When it comes to hiking and backpacking, your backpack is one of those pieces of gear that quickly becomes very personal. You’ll spend days on end with it, rely upon it to carry your gear and carry it on your back for many miles.
One of the ways to maximize your backpack and make it work even harder for you is by utilizing the daisy chain ties on it. But what exactly are these things and how can you use them to pack better and hike further?
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What are daisy chains?
Although the name daisy chains may bring to mind images of braided flowers which are often made into crowns or other hair decorations, the ones on backpacks are completely different.
A daisy chain is a strip of webbing that is sewn to the exterior of the backpack in a vertical line. There are several loops that are not sewn down and will stick out a bit. Materials are often elastic so the loops will stretch to accommodate a variety of items.
Most often you will find these on the exterior of the backpack, usually sewn in groups of one or two rows. They can also be on the straps of the backpack or along the side on a hip belt.
What are daisy chains used for on hiking backpacks?
There are several uses for daisy chains which make your backpack much more functional and give you an easier time as a hiker or backpacker. When your backpack is light and fits you well, you can effortlessly hike for a long time.
Although daisy chains were first designed to hold gear for rock climbers, their great utility has made them a standard feature on many hiking backpacks. Creative people are always coming up with new and unique ways to utilize the features of their packs.
- Increased Carrying Capacity
One of the primary purposes of a daisy chain on a backpack is to create more space to store and carry things while hiking or backpacking. Although the carrying capacity of the backpack usually refers to the primary compartment inside, daisy chains can add to this.
You’ll be able to easily carry much more by storing it on the back of the pack instead of inside. Bulky things that would take up too much space in the backpack can be placed here as long as they aren’t too heavy.
- Ease of Access
The strategic location of daisy chains allows a hiker to easily reach for items they may need frequently. This allows you to grab gear while hiking so you don’t have to stop to remove the backpack, open it up, and rummage inside.
The ease of access saves you time, lets you keep your momentum going, and is much faster and easier. You also keep your hands free when you don’t need to use any items which is important if a trail is rough or you are using trekking poles.
- Secure Storage
Although the interior of the backpack is often the best place for carrying valuables, daisy chains are usually very secure. The material will stretch to hold an item and then retract to keep it tightly held against the exterior of the pack.
They also allow the backpack itself to be securely attached to other objects such as a bicycle or boat. If you are carrying gear on an animal such as a horse or mule, you might also want to attach the pack using the daisy chain so it won’t fall off.
- Structural Support
Daisy chains vary in their width but some are heavy-duty and much thicker than others. They can also be reinforced with materials to make it possible to carry heavy items.
This can also provide more support for the backpack and increase its durability. You won’t have to worry about stressing the seams of your pack just because you have a lot of items hanging from the daisy chains.
- Weight distribution
A backpack that has daisy chains gives you more options for where to store different items so the weight is evenly balanced. If there were no external storage, you would have to put everything inside where it could become cumbersome and uncomfortable to carry.
However, you can be strategic about where to put different things so all your heavier items aren’t clumped together. Instead, spread the weight out across the entire pack so it is even and will make the pack easier to wear.
What can you store in daisy chains?
Anything that can fit into the loops on a daisy chain and be secured to the backpack can be stored there. However, there are several things in particular that are best stored on a daisy chain instead of inside.
- Wet Clothing
You won’t want any wet articles of clothing to go inside your pack because they could damage other gear or start to mildew. Of course, they can be put inside a plastic bag and then stowed but, if you want to wear them again, then putting them through a daisy chain allows them to dry while you hike.
This is the perfect place for small pieces of laundry, wet socks, handkerchiefs or bandannas to be stored. On a sunny day, you can dry your clothes while you hike to save time and have dry clothing by the time you stop to set up camp.
- Water Bottle
Many backpacks do have mesh side pockets that are designed for water bottles. But if those are full of other items or you want to carry more water, then a daisy chain is the perfect place.
If your bottle is on the larger side and won’t fit directly into the daisy chain, use a carabiner or other device to hook it to the loops. Bottles with a twist-off lid can be attached by the lid and then unscrewed whenever you need a drink.
- Camera or phone
Hikers who love taking pictures and documenting their outdoor adventures will enjoy having their camera or phone easily accessible. Keep your phone in a case to protect it and make sure any camera lenses are covered.
Secure it with a carabiner, rope, or another sturdy device so it won’t fall and get broken. Then just reach behind you and grab it when you find a place you can’t help but photograph.
- External pockets
Expand the carrying capacity of your backpack even more by attaching small pockets from the daisy chain. You can purchase small pockets or pouches which can be clamped onto the loops for additional storage.
Some of these small pockets have zippers so you can pack them with a lot of things, including smaller items, and still keep them secure.
- Lightweight gear
Any small gear that is lightweight enough for the daisy chain to hold can be secured to the outside of your pack. Things like a flashlight, drinking cup, camp utensils, small pot, or water filter can all be stored here with ease. A pair of camp shoes such as flip flops could also be tied to the daisy chain so you can slip them on to do chores around the campsite.
You can also hang a travel-sized hand sanitizer, a small tube of chapstick or sunscreen, and sunglasses or hat to the daisy chain. This allows you to reapply these necessities as needed and protect yourself from the sun throughout the day as you hike.
- Sleeping mat or tent poles
You may be able to fit a folded sleeping mat and tent poles into the daisy chains. If you have two, side-by-side, strips of daisy chains, the poles can fit vertically along your back.
Loops that are too small to hold a larger foam sleeping pad can be expanded using other tethers, ropes, or belts. You can also wrap a strip of fabric around the entire pad and then hang it from the daisy chain. Just make sure to secure it in place so it won’t move around or come loose while you hike.
How to use daisy chains effectively?
There are a few things to know when using the daisy chains on your backpack. Just because something will fit into the loops and can be stored there doesn’t mean it’s the ideal place for it.
- Balance the weight
Anything you store in the daisy chain should be placed in a way to make sure you aren’t thrown off balance while carrying the backpack. Don’t put all your heavy items in one place on the outside of your pack.
Instead, distribute the weight evenly both inside and outside. Balance out heavier items with lighter ones and keep dense gear at the bottom of the pack.
- Keep it still
If you hang items from the daisy chain, they will most likely swing or bounce while you walk. This can be annoying if you are hiking for long distances. It can also be dangerous if it’s a heavy item that could swing and hit you.
Some items may hit up against each other and cause damage or just make a lot of noise. This can be helpful if you are trying to alert wildlife to your presence but otherwise isn’t necessary or advised.
- Use additional support
Don’t rely solely upon the daisy chain to contain your items. Things like clothing can be compressed without a problem, but many other kinds of gear won’t fit in the loops or could get damaged.
That doesn’t mean the daisy chain isn’t a good option though. Instead, use a carabiner or some rope to tie something to the loops.