A Perfect Explanation of the Parts of a Backpack

Having a clear understanding of the parts of a backpack can have a huge effect on how you purchase a pack. It keeps you well-informed on the structure of a bag so you know exactly what to look out for when making a purchase.

A backpack and a book on a bed

The anatomy of a backpack is pretty easy to explain in a regular backpack but it becomes a little more complicated when hiking bags are brought into the mix.

In this post, we would take a careful look at the parts of most of the backpacks we regularly make use of and we would also state their uses and just how important they are in our everyday lives.

Compartments of a Backpack

One very important component or part of a backpack is its compartments. Compartments are enclosed spaces in a bag divided into separate sections. They basically divide the pack into various sections and should not be confused as the pockets of the pack.

They are extremely important and a lot of people make their choice when purchasing a back bag based on the compartments in the bag. There are various types of compartments and depending on the kind of bag you buy would determine the type of compartments that would be present.

Types of compartments

1. Main compartments

This is usually the largest compartment of a back bag and is able to contain the largest number of items in a bag. Every backpack comes with a main compartment and they are able to contain the largest sizes of items out of the other compartments in a backpack.

Depending on the style of the pack, these compartments are accessed either from the top of the bag or from the side of the bag.

2. Laptop compartment

Not every backpack has a laptop compartment. Due to the technological modern society we currently live in, manufacturers now include a separate laptop compartment in a lot of backpacks being produced. These compartments were designed specifically for laptops with special features included to safeguard the laptop from getting damaged.

Most of the time, these special compartments are made with padded sleeves. These padded sleeves are meant to protect the laptop from getting scratched or from getting damaged when the bag falls either vertically or horizontally on the ground or floor.

It also helps to protect the laptop if the bag forcefully comes in contact with an object which is outside the bag. Personally, I never buy a pack without a laptop compartment because I own a laptop and always want my laptop to be protected when in my bag but for those without laptops or similarly sized devices, they don’t really need to buy a pack with a laptop compartment because it won’t be of much significant use to them unless they wish to place other items in the compartment.

These compartments are usually not able to contain all sizes of laptops and are designed based on the manufacturer’s discretion. But ones in a while you would come across a backpack in which the laptop compartment is able to contain a large sized laptop.

3. Compartments for specific uses

Aside from the main compartment and laptop compartment of a backpack, there are other different types of compartments present in various packs that are meant for specific reasons. For example, there are some packs with a basketball compartment at the bottom of the bag which is specifically meant for a basketball.

Another example of such a special compartment is the rain cover compartment present in some backpacks which are meant to store the rain cover of the backpack and an example of this is Kopack anti-theft backpack.

4. Anti-theft compartments

Anti-theft compartments are those compartments that are hidden and are not easily accessible by anyone not familiar with the bag. These compartments are normally used to store items that you probably don’t want anyone to know about. Backpacks with anti-theft compartments are not as common as regular backpacks.

These compartments are usually located inside of the backpack.


The pockets of a backpack are actually different from the compartments of a backpack. Pockets are basically sewn on the backpack. These pockets can be either outside or inside of the bag. They are normally small and they come in different types.

1. Quick access pockets

These type of pockets are used to store items that are regularly needed by the user of the backpack. They are usually small and are located in different parts of a backpack such as the side of the pack, the front of the pack and are even located inside of the back bag.

The sizes of these types of pockets vary in different backpacks but their main purpose is for storing items that need quick access to.

2. Anti-theft pockets

Anti-theft pockets are used to safeguard small sized items from pickpockets. Unfortunately, they do not come with all backpacks and can be found only in a select few. They are located both inside and outside a backpack. They can be located at the side of the bag, at the back of the bag, and are even located on the shoulder straps of a backpack.

It all depends on the designer of the bag. Currently, backpacks with RFID protection pockets are being produced. These pockets are used to safeguard items such as credit cards from unauthorized access.

3. Water bottle pockets

Water bottle pockets are very common on backpacks. They are mostly located at the side outside of the bag although some bags have water bottle pockets inside the bag. They are used for holding water bottles but can also hold other items such as an umbrella and can even hold a tripod.

Back panel

The back panel of a backpack is located at the back of the backpack and they are what actually rests on our backs when we carry our packs. Ideally, they are supposed to be designed to be comfortable but this is not the case for a lot of packs been produced.


To make carrying a backpack be as comfortable as possible, manufacturers make use of a thick padded material on the back of the backpack while some make use of a trampoline style structure. Some make use of air mesh material in an attempt to make the back of the bag less prone to causing sweat on the back of the user. While this might be useful, they might not really be that effective in getting the job done.


Straps are another very important parts of a backpack. There are various straps that might come with various backpacks but their main purpose is to help reduce the burden of the bag on your body. Listed below are some types of straps you would find in different backpacks.

Types of backpack straps

1. Shoulder Straps

These are obviously found in all backpacks and they are the straps that enables us to be able to carry a backpack on our back. An ideal shoulder strap for really good comfort must be padded and should have a width to a very reasonable extent.

A thick padded shoulder strap makes the user of the bag be able to carry it for a long time without feeling fatigued except if the backpack is too heavy.

2. Compression straps

The compression straps of backpacks are usually either located at the side of the bag or at the bottom of the bag. They are used in cinching the bag down to make it more compact. These compression straps can also be used to secure gears outside the bag that cannot properly fit inside the bag and some examples of these are umbrellas, rain jackets, yoga mats, tripod, and various other items.

3. Sternum straps

These are also referred to as chest straps and they distribute or disperse the weight a backpack exerts on our shoulders. They also ensure the shoulder straps are in place and do not slide off our shoulders.

Some backpacks come with sternum straps while others don’t. Some sternum straps in some backpacks are actually removable if for any reason they feel uncomfortable while you are making use of your backpack.

If a backpack does not come with a sternum strap, you can easily get one and fix it in the backpack yourself as most backpacks are designed to accept them.

4. Luggage straps

Some packs are designed to have luggage straps at the back of the backpack which can come in handy when traveling with rolling luggage. The luggage straps of a backpack gives you the ability to slide the backpack onto a luggage’s upright handle tube and attach to the rolling luggage securely for easier movement or transport which gives your shoulder some breathing space from actually carrying your bag.

5. Load adjuster straps

These are most common on backpacks used for hiking and are rarely on regular backpacks. These are actually used to balance the load of a bag by lifting the weight of the bag off your shoulders and also better securing the bag to your back. As I said, they are mostly found on hiking backpacks rather than regular packs.

6. Waist strap

This is another very important part of a backpack. The waist strap also helps to reduce the load of a backpack being exerted on your shoulders by distributing the weight of the backpack on your hips. This is present in most bags but unfortunately, a lot of people don’t make use of it.

You can check out a post we created on the types of backpack straps for a detailed explanation of these straps.

Backpack Loops

The loops on a backpack are basically used to hang an extra gear(s) on the backpack that probably cannot fit in the bag or not appropriate to put in a bag, for example, a smelly shoe.

Two types of backpack loops

1. Lash tab

These are a mystery to a lot of people as they don’t actually know what it is meant for. Lash tabs were once included on only hiking backpacks but they are now being included on ordinary backpacks as a way to hang items that are not appropriate to put inside a pack or items that need to be quickly reached.

Lash tab of a backpack

You only need pass a string through the middle and lash your preferred item to the bag. Lash tabs are popularly used by some major brands such as Herschel supply co, Jansport and L.L. Bean.

2. Gear Loops

These are most common on backpacks used for outdoor activities such as hiking and climbing. Long items such as trekking poles and carabiners for rock climbing can be attached to these loops. They are mostly made of nylon material that forms a closed loop which are sewn into the bag or waist belt of a backpack.

Backpack Handle

The handle of a backpack is used to hold a pack without making use of the straps of the bag. Most handles on a backpack are located at the top of the bag but some packs also have handles at the side of the bag so it can be carried briefcase style and a perfect example of this is eBags professional slim laptop backpack.

The side handle part of some backpacks

10 Terms Everyone Making Use of a Backpack Should Know About

1.Padded Backpacks

A common word we hear these days is in the padding of a backpack. A padded backpack is basically the addition of foam to specific parts of a bag to make it more comfortable. There are different areas of a pack that can be padded but the most common areas are the back of the pack, the shoulder straps, and even the compartments of the bag preferably the laptop compartment of the bag.

The back of the back bag is padded for comfort and depending on the material used it is also padded to allow for better airflow between the back of the user and the back of the bag. Shoulder straps are padded for comfort and also to ensure that the straps of the bag do not leave the shoulder of the user sore while making use of the bag when carrying heavy items in the pack.

The laptop compartment of a backpack is mostly padded to protect the laptop from getting damaged or scratched while it is in the bag.

An example of a padded foam being used on some backpacks is EVA foam which means Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam which is sometimes called expanded rubber or foam rubber.

2. Strap

The word strap in a backpack is a strip of leather, cloth or any other flexible material attached to a backpack that can be used to fasten, secure, carry, or hold on to something on the backpack. Some common examples of the straps on a backpack which are found in most packs are shoulder straps, chest straps, and waist straps.

3. Backpack Fabric

These are the materials used in the manufacturing of a backpack and most of the time they determine the durability of a bag. There are quite a number of materials used in the manufacturing of a pack and some typical examples of these materials are

  • Cordura
  • PVC fabric
  • Polyester pack cloth
  • Cotton Canvas
  • Ripstop nylon
  • Nylon

Also, the fabric used on a backpack can also determine the water-resisting power of the bag.

4. Ventilation System

This does not mean the ventilation system in your home but rather the ventilation system on the back of a backpack. This basically refers to how the back of the pack is designed which determines back of the user would remain dry while making use of the bag.

Some creative designs and terms have been used on how some manufacturers go about this and one of the most recognized back designs of some packs is a trampoline style kind of design at the back of the pack and a perfect example of this type of design is the back designing of osprey atmos ag 65 backpack.

It basically makes the bag sit a bit farther away from the back of the user which allows for proper airflow between the back of the bag and the back of the user of the backpack.

5. Zipper puller

A zipper puller is the part of a zip that we able to grab to open and close a zipper teeth. They are made of several materials from plastic, metal or even leather.

6. Zipper

A zipper is basically a zip fastener and it consists of two rows of plastic or metal teeth that allows for the opening and closing of a bag’s compartments or pockets. Depending on the material used they can be made to be either water-resistant or waterproof.

7. Backpack Strap adjuster

Backpack strap adjusters are usually made of metals or plastics and are used to adjust the strap of a backpack to make it properly sit or fit on the back of the user of the bag. They are usually attached to the strap of a backpack.

They connect the shoulder straps to the webbing of a backpack and they can also be found on the chest strap and waist strap of a pack.

8. Lining

The lining of a backpack refers to a material sewn inside of a backpack which can help make the backpack to be water-resistant or waterproof. It all depends on the material used for this.

9. Webbing Strap

The webbing strap of a backpack is the strap attached to the bottom of a backpack which is connected to the strap adjuster of the pack. They are commonly made of cotton, nylon, polyester, and polypropylene.

10. Backpack Accessories

These are referred to as items that are used to add extra features to a pack. An example of this is the rain cover that can be used in some backpacks. Some of these accessories are standalone items meaning they have to be bought separately from the bag while some others might come with the bag.







4 comments on “A Perfect Explanation of the Parts of a Backpack

  1. Hi, Manuel.  

    I enjoyed reading this post as I have been thinking about buying a pack that is suitable for a laptop.  I have had several packs over the years but none is suitable for carrying my computer.  

    I have a couple of daypacks and the one I am using for my computer now is a meant for hiking or just walking around town. It has a pocket that is big enough for a small computer but it is not padded and certainly would not protect my laptop if I dropped it.

    The one in your post might be the answer for me and it is reasonably priced.  I was wondering though… Is there a pack that can carry both a laptop and some camera equipment as well.  something like that would interest me as well.

    I also like packs with other pockets as well, which my day pack has. I like this feature because I like to have things organized and easy to find.

    Backpacks have come a long way in the last decade or two so thanks again for helping us better understand the different parts and how they benefit and compliment each other in their different configurations.

    This post was very helpful,


    1. Hello Wayne, thanks for your question. If you wish to know how to buy laptop backpacks you can check out an extensive post we wrote on this as it is well detailed and would give show you what to do when buying a laptop backpack. To view this post you can click here.

      Also, there are several camera backpacks that are of great quality with a laptop compartment. One of my favorites is Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack. You can headover to Amazon and get yourself one.

  2. Wow. I have purchased numerous backpacks over the years I’ve seen backpacks with a heap of straps on them and never had a clue that they all really served a purpose…who knew lol. This article was very detailed and informative now I know what to look for when purchasing my next backpack. Thank you

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