Why Do Backpacks Have Two Zippers?

Backpack zip
Written by Bradley Page

You must have noticed that a lot of backpacks that are designed for hiking come with multiple zippers and wondered why?

In this post we will look at the reasoning for this:

Types Of Double Zippers

When looking to discuss double zipper systems on backpacks, we first need to cover the types of double zipper systems that exist for backpacks.

The first type of double zipper system on a backpack that you might be familiar with is where there is a single zipper that has two pull tabs that are facing each other.

The second type is where a backpack has multiple zippers providing access to the same compartment of the backpack from different points on the backpack.

Reasons Behind Backpacks Having Two Zippers

Here are some of the reasons why the backpacks come with a double zipper system:

  • Adds more strength to the bag
  • Gives access to just a specific part of the bag
  • Perfect for both left-handed and right-handed people
  • Helps to lock the bag completely
  • Make it easier to close an overloaded bag

We have discussed all these benefits or reasons in detail below.

Add More Strength To Your Backpack

While you are off hiking, camping, or traveling, you have to load your backpack with all the essential items. This can overload your backpack more than its original capacity, which puts a large strain on joins between different panels of fabric.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on the essential items you should take on a day hike that you might be interested in.

One of the main joins that takes a lot of punishment is zips. These have two joins to the fabric in quite a small space, as well as the join between the two sides of the zip. This makes these a common area for tearing, especially in cheaper backpacks.

By sharing the load over multiple zips it helps to increase the amount you can pack into your backpack before the joins give up.

Easy Access To Preferred Parts Of The Backpack

Backpacks with either a zip with two zippers or a backpack with multiple zips can be greatly beneficial for trying to get access to different parts of the backpack.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve had to take stuff out of your backpack to try and get to something then you’ll appreciate this. If you have two zippers then you’ll be able to come into the backpack from any point along the zip without having to open it all up.

If you have a bag with multiple zips for the same compartment, then you’ll have better access from different points on the backpack in addition to the larger zip.

Ideal For Left-handed And Right-handed People

While this isn’t something that a lot of people think about but when you have a backpack with a single zipper they are usually designed for the majority of the population. Therefore if you’re one of the estimated 10% of people that are left-handed you’re going to be facing backpacks designed for right-handed people.

The main difference between right and left-handed backpacks is the side that the closed zipper sits.

However, if you’re using a double zipper system then you’re covered, whether you’re right or left-handed as you can move the zippers to wherever you want along the zip.

Allows For The Backpack To Be Locked

If you’re going for a hike a long way away then you may end up flying and looking to have your backpack as a check-in cargo, then it is better to lock the backpack. Fortunately, the double zipper system comes with the benefit of locking. This can either be through dedicated hoops on the pull tabs for locking or holes on the end of the pull tabs.

You can use a small lock for securing your backpack while sending it into the cargo. This can save you having the zips accidentally come open and spilling your luggage everywhere, or save the contents of your backpack from theft. This won’t be enough to stop someone who is determined to get access, they’ll likely just cut the bag, but it will prevent most opportunistic thefts.

So, it is not wrong to say that a backpack with two zippers can offer much better security than the backpack with one zipper. Hence, some of the backpacks have a double zipper system to make it easier for travelers, hikers, campers, etc.

Makes Closing An Overloaded Backpack Easier

When you’re heading out for a multi-day hike, or just a hike where you’re carrying a lot of stuff, you may have found yourself trying to cram the last couple of items into an already full backpack.

Closing an overloaded backpack with just one zipper throughout the zip can be very tough. It can even cause the zipper to fail or break.

With two zippers, you can easily get past those difficult spots. This is because you can move the zippers together on any point along the zip, which is much easier to do, then you can move them to where you want the zippers to stop. This is probably the most beneficial reason for why backpacks come with two zippers.

Recommended Reading: If you’re interested in avoiding overloading your bag then we’ve written an article on packing ultralight for backpacking that you might be interested in.

How To Stop Your Backpack Zipper Coming Undone

Have you ever had a backpack filled and found that the double zips start to come undone? This can be awkward as it can allow for items to fall out without you noticing or allow rain into the bag unimpeded.

While it sounds silly, as humans, we like symmetry. This leads to people pulling back pull tabs to the top of the backpack in the center. When asked, this is commonly to allow for them to easily pull the zip down for any side they want.

Having both of the pull tabs at the top means that the opening is in one of the most stressed parts of the zip. This can lead to small movements to slowly start to move the pull tabs away from each other.

The solution to preventing this from happening is by pulling both of the pull tabs to either of the ends of the zip. As the pull tabs are then at the lowest point for the zip, it is much less likely, I’d almost go as far as saying impossible, for the pull tabs to naturally pull apart.

While this may feel a little weird at first, once you’ve started doing it you’ll likely never go back.


Hopefully, the above has helped you to understand why backpacks have two zippers and how that benefits you.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on our top recommendations for backpacks that you might be interested in.


Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!