to put it on and off each time you need it. And not clipping waistband of backpack makes it very wobbly and unstable.
    – Val
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 11:42

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