Noisy Backpacks

Do you mind the sound of keys jingling?  No?  I bet you would after you heard them make that noise over 5,000 times in 45 minutes.  That’s how many times the loose keys in your backpack could make noise on a 45-minute run to work.  How’s that for some early morning ear candy?

Well, fellow run commuters, we’re going to show you how to silence your commute.  No more key jingle.  No more water sloshing.  No more tink-tink-tink sounds from your zippers – just a nice, quiet pack for your run to work.  Let’s tackle them in the order of annoyance:

Top Noise Makers

  1. Keys
  2. Belt Buckles
  3. Zippers
  4. Hydration Bladder/Liquid
  5. Loose Items/Food



1.  Keys

I have a lot of locks to open, so I have a lot of keys on my key ring.  And, key ring cards.  And, doodads.  All of those together make for a baseball-sized bundle of noise.  I’ve found that there are two ways to effectively silence keys.

Camera Case

I had one of these lying around unused, so I tried it out one day and found it worked very well.  As a bonus, it has a small zippered pouch that my metal watch fits into nicely.  You can easily find one that will fit your keys, no matter what size they may be. Simply go to a camera case display at any store and try it out with your own keys to find the best fit.

Key SilencerRubber Band

For the especially frugal or minimalist run commuter, you can use a rubber band.  The one pictured here was holding some store-bought vegetables together (either asparagus or broccoli).  It’s wide, short and durable, making it an ideal combination to bind your keys together.


Belt Buckle Silencer2.  Belt Buckles

There is one particular type of buckle that will annoy the crap out of you when you’re running – the web belt buckle.  There is a little metal bar inside the metal buckle that will bounce around clanging and jingling, almost like the sound coins in a cup make.  For this solution, we turn to our old friend rubber band.

Once again, it does the trick.  Just be certain to pin the metal bar down under the rubber band or it won’t work.  You can also secure the entire belt by wrapping part of the rubber band around the coiled belt and buckle.

3.  Zippers

These pics should be self-explanatory.  There are probably a few more techniques I missed, but these are the main ones (and pretty simple and low-cost.)


Add a Zipper Pull

Use Some String/Cord

String Monkey Fist

Tie whatever works – just remember to burn the ends of the string so the ends don’t come unraveled.

Wrap Them With Tape

Tape Zipper

I used easy-to-remove painter’s tape here, because, hey – you might want to hear that noise again and don’t want to hassle with a difficult removal. (Note: the blue tape was used for the pic – choice tape is electrical or the king of tapes…DUCT TAPE.)

4.  Hydration Bladders

This one is pretty simple.  Turn the bladder upside down and suck out all of the air.

5.  Loose Food/Items

This one is sort of simple, too.  The key is to eliminate the empty space.

Loose Food

Loose Items

The first thing you can do is to ensure that the items in your pack are arranged properly.  One of our favorite companies, Osprey, created a handy graphic that shows you how to pack items based on weight.

Osprey Packs - "How to Pack Your Pack"

Osprey Packs – “How to Pack Your Pack”

When run commuting, however, we don’t always run with a full load.  So no matter how well you arrange things inside, there may still be plenty of empty space for things to bounce around.  That’s why we recommend a pack with compression straps:

Stratos Compression Straps

Top and Bottom Compression Straps

Compression straps allow you to change the size of your pack by squeezing the outside layer of material closer to your back, which in turn pulls items inside together tightly.  No more bounce!


Hopefully you found some of these tips useful.  If you have any other suggestions, let us know!

By |2016-10-22T20:26:46+00:00March 4th, 2013|Categories: Gear, General|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |4 Comments

About the Author:

Editor-in-Chief of The Run Commuter by night, paralegal by day. Father of three boys. Husband to the world's greatest bicycle advocate. Avid runner. Lover of beer and urban gardening. Can be found running with a backpack around the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. Contact Josh at


  1. Randy March 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    nice post, I hate the noise….. my zippers had the dangles with clasps on the ends to make them easier to pull – had to cut them off which made them way better, but now I am ready to take it to the next level and put tape on them as suggested. Also – I trimmed the straps everywhere down to only what’s necessary. just have to be careful to not cut too much!

    • Josh
      Josh March 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading! Another zipper silencer is heat-shrink tubing. Cut a piece to fit the length of your zipper and apply heat until it it holds fast. Tape is the cheapest and easiest, though. Works fine for me.

      For others with backpack straps that are too long:

      To Cut: If you want to ensure you don’t cut too much off your straps, put on the most winter gear you expect to ever wear and cut the straps based on how much is left over. Burn the cut ends with a lighter to keep them from fraying.

      Or, Not to Cut: You can roll and secure the straps with an elastic band (found at many backpacking/outdoor stores), a short, wide rubber band, or a piece of double-sided velcro.

  2. Daily News, Mon, March 11 March 11, 2013 at 8:09 am - Reply

    […] Does it drive you crazy when someone’s backpack is making all sorts of noise on the trail. Clanking, bouncing, and clicking? This guy has the solutions. […]

  3. Jim Stepp June 11, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    For web belts, use the Navy method of silent storage. Place belt through the buckle and pull the belt through until you have about a 2″ diameter circle. Turn the belt/buckle inside out. Tightly roll the belt, starting from the end, and tuck into the circle. Your belt/buckle are now silently stored in a small space.

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