Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets?

Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the heart of this discussion and explore the pros and cons of multiple pockets in a bag.

Read on for more details… 

Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets?

Having many pockets in a backpack isn’t a must, but it sure is handy. More pockets mean better organization, with specific places for things like your water bottles or laptops. This not only helps you find things quickly but also offers extra protection for delicate items.

But if you’re a fan of the no-fuss style or don’t usually carry many things, a simpler backpack with fewer pockets will do just fine. It’s about what you like.

Why lots of pockets in a bag is a good thing

Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets?: laptop compartment

It turns out a bunch of people really love bags with tons of pockets! I do too. Having all those pockets makes it easy to keep things neat, find stuff fast, and have a place for everything, whether you’re going to work or going on a trip.

Pamela Combies, who shares her thoughts on Quora, totally gets the appeal. She points out that having a backpack with lots of pockets just “makes organizing your things a little easier.”

The benefits of multiple pockets in a bag

Next, we’ll be diving into the good and not-so-good sides of having a bag with all those pockets and compartments.

Better organization

A big win with having many pockets is the superior organization they offer. They help you separate and categorize your belongings, making it easy to find what you need.  Loads of pockets = no more digging around in your bag. For instance:

  • A dedicated laptop sleeve keeps your computer secure and easily accessible.
  • Side pockets are perfect for umbrellas or water bottle pockets, preventing spills inside the bag.
  • Small zippered pockets keep your keys, phone, and wallet within arm’s reach.

Pretty neat, right? So, more pockets mean less chaos and a smoother day or trip ahead!

Easy and quick access to items on the go

Many backpacks are designed with smart pockets that make it easy to reach your things while you’re on the go, without having to take off your backpack. Think about a situation where it’s raining, and you need to grab your umbrella quickly. With well-placed pockets, you can do that without searching through a messy main compartment.

On Quora, Eric Manneschmidt also explained why they like easy access in a backpack. They said, “Sometimes you need the assistance of a fellow hiker, but you don’t have to open the whole back to get your water bottle, a snack, map and compass, camera, or possibly a trash bag for picking up trash you unfortunately may find on the way.”

Many pockets can aid in better weight distribution

If your backpack has many pockets and sections, it can help spread the weight better.

The trick? Put the heavier things near your back and in the middle, and the lighter stuff in the outside pockets. This makes the weight more even and can make your back and shoulders feel better.

Maximizes space in a bag  

Backpacks with cleverly designed pockets maximize the efficient use of space. By using pockets for smaller items like chargers, pens, or snacks, you free up more space in the main compartment for larger items like clothing or shoes, making the most of the available room. This ensures every inch of your bag serves a purpose.

Extra safety

Some backpacks come with anti-theft pockets, durable buckles, and even hidden pockets that enhance the security of your belongings, providing a safe space for valuable items like passports or wallets. Plus, there are secure zippered pockets that keep your belongings safe from falling out or getting stolen.

Versatility of pocket use

Backpacks with many pockets aren’t just for show – they’re super handy! Each pocket has its own special use, making it easier to adapt your backpack to the task at hand. 

Here are some examples:

  • Hydration pockets are indispensable for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to keep water within reach, while water bottle pockets are great for daily commuters or travelers.
  • Shoe compartments keep your footwear separate from clean items.
  • Padded camera pockets protect your photography gear during travel.
  • Zippered pockets keep your valuables safely tucked away, while mesh pockets let you quickly see and grab what you’re looking for.

The drawbacks of too many pockets

Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets?: Cluci women backpack purse

Too many pockets may encourage over-packing

When there are numerous pockets available, it might be tempting to fill up every available space, making it easy to lose track of how much you are actually packing. And before you know it, you might be carrying a much heavier load than you initially intended, leading to discomfort during your journey. 

Some pockets in bags aren’t always handy

Not every pocket in a backpack is useful. Sometimes they are too small to fit your needs or so big that things move around too much.

Take the side pockets designed for water bottles, for instance. In many bags, they can be too tight or shallow for a regular bottle, which means you can’t use them. The same goes for laptop compartments. If you have a big, 17-inch laptop, finding a backpack that can hold it comfortably can be a real headache. A travel laptop backpack like the LEVEL8 Atlas, despite having good padding, won’t fit a large laptop.

Also, some pockets are put in places that are hard to reach or reduce the ample space in the main part of the bag, making them more of a hassle than a help. So, while having a lot of pockets might seem great, it’s essential to check if they really suit your needs. 

Bulky appearance and aesthetic concerns

Many pockets and compartments can give the backpack a bulky appearance, which might not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone.

Finding stuff can be tricky

When a backpack has lots of pockets, it can be tough to remember where you put everything, making finding things hard sometimes.

Keep valuables and fragile items out of checked duffel

For the safety and security of your belongings, it’s best to keep valuables items in your one carry-on bag rather than your checked duffel bag. All your belongings like laptops, jewelry, and medications should always be with you to minimize the risk of loss or theft.

Also, avoid putting anything breakable in your checked bag. Baggage handlers are often in a hurry and won’t handle your items delicately, increasing the risk of damage. Airlines generally won’t take responsibility for broken objects in checked baggage.

Bart Crunk, a contributor on Quora, echoes this advice, noting that travel duffel bags offer little protection for fragile items due to their unstructured nature. So, if you can’t bear the thought of losing an item, it’s best to keep it with you in personal items or carry-on luggage. 


What features should a good backpack have?

A good backpack should be durable, appropriately sized, and comfortable to wear with well-padded shoulder straps, a chest strap, and a waist belt. It should have multiple compartments for organization, a dedicated and padded laptop pocket if needed, side compression straps, and offer water resistance.

What is the most efficient way to pack a backpack?

What are the pockets in backpacks for?

Pockets help you keep your belongings organized, easily accessible, and protected from damage or theft. 
Here’s what different types of pockets in backpacks are typically used for:

  • Main compartment: For larger items like clothing and gear.
  • Laptop compartment: a padded laptop compartment to protect laptops or tablets.
  • Front pocket: Quick access to small items.
  • Organizational pockets: An accessories pouch that includes a series of pockets including pen pockets, tablet sleeve, phone pouch, front pocket, and space for your wallet, keys, and other small items.
  • Water bottle pockets: The two side zippered pockets and sometimes mesh pockets are great for carrying beverage containers, or umbrella.
  • Zippered pockets: Secure storage for valuables.
  • Mesh pockets: Ventilated storage for items.
  • Top pocket: Easily accessible for essentials.
  • Hip belt pockets: Small essentials on the waist strap.
  • Compression strap pockets: For securing gear.\Hidden pockets: Discreet storage for valuables.
  • Interior pockets: Additional organization inside.
  • Hydration reservoir sleeve: Holds a water reservoir.
  • Shoe compartment: Separates dirty shoes.
  • MOLLE Webbing: Allows for external attachment of gear, common in tactical and hiking backpacks.

What is the most important feature of a backpack?

Can I use accessories to enhance organization in a pocketless backpack?

Sure, even if your backpack doesn’t have several pockets, you can still organize it well using accessories like packing cubes for clothes, cord organizers for electronics, carabiners to attach items, document organizers for papers, and shoe bags to separate footwear. This way, everything stays tidy and easy to find.

What is the best size backpack?

Finding the “best” backpack size depends on individual needs and the type of trip one is planning. Here are the sizes I would recommend for different uses:

  • Daypacks (15-30 liters): These are great for daily activities such as commuting to work or short hikes. They have enough space to carry your essentials including a small laptop or a packed lunch.
  • Mid-Size Backpacks (30-50 liters): Perfect for weekend getaways or multi-day hiking adventures, allowing you to pack more items without being too bulky. These should have padded shoulder straps, a waist belt, a padded back panel, compression straps, and an adjustable sternum strap so they are comfortable to carry. Of course, to make this multi-pocket backpack easy to manage, you should look for features like a well-padded back panel, compression straps, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt, an adjustable sternum strap, a protective laptop compartment, and more.
  • Large Backpacks (50-75 liters): Opt for these when planning a long vacation or a backpacking trip spanning several days. They have ample room to store all the necessary gear and clothing.
  • Extra-Large Backpacks (75 liters and above): These are designed for specialized activities like mountaineering, where you’ll need to carry a substantial amount of equipment and supplies. And because they are so big, it’s important they come with features like water-resistant materials, side compression straps, padded shoulder straps, a padded back panel, compression straps, a waist belt, and an adjustable sternum strap for carrying comfort.  

By choosing the right size, you ensure that you have all your necessities within reach while avoiding the discomfort of carrying an excessively large or small backpack.

How do I know if my backpack is too small?

So, do you really need many pockets in your bag?

Is it necessary for a backpack to have lots of pockets?

In the end, the question of whether your backpack should have lots of pockets depends on what works best for you. Multiple pockets certainly have their advantages, like keeping things organized and easy to reach, but they might not be essential for everyone.

When choosing the right high-quality backpack, consider what you do every day, what you usually carry, and how you like to keep things tidy. Do you like everything in its spot, or are you okay with putting it all in one big section?

Whether you go for a multi-pocket backpack or a simpler one with just a few, make sure it meets your needs for staying organized and fits your lifestyle and preferences.

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