Single vs Double Straps in a Backpack – Which is Really Better

So check this out, have you ever made use of just one of the straps of a backpack or both straps of a backpack? What exactly were your thoughts? Which out of those two did you actually prefer?


Ones upon a time, wearing a single strap of a backpack was the in-thing. Everyone did it and those that did not were considered not cool. Been the owner of realbackpacks I could not agree more. The motto of realbackpacks is “backpacks with style” and this means we take been cool very seriously.

But just like everything that evolves, fashion also evolves and been cool has shifted from wearing a single strap of a backpack to wearing both straps of a backpack.

The shift in fashion was not the only point considered when the topic of the wearing of a single strap of a backpack to the wearing of double straps was considered. There were other interesting points that were just too important to ignore.

Granted, there are occasions whereby I feel it would be ideal to make use of either a single or double strap of a backpack and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages of both with more of the benefits pointed towards wearing both straps of a backpack.

So as usual, what do I normally do when I create my posts. I go on research mode to see exactly what others are saying as I would not want to write based on only my opinion. I was able to come up with some interesting reasons why people prefer one to the other and I would point out what I was able to find out.

Been Cool or Not So Cool

This is arguably one of the reasons I looked into this topic and it made me uncover other reasons that are even more important than this. During the 80s and 90s, it was clear that it was way more cool to wear just a single strap of a backpack and anyone not doing this was mostly regarded as not been among the cool kids.

But ironically, this has drastically changed in recent times. The cool kids now wear both straps of their backpacks rather than just a single strap. What actually brought about this change in behavior?

Now based on my research, there were several factors that brought about this and I am going to talk about them further down this post but for now I am going to focus on the trends portrayed by our celebrities.

There is no doubt that celebrities play an important role in how some of us actually dress and this is also true on how we wear our backpacks. With celebrities wearing backpacks these days, backpacks are considered more of an accessory than they used to be.

Since backpacks were mostly thought of as been used by students, I would base this explanation on this. In most teen movies in the 80s if you closely observe you would notice that most students wore just one strap of their backpacks.

A lot of students idolize celebrities and tend to portray the behaviors exhibited by these celebrities. To make my point, back in the days a lot of celebrities were always been spotted wearing their trousers/jeans or shorts below their waist.

This behavior was quickly picked up by a lot of people which in turn made them to also wear their trousers/jeans or shorts also below their waist. This shows the level of power of influence these celebrities have over the population. Every lady wants to dress the way Beyonce dresses and guys would want to portray the fashionable Tinie Tempah.

These are perfect examples of one of the reasons why single strapping was so popular in the 80s and 90s as teen movies portrayed been cool as wearing of just one strap of a backpack and not been cool as double strapping.

This however began to change at the end of the 90s when our celebrities in movies began to portray that the way you wear your backpack can actually define one’s character and the way people look at you and a perfect example of this was the movie Election which featured Reese Witherspoon and Chris Klein with the formal always spotted wearing both straps of her backpack while the latter wore one strap of his backpack.

Around this period more of our celebrities were been spotted wearing double straps of their backpacks and some of them even wore their backpacks with both straps to press conferences and even when singing on stage.

These were obviously been thought of or been used as a sought of fashion statement and it did not take a lot of time before we all started to portray this style of wearing the backpack.Miley Cyrus Wearing Only One Strap of a Backpack

Would we all still go back to single strapping on a regular basis if our celebrities decided they were going to start showing that style of dressing? I don’t think so at least not after you read what next I have to say.

When Been Healthy Trumps Been Cool

This should make you have absolutely no doubt that it is way better to wear both straps of your backpack than just a single strap. Nothing else should come before your health and if you read the proper way to wear a backpack you would notice that I encouraged the wearing of both straps of a backpack.

As kids growing up there is little impact on wearing just one strap of a backpack because the items in the bag would be very few but as we grow and are demanded to know more the weight of the backpack increases and therefore you tend to put cool aside and just focus on being able to actually carry your backpack.

The double strap of a backpack was actually placed there for a reason. There are going to be times when our backpacks are going to be heavy so to better carry the pack to prevent any sought of pain the double straps come into play.A girl wearing both straps of a backpack

These help to reduce the weight of the bag on the back by evenly distributing the weight which in turn lightens it up. Wearing just one strap of the backpack cannot achieve this result because the load of the backpack would be placed on only one of the shoulders which can result in that particular shoulder actually developing pains.

Also, because the weight is not evenly distributed, it can also result in the development of waist pains. This can be considered a huge price to pay for just trying to look cool in wearing just one strap of a backpack. This is another reason why there has been a shift in wearing just a single strap of a backpack to wearing both straps of a backpack.

You still find people wearing just one strap of a backpack but if you take a closer look you would notice that most times the backpack at that particular moment would be very light.

After Health, Nothing Trumps Comfort

Wearing both straps of a backpack is just more comfortable than wearing a single strap of a backpack. Most of the time, wearing just one strap of the backpack would require that you use one of your hands to actually hold that one strap so it properly stays fit on your shoulders.


Doing this has actually ended up occupying one of your hands which means both of your hands are no longer free.

Making use of both straps makes your hands to be free because you won’t have to support your backpack due to the fact that it would sit comfortably on your back. This becomes even more noticeable especially when you carry a heavy backpack.

A girl jumping with her bag

Have you ever carried a heavy backpack on just one of your shoulders? If you have then you would notice that it is pretty difficult doing this and still have both of your hands-free. It would be extremely uncomfortable and you would not be able to go about your activities with a heavily strapped backpack on just one shoulder without the help of your hand.

You would actually be forced to make use of one of your hands to hold on to the strap so it doesn’t slip off from your shoulders.

Now think back if you have ever carried a heavy backpack with both straps on both of your shoulders. You can do this and won’t require you using your hands to hold the straps to prevent it from slipping from your shoulders. A sought of balance is created which makes the backpack sit comfortably on your back without requiring any support from your hands to keep it in check.

Learn About 7 Types of Backpack Straps

Moving More At Ease

Have you ever been chased by a dog? I don’t think you can say you enjoyed your childhood if you weren’t chased by a dog. Anyway, running with a backpack is difficult on its own but try thinking about running holding just one strap of your backpack.

A dog chasing someone wearing a backpack

We tend to run faster because of our hands and not our legs and I think you already know where I am going with this. I watched a movie of recent whereby a guy was been chased and he was wearing a backpack with just one of the straps. Do you know what happened?

When he looked back he noticed that his chasers were gaining up on him and in order to lose them, he put on both straps of his backpack and his pace instantly increased. This was possible because both of his hands were now free and he was now able to swing both hands which instantly increased his pace.

Do you know why I brought this up? I brought this up because when we wear both straps of a backpack we tend to be freer to move at ease as opposed to when making use of just one of the straps in our backpack.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been able to escape the chasing of a dog because I wore both of the straps in my backpack or better still if the dog was gaining up to me I just threw away my backpack and focused on escaping. That was all that mattered.

Carrying More With Both Straps

I have gone either way when carrying my backpack and the fact is that I have been able to carry more when making use of both straps because I actually knew the weight would be better distributed than when carrying my backpack with just one strap.

You would not be able to carry your backpack for long if you decide to carry a lot when you know you would only be making use of only one of the straps of your backpack. Trust me when I tell you that it is not a good idea.

Although the idea of carrying less is always appealing the fact is to be able to carry more which I am sure might come up we would definitely need both straps of our backpack so it would not be much of a burden.

Hot Days, A Must For Single Strapping

I decided to include this here so you know that wearing just one strap of your backpack is not all bad, you just have to pick your moments.

There is a disadvantage to wearing both straps of a backpack especially during hot days and this is a major reason why some people don’t like making use of the backpack. Wearing both straps of your backpack during hot days can leave the back of your outfit wet.

A guy wearing a backpack closely tight to his body

This happens because when we wear the backpack it normally hugs the body which leaves little to no space for air. This, in turn, makes the back to become soaked with heat.

This is one scenario whereby wearing just one strap of the backpack can be considered very useful because when only one strap of the backpack is worn it leaves enough space for there to be proper ventilation at our backs which makes the back remain dry.

Easily Accessing Your Items

I don’t know about others but when I make use of my backpack I always like to pick my moments on when to make use of just one strap of my backpack or both straps. Although most people now prefer making use of both straps of a backpack, one of the reasons I sometimes make use of just one strap is because of ease of access.

A girl wearing one strap of a backpack

This is very similar to when I compared messenger bags and backpacks because when making use of just one strap of your backpack you would be able to easily swing your backpack to your front so you can gain quick access to your items in your backpack.

This is faster than when making use of both straps which would require you to, first of all, remove one of the straps before removing the second strap or before you can swing the backpack to your front.

Also, when I am in a train or a bus I normally like making use of just one strap of my backpack as it tends to keep me more alert and also I would be able to easily swing my backpack to my front when someone is about to pass behind me.

In Summary…

With the reasons listed on this post and others I did not list it sure seems that wearing only one strap of a backpack has gone out of fashion. A lot of us now prefer to wear both straps of a backpack because it is safer, it looks more professional, it enables us to be able to carry more, we are able to move easily, it is more comfortable and is now way more cool than single strapping.

Although there are times whereby I make use of just one strap of my backpack but if I am to rate it in terms of how much I make use of it I would say I wear both straps of my backpack 70% of the time and go with just one strap 30% of the time.

These are my opinions and I am pretty sure you have yours. Please leave a comment below on what you feel about this. Are you for wearing just one strap of your backpack or are you for wearing both straps or are your probably in between I would really like to know.


13 comments on “Single vs Double Straps in a Backpack – Which is Really Better

  1. I would go for double straps backpacks anytime as I consider health to be the single most important thing to consider. Yes, single strap is considered more “cool” even today but the health results especially in young children can be very bad. Style should never overshadow our health and whenever I have the chance I will suggest double straps.

  2. Hi Manuel, it depends on the content in the backpack. When I have too much contents in my backpack, I usually make use of the both straps of the backpack, but if the content in the backpack is not much, I make use of only one of the straps. I must say that my decision to wear either one or two straps is not because of what is in vogue but purely out of comfort. Thanks for your great article.

    1. Thanks for your comment Gracen. Comfort is really important to us all and picking the right moment on when to make use of either a single or double strap can play a huge role on how comfortable our backpacks turn out to be.

  3. In the 90s I was in college at Pitt, and yes I did the single strap thing. I still looked like a  nerd though.  I remember it sliding off my leather jacket all the time, but I still wouldn’t put that second strap on.

    Now, In my mid 40’s I still use a back pack every day.  I ride a motorcycle to work, and I use both straps while riding. I see a lot of riders using courier bags that sling over to one side, but my lunch and laptop are too heavy for that.

    Not only that, I don’t want my back going out, I’m too old for that.

    One thing I always wondered, was how the mail carriers can lug all that weight around on one side for all those years. I know 2 people who are life long carriers, and both of them have bad backs.

    1. The number of straps I normally make use of in a backpack depends on the situation. For example, during a sunny day, I hardly make use of both straps of my backpack and instead go with just a single strap so my back can remain dry due to the weather.

  4. I have always been a double strap backpack kind of person. My sons, used to go to school, actually one is still going and I used to have big arguments with him because his backpack was weighing a ton and I always felt it would damage his shoulder and posture especially because he refused to wear the two straps. I think it was a time he thought looking ” cool” was about straps….now he always wears the two, he knows better and he got smarter… but I will still show him your post, thank you for the write-up, really enjoyed it

    1. Thanks Barbara for your comment. You should also refer him to backpack safety for kids. It would be of huge importance for him to read that as I talk about why it is important for kids to wear their backpacks the right way and also how to wear it the right way.

  5. Hi,

    Using double straps backpacks is better. Because it has equal pressure on the back and both shoulders. Moreover, many things can be easily transported. Using double straps backpacks can be very easy to move. On the other hand, using single straps backpacks looks smart but can cause shoulder pain and we definitely can not move freely as much as we could when we wear both straps. So I support using double straps backpacks. But the straps backpacks depend on the things used and needs. 

    1. Wearing both straps of a backpack can give us better mobility as supposed to wearing just one strap of a backpack.

  6. Interesting piece. I quite agree with the points you raised. Everyone at one time or the other have used these bags and have carried them in the most comfortable way. In my own case, the first rule is the material inside, if light I would use the single strap, however, if using a single strap would stress my shoulder, I quickly switch to double straps. Nice piece.

    1. You are right Tolu, what we have inside our backpacks can be a deciding factor on whether to make use of just one strap of our backpacks or if to make use of both straps of our backpacks because if our backpack is heavy then making use of a single strap can end up hurting our shoulders which is definitely not good for our health.

  7. Backpacks have been around for ages but it is 100% better to have 2 straps and not just one strap. Been stylish is nice but the health of our body comes first

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