Most Popular Materials in Backpack Industry


When researching the best backpack, you want something that will last, something practical and sturdy.  you might see various technical terms being used to describe the materials used in a backpack. Questions start to cross your mind like, what are the benefits and drawbacks of polypropylene and nylon? Which one is better to satisfy my personal needs? What exact these abbreviations are?  

You might be sick and tired of wondering what all these materials are, and what the difference is. You probably end up reading articles about the backpack material for a whole Sunday. But don’t worry. I collected all the information in one place for you. So here is a rundown on all the different terminology going into the backpack, and even the not-that-new ones.


Primary Fabrics

Cotton canvas — Years ago, backpacks were most frequently made of cotton canvas and then coated with wax to make it waterproof. Thus, these bags were kind of heavy and easy to rot when being stored if they weren’t dried completely.  The cotton canvas was not able to withstand all abrasion. back to any wartime when soldiers carry all they had in a large duffel bag, those are typically made of cotton canvas. Today cotton canvas is used in children's or women's fashion backpacks, totes, and handbags, where exposure to the elements is not much of a concern. Instead of coated with wax, are blended with synthetic materials and are not waterproof.



These days, nylon has become the most popular material for backpacks. Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers, based on aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamides.  It can be formed into different shapes and fibers through melt-processing.  It’s also generally more durable than polyester without being astronomically more expensive. Basically, it’s plastic. it is easy to tear when punctured. However, this problem can be addressed by implementing sewing patterns and different weaves. Nylon can also be dyed to nearly any color standard.



These days, Cordura has become a brand name associated with high-quality materials and fabrics in the backpack industry.  It is waved with a single 1000D Nylon thread, using a specific air-jet process. Thus, It is very strong and durable and it is even used in the military, yet Cordura is a little bit heavier and more rugged than nylon. You’ll often find Cordura in higher-end packs. When you notice Cordura mentioned in a backpack material, you know It is a premium material. You can find it in the base of a backpack to protect the items.




Similarly popular, especially since the 70s when it was used in way too many clothes, Polyester is another plastic-based fabric that is super durable and wear-resistant and drying very quickly. Although Polyester is not as strong as nylon material, it has a high resistance to ultra-violet degradation. It does not wrinkle easily. Of course, compared to nylon, polyester is less expensive. Polyester is hydrophobic (absorbs no water), making it appropriate for applications like rafting gear or camping gear that needs to encounter days of exposure to direct sunlight or water.  Polyester is environment-friendly for it is highly recyclable and can be dyed using waterless methods. Thus, its lower cost for digital printing techniques where many of different colors are used together.


Ripstop fabrics

Ripstop fabrics are woven fabrics, often made of nylon, Made with a grid pattern of durable threads sewn closely together gives a special reinforcing technique that makes them resistant to tearing and ripping. The intervals are typically 5 to 8 millimeters (0.2 to 0.3 in). Thin and lightweight ripstop fabrics have a 2-dimensional structure due to the thicker yarns being interwoven in thinner cloth. The advantages of ripstop are the favorable strength-to-weight ratio and that small tears can not easily spread. These traits make it a great choice to create banners, backpacks, duffel bags, camping tents, even work uniforms, sportswear.


Kodra Nylon

Kodra is a modern fabric based on Cordura, originally developed and used during the Second World War in Korea, but its application has since evolved to a nylon weave. it is a premium fabric known for durability and resistance to abrasion. Kodra nylon is a lightweight fabric considered as the ideal material in designing travel backpacks. It’s also puncture-resistant and more durable than the regular nylon canvas you might find on competitors’ offerings.


Ballistic Nylon

Sounds like something used in the military? You are right! This is thick and durable nylon that was originally designed by the DuPont corporation for military apparel during WW2. It was expected to protect its wearers from flying debris and fragmentation caused by the bullet and artillery-shell impacts. Yet, it was not as effective as they had wished. ballistic nylon was an 18-ounce nylon fabric made from 1050 denier high tenacity nylon yarn in a 2×2 basketweave. The specific weave makes it more durable and more wear-resistant than normal Nylon. One thing to keep in mind is that when Ballistic Nylon is mentioned, you know that it is a wear-resistant material that will last for long.



Polypropylene was developed in 1951 by Paul Hogan and Robert Banks. It became prominent extremely fast, as commercial production began barely three years after. It is very resistant to water and other chemicals and is very strong and tear-resistant. It is not found as often in backpacks, but It is a great material other industrials. Today it is one of the most commonly produced plastics in the world.

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