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With the excitement his week focused on the all-new, 22-slot Onyxia Hide Backpack, it seems anticlimactic to think that many players are struggling simply to maintain enough space in their bags for quest items and a decent amount of loot. It's easy to throw down big money for big bags when you're max level and rolling in gold from dailies – but new players must walk the line between overspending for convenience's sake and having enough bag space to get the job done.
Let's make one thing perfectly clear: bigger bags are a savvy investment. There's definitely a point of diminishing returns, though, which will be obvious to even the most naive of WoW rookies searching through the Containers section in the Auction House. (Really. You'll know when it's time to stop upgrading. We promise.) Getting wise to what's available and where to find it will help you squeeze out those last few precious bag slots without going broke in the process.
Bags for rookies
In the early, you're most likely to pick up several of the very smallest bags (4- and 6-slotters) as loot from mobs. You can buy small bags from general goods vendors in cities, while small/medium bags of up to 12 slots are available from bag merchants. These bags are generally a good buy up to the 10- or 12-slot range. At that point, player-made bags become competitively priced, and you'll get a better deal buying on the Auction House.
Keep your bag costs down by saving your extra cloth and having your bags made for you. Look through wowhead.com's list of Tailor-made bags (type in "bags" in the search field just above the chart itself) to get a list of mats. (Don't forget to look up how many pieces of cloth are needed to make each bolt of fabric, and factor that into the total cloth required.) If you can't scrounge up the majority of the materials you need on your own, simply buy the finished product. Awkwardly enough, the raw materials to make a bag are almost always more expensive than the finished product.
What bags are within your reach?
Tailor-made bags remain quite reasonably priced up through 16-slot Netherweave Bags. Beyond that, added materials jack up prices. If you're on a new player's budget, you're looking for bags that are made from cloth and thread - period. Quest rewards are also good prospects for first-time players.
Here's a shopping list of all the standard bags out there. One thing to keep in mind as you browse: some of these bags are made with materials from classic WoW or The Burning Crusade that are hard to come by today. (Let's face it, there just aren't many players making Bottomless Bags in this day and age.) Again, if you're on a budget, you want a drop, quest reward, or player-made product made strictly from cloth and thread.
Pro tip for players with alts: Most larger bags are BoE - they'll bind to your character once you've equipped them on your character or in your bank. You can't use a Netherweave Bag, for example, and expect to ship it off to another character once you've finally gotten an upgrade. Plan accordingly!
If you're a craftsperson, you may find some bag space relief with specialty bags. Specialty bags feature more slots than regular bags of an equivalent level (and are usually cheaper than regular bags of the same size); however, specialty bags will only hold certain types of items associated with that particular type of bag.
Ammo bags such as quivers and ammo pouches hold only ammunition such as arrows or bullets. Ammo-gobbling Hunters made great use of ammo bags prior to Patch 3.1.0 (April 2009), when ammo stacks were smaller and ammo bags provided a speed bonus for firing. At one time, Blizzard had discussed doing away with consumable ammo entirely, but only change we have in hand as of now is larger ammo stacks (up to 1,000 per stack). With the exception of some Hunters, you probably don't need a special bag devoted to ammo.
Soul Bags hold more Soul Shards than Warlocks would normally be able to carry in level-appropriate bags. Soul shards were changed in Patch 3.1.0 to set a maximum inventory count of 32; that, plus projected additional changes in the soul shard system, leave the future of soul bags in question.
Item-specific crafting bags allow players to carry large numbers of items specific to their craft. There are no profession requirements or restrictions on craft-specific bags - if you have need for a particular type of item, get a bag that holds it!
not hold elemental essences, wands, vials or oils. The restrictions can seem persnickety, so be prepared for a certain number of "Hrrm, darn it!" moments.
There is a limit to the number of some types of craft bags that you may "carry" on your person at any given time. Bags in your bank slots are considered to be "equipped" (and therefore bind to you), not "carried." You can equip as many of these crafting bags in your bank slots as you like, but you're limited to one at a time (per type) carried on your character.
Don't fall for Auction House trickery. If you're in the market for a craft bag, be sure to check a site such as wowhead.com to see whether it's available from a vendor. A few bags (the 12-slot herb bag comes to mind) are in fact available at a reasonable price from NPC vendors - but due to their rarity, they're often resold at ridiculous markups on the AH.
Tying up loose ends
If your storage space is still tight, consider creating a banker to help you manage your inventory.
Keep track of who's got what and where with an inventory add-on. Find inventory mods on sites such as WoWInterface.com, Curse.com, WoWUI or WoWAce.com.
WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80. Visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.