We’ve all seen it, perhaps without even registering it—the diamond-shaped patch on backpacks that seems like a holdover from denim’s birth in the Wild West, or at best, someone’s strange idea of a design feature. But it turns out that the patch is actually very useful for staying organized.
The slotted patch, which is typically found on the front of backpacks, is called a “lash tab” or “pig snout,” and is made to hold your spare gear on cords, according to TODAY. For hikers and backpackers, that might mean hanging extra items that you reach for often like a flashlight or canteen, and for employees toting a backpack to the office, it might mean stringing headphones or electronic chargers through the slot for easy access.
Lash tabs once appeared only on backpacks created for adventures in the great outdoors, but in recent years, it’s become a staple on a variety of backpack styles—like this one. Carryology reports that lash tabs were once a “leather patch that let you pass a bit of webbing through it and then fasten items to your pack.” Since then, the tabs have been adapted using many different styles and materials. And today’s backpacks now feature lash tabs that can be vertical, horizontal, or feature four-way slots.
If your backpack comes without the tabs and now you don’t know how you’ll live without them, you’ll be relieved to learn that the vintage styling of lash tabs has become so popular that you can now purchase your own and affix them to your favorite backpack.
No matter where you need to take your backpack, lash tabs are made to save you the hassle of digging through layers of gear for some of your most important items. The tab can also prove useful for frequent fliers, as Marie Claire suggests threading the laces of shoes through the tab and letting them hang off your bag, providing extra space and weight in your checked luggage or carry-on. Here are some additional carry-on tips for your next flight.