How can I reuse or recycle old rucksacks/backpacks?

A rucksackHad an email from Ben H:

here’s a suggestion. one of my trusty rucksacks straps broke the other week. i’ve tried to sown it back to the bag a couple of times but each time it snaps again because of all the stuff i carry on my back.

i’ve decided to buy a new bag because the zip is past it too but still, i am reluctant to throw the old one away. have you got any ideas?

(Photo by worack)

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9 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old rucksacks/backpacks?”

  1. Have yourself a car boot sale and you’ll be amazed at what people will buy. They like carrier bags and hold-alls, even if there’s a wonky strap. And even if you don’t get a buyer, you’ll find someone who’ll give it a home. If you haven’t got that much stuff to sell, get a few pals together and do it jointly. It’s actually great fun.
    Also – Louisa will like this – it’s a good way to re-use the plastic bags that you can’t help accumulating, as the boot sale shoppers still expect to take their purchases home in a bag.

  2. Drew says:

    One of the best uses for tired old backpacks and rucksacks that I know of is simply to scrap them for parts! you can take old strips of the cordura nylon commonly used on packs and use them to reinforce the seams on your new pack or you can even sew them into new pockets and compartments on your new pack. Look at several pack designs online for inspiration and then create your own Franken-pack!

  3. KGB says:

    Old day packs work well as tool bags, (circ saw, router, etc). They keep the shop dust off, are easy to grab and go mobile, and much simpler than the hard cases most tools come with.

  4. Sandra Hendsbee says:

    Take it to a shoe repair shop to restitch the straps and install a cew zipper.

  5. Amanda Kerik says:

    The thing with straps is that just doing one seam makes it likely to just shred and fall off.

    Reinforce the material of the last 2 or three inches of the strap – use a sewing machine to stitch both across the width, and from the tip to about 3 inches in.

    You might also consider reinforcing the material on the bag as well.

    I’d take off the other strap and see if you can convert it into a courier bag – there’s only one strap and it goes all the way around (including the bottom). A bit like a purse.

    Make it into something you can hang on the back of your door – as a misc. item holder.

  6. Sandra says:

    Another use is just to use it to hold stuff in your house. The strap doesn’t really need to work if you’re using it to hold, say, out-of-season clothes, or toys, or extra plastic bags, or…

  7. Chris says:


    Does anyone one of a way to recycle old backpacks? Most of mine have huge holes in the side from a couple years of packing binders and other heavy objects. The majority of the zippers and straps are usually fine. It is just the gaping hole in the side that is the problem and it is too big to sew up.

    As a sustainable person, I want to find a way to reuse or recycle backpacks like this.


    • Melinda says:

      A patch would probably be more effective than trying to sew it up again. Fabric could come from a bag of similar fabric that is canibalized for parts, often found in thrift shops or at yard sales. Not only can the fabric be cut to cover the hole, but it can customize the bag, to acommodate a certain shape, if wanted.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Duct tape the whole

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