Best pockets
May 18, 2010 3:13 AM   Subscribe

What is the optimal distribution of objects in my pants pockets?

I carry a bunch of things in my pants pockets - two in front, two in back. These include:
cell phone
bits of paper, usually receipts
paper money
And I want to know the best way to arrange these objects among the pockets.

I'm right-handed, so it makes sense to put the most commonly used objects in a right pocket. On the other hand, other things should go on the left. Maybe I should arrange my pockets by category -
the most commonly used objects in the front and the others in the back. How do people use their pockets?
posted by twoleftfeet to Grab Bag (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm right handed but keep my cell phone in the front left pocket; I find that my dominant hand is usually busy doing other things, so I grab my cell phone with my left hand.

Keys in right front, wallet in back right. Nothing in back left; I pack light.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:16 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

My right front pocket has my wallet and nothing else if the trousers have a change pocket, or wallet + loose change if they don't. Left front pocket has all my utility items (phone inside its own cloth bag, two bunches of keys, two USB sticks, lighter, box cutter, reading glasses in a pull-apart metal tube case).

Left rear pocket has papers that will want sorting through on a change of trousers. Right rear pocket has papers I know I can chuck out without looking at them. Works well for me, except that the keys, the box cutter beat everybody else up.

If I'm wearing pants with additional pockets, I'll put the less aggressive wear sources (phone, specs, USB sticks) into their own pocket.
posted by flabdablet at 3:52 AM on May 18, 2010

Right-handed here. I've got keys, cell phone, and pens in my front right; wallet (holds coins too) and ID card in front left. This seems to give a pretty even distribution of bulk, though it's kind of a pain to take out my wallet (feature, not a bug?).

I don't really like sitting on stuff, so the back pockets are mostly just... temporary staging areas, and sometimes end up with receipts, etc.
posted by caaaaaam at 3:53 AM on May 18, 2010

Should be: ...except that the keys, the box cutter and the lighter beat everybody else up.
posted by flabdablet at 3:54 AM on May 18, 2010

I'm right-handed. Wallet in right front. Keys and phone in left front. Coins/lighter in the little right-front coin pocket. Everything else (paper etc.) in rear pockets. Seems to work for me.
posted by Jimbob at 3:54 AM on May 18, 2010

I would make the suggestion that if your cell phone has a glass screen on it (i.e., not a flip phone) that whatever pocket you choose for it keeps only the handkerchief and perhaps some bits of paper. If you have large items with it and are ran into/sit on it/etc. you can crack the screen.
posted by Hiker at 4:09 AM on May 18, 2010

Phone - front left pocket. Like InsanePenguin said, dominant hand is usually busy so it's better to have the cell on the left.

Paper money, coins, lighter - front right pocket. I use a wallet, and if it's in the back pocket well, that's no fun to sit on (plus it's easier to have stolen there). I generally use lighters with my right hand, so right front makes sense. You use money often and probably normally take it with the right hand, so paper money and coins there works.

Receipts, pieces of paper - back right pocket. I always take receipts with my right hand, and sitting on paper is no problem. They are likely to stay flat and not get crumpled in the flat back pocket, whereas upfront they will probably end up wadded up and crumpled.

Keys - I used to keep keys in my front left pocket with my cellphone, but they tended to scratch the cellphone, so now I do the carribeaner thing and hang them off the back left. I usually tuck them into my back pocket so I don't sound like a janitor while walking around and will often remove them and put them in my bag or coat pocket when visiting friends to avoid damaging chairs.

Handkerchief - well, I don't use one, but the back left is still available, so stick it there.
posted by molecicco at 4:12 AM on May 18, 2010

I am right handed.

Cell phone - front left
coins, keys - front right
wallet, paper money - back right
misc - back left
posted by moochoo at 4:21 AM on May 18, 2010

I normally have a bag or backpack of some kind with me. I put as much in the bag as possible, but never my wallet. My wallet always goes in the same pocket, and never in a bag or jacket. That way I never lose it.

You carry a lighter, but not cigarettes?

I normally keep my wallet in my left front pocket, and my keys/phone in my right front pocket. Nothing in my back pockets, because I don't like sitting on things. The keys and phone go in a bag if I have one with me. Coins go in a jar at home so I can pay for laundry, and so I don't jingle as I walk.
posted by twblalock at 4:38 AM on May 18, 2010

Right-handed, I picked-up one of these.

Front right - cards and money in clip. Keys.
Front left - Phone
Back pockets are miscellany like receipts, handkerchief (for the rare occasion I carry one)

I pack light.
posted by purephase at 4:39 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have the same (right-handed) combo as others:

cellphone: front left
keys and coins: front right
wallet: back right
handkerchief: back left

General receipts go in with the coins, important ones in the wallet.

If I'm travelling I'll put my wallet in front left instead of the cellphone.
posted by nomis at 4:44 AM on May 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you like cargo pants? Added space and they look good.
posted by mnb64 at 5:15 AM on May 18, 2010

If I'm traveling and/or don't know the area I am going to be in, I carry a dummy wallet with about $27 in it, and a dead debit card and dead (canceled) visa card, drivers license (I'd lost my license, got a new one, then found the old one and carry it now in the dummy wallet), and enough paper junk in it to make it look like it's my "real" wallet. Should I get robbed, they get this thing; I've got my debit card, a few bucks, my ID, and whatever else I need tucked into a sock.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:16 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wish you luck in changing your pocket configuration. I don't carry much with me, just a wallet, my keys and spare change. The keys are on a carabiner and clip to a belt loop on my right hip. The coins go in my front right pocket. My wallet goes in my rear right pocket.

I have recently lost about fifty pounds (going from borderline obese to mid-normal BMI). With my suddenly much less padded ass, I find it far more uncomfortable to sit on my wallet than I used to. I tried making the switch to coins in the front left pocket, wallet in the front right. But every thirty seconds I would find myself patting my right butt cheek and thinking: "Fuck, where's my wallet?"

In the end, I switched back before overcoming that instinct. So now, I just put up with uncomfortable sitting.
posted by 256 at 5:58 AM on May 18, 2010

Okay, lets take these items you've listed in order and we'll deal with the 'etc.' when we get to it.
Coins - (consider the amount of coins you are lumbered with, size and weight - this will depend on the country you live in). You should get a leather coin purse. I like the pressure-held together type but I'd be equally happy with a squeeze open rubber type and there are a variety of great colors available to sort your mood. [front right]
Handkerchief - Yuk! Ditch this and get disposable tissues. They don't take too much more room and are way more hygienic. [back pocket, it doesn't matter if it gets bent]
Cell phone - clip-on holder somewhere is the best (to free up a pocket) but if it's small enough [front left] unless you're right handed.
Lighter - If you're wearing jeans or pants that have that little pocket over the actual proper right-hand-side pocket, this is the place where it goes. You may have to buy another lighter or a disposable that fits, to accommodate this.
Bits of paper, usually receipts - why? Do you really make use of them later? If you do, for tax or personal budgeting, just stick them in the pocket that you always empty at the end of the night when you get home [probably right-hand front].
Keys - these cannot be kept naked in your pocket, they will wear a hole. They look lame hanging off your belt but it's what a lot of people do.
Paper money - get yourself a wallet (I assume you have cards too - get a billfold that accommodates both). You can get slim-line versions [right-back pocket, unless you're left handed]. Money clip is an option but inefficient, notes aren't the same size and go astray.
etc. - there is so much here, I don't know where to start. In my bag: Camera, MP3 player, Pens, Notebook, Cigarettes, USB adapter, Lunch.
I keep my pockets as free as possible [small bic in the little pocket, the occasional docket in the back pocket], I hate the bulge in my pants so I use a bag. You should consider this.
posted by unliteral at 6:16 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Right handed dude here.

Wallet in back right, keys clipped to back lef belt loop and dropped into back left, change in coin pocket, folding knife clipped to watch pocket and tucked into front right pocket, cell phone in front left, metrocards and similar in my shirt pocket.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:20 AM on May 18, 2010

Wallet and keys in front left, phone in front right. That is all.

Find your own optimum distribution through experimentation.
posted by knapah at 6:35 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Keys in left front. Minimalist money clip (license, 2 CC's, insurance card, botanical gardens membership) right front. Cell phone in left rear, or in cargo pocket (if applicable). Skeletool multitool on edge of right front pocket. Receipts in with keys, as annoying as possible, so they can be taken care of the minute I get home.

I used to carry a goddamn arsenal, a machine shop, and an accountant's office in my pockets. Freeing myself from that helped tremendously.
posted by notsnot at 6:58 AM on May 18, 2010

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."
-- Henry David Thoreau

First of all, get rid of as much crap as you can:

  - replace your pocketknife with a utilikey
  - Lose the handkerchief. Every place has a bathroom, and every bathroom has something you can use to blow your nose
  - Do you smoke? If not, ditch the lighter.
  - Dump coins into a jar as soon as you can - keep one at work and at home.
  - receipts and paper money go together in a wallet or money clip. Throw useless receipts away immediately, and clean your wallet out every few days.
  - Lose all those extra membership cards you carry around and replace with with one list of barcodes

Now that you've lightened your load, the distribution goes like this:

  - Keys in the front right pocket. Gotta be able to grab them easily when you've got your arms full of groceries and are trying to open the door.
  - In the rare occasion that you have coins, they go with the keys.
  - Cell phone in the front left pocket. Can't have it being scratched up by the keys or coins.
  - Wallet or money clip goes in the back right pocket.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2010

In my daily load-out:

Front right pocket, keys, cell phone. In winter, keys go in winter coat pocket instead.

Front left pocket, small bills, coin purse (it's useful, dammit), pen. Occasionally, when my shirt has no pocket, or I'm not wearing a coat, iPod gets stuffed in there too.

Back left pocket, wallet.

Back right, nothing, though that's where I'd put a hankerchief if I used one.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:40 AM on May 18, 2010

I'm right-handed. I have three important items I carry at all times: keys, wallet, and cellphone. Each gets its own pocket.

I keep my wallet in my front-right pocket because it's too bulky to sit on, and it's a small precaution against pickpockets (who I've heard tend to favor the accessibility of back pockets, where most men keep their wallets).

I keep my keys in my front-left pocket because I could cause myself some serious damage if I sat on those.

Though I wouldn't want my cellphone picked, it goes in the back right pocket. It's an iPhone; it needs its own space so the screen doesn't get scratched. I set it so the glass faces inward, it's safer that way. I haven't had any problems sitting on it, because it's thin and solid.

I never figured out a good protocol for loose change. It goes in either or both of my front pockets without rhyme or reason, and gets jumbled together with my wallet and keys. What I really need to do is get one of those wallets with a zip-up area for coins, and I'd suggest the same for you. Loose papers like receipts go into the wallet as if they were cash. That leaves the lighter and handkerchief, which I would put together in the back left pocket if I were you. The handkerchief can be rolled around the lighter to cushion it and make it more comfortable to sit on, provided you don't use either so often that would be annoying to do.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2010

Don't let anyone pressure you into losing the handkerchief if you don't want to. It goes in your back pocket. (To the handkerchief haters: tissues rub your nose raw, especially if you have allergies, and there's nothing toxic about snot that can't be solved by laundry.)

Coins, lighter, and keys in one pocket. Cell phone, paper money in the other.

Bits of paper fall where they may, for me, the important bits of paper go in the cellphone-money pocket, and less important bits go in the coins-keys pocket.
posted by desuetude at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2010

If you have enough coins/bills in your pockets to make the next larger size coin/bill you have taken change when you should have given change.

For example: if you are purchasing something thats costs 97 cents and you have two pennies in your pocket you should hand the guy a dollar and two cents so you get a nickel back instead of three pennies to add to the two you already have.

Following this rule will minimize the number of items in your pockets.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:58 AM on May 18, 2010

Phone: front left
Bills: front left
Keys: front right
Coins: front right
Lighter: change pocket (front right if unavailable, but man, this fucks with me)
Hanky: back left (you don't have to leave it hanging out)
Paper: back right

This system has worked for me for years. I'm a lefty though, so you may want to transpose.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:03 AM on May 18, 2010

I'm right-handed and I arrange my items for optimal usage via my handedness.

Right front: keys and change - things I would fumble with my left hand.
Right rear: pocket knife (attached to pocket via clip) and handkerchief. Obviously I can't use my knife left-handed, and when a sneeze is coming on I need that handkerchief as quickly as possible.

Left front: phone. I hold this with my left hand while my right hand is doing all the poking.
Left rear: wallet. I hold this with my left hand hand while my right hand is extracting money or card.

I used to have the wallet and handkerchief switched L/R until one day I realized all my dress slacks had the button on the left, which I took to mean "put your wallet here and a button will keep it from falling out" and I thought, "Why wallet on left?" and then realized the whole thing about holding it with my left hand and using my right to get things out.

In other words, I'm totally correct and everyone else in this discussion is absolutely wrong (unless they do it exactly as I do) because there is no optimal individual configuration.

Oh, and as for the handkerchief - I rarely use it, and yet I carry a fresh one every single day. Don't listen to the haters who say to ditch it. It's important, the miniature version of the HHGTTG towel. Considering that most days it goes nowhere near my nose or mouth, it's still clean, which means I can offer it to someone to clean the blood off their face after they get in trouble for telling me not to carry a handkerchief.
posted by komara at 9:07 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a key clip, keys get clipped to nearest belt loop and keys go in right rear pocket. Money and coins and small digital camera in RF. A pen, too, until I lose it.

Slim wallet in LR.

Way too many little things go in LF. these include flip phone, swiss army knife, guitar picks, 3 USB drives, mini LED flashlight, other people's money for purchases on jobs, receipts and paper notes, frogs, ice cream sandwiches, etc.

If wearing cargo pants or shorts, camera and phone go in extra pockets for less lumpy appearance/easier access.

I'm right-handed, BTW.
posted by KenManiac at 9:08 AM on May 18, 2010

Also I think I could count on two hands the number of women who have complimented me for having a nice clean white handkerchief. It makes you a gentleman, apparently.
posted by komara at 9:09 AM on May 18, 2010

Keys, coins - front left
iPhone, MetroCard - front right
Wallet - right rear

But when travelling and can avoid having to carry around keys, phone goes into front left, wallet into front right.
posted by andrewraff at 9:30 AM on May 18, 2010

Wow, some people are very opinionated about how pants should be loaded.
My iphone fits in the change pocket of Ben Davis pants, it lives there. A large folding knife goes in the big right pocket. Cigarettes and a lighter in the left. Change goes with the smokes. Wallet back right and paper stuff goes in the back left. I've tried keeping my keys in a pocket but i get stabbed, so they hang on a belt loop on the right.
If I'm wearing a shirt with a pocket anything could end up there, most often it's the smokes or the lighter but rarely both at the same time.
Before I got the iphone, guitar picks used to go in the change pocket, but know they fall out when I take out the phone.
Also, I'm right handed and if I put my cell in my left pocket I drop it when I take it out. Every time.
posted by gally99 at 9:40 AM on May 18, 2010

I try to never carry electronics (cell phone, iPod, etc) in the same pocket as metal stuff (coins, keys, lighter). Prevents a lot of scratching damage.
posted by ErikaB at 9:42 AM on May 18, 2010

First suggestion: Don't carry coins. Offload them to piggy bank storage as soon as you can following reciept.

Two: If you're wearing dungarees, you can use the handkerchief as a wardrobe accent by letting it peak up through a back pocket, but be very careful, this could look stupid if done wrong. If you're wearing a suit jacket, the handkerchief is no sweat, rock that shit in the front jacket pocket (A, B, C)

Three: depending on how hipster you are, you can use a caribeaner hanging off a belt loop as a keyring. Be very strategic about how you attach your keys though, they can fall off if you don't secure everything well.

With those possible modifications, I'd say cell phone in a front pocket (so you don't sit on it, duh). If the lighter is disposable, put it in the same pocket as the cell phone because it won't add much extra volume/weight. If it's a zippo, put it in the other front pocket with your receipts, etc. That leaves your wallet in your back pocket for optimum pickpocketting opportunities.

Basically, don't put anything in your back pocket that you don't want to sit on.

Finally, I'd recommend ditching the wallet and getting a money clip or one of these. This removes a good bit of raw leather that isn't really doing much and it forces you to keep your paper money/card situation economical space-wise.
posted by nomad at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2010

This is a classic problem, one that's been around for as long as there have been pockets. There is but one masterwork in the field: Molloy, Beckett.
posted by Pliskie at 11:35 AM on May 18, 2010

Left handed:

Front left: Cell Phone

Front right: Keys, metal d20, misc. stuff if needed.

Left leg: Wallet, pencil/pen, misc. paper if needed.

Right leg: Multitool, Flash drive
posted by CrystalDave at 12:21 PM on May 18, 2010

Don't put stuff in your back pockets--that's not good for your spine.

Don't put stuff that can scratch your cellphone in the same pocket as your cellphone. Put your paper money and change in the same pocket.
posted by box at 6:10 PM on May 18, 2010

Front right: Keys. You want them on the side where you'd use them. You can't depend on the handing of doors to be consistent, but car ignitions are pretty much always on the right.

Front left: Wallet. If the keys are on the right, then the wallet's in the left.

Phone: In a right-thinking world, you'd always have an additional phone pocket, but failing that, on top of the wallet.

Back pockets: I'm stealing flabdablet's filing system. (Left rear pocket has papers that will want sorting through on a change of trousers. Right rear pocket has papers I know I can chuck out without looking at them.)

Belt: Leatherman, and maybe a tiny torch, and that's pushing it. I'm not Batman.
posted by zamboni at 11:12 AM on May 19, 2010

« Older Why is my wireless adapter slow with only one...   |   Looking for beautiful one day walks somewhere in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.