ClearBags Guide to Gusset Bags

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Can you guess what type of bag can be dressed up with ribbons and handle delicate cupcakes and large, awkward products? If you answered gusset bag, you are a packaging genius! What makes gusset bags special is that they are made with extra material to increase the strength and volume of the bag. That makes gusset bags a great choice for packaging bulk items, decorative food, and other irregular-shaped products. For such products, a little wiggle room makes all the difference.

Image from Love-the-Day

What is a gusset anyway?

"Gusset" is not exactly an everyday term. To keep it simple, a gusset is extra material that is added to either the sides or the the bottom of the bag to give it more space. Gusset bags are folded and sealed in such a way as to eliminate the "dog ears" commonly see with non-gusseted bags, and thus create a package that expands with your product. The gusset also strengthens the overall structure of the bag, giving products more support and providing a more form-fitting bag that adapts to products like bread, cookies, popcorn, and candy.

Two Kinds of Gussets - Side and Bottom

The location of the gusset determines whether the bag is a side gusset bag or a bottom gusset bag. Each type of of bag is useful for different areas of packaging. Here is the simple difference between the two: Side gusset bags have expandable sides while bottom gussets have expandable bottoms.

Because side gusset bags have expandable sides, irregular-shaped items like bread and rolls work especially well. On the other hand, a bottom gusset bag, such as a stand up pouch, is a popular choice for snacks and bulk items because it allows the bag to expand when filled.

Which type of bag is best for you?

Gussets come in many styles, all offering a little something different. As with any packaging decision, the first thing to think about is what you are packaging:

  • What is the shape of your product?
  • Is your product lightweight or heavy?
  • Does your product require heat sealing? 
  • Are you looking for an eco-friendly option? 
While gusset bags are generally more accommodating, some gusset bags work especially well for specific products. It may be a matter of presentation or functionality. Gussets bags are so flexible, they offer both a high level of functionality and a great presentation for your product.

For example, flat bottom bags are five-sided and have more bottom space than side gusset bags. Depending on their material, flat bottom gusset bags work well for packaging bulk food and decorative foods because of the increased capacity and its ability to keep a product standing up straight. Eco gussets made with plant-based material partner well with environmentally friendly branding.

Let's focus on two areas of packaging that are commonly used with gussets bags. They include:

  • Decorative food
  • Large and bulk items

Decorative Food



Decorative food packaging encompasses every sweet treat you can imagine. Expandable side gussets work great for bulk items like candy, popcorn, bread, and cookies. Other sweet treats such as cupcakes and cake pops benefit from the support of a sturdy base found in flat bottom gusset bags.

At ClearBags, we offer a few different gusset bags that are great for decorative food packaging:

The bag you choose may depend on your preferences or simply what your product requires. Let's take a closer look at each of these bags and the benefits they provide to decorative foods.


High Clarity Gusset Bags

Gussets bags are popular for decorative food because they offer a unique presentation. Adorned with ribbons and bows, gusset bags are attractive to customers and can make wonderful gifts as well. The material of the bag is the biggest factor when considering the level of clarity you need. Bags made from BOPP material offers the highest clarity and adds stiffness to the bag. The crisp, professional quality of BOPP bags work great for presentation, making them ideal for cupcakes, candies, chocolates and more. A standard Polypropylene (PP) bag and Polyethylene (PE) bag is not quite as clear as BOPP bags, but is definitely a more economical option. Eco-friendly PLA gusset bags are made from polylactic acid (PLA), derived from cornstarch or sugarcane. They still provide excellent clarity and fit well with brands that focus on environmentally friendly solutions. Eco can cost a bit more, but if going green is a priority for your brand, eco-gussets are a perfect fit. Check out this article about eco bags for more information on using "green packaging."


Flat Bottom Gusset Bags


Our flat bottom gussets are an excellent choice for decorative food products that need a stable bottom. Expandable sides and a flat base help keep layered frosting, sprinkles and embellished confections intact. Items such as cupcakes, cake pops, and cookies benefit from a horizontal base. Our flat bottom gusset bags come with and without paper inserts. The insert is a white paper cardboard base that helps define the shape of the bag and offers more support for your product. The bright white insert also helps products achieve a more polished, upscale appearance.


Heat Sealable Gusset Bags

Accessorizing with ribbons and bows makes for a smashing display. However, some products need the freshness that only a secure heat seal can provide. When heat sealing is required, you have several choices that work well for decorative food. Crystal clear side gussets, heat-sealable flat bottom high clarity gussets, and our flat bottom eco gussets all are heat sealable.


Printed Gusset Bags

If you want to capture a festive mood, printed gussets feature colorful pre-printed designs and themes. Printed gussets work great for favors and gifts for birthdays, showers, holidays, dental and veterinarian offices. You'll find paw prints, hearts, balloons, and more. Decorate these bags with ribbons and bows to help ring in the celebration.


Eco-friendly Gusset Bags

If you are seeking a green packaging solution, we offer a line of eco gusset bags that serve the same function as our poly gusset bags. All of our eco bags are high clarity, made from plants, and are certified compostable. Our line includes two side gusset bags and a flat bottom gusset bag. The premium side gusset and flat bottom gusset bag are made from Polylactic Acid (PLA), derived from cornstarch or sugarcane, with the premium bag having a higher degree of clarity. Eco cello bags are made from NatureFlex cellulose film from Innovia. Eco-friendly bags have a more crinkly texture and are not as clear as the poly gusset bags, but still offer an impressive presentation.

While eco bags can cost a bit more, the decision to invest in a green packaging solution is a personal choice for you and your customers alike. In addition to environmental benefits, these bags are printable, odorless, pliable, heat resistant, and food safe. Eco gussets are a great choice for decorative food, candy, and snacks.

So, consider your package and match it up with your desired options. Gussets bags allow you to add a personal flair to your brand while at the same time providing an easier way to package frosted and irregular-shaped items. Whether you need to package a single cupcake or bulk candy, expandable gussets offer flexibility for a wide range of products.


Large and Bulk Items

Heavy Duty Square Bottom Bag



In addition to delicate food items, gussets bags do a remarkable job of packaging large and bulk items. These bags use different material that puts more of the focus on functionality than presentation. Options include:

Let's examine these bags more closely.

Polyethylene (PE) Side Gusset Bags

PE side gusset bags are thinner and more pliable, allowing them to take on large, awkward, clunky, or oversized products. Multi-piece gift sets, kits, toys, and lighter bulk items are easily managed by PE side gussets. While they may not provide the clarity needed for decorative food that a polypropylene bag provides, these bags don't easily rip or tear and offer a more pliable option when packaging products such as breads, rolls, and cookies.

Heavy Duty Gusset Bags


Bulk products need the support of a heavy-duty gusset. We have heavy duty gusset bags with or without a square bottom. These bags have an airtight bottom seal to support heavier products and are made with thicker material. Heavy duty gusset bags are smaller in size and are a great choice for packaging dried fruit, coffee, tea, nuts, crafts, and more. Those with a square bottom can package larger portions and are ideal for products like grains, rice, coffee beans, gardening soil, and pet food. The square bottom bag stands upright when filled and is water safe. Both of these bags are made from food safe polypropylene material.

Stand Up Zipper Pouches


Another upright option is our stand up zipper pouches. The bottom gusset pouch design enables these pouches to stand up by themselves once filled. Popular for their customer-friendly features, protective barrier, and resealable zipper closure, these pouches are an attractive option for light to heavy items like chips, nuts, dried fruits, cookies, candy, crafts, toys, and more. Stand up pouches are heat sealable, available in a variety of colors, and ideal to print on, making them the most popular retail bag on the market.

Closures for Gusset Bags

We've saved the best for last! With the exception of the stand up pouches, gusset bags are opened ended and require you to close the bag in some way. Heat sealing provides an airtight closure and the highest protective barrier for your product. Also functional, but not as airtight, are header cards, labels, and double wire adhesive tin ties. For many products, decorative accessories such as bows, ribbons, twine, and twist ties are not only affordable but offer a stunning presentation. Another option is to use a combination of heat sealing and accessories for a more secure closure that is also fun and decorative.

Well, that was a lot to take in. To keep it simple for you we have put together a quick summary table to help you pick which bag is right for your product:


The little extra material of gusset bags can sure go a long way. Managing bulk, fancy food, and hard-to-package items are a great match for gusset bags. We hope this post has helped you to understand gussets and highlight additional ways you might want to package your products. 

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