Best backpack shoulder strap pocket for phone

Modular Backpack Shoulder Pockets For Phone & Gear Storage

A backpack shoulder strap pocket is incredibly useful for hiking, and we highly recommend you pick one up. Use it to store your phone securely while also protecting it from the rain. Or load it up with frequently-used accessories like lip balm, sun screen, sunglasses, maps, or snacks.

The recommendations in this guide are grounded in a mixture of hands-on assessment, aggregate user review analysis, meta analysis, stats/feature comparison, and personal preferences. We have not backcountry tested every single model. Our inclusion criteria are as follow:

  • Secure interior compartment capable of phone storage
  • Front mesh exterior pocket
  • Lightweight, durable, water-resistant, accessible
  • Securely fits most packs

Read more about our inclusion criteria by jumping ahead. What about hydration? Don’t miss our guide to the best water bottle holders for backpacking. And while you’re here, check out our guide to the best backpacking packs, fastpacks, and daypacks.

You make Adventure Alan & Co possible. When purchasing through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Here’s why you can trust us.

Backpack Shoulder Strap Pocket Top Picks

a shoulder mounted water bottle

Backpack Shoulder Strap Pocket Comparison Table

Mobile users rotate device for full-width table

Make/Model Weight (oz) Price ($) Primary Material Dimensions (in)
Water Resistance
Zpacks, Cinch 0.6 33 Ultra 6.0 x 3.5 x 1.5 Medium
Zpacks, Zip 0.9 43 Ultra 7.0 x 3.8 x 1.5 High
Trekker Joe’s 1.1 28 EcoPak 7.0 x 3.5 x 1.3 High
ULA Ultra R 1.2 45 Ultra 6.5 x 3.5 x 2.0 High
CTUG Phone, S 1.3 36 X-Pac 6.5 x 3.5 x 0.8 Medium
ULA Ultra L 1.3 45 Ultra 7.5 x 3.5 x 2.0 High
HMG 1.4 49 DCF 7.0 x 3.5 x 1.3 High
CTUG Phone, L 1.5 38 X-Pac 7.0 x 4.0 x 1.0 Medium
CTUG Zip, Sealed 1.6 40 X-Pac 6.8 x 3.8 x 1.8 Very High
Gossamer Gear, M 1.6 20 Robic 6.0 x 3.0 x 1.3 Low
CTUG Zip, Stitched 1.7 35 X-Pac 6.8 x 3.8 x 1.8 High
Gossamer Gear, L 1.9 22 Robic 7.0 x 3.8 x 1.5 Low

All measurements rounded to nearest 0.1″

The Best Shoulder Strap Pockets for Hiking & Backpacking

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shoulder Pocket

The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pocket is one of the best-selling and highly user-rated ultralight shoulder strap pockets in the genre, averaging 4.8 stars on nearly 500 reviews. We love its waterproof Dyneema fabric, striking white-on-black look, and universal measurements; not too big nor too small. In 2023, HMG made a small update to their design, switching the exterior from traditional mesh to Dyneema stretch mesh (more durable, better grip), and merging two sizes into a one-size-fits-most. But it’s largely the same as its always been – awesome.

  • Price: $49
  • Weight: 1.4 oz
  • Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 1.25″
  • Primary Material: DCF
  • Front Mesh Pocket: Dyneema Stretch Mesh
  • Water Resistance: High
  • Attachment Mechanism: Dual gatekeep buckles
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Excellent user reviews. Universal sizing.
  • Cons: Expensive. One size only.
Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Phone Pocket

Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Phone Pocket

Specifically for storing a phone, we recommend the CTUG Phone Pocket. This shoulder strap pocket is the narrowest in our round-up, which hugs the phone in place; preventing bounce and jiggle as you walk. A velcro flap is used instead of a zipper, which is longer lasting and easier to use – albeit slightly less waterproof due to small top side gaps where the flap doesn’t fully overlap. The X-Pac fabric is very nicely structured and comes in a variety of beautiful colorways. The adjustable height attachment system is one of the most universal. CTUG also designs the widest width exterior mesh pockets, which increases functionality by wrapping all of the way around the sides, as opposed to stopping at the corner.

  • Price, Standard: $36
  • Price, Large: $38
  • Weight, Standard: 1.3 oz
  • Weight, Large: 1.5 oz
  • Dimensions Standard: 6.5 x 3.5 x .75″
  • Dimensions Large: 7 x 4 x 1″
  • Primary Material: X-Pac
  • Front Mesh Pocket Material: Lycra Stretch Mesh
  • Water Resistance: Medium
  • Attachment Mechanism: Dual snap clips with adjustable height webbing strap
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Narrower depth perfectly holds phone to prevent bouncing. Beautiful colorways. Adjustable attachment height. Velcro usually outlasts zippers. Extra wide exterior mesh pocket.
  • Cons: Velcro opening creates small side gaps where rain can enter.  Narrower depth is less ideal for holding bulkier items. Lycra mesh is lower durability.


ULA Equipment Ultra Shoulder Strap Pocket

ULA Equipment Ultra Shoulder Pocket

The ULA Equipment Shoulder Pocket is an exceptional ultralight accessory with good materials, stats, and performance. It’s constructed with durable, waterproof, structural Challenge ULTRA fabric. But what really sets it apart is the 2″ depth, making it the deepest and highest volume shoulder strap pocket in our round-up. The downside to this is that it’s so voluminous and 3D, your phone may bounce around inside as you walk if not bolstered in place by other gear. Not a major problem, and the extra volume is largely worth having.

  • Price: $45
  • Weight, Regular: 1.2 oz
  • Weight, Large: 1.3 oz
  • Dimensions, Regular: 6.5 x 3.5 x 2″
  • Dimensions, Large: 7.5 x 3.5 x 2″
  • Primary Material: Challenge Ultra
  • Front Mesh Material: Ultra Stretch Mesh
  • Water Resistance: High
  • Attachment Mechanism: Dual snap clips
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Highest volume. Great for holding bulkier accessories.
  • Cons: Expensive. Phone by itself may bounce around in deep interior compartment.
Zpacks Shoulder Pouch With Zipper

Zpacks Shoulder Pouch w/ Zipper

The Zpacks Shoulder Pouch w/ Zipper is the only fully-featured shoulder strap pocket we found weighing less than one ounce. Despite the weight, you still get the benefits of waterproof hyper-durable Challenge ULTRA fabric, full water-resistant zipper opening, exterior mesh pocket, and full-size phone compatibility. You even get dual horizontal elastic bands on the connector side, which add additional sway resistance for the carry. Weight-savings are derived from an ultralight attachment system involving toggles and loop cinches. While we prefer wider snap closures, the aforementioned horizontal elastic bands help to offset the daintiness of the hard connection points.

  • Price: $43
  • Weight: .9 oz
  • Dimensions: 7 x 3.75 x 1.5″
  • Primary Material: Challenge Ultra
  • Water Resistance: High
  • Attachment Mechanism: Top/Bottom cinch loops + toggles, dual elastic straps
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Sub 1-ounce. Universal sizing. Horizontal bands reduce sway.
  • Cons: Expensive. Toggle system is an unusual choice.
Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Zippered Shoulder Strap Pocket

Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Zipper Pocket

For an extremely water-resistant shoulder strap pocket, choose the CTUG Zipper Pocket available in a seam-sealed or stitched (pictured here) version). Not only is this design the only seam-sealed model in our round-up, it’s also the only pocket with a front-facing zipper. While nearly every model, including this one, has a water-resistant zipper, CTUG’s front-facing configuration prevents water from pooling above the zipper gap, decreases the likelihood of invasive seepage. The downside is that this zipper has a narrower mouth opening perimeter, thus making it more difficult than average to add/remove items. Avoid this particular zipper configuration if you have a bulky or rubberized grippy phone case.

The X-Pac fabric is very nicely structured and comes in a variety of beautiful colorways. The adjustable height attachment system is one of the most universal. CTUG also designs the widest width exterior mesh pockets, which increases functionality by wrapping all of the way around the sides, as opposed to stopping at the corner.

  • Price, Stitched: $35
  • Price, Seam Sealed: $40
  • Weight, Stitched: 1.7 oz
  • Weight, Seam Sealed: 1.6 oz
  • Dimensions, Stitched: 6.75 x 3.75 x 1.75″
  • Dimensions, Sealed: 6.75 x x 3.5 1.5″
  • Primary Material: X-Pac
  • Front Mesh Material: Lycra Stretch Mesh
  • Water Resistance, Stitched: High
  • Water Resistance, Seam Sealed: Very High
  • Attachment Mechanism: Dual snap clips with adjustable height webbing strap
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Front facing zipper decreases rain penetration. Beautiful colorways. Seam-sealed. Most water-resistant. Adjustable attachment heights. Extra wide exterior mesh pocket.
  • Cons: Front facing zipper configuration is harder to access than a top zipper. Lycra mesh is lower durability.


Zpacks Shoulder Pouch

Zpacks Shoulder Pouch

For the lightest weight shoulder strap pocket, approximately half the weight of the average in this round-up, choose Zpacks Shoulder Pouch. This design swaps a zipper or Velcro flap for a basic cinch pull closure at the top. The end result still yields a primary compartment + mesh exterior, and super ultralight designation. However, it performs worse in heavy rain, where the gap at the center of the cinch allows water in. We love that it has the two horizontal elastic bands, but there is only one hard attachment point, located at the top. No hard attachment on the bottom means this is more likely to sway when fully loaded. It’s also built with Ultra 100, which is a bit floppy compared to the other textiles found in this guide. But it’s an easy pick for max weight savings.

  • Price: $33
  • Weight: .6 oz
  • Dimensions: 6 x 3.5 x 1.5″
  • Primary Material: Challenge Ultra
  • Front Mesh Material: Static Mesh
  • Water Resistance: Medium
  • Attachment Mechanism: Top cinch loop & toggle, dual elastic straps
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable. Lightest in size/feature class. Easy in/out top access. Horizontal band reduces sway.
  • Cons: Cinch-based top closure invites rain in. Lacks structure. No hard attachment on bottom. Unusual toggle-based attachment mechanism.

Trekker Joes Shoulder Strap Pocket

Trekker Joe’s Shoulder Strap Pocket

We nod to prototypical Cottage Industry manufacturer Trekker Joe’s for designing a fully-featured shoulder mounted pocket with Challenge ECOPAK, a relative of ULTRA made with recycled materials. What’s more, it comes in a very universal size, lighter than average weight, four colorways, and a lower-than-average price tag. Our only hesitation is that we aren’t very familiar with this brand, and there aren’t yet a statistically significant quantity of user reviews. We’ll report back after testing.

  • Price: $28
  • Weight: 1.1 oz
  • Dimensions: 7 x 3.5 x 1.25″
  • Primary Material: EcoPak
  • Front Mesh Material: Polyester Dive Mesh
  • Water Resistance: High
  • Attachment Mechanism: Dual snap clips
  • Pros: Material is waterproof, durable, structured. Good value. Sustainable textile.
  • Cons: Lacking statistically significant user review approval.

Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket

Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket

Gossamer Gear’s version is the only fully-featured, phone-sized shoulder strap pocket available for less than $25, so an obvious pickup for value shoppers. The downside being, it’s the only model made with old school DWR treated Robic nylon. The end result is impressively water-resistant for nylon, but not waterproof like DCF, ULTRA or X-Pac. It’s also marginally heavier, perhaps .3 oz more than average. We also note the foam structure, the unusual Velcro attachment system, and that the size medium is the smallest in our roundup and most people should choose the size large instead. Double check to ensure compatibility with your phone and pack straps. If so, the price may be right!

  • Price, Medium: $20
  • Price, Large: $22
  • Weight, Medium: 1.6 oz
  • Weight, Large: 1.9 oz
  • Dimensions, Medium: 6 x 3 x 1.25″
  • Dimensions, Large: 7 x 3.75 x 1.5″
  • Primary Material: Robic Nylon
  • Mesh Front Pocket: Stretch Mesh
  • Water Resistance: Low
  • Attachment Mechanism: Vertical strap plus two Velcro wings
  • Pros: Great value. Foam backer holds shape. Two sizes.
  • Cons: Heavy end of weight spectrum. Unusual attachment mechanism. Not made with waterproof fabric.

Best backpack shoulder strap pocket for hiking

Inclusion Criteria Deep Dive

Secure interior compartment capable of phone storage

If you’re choosing to use a shoulder strap pocket, you might as well choose one that can fit your phone. When it comes to phone storage, most models in our roundup offer scrape protection, weather-protection, drop-protection, and convenience. A shoulder strap pocket can be used as your primary phone storage space, or as a secondary. They work particularly well when paired with trail running shorts, which are notoriously bad at carrying phones securely in stretchy, bouncy, shallow pockets.

Front mesh exterior pocket

From our perspective, there’s no reason not to choose a model with a mesh front pocket. The material mass adds roughly .1 ounces of additional weight, but offers a great space to store very frequently accessed items and snacks. It’s a huge functionality boost for a very minimal weight penalty.

Lightweight, durable, water-resistant, accessible

We expect our backpack shoulder strap pocket to have all of the right properties. Since plenty of models on the market do all four of those things, the bar is pretty high. That means weighing less than 2 oz, using proven durable and water resistant textiles like ULTRA or X-Pac, and creating an opening that is easily accessible for frequent in/out.

Securely fits most packs

Most shoulder strap pockets fit most backpacks, and near-universality of attachment is part of inclusion criteria. That being said, no one shoulder strap pocket can fit every pack ever designed, so always be sure to double check. Furthermore, we expect a secure fit, meaning minimal bounce and sway as you hike.

various shoulder strap pockets on backpacks

Always Confirm Attachment Compatibility and Phone Fit

Before making a purchase, it’s imperative that you double check attachment compatibility by visually inspecting the configuration of your intended backpack’s shoulder straps. Never assume! Does it have daisy chains, webbing straps, or other styles of attachment point? How will your desired shoulder strap pocket attach? Does the pocket manufacturer lists brands they are known to be compatible with?

What’s more, we highly recommend measuring your phone to make sure it will fit into the pocket. When in doubt, choose a larger sized model (3.5″ wide and 7″ tall). If you have a phone case that is bulky or grippy, that is great reason to choose a deeper model, one that is at least 1.5″ deep. If you don’t intend to store your phone in your shoulder pocket, we recommend avoiding the narrower models, which are great for phone, but too thin for some other items.

Best shoulder strap pocket for phone

What to Consider Storing in a Backpack Shoulder Strap Pocket

Here are some frequently-accessed items you may wish to store in your backpack shoulder strap pocket. Experiment with storing different sets of items in different combinations of your shoulder strap, hip belt, and hand pockets. There is no one best system, do whatever works best for you!

  • Phone
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Map and compass
  • Snacks
  • Wallet
  • Keys
  • Knife
  • Squeeze filter head in ZipLoc bag
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aquamira
  • Electrolytes
  • Satellite Communicator Device
  • Sun Gloves
  • P&S Camera
  • Power Bank
  • Headlamp/Flashlight
shoulder pockets for hiking

Conclusion to the Best Shoulder Strap Pocket For Backpacking

Thank you for reading this guide, where we hope you found your next backpack shoulder strap pocket. When it comes to storing frequently accessed items, a good shoulder pocket is on par with hip belt pockets and even pants pockets. They really are that useful!

Drop us a line in the comments if you think we’ve missed any significant pockets that meet our criteria. Happy hiking!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.