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How to Store Backpacks | Tips & Advice

Whether it’s a schoolbag, daypack, backpack-style suitcase, or backcountry camping backpack, knowing how to store a backpack is essential to keeping your bag in great shape for next season and beyond.

The best way to store a backpack is stuffed with clean dry paper in a low-humidity and temperature-controlled environment.

Preparing a backpack for storage

Although it may be tempting to come home from a camping trip or end a school term by chucking your backpack onto a basement shelf or into an attic crawlspace, learning how to store your backpack correctly is essential to preserving your investment and making sure that next time you’re ready to use your backpack it will be ready to carry you through your next adventure. Here’s a step by step guide to how to store a backpack:

How to store a backpack.

Step 1. Clean your backpack

Whether your backpack has been to the backcountry and back or just been kicked along school hallways for a few terms, it’s important to clean your bag before putting it into storage.

Small, daypack type backpacks can be tossed in a washing machine to cycle through a standard wash cycle. Larger, internal frame backpacks are more challenging to wash. Before storing, soiled backpacks that can’t be washed in a washing machine should be cleaned with detergent and a scrub brush and then rinsed clean. Using a power washer with a gentle nozzle or even a car wash sprayer set to spray clean rinse water can be an effective way to wash backpacks that can’t be put through a washing machine due to a rigid frame.

Step 2. Allow Backpack to Dry Completely

Whether you have washed your backpack by hand or in a washing machine, you’ll need to allow your backpack to air dry completely in a low humidity area until it is completely dry.

Never store a backpack that is wet or has been left to dry in an area with high humidity – since storing a backpack under these conditions can lead to mold, mildew, and a ruined backpack.

Two woman in a train station, one has a yellow suitcase and the other has a yellow backpack.
Packing well- including knowing what to leave behind- impacts our whole trip.

Step 3. Fill Backpack with Filler

The best way to avoid a backpack with weird creases or uneven wear from storage is to store your backpack with light filling.

For me, I store the backpack I use for one bag travel filled with various items that I only use when I’m on the road – like travel cubes and empty containers. It’s an easy way to stuff my bag to maintain its shape while keeping my travel gear organized.

Save packing paper, perforated cardboard, or air-filled packaging from your online shopping habit and place it inside of your backpack. Putting a backpack into storage with plump, lightweight filling can help ensure that when you take your backpack out of storage it will maintain its original shape.

Step 4. Place Desiccant Packages in Backpack

If you’ll be storing your backpack in an area that’s less climate-controlled – such as an attic, basement, storage unit, or even closet, take a few moments to place desiccant packages in pockets. These silica-filled packets trap ambient moisture and can help prevent mold and mildew in high humidity storage spaces with stagnant air.

You can start saving these packets from new products you purchase or pick up a package of new silica packets at Amazon. Just remember that if you use reuse silica packets, you’ll need to dry the packets to be sure that they are ready to absorb again (Instructables has a guide to recharging desiccant packets for reuse).

Man with a backpack in an urban area.

Step 5. Before Storing, Place Backpack in a Bag

To protect your backpack from dust, contaminants, and even potential rodents, one of the most important elements of how to store backpacks is to place the dry, stuffed, and desiccant-packed backpack into a large bag before storage. I tend to save and reuse large plastic bags in order to have a little less impact on the environment, but you can also use large space saver bags (un-suctioned to maintain shape!), XXL Zipock storage bags, or even paper yard waste bags.

The supplies you’ll need for properly storing backpacks:

Why it is important to store backpacks properly

It’s often tempting after a long camping trip or series of flights and layovers to return home from a trip, to come home and toss our backpack in a garage or basement – and honestly, it’s fine to do so for a few days while you catch up on sleep and personal hygiene. Before too long, though, you’ll need to take a few moments to clean and prepare your backpack for storage.

A pile of backpacks on a curb in south america
Backpacks return from trips dirty and sometimes broken. Cleaning and storing properly helps bags be ready to use for the next adventure.

Not only does storing backpacks properly help maintain equipment and ensure that your backpacks will be looking great and ready to use at the start of next season, preparing to store backpacks is a great opportunity to check for issues that could be a safety hazard next year. There’s nothing worse than pulling equipment out for a camping trip or big trip and discovering, the night before you leave, a vital piece of equipment is critically damaged.

By cleaning and properly storing your backpack and other equipment at the end of the season, you can take a close look at the condition of your backpack and make appropriate decisions well in advance of your next camping trip. If you find tears, rips, or worn patches on your backpack, you’ll have plenty of time to make a plan for repair or to shop for a great deal on a new backpack.

These five steps can help you know how to store your backpacks, daypacks, and school bags so that the next time you’re ready to use them they will be in pristine and ready to use condition. Click here for advice on storing suitcases and luggage.