Have you ever noticed that little diamond on the outside pocket of your backpack? It’s often made of leather or rubber, has two slits and seems to be absolutely useless—the key word being “seems.”
As Business Insider has enlightened us, this is called a lash tab. And apparently, it’s not useless at all.
Alternatively called a pig snout (now that you’ve heard that term, you must admit the similarities are striking), lash tabs are a design staple on backpacks. They’re especially prominent on the brands Jansport, LL Bean and Herschel Supply Co. But what do they actually do?
Well, the lash tab was originally designed for hiking and other outdoor ventures. The tab allowed you to string objects to the outside of your pack. Be it an extra pair of shoes, a canteen or otherwise, the tabbed openings on the swatch of leather made it easy to run a length of tough cord through and securely attach necessary items.
You can also find lash tabs on personal flotation devices, where they are used to store lights, knives and other gear.
Though the lash tab was initially made of leather, rubber and plastic have become more commonly used as they are more durable and waterproof. Additionally, today lash tabs are added to backpacks to cultivate a “vintage” look, as most people aren’t aware of their functionality.
Lash tabs can have vertical slots (“pigs snout”), horizontal slots (“letterboxes”) or four-way slots (“windows”), according to the website Carryology. It all depends on what kind of functionality you want the lash tab to have.
If you love the idea of a lash tab but your backpack doesn’t feature one, you can always buy one from many outdoor retailers. Simply stitch one onto your pack, purse, or anywhere else you think it might be useful. They are extremely inexpensive, so don’t feel bad if your first few sewing attempts go awry.
Even if you aren’t planning to go hiking, the lash tab is a convenient way to store wet, muddy or smelly workout shoes.
And, besides, now you have a fun fact to share when small talk about the weather runs dry.