flat handle vs twisted handle vs sos bags

Flat Handle vs Twisted Handle vs SOS Bags

Paper bags are a common part of our everyday lives, used for shopping, restaurant takeaways, and even gift-giving. But within the seemingly simple design of a paper bag lies a crucial element: the handle. The handle impacts functionality, aesthetics, and even the type of items the bag can comfortably carry.  

This guide dives deep into the three most common paper bag handle styles: flat, twisted, and SOS (self-opening square). We’ll explore their unique characteristics, advantages, and best applications to help you choose the perfect handle for your paper bag needs.

Quick overview of Twisted vs Flat vs SOS bags 

A quick comparison between Twisted Handle vs Flat Handle vs SOS Bags.

FeatureSOSFlat HandleTwisted Handle
CostMost economicalValuableMore expensive
Carrying comfortLowerModerateHigher
Branding potentialLowerModerateModerate
Storage efficiencyLowerHigherHigher
Best for weightLighter itemsModerate weightsHeavier items

Flat Handles: The Simple and Sturdy Choice

Flat handles are one-piece paper strips adhered directly to the interior of the bag.  They offer a clean and minimalist look, ideal for branding purposes. Here’s a closer look at flat handles:

Advantages of Flat Handle Bags

  • Cost-effective: Flat handles are the most economical option as compared to Twisted handles, it makes Flat handle bag ideal for high-volume production and budget-conscious businesses.
  • Space-saving: The flat design allows for efficient storage and stacking of empty bags.
  • Branding potential: The flat surface provides ample space for printing logos, slogans, or custom designs, enhancing brand visibility.
  • Lightweight: Flat handles contribute minimal weight to the overall bag, keeping shipping costs down.
  • Recyclable: Most flat handles are made from recycled paper, aligning with eco-conscious practices.

Industry Uses of Flat Handle Bags

  • Retail bags: Flat handles are commonly used for lightweight shopping bags in grocery stores, boutiques, and clothing retailers.
  • Food takeout bags: Fast food restaurants and bakeries often use flat-handled bags for carrying pastries, sandwiches, and other lighter fare.
  • Gift bags: For smaller, decorative gift bags, flat handles add a touch of simplicity and elegance.

Twisted Handles: The Classic and Convenient Option

Twisted handles are constructed from paper strands twisted together to form a strong, rope-like handle. They offer a comfortable and secure grip for carrying various items.

Advantages of Twisted Handle Bags

  • Durability: Twisted handles can withstand more weight than flat handles, making them suitable for heavier items.
  • Carrying comfort: The twisted design distributes weight evenly, creating a more comfortable carrying experience.
  • Versatility: Twisted handles come in various thicknesses and lengths to accommodate different bag sizes and weights.
  • Adaptability: The twisted design allows users to adjust the handle’s length by holding it at different points, offering more carrying flexibility.

Industry Uses of Twisted Handle Bags

  • Grocery bags: Twisted handles are the standard choice for grocery bags due to their durability and comfort when carrying heavier items.
  • Gift bags: Twisted handles add a touch of sophistication to larger gift bags, providing a comfortable carrying experience.
  • Merchandise bags: Retail stores often use twisted-handle bags for heavier merchandise, such as books, shoes, or clothing bundles.
  • Takeout bags: Restaurants use twisted handles for heavier takeout orders or when customers are likely to carry the bag for a longer distance.

SOS (Self-Opening Square) Bags: The Convenient and Speedy Option

SOS bags also called Without Handle Paper Bags feature a unique design with a square bottom that allows them to stand upright and open automatically when filled.

Advantages of SOS Bags

  • Self-opening convenience: This is a major advantage of SOS bags. They open automatically when lifted, saving time and effort during packing, especially for high-volume businesses. It also provides a smoother experience for customers who can grab and go without fiddling with the bag.
  • Stability: The square base of SOS bags provides a stable foundation, reducing the risk of tipping over. This is important for items that might be easily knocked over, like food containers or delicate gifts.
  • Branding potential: SOS bags can be customized with your logo and branding elements. This is a great way to promote your business with every bag you use. It can also enhance brand recognition for customers.
  • Versatility:  SOS bags come in various sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of products. From small bakery treats to larger takeout orders, an SOS bag size is likely to fit your needs.
  • Eco-friendly potential:  Many SOS bags are made from recycled paper and are recyclable. This can be a selling point for environmentally conscious customers.

Industry Uses of SOS Bags

  • Food takeout bags: SOS bags are ideal for fast-paced food service environments. The self-opening feature allows for quick and efficient packing of takeout orders.
  • Bakery bags: SOS bags are popular for pastries, cakes, and other bakery items. The stable base and self-opening design ensure safe and presentable packaging.

Choosing the Right Handle for Your Paper Bags

The ideal handle for your paper bags depends on several factors, including:

  • Weight of contents: Consider the weight of the items you plan to carry in the bag. For heavier items, choose twisted handles for their superior durability.
  • Cost: Flat handles are the most budget-friendly option, while SOS bags may require a slightly higher investment.
  • Branding and aesthetics: Flat handles offer the most space for logo printing, while twisted handles and SOS have a more classic or sophisticated look.
  • Functionality: If quick packing is a priority, SOS bags offer a convenient self-opening feature.
  • Storage considerations: If storage space is at a premium, flat handles offer a space-saving advantage.

Additional Considerations:

  • Recyclability: Ensure the handles are made from recycled paper to align with eco-friendly practices.
  • Customization: Many manufacturers offer custom handle lengths, colors, and printing options to match your brand identity.

By considering these factors, you can select the perfect handle type that enhances the functionality, aesthetics, and overall user experience of your paper bags.

Which bag is best for heavy items?

Twisted handles generally offer better weight capacity than flat handles. However, SOS bags might not be suitable for very heavy items due to their design.

Are any of Flat Handles vs. Twisted Handles vs. SOS Bags eco-friendly?

All three types of Twisted Handles vs Flat Handles vs SOS bags can be made from recycled paper and be recyclable themselves. Look for manufacturers that prioritize sustainable materials.

Which bags are best for packing?

For quick packing, SOS (Self-Opening Square) bags are the best choice due to their self-opening feature and sturdy square shape, streamlining the packing process for efficient and speedy operations.


The choice between flat handles, twisted handles, and SOS bags hinges on various factors including product type, industry requirements, and brand image. While flat handles offer simplicity and durability, twisted handles exude sophistication and versatility. SOS bags, on the other hand, prioritize convenience and security, making them indispensable in retail, food service, and healthcare settings. 

Ultimately, selecting the optimal handle type necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the unique features and applications of each variant. By aligning packaging solutions with specific needs and preferences, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, streamline operations, and reinforce brand identity in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

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