What are backpacks made of

what are backpacks made of

The most popular fabrics for backpacks

Whether you're a student, a commuter, an adventurer, or simply someone who appreciates good design, understanding what your backpack is made of can greatly enhance your choice when purchasing your next one. From the bustling city streets to the rugged trails of the mountains, backpacks play an essential role in our daily lives, carrying our necessities safely and comfortably.

Each material, be it nylon, polyester, canvas, leather, or the more specialized ones like Cordura and ripstop nylon—has unique characteristics that make it suited for specific environments and uses.

Whether you are looking for something lightweight and durable, or stylish and eco-friendly, understanding these materials will help you make an informed decision.

backpack fabric


Nylon is a synthetic polymer and one of the most popular materials used in backpack manufacturing due to its impressive range of beneficial properties. Developed initially in the 1930s, nylon was the first fabric made entirely in a laboratory and has attributes that make it an excellent choice for a wide array of products, including backpacks.

One of the coolest things about nylon, though, is its versatility. This stuff is used in everything from parachutes to pantyhose – talk about a wide range! For backpacks, it means you can have something that’s light enough not to drag you down but tough enough to take on whatever your day throws at it.


  • Durability: Nylon is known for its high tensile strength, which means it can withstand significant stress and strain without breaking. This makes nylon backpacks highly durable, capable of handling heavy loads and resisting wear and tear over time.
  • Lightweight: Despite its strength, nylon is a lightweight material, which makes it ideal for use in items like backpacks where additional weight might be a burden.
  • Water Resistance: Nylon is naturally resistant to water, making it an excellent material for backpacks used in outdoor activities or areas prone to wet weather.
  • Flexibility: Nylon fabric can stretch without losing its shape, adding comfort and adaptability to backpack designs.


    • UV Sensitivity: While nylon is durable in many respects, it can degrade when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light over extended periods.


      nylon fabric backpack

      Ripstop nylon

      Ripstop Nylon is a fabric widely appreciated in the production of backpacks and other outdoor gear due to its enhanced durability and resistance properties. Unlike traditional nylon, ripstop nylon is reinforced with thicker threads woven into a grid pattern, making it highly resistant to tearing and ripping.

      Ripstop Nylon is one of those materials that just screams durability. It’s like the superhero of nylons, specifically designed to stop tears in their tracks. The secret to its strength lies in the unique grid pattern of thicker threads interwoven throughout the fabric. this isn’t just for looks, it’s a strategic design that significantly enhances its resistance to all kinds of damage, especially ripping and tearing, which are common enemies of regular fabrics when you’re out braving the wild or even just going through day-to-day activities.


      • Enhanced Durability: Ripstop nylon is reinforced with a special interwoven technique, typically incorporating a grid pattern of heavier threads sewn into the fabric at regular intervals. This reinforcement makes it resistant to tearing and ripping, an ideal property for adventure gear.
      • Lightweight: Despite its strength, ripstop nylon remains lightweight, which is essential for minimizing the overall weight of backpacks, especially useful for activities like hiking or backpacking where carrying less weight is beneficial.
      • Water Resistance: Many ripstop nylons are coated or treated to enhance their water resistance, making them suitable for use in various weather conditions.
      • Quick Drying: The material dries quickly, which is a critical feature for outdoor and travel environments where exposure to moisture is frequent.


        • Stiffness: Some ripstop nylon fabrics can feel stiffer than other types of nylon, which might affect the overall comfort and flexibility of the backpack.
        • Noise: The material can be noisy when moved or crumpled, which might be a consideration for wildlife observers who need to maintain a low profile.
        • Heat Sensitivity: Like other synthetic materials, ripstop nylon can melt or deform when exposed to high heat.
          Ripstop nylon fabric backpack


          Kodra Nylon is a high-grade, durable fabric often used in the manufacture of outdoor gear and backpacks. It is similar to Cordura, renowned for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. Kodra Nylon is engineered to provide the robustness needed in harsh environments, making it a preferred choice for tactical and heavy-duty backpacks.

          What’s fascinating about Kodra Nylon is how it stands up to the elements. It’s not just strong; it’s specifically engineered for strength in the most demanding situations. Whether you’re hiking through rugged terrain or you need a reliable tactical backpack for professional use, Kodra Nylon is up to the task. its resilience is particularly important for those who rely on their gear not just for convenience but for survival.


          • Superior Durability: Like Cordura, Kodra Nylon is known for its exceptional strength and resistance to wear and tear. It is designed to withstand extreme conditions, which makes it ideal for adventure and military gear.
          • Water Resistance: Kodra Nylon is often treated to enhance its water resistance, making it suitable for outdoor activities where exposure to moisture is a concern.
          • Versatility: The fabric can be used in various applications, from lightweight day packs to more robust and structured backpacks, thanks to its range of weights and finishes.
          • Aesthetic Quality: Kodra Nylon has a texture that is both visually appealing and functional, offering a good balance between style and durability.


            • Weight: Depending on the weave and the application, Kodra Nylon can be heavier than traditional nylon fabrics, which might be a concern for those looking to minimize their carrying load.
            • Stiffness: Some Kodra Nylon fabrics can be quite stiff, affecting the overall comfort and user experience, especially in new backpacks.
            • Breathability: Similar to other synthetic materials, Kodra Nylon might not offer as much breathability as natural fabrics, which could be a downside in hot and humid conditions.
              kodra nylon backpack

              Ballistic Nylon

              Ballistic nylon is a thick, tough synthetic nylon fabric, originally developed by the DuPont corporation for use in flak jackets. Its primary purpose was to protect World War II airmen from shrapnel, bullets, and other ballistic impacts—hence the name. Today, it’s widely used in the manufacture of luggage, backpacks, and other goods where extreme durability is required.

              Imagine having a material so robust that it was once used to protect soldiers. Now, take that material and think about it protecting your belongings in a rugged backpack. That’s Ballistic nylon for you—still standing strong against the wear and tear of modern life. It’s particularly favored in the production of high-end luggage and adventure-ready backpacks, where resisting abrasion and tearing isn't just nice to have; it’s a necessity.


              • Extreme Durability: Ballistic nylon is known for its superior resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. Its rugged nature makes it ideal for heavy-duty backpacks that need to withstand harsh conditions.
              • Water Resistance: Like many synthetic fabrics, ballistic nylon is typically treated to be highly resistant to water, making it excellent for outdoor and travel backpacks.
              • Ease of Maintenance: This material is easy to clean and maintain, largely due to its resistance to dirt and moisture.
              • Aesthetic Flexibility: Ballistic nylon has a unique texture that can give products a modern, technical look.


                • Weight: One of the main drawbacks of ballistic nylon is its weight. It is heavier than many other fabrics used in backpacks, which could be a significant disadvantage for those who prefer lightweight gear.
                • Stiffness: The fabric’s heavy weave can make it quite stiff, which might reduce the overall comfort, especially in backpack designs that require more flexibility.
                • Cost: Ballistic nylon is generally more expensive than regular nylon due to its complex manufacturing.
                • Breathability: Similar to other synthetic materials, ballistic nylon does not offer much breathability, which might be uncomfortable during intense physical activity or in warm climates.
                  balistic nylon

                  Robic Nylon

                  Robic nylon is a type of nylon fabric known for its enhanced durability and strength, which is achieved through a special reinforcing technique. It's often used in the production of outdoor gear and backpacks where strength-to-weight ratio is critical.

                  What really sets Robic nylon apart is its strength-to-weight ratio. It’s incredibly lightweight, which is a dream come true for anyone who’s ever had to lug a heavy pack up a mountain. But don’t let its lightness fool you—this fabric can withstand serious stress. Whether it's resisting tears, abrasions, or the general wear and tear of outdoor adventures, Robic nylon stands up to the challenge.

                   ADVANTAGES OF ROBIC-NYLON:

                  • Enhanced Durability: Robic nylon is specifically engineered to offer higher tear and abrasion resistance compared to standard nylon. This makes it particularly suitable for backpacks used in demanding outdoor activities where durability is a priority.
                  • Lightweight: Despite its strength, Robic nylon is relatively lightweight, which helps in reducing the overall weight of backpacks, an important consideration for backpackers and travelers.
                  • Water Resistance: Robic nylon often comes with water-resistant coatings, making it suitable for use in various weather conditions.
                  • UV Resistance: Robic nylon is typically more resistant to UV degradation than traditional nylons, making it a better choice for prolonged outdoor use.

                     DISADVANTAGES OF ROBIC-NYLON:

                    • Cost: Due to its advanced properties and manufacturing process, Robic nylon tends to be more expensive than some other nylon fabrics.
                    • Stiffness: Depending on the weave and thickness, Robic nylon can be stiffer, which might affect the flexibility and comfort of the backpack, especially when it's new.
                    • Breathability: Similar to other synthetic fabrics, Robic nylon may offer less breathability, which could be a disadvantage in hot and humid conditions.


                      robic nylon backpack


                      X-Pac fabric, developed by Dimension-Polyant, is a laminate fabric widely used in the production of high-performance backpacks and outdoor gear. It incorporates layers of nylon, polyester, and other materials to create a fabric that is lightweight, durable, and highly water-resistant.

                      The beauty of X-Pac lies in its layered structure. It’s not just about being tough; it’s about being smart. The way these materials are combined gives X-Pac its standout features. It’s incredibly lightweight, which is a blessing when you’re packing for a long trek and every ounce counts. And despite being so light, it doesn’t compromise on durability. This stuff can take a beating and still look good.

                      Water resistance? Check. Whether you’re caught in a sudden downpour or crossing a river, gear made with X-Pac keeps your essentials safe and dry. That’s a huge plus for outdoor enthusiasts who can’t let a little water slow them down.

                       ADVANTAGES OF X-PAC:

                      • Lightweight and Durable: X-Pac combines the strength of nylon with the lightweight properties of polyester, making it exceptionally strong and durable without adding significant weight to the backpack.
                      • Water Resistance: Its excellent water resistance, which comes from a waterproof film that is part of the laminate structure. This makes it ideal for use in all weather conditions.
                      • Structural Stability: X-Pac maintains its shape and does not sag, thanks to the inherent stability of the fabric’s construction, which often includes a layer of X-Ply mesh. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for load-bearing activities.
                      • UV Resistance: The fabric is also resistant to UV degradation, ensuring that it maintains its integrity and color even after prolonged exposure to sunlight.

                         DISADVANTAGES OF X-PAC:

                        • Cost: X-Pac tends to be more expensive than other materials like traditional nylon or polyester due to its complex manufacturing process.
                        • Stiffness: While structural stability is an advantage, the stiffness of X-Pac can also be a drawback, as it may make the backpack feel less flexible, especially in colder weather.
                        • Noise: The material can be crinkly and noisy, which might be a concern for users who prefer quieter gear, such as wildlife observers.
                        • Breathability: Like many synthetic fabrics, X-Pac is not very breathable, which could be a disadvantage in hot and humid conditions where ventilation is important.
                          xpac backpack


                          Polyester is another widely used synthetic fabric in the backpack industry, prized for its specific qualities that make it suitable for both everyday use and more specialized applications. It's a polymer produced from coal, air, water, and petroleum products, first introduced in the early 20th century.

                          What really sets polyester apart is its incredible resilience. This fabric is tough! It resists wrinkles and shrinking, which makes it a favorite for not just backpacks but all sorts of outdoor gear. Plus, it dries super fast. Ever caught in a rain shower during a hike? A polyester backpack shakes it off pretty easily, keeping all your gear dry.

                          Polyester can also be recycled. Yup, that plastic bottle you tossed into the recycling bin can actually come back as a brand new backpack. It’s a great way to reduce waste and give materials a second life

                           ADVANTAGES OF POLYESTER:

                          • Durability: Polyester is strong and resistant to stretching and shrinking, maintaining its shape well. It's also resistant to most chemicals, wrinkle-resistant, and abrasion-resistant, making it durable for backpack usage.
                          • Quick Drying: Unlike natural fibers, polyester dries quickly, which is particularly beneficial for travel and outdoor activities where exposure to moisture is likely.
                          • Mildew Resistant: It has a low absorbency rate, which contributes to its resistance to water, and it's also naturally resistant to mold and mildew growth.

                             DISADVANTAGES OF POLYESTER:

                            • Breathability: Polyester tends to be less breathable than natural fabrics, which can be a disadvantage in hot weather as it might lead to more perspiration and discomfort.
                              polyester fabric backpack


                              Canvas is a heavy-duty, plain-woven fabric known for its durability and sturdiness, making it a popular choice for certain types of backpacks, particularly those designed for rugged use or a vintage aesthetic.

                              The thing about canvas backpacks is that they really suit anyone who’s after that vintage look or needs something that can take a beating. They’re fantastic for hiking, camping, or even just a rough-and-tumble day in the city. The fabric’s heavy-duty nature means it can handle being tossed around, packed to the brim, and even weather a few storms. Plus, the more you use it, the better it looks – it gets this worn, lived-in vibe that’s just so cool.

                               ADVANTAGES OF CANVAS:

                              • Durability: Canvas is extremely durable and robust, ideal for backpacks that need to withstand rough conditions. It is resistant to tearing and can handle significant weight, which makes it suitable for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
                              • Aesthetic Appeal: Canvas has a classic, timeless look that is highly valued in fashion and design. It often appeals to those looking for a stylish yet functional backpack.
                              • Easy to Customize: The natural fabric of canvas is easy to dye and print on, offering various customization options for manufacturers and DIY enthusiasts.
                              • Breathability: Unlike synthetic materials, canvas is more breathable, which can be an advantage in reducing the buildup of odors from prolonged use.

                                 DISADVANTAGES OF CANVAS:

                                • Weight: Canvas is generally heavier than synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, which can be a disadvantage when trying to minimize the overall weight of the backpack.
                                • Water Resistance: While canvas is robust, it is not inherently waterproof. It often requires additional treatment with waxes or other waterproofing agents to protect against moisture, which can add to maintenance requirements.
                                • Maintenance: Canvas can be more demanding in terms of care. It may require special cleaning methods and re-treatment over time to maintain its water-resistant properties and aesthetic look.
                                  canvas fabric backpack


                                  Cotton canvas is a classic and robust fabric. It is made from cotton, a natural fiber, which is woven in a plain weave to create a sturdy and substantial material. Cotton canvas is particularly favored for its natural feel and high durability, making it an excellent choice for both casual and more demanding outdoor uses. It’s got a natural feel that synthetic fabrics can’t match, which is probably why it’s so popular for outdoor gear and casual wear.

                                   ADVANTAGES OF COTTON-CANVAS:

                                  • Durability: Cotton canvas is extremely tough and capable of withstanding considerable wear and tear.
                                  • Aesthetic Appeal: Canvas has a distinct, timeless aesthetic that is highly valued in the world of fashion. It offers a vintage look that can be quite chic and sophisticated, appealing to those who prefer a classic style.
                                  • Breathability: Being a natural fiber, cotton allows for good air circulation, which helps in reducing the buildup of odors and moisture within the backpack.
                                  • Eco-Friendliness: As a renewable resource that is biodegradable, cotton canvas is more environmentally friendly compared to synthetic fibers.

                                     DISADVANTAGES OF COTTON-CANVAS:

                                    • Water Resistance: While robust, cotton canvas is not inherently waterproof. It requires additional treatments or coatings to repel water, which can affect the fabric's breathability and overall feel.
                                    • Weight: Cotton canvas tends to be heavier than synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, which might be a drawback for those needing lightweight gear for activities like hiking.
                                    • Maintenance: Maintaining a cotton canvas backpack can be more demanding than synthetic alternatives. It may require special cleaning techniques and regular re-treatment with waterproofing agents to maintain its durability and appearance.


                                      Leather is a natural material that has been used for centuries in various forms of fashion and utility gear, including backpacks. Known for its durability and distinctive appearance, leather offers several characteristics that make it a preferred material for high-end and specialty backpacks.

                                       ADVANTAGES OF LEATHER:

                                      • Durability and Longevity: Leather is renowned for its strength and ability to withstand the test of time. It tends to become more attractive with age, developing a patina that is highly valued.
                                      • Aesthetic Appeal: Leather provides a classic, luxurious look that is versatile in style. It's favored in fashion for its ability to add sophistication and elegance to any design.
                                      • Resistance to Wear: Leather is naturally resistant to dust, dirt, and abrasion, which makes it a practical material for everyday use as well as travel.
                                      • Biodegradability: Unlike synthetic materials, leather is biodegradable, which can be considered an environmental benefit when thinking about the product's life cycle.

                                         DISADVANTAGES OF LEATHER:

                                        • Cost: Leather products are generally more expensive due to the cost of materials.
                                        • Maintenance: Leather requires more care to maintain its appearance and functionality. It needs to be regularly cleaned and conditioned to prevent drying out and cracking.
                                        • Weight: Leather is heavier than many synthetic fabrics, which can make leather backpacks less ideal for situations where weight is a concern.
                                          leather fabric backpack


                                          Cordura is a durable fabrics developed by DuPont and now manufactured by Invista. It is renowned for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. Here's a detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of using Cordura in backpacks.

                                           ADVANTAGES OF CORDURA:

                                          • Exceptional Durability: Cordura is known for its long-lasting durability and is resistant to tears, scuffs, and abrasions. This makes it ideal for outdoor gear, military wear, and adventure backpacks where resilience is crucial.
                                          • Resistance to Water: Many Cordura fabrics are treated to be water-resistant, making them suitable for use in various weather conditions, which is a significant advantage for outdoor and travel backpacks.
                                          • Versatility: Available in a range of weights and textures, Cordura can be used for everything from lightweight day packs to heavy-duty equipment bags, providing options for all types of users.
                                          • Maintains Appearance: The fabric’s resistance to damage and the ability to withstand harsh environments helps maintain its aesthetic appeal over time, even with heavy use.
                                             DISADVANTAGES OF CORDURA:
                                            • Weight: Cordura can be heavier than some other synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester, which might be a drawback for those looking to minimize their load during activities like hiking or traveling.
                                            • Stiffness: Depending on the weave and weight, Cordura fabrics can be stiffer than other materials, which may affect the comfort and flexibility of backpacks, especially when new.
                                            • Breathability: Like many synthetic fabrics, certain types of Cordura may lack breathability compared to natural materials, which could be a disadvantage in hot and humid conditions.
                                              cordura fabric backpack

                                              PVC and other plastics

                                              PVC and Other Plastics are commonly used in the manufacture of various types of backpacks due to their unique properties.

                                               ADVANTAGES OF PVC:

                                              • Water Resistance: PVC and other plastics are highly resistant to water, making them ideal for backpacks used in wet conditions or for activities such as boating or fishing.
                                              • Durability: These materials are generally very tough and resistant to tearing and abrasion, which helps in extending the lifespan of the backpacks under rough usage.
                                              • Ease of Cleaning: Backpacks made from PVC or other plastics are easy to clean, often requiring just a simple wipe down with a damp cloth.

                                                 DISADVANTAGES OF PVC:

                                                • Less Breathability: Plastic materials do not offer much breathability, which can be uncomfortable if the backpack is worn for extended periods, especially in warm weather.
                                                • Aesthetic Limitations: While functional, plastics may lack the aesthetic appeal of natural materials and may not age as gracefully.
                                                  PVC fabric backpack

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