Liberate your mind! Wear your chest strap!

Among us walks a silent community. A group invisible to most, but once you realize their commonality, their presence becomes inescapable. I am a proud member of this resilient group. I am a proud backpack chest strap wearer. 

Almost nobody wears their backpack chest strap. Many may not even know what it is supposed to do. Almost all backpacks have a chest strap intended to distribute the load of the backpack more evenly on an individual’s back. This is a fantastic way to reduce the damage one does to their back by carrying around a heavy backpack all day. It adds comfort and utility if used correctly–or at all. 

However, there is one major drawback to this feat of engineering: societal expectations. Wearing the backpack strap is not cool. Try to get fitted up in the morning and then put on a backpack with a backpack strap. It does not work. There is no good way to integrate it into an outfit. I will be the first to admit it. If I am wearing a jacket, leaving it unzipped does nothing. If I am just in a shirt, a gray strap stretches right across the middle, preventing its full glory from being revealed. If I wear wired earbuds, they sometimes get clipped underneath the strap. It looks kinda goofy. There is no way around it. That, I concede to you. 

However, the strap’s utility is undeniable. I started wearing the backpack strap as a way to ease the burden on my back. That is the entry point. Try it yourself. It feels nice. It distributes the load. It serves its purpose. Walk around with it on. That is how wearing a backpack is supposed to feel. You cannot deny its utility. 

Most chest strap wearers begin their journey in search of easing the pain on their back. Again, it is not cool to wear the chest strap. However, you know what is cool? Defying societal expectations. Liberation of the body from back pain begins with liberating the mind from the shackles of society. When you make this mental shift, the backpack strap no longer becomes a detriment to what you are wearing but a statement about your lack of care for what society expects. And that is more than a good outfit can ever do. Confidence is cool. The chest strap exudes confidence. If you embrace the backpack strap, you have the ability to go to the other end of the horseshoe where it is so goofy that it becomes cool again. (or at least that is what I tell myself every time I clip up as my back screams in agony as I load another physical copy of a book or printed 50 page reading into my bag because I refuse to do any reading digitally; surely this piece isn’t me coping right…)

Despite the resistance, the backpack chest strap community remains strong. There is a sense of solidarity among us. I spoke with fellow member of the backpack chest strap community, Emily Bukowiski (CC ‘26), about her experience wearing her chest strap. Emily started using her backpack strap after breaking her foot. She would clip up to prevent the strap from getting stuck in her crutches. However, the effects of the strap were so powerful that even when she stopped using crutches, the strap remained–an event Emily described as “life changing.” Emily stated, “My backpack strap just makes me feel safe and secure. Some may say it’s even comforting. I am glad that this community is growing, and I look forward to seeing more fellow chest strappers on campus.” 

Friends, I urge you to leave behind the ways of the past and embrace the chest strap. The fervor of the strap wearers grows everyday, and we will welcome you with open arms.

Let the non-chest-strap-wearers tremble at a chest strap wearing revolution. The chest strap wearers have nothing to lose but their chains. We have a world to win. Chest strap wearers of all countries, unite!  

Image via Ted Schmiedeler