Everything About Backpack Compartments

August 22, 2019

EVERYTHING ABOUT BACKPACK COMPARTMENTS

If you’re just thinking about getting into backpacks, chances are you are overwhelmed with the choices. And if you don’t know anything about backpacks, it can be really hard to choose the right one for your needs. So, we’re here to help! In this guide, you can check out all the different types of compartments. 

There are a few types of backpack openings that you commonly see. Aside from the normal zipped opening, which runs from the midpoint of one side, over the top, to the midpoint of the other side, you will often read about clamshell openings, splayed openings, roll-tops, drawstrings, lids, and not to mention the materials used in handmade backpacks.


Clamshell

Clamshell backpacks open like clamshells. Three sides can be zipped, leaving one side to act as a hinge. Another name for this is suit-case style opening since the panel can lay flat. You’ll most often see this on travel bags or backpacks of larger capacity.


Splayed Openings

Splayed openings are very similar to clamshell/suitcase openings except that they may not necessarily open all the way. You’ll see this often in techy backpacks — the splayed opening allows you to open a hard-shelled backpack. Some backpacks have a splayed opening that can be converted to the clamshell.


Roll Tops

Roll-tops are tops that roll down. Once rolled, these openings are usually held down by buckles or hooks on both sides. The benefit of these is that they allow you to expand the volume of the backpack upwards and are also more effective at keeping water out than zippers. Hence camping dry sacks are roll-tops. On the downside, they are not as convenient to open and close as zippers.


Drawstring Tops

Drawstring tops (or cinch-cord) are tightened via a string that can be clamped to hold the opening closed. These are common in large trekking backpacks because they can open very wide to allow you to fit large items like tents and sleeping bags inside. They’re often accompanied by a lid.


Lids

Lids (also informally called “brains” if the lid has to pocket with its own volume) refer to what is literally a cap that sits on the top of the backpack. Many trekking backpacks have this as a floating lid that provides a cap over drawstring openings to keep water out and is buckled down. Smaller backpacks with lids often use zippers instead.


Zippers

The most common access point seen in backpacks is through the top of the bag. While this has the benefit of being the easiest to load, since you can stand the backpack upright or lay it down on its front or back, it also means that if you want to reach anything at the bottom, you’ll need to get through everything on top.

Alternatively, many trekking backpacks also have access points at the bottom allowing you to retrieve items at the bottom or middle of a fully packed bag without having to take everything out. This is particularly useful for camping/trekking since there are very specific ways to pack your items based on weight.

Certain special-use backpacks also have side access zippers. These allow you to swing the backpack on one shoulder to your front and access items in the main compartment. It’s a convenience feature and useful for quick access. A last common access style seen is the back panel access. Back panel access is usually meant for special uses or designs such as camera bags.


Kangaroo Pockets

Kangaroo pockets are elastic pouches that are frequently seen on the front face of hiking backpacks. They usually aren’t secured by zippers or other hardware but are a really easy and quick place to stow small items or relatively flat items like a shovel. They’re often stretchy so jackets can also be stowed there.


Hydration Sleeves

Hydration sleeves hold your water bladders or pouches and are usually accompanied by some sort of port that allows you to thread the bladder’s tube out of the bag and a clip on the shoulder strap to hold it in place.


Laptop Sleeves

Tech sleeves / Laptop sleeves are pretty self-explanatory and these days they are a staple for any bag. One thing to look out for in the laptop sleeves is whether or not the laptop will have any padding on the bottom of the bag or if it’s suspended from the bottom.


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