Backpack repair 101
May 18, 2009 3:07 PM   Subscribe

One of the two straps on my backpack is literally (no, really, literally) hanging on by a thread. The strap itself, where it's detaching from the bottom of the bag, is very frayed. How can I reattach the strap to the backpack? Specs inside.

My everyday backpack is a small REI number. Smaller than your average Jansport, and therefore not subjected to all that much weight, backpack-wise.

The part that's frayed is the part where the strap was sewn into the seam between the front and back of the backpack (it's two-tone, not all one piece), at the bottom of the bag. Immediately above the frayed spot is the buckle that adjusts the length of the strap.

1) What's the best material to use to reattach the strap to the bag so that it's fairly sturdy? 2) And how do I do it? Should I reattach it at the seam, which is where it was sewn in before? 3) How do I deal with the frayed part? If I cut it off, there won't be enough of that loop left to sew back onto the bag. Should I simply reattach the part above where the fraying begins to the bag?

Note that my sewing skills are limited to replacing missing buttons, and I've just learned that my ability to describe sewing-related problems is equally weak. Sorry if this isn't very clear..
posted by mudpuppie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
I think you may be looking for a DIY solution but if that's negotiable, take it in to REI. They offer repair on their products (not sure if you need to be a member). Any shoe repair shop should be able to do it as well.
posted by Morrigan at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2009

I'd take the bag to a luggage repair place near you. They ought to be able to do a nice secure job for you and I can't imagine it costing very much.
posted by zachlipton at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: REI guarantees everything the sell 100%. Take it to your nearest REI store and ask them to fix it or replace it if you don't feel like it lived up to it's promise. Now, if it's a 20 year old backpack, whether or not that is appropriate is up to you. But if it's a year or two old I think calling in the guarantee is definately in order.
posted by COD at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: Rainy Pass is a very respected outdoor gear place in Seattle. You might find it expedient to pay them to do it, but if it's a small daypack, it would be cheaper to buy a new one.

Alternately REI has an excellent return policy, they will take it back no matter how old it is. Only grey area in the policy is exactly how picky they are on how it was acquired. If you bought it and are a member then its no questions asked, they just look it up in the computer, give you a credit for what you paid, and then you pick a new one out. That is it.

Finally if you want to fix it yourself I can't help a ton. I will say since it is the bottom strap you can get a piece of new strap to sew back in, as long as you need it to be, that stuff (flat webbing) is generic. Just split the seam, take the old out, and sew the new in, get a sturdy needle and thick nylon thread. Go to target and buy a seam ripper so you don't damage the pack material. Pretty much pay attention to how you got the strap out, and sew the new one back in the same way. Installation is reverse of removal.

Even though I generally know how to do that kind of thing, I've only replaced a backpack strap once on a frame jansport from my childhood. That was a grommet hole strap, so no sewing. Any time I've had a daypack bite the dust its been easier and cheaper to just replace it. good luck!

On Preview: REI has been mentioned, but my link is to the exact return policy... I already wrote the rest, so will leave it intact.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 3:23 PM on May 18, 2009

Zachlipton has a good point. Local luggage repair is going to be a lot cheaper, and plenty qualified for a daypack. Rainy Pass is more for more technical and expensive stuff that the local place may never have seen before, and would have no idea what to do with it.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 3:27 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the REI replacement heads-up. I think I'll leave the backpack alone and take it back to them.

Unfortunately, there's no luggage repair shop here. Just shoe repair and dry cleaners who do alterations. I can't get a good report on any of them, so I decided to take things into my own hands.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:34 PM on May 18, 2009

Seconding COD, taking/sending it to REI for repair or replacement.
One of the advantages of buying from REI.
Done it several times, and the only questions ever asked were to hear stories about the cool place I was travelling when it broke.

Sewing webbing together is within the range of your sewing skills, given a few pointers.
But getting inside that seam to anchor the strap isn't - you'd have to open it and basically re-build that part of the bag. Better off sending it to REI.
posted by bartleby at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2009

For the record, there's luggage repair over at Nut Tree in Vacaville and plenty in Sacramento. I realize neither are particularly helpful if you don't have a car, but they aren't that far away...

Definitely think going back to REI is the right thing to do here if the bag isn't super old, but in the future, a shoe repair place probably could handle this too for items from a less awesome store.
posted by zachlipton at 3:51 PM on May 18, 2009

Guess I'm a little late, but a really easy DIY solution that requires no sewing skill at all is to use a guitar string. Just loop it through a bunch of times, then put some tape or something on the pointy end.
posted by equalpants at 3:51 PM on May 18, 2009

I have seen the guitar-string method in action. I can't imagine it would be good for anything but an emergency. To those who might be inclined to try this DIY method: someone you know has a needle and thread. If you can jab a guitar string through fabric, you can jab a thread through a needle and the needle through the fabric. If you can put some tape or something on the pointy end, you can probably also fashion a knot. Voila! Comme magique!
posted by aniola at 11:04 PM on May 18, 2009

We reattached, albeit temporarily, both of my son's backpack straps with duck (or duct, if you prefer) tape. He routinely overloads his backpack, and we mostly just needed a quick fix to last out the week. He also blows out the zippers and a couple other seams. Looks like I need to get him an REI backpack in the future. They won't know what hit 'em.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:03 AM on May 19, 2009

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