If you’re like us, chances are you dream about backpacking pretty much all day, everyday. But what about those days when a multi-day trek isn’t necessarily on the cards? Can you still give your favorite packs and bags the love they deserve even when you’re not out on the trails?
You bet your bottom you can! Just because you aren’t out and about on an exciting backcountry adventure every month of the year, doesn’t mean your pack has to sit there collecting dust. Using your day pack, duffel, or backpacking pack year-round means getting creative and finding places to utilize it for other sports, outings, or just around the house.
Here are four ways to upcycle your pack between backpacking trips and give your gear some love while it’s not out there on the trails. while ensuring it doesn’t end up in a landfill when it reaches the end of its lifespan.
1. Road Trip Organizing
One of the secrets to a successful road trip is staying organized. The more you’re living out of your car, the more of a mess it’s likely to become. Make this into less of a hassle by starting out on the right foot by using your backpacks and travel duffels as organizational tools to keep your car in tip top shape. Backpacks with less capacity can be used to organize the smaller items you want to keep on hand, or anything that has a potential to fall into the abyss between seats.
Duffel bags can keep clothes and camping items handy, and larger backpacking packs are perfect for any kind of sporting goods you might be taking along. Pack snacks into commuter bags, and keep one up front and handy for items you’ll want during parts of the driving itself.
2. Repurpose a Tired Technical Backpack for Commuting or School
If you’ve been using your pack for hiking, backpacking, or skiing and it’s getting a little worn out, think about how you can use it for non-technical outings. While we like our performance-oriented gear to feel fresh and comfortable and not fail on us in the backcountry, it doesn’t mean the pack’s life is over once you retire it from long outings or technical uses.
It’s easy to turn your pack into a commuter bag, or use it for school. The hydration reservoir pouch can turn into a laptop pocket, and the amount of pockets and organization on technical packs make them perfect for day-to-day use. Use it for school or work, and they’re perfect for bike commuting since they are designed for comfort while moving. This type or repurposing is best for packs between 25-35 liters—the perfect size for stashing work or school items and staying organized to boot.
3. Scrap Your Old Pack for Parts
If you don’t donate the old pack, don’t immediately throw it out—think about all of the useful components of your pack that can be used to breathe new life into other bags and gear. Ever seen a wild combo of materials, straps, and parts on a pack and wonder where it came from? It very well could have been a classic example of a “frankenpack,” or a backpack past its prime that was harvested for parts. Consider all of the pieces that make up a backpack: you have zippers, pockets, mesh, straps, a frame, buckles, elastic, webbing, and plenty of durable materials from the main pack body. Sew patches onto another pack, trade out straps, or replace zippers on packs or other pieces of gear.
4. Home Storage for Off-Season Items
Your travel bags don’t have to sit empty when you’re not on the go or using them for luggage. Swapping your closet out each season? Store out-of-season clothes in sturdy luggage, and save on having storage bins while not taking up extra room in the closet. Stash seldom-used items in duffel bags or travel packs, which keeps them easily accessible while pulling double-duty by using the bags that are already being stored. Many duffels are structured and stack easily, while travel-specific bags are made for organizing and keeping items safe and tucked away. Labeling the outside of the bags makes this even easier when sorting through to figure out where you placed these out-of-season items.
Written by Maggie Slepian for Matcha in partnership with Gregory Mountain Products.
Featured image provided by Sarae Ang