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How To Break In A Backpack


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Doralyn Sellars



When you purchase a new backpack, it can sometimes feel stiff and uncomfortable to wear. This is because the material needs to be broken in and molded to your shape and movements. Breaking in a backpack is essential to ensure a comfortable fit and prevent any discomfort or strain while carrying it.


In this article, we will guide you through the process of breaking in a backpack, providing you with tips and techniques to make the process easier and more effective. Whether you are planning a hiking trip, a backpacking adventure, or simply need a new everyday backpack, this guide will help you mold your new backpack to perfection.


Breaking in a backpack not only improves its comfort but also enhances its durability. By allowing the fabric to stretch and adapt to your body, you are ensuring that the backpack withstands the test of time and remains a reliable companion on your journeys.


So, if you’re ready to make your new backpack feel like an extension of yourself, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of breaking it in.


Step 1: Gather the necessary equipment

Before you begin breaking in your backpack, it’s important to gather the necessary equipment. Having the right tools will make the process easier and more effective. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. The backpack: This goes without saying. Make sure you have the new backpack that you want to break in.
  2. Items to add weight: You’ll need some objects to fill the backpack and add weight. This can be books, dumbbells, or any other heavy items that will help stretch and shape the backpack.
  3. Soft cloth: A soft cloth or towel will be useful to protect the backpack’s exterior from any scratches or abrasions that may occur during the breaking-in process.
  4. Time and patience: Breaking in a backpack is not an instant process. It requires time and patience to allow the fabric to stretch and conform to your body. So, make sure you have some free time and a patient mindset.

Once you have gathered these items, you’re all set to move on to the next step!


Step 2: Prepare the backpack

Now that you have your equipment ready, it’s time to prepare the backpack for the breaking-in process. Follow these steps:

  1. Empty the backpack: Start by emptying the backpack completely. Remove any belongings or items that are currently inside.
  2. Clean the backpack: Give the backpack a thorough cleaning to ensure that it is free from any dirt, dust, or debris. Use a gentle detergent and a soft cloth to wipe down the interior and exterior surfaces.
  3. Check the straps and zippers: Inspect the straps and zippers for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice any issues, it’s best to address them before starting the breaking-in process.
  4. Adjust the straps: Adjust the straps of the backpack to your desired fit. This will help ensure a more comfortable and personalized breaking-in experience.
  5. Open all compartments: Open up all compartments and pockets of the backpack. This will allow for better stretching and flexibility during the breaking-in process.

By properly preparing the backpack, you are setting the foundation for a successful breaking-in process. Take your time with these preparation steps, as they will contribute to the overall comfort and longevity of your backpack.


Step 3: Use pressure and weight

Using pressure and weight is an effective way to break in your backpack and mold it to your body’s shape. Follow these steps to apply pressure and weight:

  1. Add weight to the backpack: Place the heavy objects or books inside the backpack. Make sure to distribute the weight evenly to avoid any imbalances.
  2. Close the backpack: Zip up or buckle the backpack to secure the weight inside.
  3. Apply pressure: Press down on the backpack with your hands or use your body weight to apply pressure evenly across the entire surface.
  4. Flex and bend: Bend and flex the backpack in different directions to encourage the material to stretch and adapt to your movements.
  5. Leave it overnight: Allow the weight and pressure to work on the backpack overnight. This gives the fabric ample time to stretch and conform to your body.

It’s important to note that you should not exceed the weight capacity recommended by the backpack manufacturer. Overloading the backpack can lead to damage or strain on the backpack’s seams and straps.


Repeat this step a few times, gradually increasing the weight and the duration of time that the backpack is under pressure. This will help expedite the breaking-in process and ensure a comfortable fit.


Remember to check the backpack periodically for any signs of stress or wear. If you notice any issues, adjust the weight and pressure accordingly or seek professional advice.


Step 4: Stretching techniques

In addition to using weight and pressure, you can also employ specific stretching techniques to further break in your backpack. These techniques target different areas of the backpack to promote flexibility and comfort. Follow these steps:

  1. Shoulder strap stretching: Pull and stretch the shoulder straps of the backpack. This will help loosen the fabric and make it more flexible.
  2. Back panel stretching: Gently pull on the back panel of the backpack, applying pressure to stretch and shape it.
  3. Opening and closing zippers: Open and close the zippers of all compartments to ensure they move smoothly and help stretch the fabric around them.
  4. Expansion and compression: Expand and compress the backpack by adjusting the straps or using compression straps if available. This mimics the movements you’ll make while wearing the backpack.
  5. Bend and twist: Bend, twist, and manipulate the backpack in various ways to encourage the fabric to stretch and contour to your body.

It’s crucial to perform these stretching techniques with care and gentleness. Do not force the fabric, as it may lead to damage or tears. Gradually increase the intensity of the stretches over time, allowing the backpack to naturally adjust without causing any harm.


Remember to be patient throughout the stretching process. The more time and effort you invest in stretching techniques, the better the backpack will conform to your body and provide a comfortable fit.


Step 5: Test the backpack’s flexibility

After going through the previous steps, it’s time to test the flexibility of your backpack. This step allows you to evaluate how well the breaking-in process is going and make any necessary adjustments. Follow these steps:

  1. Put on the backpack: Put on the backpack and adjust the straps according to your comfort level.
  2. Move around: Walk around, climb stairs, and perform various movements to test the backpack’s flexibility. Pay attention to any areas that feel tight or restrictive.
  3. Check for pressure points: Pay careful attention to your shoulders, back, and hips to identify if there are any pressure points or discomfort caused by the backpack.
  4. Make adjustments: If you encounter any discomfort or areas that need improvement, adjust the straps, padding, or weight distribution accordingly.

Take the time to properly assess the flexibility and comfort of the backpack. This step allows you to make any necessary tweaks or modifications to ensure an optimal fit.


Keep in mind that during the initial uses, the backpack may still feel slightly stiff or rigid. However, with continued use and regular maintenance, it will gradually soften and conform to your body shape.


If you find that the backpack is still not flexible enough or doesn’t fit comfortably after going through these steps, consider repeating the process or seeking advice from the manufacturer or a professional.


Step 6: Repeat the process if necessary

Sometimes, breaking in a backpack may require multiple attempts to achieve the desired level of comfort and flexibility. If you find that your backpack still feels stiff or uncomfortable after completing the previous steps, don’t worry. You can repeat the process to further break it in. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Empty the backpack: Remove all items from the backpack and start with a clean slate.
  2. Apply pressure and weight: Add weight to the backpack and apply pressure using the techniques mentioned in Step 3.
  3. Stretch and manipulate: Use the stretching techniques from Step 4 to further loosen the fabric and improve flexibility.
  4. Test and adjust: Test the backpack’s flexibility, as described in Step 5, and make necessary adjustments to straps, padding, or weight distribution.

By repeating the steps of the breaking-in process, you are giving your backpack additional opportunities to mold to your body shape and movements. Patience and persistence are key in achieving the perfect fit.


It’s worth noting that some backpacks may require more breaking-in time than others. The materials and construction of the backpack can influence how quickly it conforms to your body. So, don’t be discouraged if the process takes a bit longer with certain backpacks.


Remember to take breaks in between each attempt to allow the backpack to relax and recover. Rushing the process can lead to unnecessary strain on the backpack’s structure.


Once you feel satisfied with the flexibility and comfort of your backpack, you’re ready to take it on your adventures with confidence and comfort!



Breaking in a backpack is a necessary step to ensure a comfortable fit and optimal functionality. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully break in your new backpack and enjoy a personalized fit that molds to your body and movements.


Remember to gather the necessary equipment, prepare the backpack, and apply pressure and weight to stretch the material. Incorporate stretching techniques and test the backpack’s flexibility to make any necessary adjustments along the way. If needed, repeat the process until you achieve the desired level of comfort.


Throughout the breaking-in process, it’s important to be patient and allow the fabric to gradually adjust. Avoid overloading the backpack and be mindful of any signs of stress or damage.


Once your backpack is fully broken in, it will become a reliable companion for your travels, whether it’s hiking through rugged terrains or navigating the city streets. The time and effort invested in breaking in your backpack will pay off in the long run, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience with your trusted companion.


So, go ahead and embark on your next adventure with confidence, knowing that your backpack will provide the perfect fit and support you every step of the way.