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Gusseted Bags vs. Flat Bags

August 3, 2016



In ziplock packaging, there are several options to choose from. You may choose a flat package for your cookies, a bottom gusset package for your granola or a side gusset package for your popcorn. But it doesn't really matter which package you use right? WRONG! Just like how you wouldn't feed your dog cat food, certain products have packaging choices that are more optimal.


Gusseted bags 


Gusseted bags speak for themselves - they are bags that have gussets that allow them to stand or expand. There are two types of gusseted bags, the bottom gusset bag and the side gusset bag. 


Side gusset bags have gussets built into the side of their design and complemented with a flat bottom, which allows the bag to expand into a box-like conformation when fully packed. As a result, they can hold a large volume of product without taking up too much space. A case study shows that side gusset bags are more storage efficient than bottom gusset bags and thereby reduced the number of packaging trucks on the road. 


While side gusset bags may be very cost efficient and effective, it comes at the price of aesthetic appeal. Side gusset bags are locked into their box-like conformation, giving little room for design alternatives. 


 An example of a side gusseted bag with a flat bottom and transparent windows


Bottom gusset bags have gussets at the bottom of the bag that allow for them to stand up when filled. The gusset can come in various designs, including round-bottom, k-seal bottom and plow bottom.


Round-bottom bags have a conical gusset that extend until there is about one inch of space before it reaches the end of the bag. This creates a "stand" for the bag. 


K-seal bottom bags are similar to round-bottom bags, except the gusset is trapezoidal in shape and extends closer to the end of the bag.


The plow bottom bags are made from one layer of film, with a W opening at the bottom corners that allow the bags to expand when filled with product. These bags fill into their best shape based off the weight of the product and is the best form of packaging for heavy products. 


In addition to the various designs, there is anecdotal evidence that bottom gusset bags are the most aesthetically appealing ziplock bag option. With this comes the sacrifice of volume efficiency, where the bottom gusset bags pale in comparison to the side gusset bags.


 Gold metallic foil round-bottom gusset stand up bags 


Flat Bags


The other option is the flat bag, where bags are sealed off on all edges and cannot stand. It has more limited flexibility than the gusseted bags and as a result, the most space efficient. Flat bags are also more aesthetically appealing than the other options and are great for packaging flat and lightweight items.


However, they are more suitable for in-hand purchases and tend to get damaged in transit when shipping is involved. 


 Red metallic mylar flat ziplock pouch 


Making a packaging decision


We've seen the benefits and pitfalls of each type of ziplock bag but one question still remains - what bag do I use? 


Flat bags - They're definitely the eye candy of ziplock bag packaging so go with this option if you are packing lightweight products that won't require the rustle and bustle known as shipping. However, keep in mind that it's archenemy (bottom gusset bags) might still put on a better show on a storage shelf so think carefully if you intend on using shelf storage. 


Bottom gusset bags - Go with this option if you have larger quantities of product to store but want some semblance of aesthetic appeal. They can also withstand the treacherous shipping journey, so ship away with bottom gusset bags.


Side gusset bags - For large volume packing, the side gusset bags are the primary option. The shape of the bags allow them to fit nicely into boxes and the flat bottom allows them to stand on shelves. However, this style of packaging may not be the most attractive option so make sure your product has been tested in the market before opting in for this bold design. 


We hope you can use this information to make the most informed decisions when deciding on packaging for your products!


Any other information or suggestions? Leave them in the comment section below!









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