Creative Ways to Turn a Shoulder Bag into a Backpack

Shoulder bags are a classic accessory, offering style and convenience for everyday use. But sometimes, you might find yourself needing a hands-free carrying option, especially when venturing out for longer errands, hikes, or commutes. This is where the clever hack of transforming your favorite shoulder bag into a makeshift backpack comes in handy!

This article explores various creative methods to give your shoulder bag a backpack makeover. We’ll delve into simple DIY techniques and modifications, along with considerations for different bag styles and materials. So, unleash your inner DIY enthusiast and breathe new life into your existing shoulder bag!

Convert shoulder bag to backpack.

Understanding Your Shoulder Bag: Suitability for Transformation

Before diving into the conversion process, it’s crucial to assess your shoulder bag’s suitability for transformation. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Bag Size and Structure: Larger, sturdier bags with a defined shape are generally better candidates for backpack conversion. Smaller or flimsy bags might not provide the necessary structure and support for carrying heavier loads comfortably.
  • Material: Durable materials like canvas, leather, or thick nylon are ideal. Avoid using delicate fabrics that could tear or rip under the strain of backpack straps.
  • Existing Straps: Ideally, your bag should have at least one long strap or handles that can be repurposed or used as a base for attaching new backpack straps.

If your bag meets these criteria, you’re ready to explore the exciting world of DIY backpack conversions!

DIY Magic: Simple Techniques for Transforming Your Bag

Here are three creative methods to transform your shoulder bag into a backpack, catering to different skill levels and materials:

Method 1: Repurposing Existing Straps (For Bags with Detachable Straps)

This method is ideal for shoulder bags with detachable straps or long handles.


  • Sewing needle and thread (optional)
  • Fabric scraps or sturdy ribbon (optional, for reinforcement)
  • Carabiner clips (optional)


  1. Detach the Straps: If your bag has detachable straps, simply unclip them from the existing attachment points.
  2. Connect the Straps (Sewing Optional): Depending on the length of your straps, you might need to connect them to create a single, longer strap for the backpack. If necessary, use a sewing machine or sturdy hand stitches to securely join the straps together. You can also add a piece of fabric or ribbon for reinforcement at the connection point.
  3. Attach the Straps to the Bag: Here’s where creativity comes in! Look for existing loops, D-rings, or sturdy stitching on your bag that could serve as attachment points for the newly formed backpack strap. You can also add your own D-rings or sew loops onto the bag if needed.
  • Carabiner Option: If your bag lacks suitable attachment points, consider using carabiner clips. Attach one end of each carabiner to the ends of your makeshift backpack strap and clip the other ends to secure loops or sturdy seams on the bag.

Voila! Your shoulder bag is now a functional backpack with a single adjustable strap.

Method 2: Creative Strap Creation (For Bags Without Detachable Straps)

This method is suitable for bags that don’t have detachable straps or suitable attachment points.


  • Sturdy webbing or fabric (enough for two straps)
  • Sewing machine or heavy-duty fabric glue
  • D-rings (4)
  • Scissors
  • Lighter (optional, to seal webbing ends)


  1. Cut the Fabric/Webbing: Cut two equal lengths of webbing or fabric to create your backpack straps. The length will depend on your desired backpack height and your torso size.
  2. Finish the Strap Ends (Optional): If using webbing, you can use a lighter to carefully melt the ends to prevent fraying. For fabric straps, fold the ends inwards and sew them closed to create a clean finish.
  3. Attach D-Rings: Sew or securely glue one D-ring to each end of both straps.
  4. Attach Straps to the Bag: Similar to Method 1, find suitable attachment points on your bag for the D-rings. You might be able to utilize existing loops, stitching, or add your own D-rings if needed. Secure the D-rings to the bag using sewing or heavy-duty fabric glue.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully transformed your shoulder bag into a backpack with custom-made straps.

Method 3: The No-Sew Solution (For Sturdy Bags with Handles)

This method offers a quick and easy solution for bags with sturdy handles.


  1. Cut the Fabric/Ribbon: Cut two pieces of sturdy ribbon or fabric long enough to comfortably loop around your shoulders and connect to the bag’s handles.
  2. Attach to Handles: Loop one end of each fabric piece around a handle and tie a secure knot. You can also sew the ends of the fabric for a more permanent attachment.
  3. Connect to Carabiner/Hooks: Attach the other end of each fabric piece to a carabiner or S-shaped hook.
  4. Clip to D-Rings (Optional): If your bag has existing D-rings near the base, you can clip the carabiners to those D-rings for added stability.

There you have it! A no-sew, quick conversion that transforms your shoulder bag into a makeshift backpack using the existing handles.

Beyond the Basics: Considerations and Tips

Here are some additional points to consider for a successful DIY backpack conversion:

  • Weight Distribution: When using your converted backpack, ensure the weight is evenly distributed within the bag for optimal comfort.
  • Padding (Optional): For added comfort, especially when carrying heavier loads, consider adding padding to the backpack straps. You can use leftover fabric scraps, foam pipe insulation, or other suitable materials.
  • Closures: If your shoulder bag doesn’t have a secure closure, consider adding one to ensure your belongings stay safe while carrying it as a backpack.

Embrace Versatility: Shop Our Selection of Convertible Bags!

  • Convertible Backpacks with Detachable Straps: These versatile bags offer the convenience of a shoulder bag with the option to detach the strap and convert it into a comfortable backpack.
  • Built-in Backpack Straps: Some bags feature cleverly designed straps that tuck away when not in use but can be easily deployed to transform the bag into a backpack.
  • Structured Designs for Comfort: Our convertible bags prioritize comfort and functionality. They often feature padded straps and compartments to ensure a comfortable carrying experience, whether you choose the shoulder bag or backpack option.

Investing in a convertible bag eliminates the need for multiple bags and allows you to switch between styles effortlessly. It’s a perfect choice for the busy individual who needs a bag that can keep up with their dynamic lifestyle.