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Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best bubble mailers

A small package dropped in the mail can take a fair amount of abuse before it reaches its destination. Recent studies suggest that packages are handled an average of 27 times while en route. Add in the high shipping cost of sending a box through the mail, and you may find yourself wishing for a better solution when mailing small items.

That solution is a bubble mailer. With an inner layer of bubble wrap and an outer layer of paper or plastic, a bubble mailer is the ideal solution for mailing flat and/or small items such as books, cosmetics, jewelry, and CDs. Cheaper than a shipping box, a bubble mailer also offers a “clean” appearance that businesses will appreciate.

In this guide, we explore the world of bubble mailers, covering features and other considerations such as size, durability, material, and color. 

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Bubble wrap popped into existence in 1957 when two inventors attempted to create 3D wallpaper and instead found themselves with a unique shipping medium.

Key considerations

Size

Size is a top consideration when shopping for bubble mailers. Some of the most common sizes are 4 x 8 inches, 6 x 10 inches, and 8.5 x 12 inches. If the size is too small, you obviously won’t be able to fit your item inside. If it’s too big, the item will be constantly sliding around within it (and you might end up paying more for shipping).

The optimum size for a bubble mailer is just a bit larger than the item you are shipping. Note, however, that you should use the right measurement (the internal size) when selecting a mailer for an item.

Quantity

Bubble mailers typically come in multipacks. A quantity of 25 or 50 mailers is common, although you will also find larger packs (for example, 250 mailers in a package) as well as packs of fewer than 25 mailers.

If you ship items of a similar size frequently and know a specific size works for you, consider buying in bulk to save overall.

Durability

To protect the item(s) being shipped, a bubble mailer must be durable. Look for those with a strong adhesive and reliable external material. One of the best ways to protect mailed items is by selecting a mailer with large bubbles. Thin bubbles are fine for rugged items, but if you are mailing something fragile, larger bubbles are the way to go. The reason: larger bubbles provide more cushioning.

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Did You Know?
If you are purchasing mailers to ship catalogs or reports, a larger size (such as 10 x 13 inches) may prevent you from having to fold them.
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Features

Exterior material

All bubble mailers have an internal layer of bubble wrap, and they all have an exterior layer that surrounds the bubble wrap. Some exterior layers are made from kraft paper, which is fine if you are not worried about the item within being damaged by water. Just be sure the kraft paper is thick enough to withstand approximately 27 handlings before it reaches its destination.

If moisture or water damage is a concern, consider a bubble mailer with a plastic external material. This type of material effectively waterproofs the mailer, providing added protection for the mailed item.

Address area

Your mailer is going to go nowhere fast if you have issues with the mailing address. Some mailers have clearly marked address areas so it’s easy to know where to put the address. Any address you write should be done so with ink that does not run or fade.

If you use your own labels, they should adhere to the mailer and not easily peel away. Also, note that writing on a kraft mailer may be easier than writing on a plastic mailer. The latter may have difficulty accepting ballpoint pen and standard marker writing; a permanent ink marker or a stick-on label may be more appropriate for these mailers.

Adhesive

All bubble mailers feature a fold-over flap with sticky adhesive and a backing. Simply peel off the backing, fold over the flap, and apply pressure to seal the mailer. The adhesive should be strong enough to hold the mailer closed. The backing should peel off easily when you want to use it but remain in place until that time.

Color

If using a mailer with a kraft outer layer, the color is likely to be brown. If using a mailer with a plastic outer layer, you may find a variety of colors to choose from. There are even some specially-themed products, such as Christmas-themed and Halloween-themed mailers.

Go with a bubble mailer for flat items that are less fragile. For bulkier items, as well as those that are fragile, a shipping box may be more appropriate.

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Bubble mailer prices

The price of bubble mailers can vary from under $10 a pack to over $40. The two biggest determining factors are the size of the mailers and the quantity in the package.

Under $10: For packs under $10, you can expect to receive 25 or fewer mailers. These mailers tend to be smaller in size (4 x 8 inches or 6 x 10 inches) and feature either a kraft or plastic outer layer.

Mid-range: In the $11 to $30 range, you will find packs of 25 mailers that are physically larger and packs of 50 to 100 mailers that are of medium or small size.

Over $30: Packages that cost $30 or more typically include around 250 mailers.

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Did You Know?
To supplement the protection of an item in a bubble mailer, you can enfold the item in additional bubble wrap if you so choose.
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Tips

  • When shipping books, bubble mailers can usually handle two or three of them, depending on size. If you are shipping more than three books, however, you will probably be better off using a box.
  • If your bubble mailer has a plastic outer shell, consider using a permanent marker to address it. Permanent markers tend to smear less on plastic. Another option is to pre-print an adhesive label.
  • If you will be shipping similarly sized items regularly, consider picking up only a few mailers to start. This will help you verify that the envelopes are the proper size before you invest a lot of money in them.
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If you only need minimal protection, go with a thinner, lighter mailer. A thinner mailer will usually weigh less, costing you less to ship.

FAQ

Q. What is the difference between a bubble mailer and a padded mailer?

A. While similar, bubble mailers and padded mailers have features that set them apart from one another. Padded mailers use layers of paper or foam wrapped in kraft paper to protect mailed items. They contain no bubble wrap. These are fine for objects that aren’t easily damaged.

As we have mentioned, bubble mailers feature bubble wrap on the inside and paper or plastic on the outside. You can choose your level of protection based on bubble size. Further, bubble mailers with a plastic outer material provide some protection against moisture.

Q. Do stated dimensions refer to the interior or exterior size of the envelope?

A. Typically, the stated dimensions refer to exterior measurements. The interior measurements will be a little less. To further complicate matters, the larger the bubble size, the less usable space there will be. For this reason, it may take a bit of trial and error to determine your preferred size.

Q. What is the best way to ship bubble mailers?

A. One of the easiest ways to ship bubble mailers is through the United States Postal Service (USPS). All but the lightest and smallest mailers will be considered as packages by the USPS, and you have several mailing classes to choose from for such shipments. These include First Class, Priority, and Media Mail. The best class for you depends on factors such as the item’s weight and what type of item it is.

You can find more information on the various USPS mailing classes by checking out their online PDF pamphlet, A Customer’s Guide to Mailing.
 

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