Hiking backpacks have loops all over the place, but the bottom loops are the most most confusing. They’re 2-3 inches long at the very bottom of the pack. They might seem unnecessary, but they have a very important function.
Why is there a loop on the bottom of my backpack? The loop on the bottom of your backpack allows you to safely attach your ice axe and other objects with long handles. Just push the handle through the loop and bring it up flat so it’s safe and secure. You can also attach trekking poles, tripods and use them as a main anchor point.
Those loops might have originally been used to attach an ice axe, but they can secure other gear as well. The following article will show you how to attach gear using these loops.
Using The Loops On The Bottom of a Backpack
There are a bunch of straps on the back of my pack (just look at the picture above). Those straps all have a purpose, but the bottom straps just seem to confuse people. Most people just clip their Nalgene water bottle on there.
It took forever to figure out what the straps on the bottom of my pack were used for. After 30 years using those straps for random gear, my dad finally taught me how to strap an ice axe to my pack. You can still use those loops even if you don’t carry an ice axe.
Using Backpack Loops to Attach An Ice Axe
Improperly strapping an ice axe to your pack can be a serious safety issue. When you eventually fall, you might end up with an ice pick lodged in your hip. Luckily properly securing an ice axe is pretty easy.
- Start off by holding the axe upright(pick on top) and slide it down through the loop.
- Twirl the axe around 2-3 times until it’s secure and the pick is facing inwards.
- Flip the shaft up and secure it to the back of your pack using bungee or rope. When you fall, you want the blunt adze side to hit your hip instead of the sharp pick.
The following video should help you visualize the process.
Attaching Other Objects
Let’s face the facts for a minute. Very few of us will ever use or own an ice axe. What other ways can you use the loops on the bottom of your pack?
- Trekking Poles: Use the exact same method to attach trekking poles to your pack. Most of the time I just use my poles, but you can’t use them everywhere.
- Tripods: Sometimes tripods can fit through the loops, but you usually need to use bungee cords.
- Sleeping Pads: You can strap foam sleeping pads to either the top or bottom of your pack. These straps work as excellent tie down points when using bungee cords.
- Water Bottles: Probably 99% of people use these loops to clip their Nalgene Water Bottle to a backpack. Having a water bottle bounce around on your leg is annoying, but it works.
- Other Random Gear: Anything that’s long and bulky can be strapped to the bottom of your pack. These loops are great tie down locations for bungee cords.