What Fabric Are Backpacks Made Of?

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Last Updated: April 26, 2022

Backpacks are made from a variety of different materials throughout the production process. They are also made up of a variety of multiple parts and components. In addition, most backpack manufacturers use high-quality materials in their creations.

In this tutorial, we will go over what materials are used to make backpacks in-depth.

There are several people all around that enjoy and use fashionable backpacks. They are used for a variety of activities such as traveling, camping, school and work commuting.

What Material Are Backpacks Made of?

There are many materials backpacks are made of. Each has its pros and cons, and they also come in different price ranges. Here is a look at some of the materials used in manufacturing backpacks.

1. Nylon

Nylon is among the most useful synthetic fibers available today. When it was first introduced in 1930, it had a profound impact on the globe. Nylon is a polymer, which means that this is a material with a molecular structure made up of a number of similar parts that are linked together in a continuous chain.

Due to the fact that nylon is a water-resistant fabric, many items such as umbrella coats and backpacks, among other things, are produced of nylon.

Nylon is generally regarded as the most durable and water-resistant backpack material available. It has the ability to survive rough terrains without being damaged or harmed. It’s because of this reason that nylon is an excellent material to be used in the outdoors, particularly when traveling and trekking.

That is not to suggest that other materials cannot be equally effective. This all depends on your reasons for needing a backpack. For example, leather and flannel bags are more appropriate for everyday wear since they are more stylish and lightweight than other materials.

2. Ballistic Nylon

Ballistic Nylon is a robust, durable nylon fabric that may be utilized for a variety of applications. Due to the fabric’s intended function of protecting its users from flying particles and fragmentation produced by gunshot and heavy weapons hits, the name “ballistic nylon” came to be used to describe the fabric.

In its initial specification, ballistic nylon was defined as an 18-ounce nylon fabric manufactured from 1060 denier high durability nylon yarn woven in a 2:2 textured fabric pattern. Currently, the phrase “ballistic weave” is commonly used in reference to every nylon fabric that is constructed with a “ballistic weave,” which is generally a 2×2 or 2×3 basketweave pattern.

Weaved nylon yarns of different deniers could be used to make it, including those with 830 denier and 1670 denier counts. The term “denier” depends on the weight of the cloth, not its strength.

It works perfectly for backpacks because of the durability and tear-resistant ability. Here are some of the pros and cons of this material.


  • Resistant to insects, animals, and fungi
  • Lightweight
  • Water-resistant


  • The material does not absorb water well, hence challenging to clean
  • It can cause environmental pollution when disposed of

3. Ripstop Nylon

Ripstop is a sort of nylon fabric that has been reinforced using a specific method to make it more resistant to ripping and tearing than other types of nylon fabric. Furthermore, it is a well-known and widely utilized substance, with several firms and brands using it. It is a material that is frequently seen in camping and trekking backpacks.

This ripstop fabric is used in a variety of applications such as sailboat winds and spinnakers, hot air balloons, kite, free-flight models, rotorcraft, and hovercraft skirts, among other things.

In order to decrease wear on the materials, equipment like as light tents, sleeping bags, even caping hammocks are commonly produced of ripstop cloth.

4. Polyester Fabric

Polyester has a number of advantageous characteristics, and it is utilized by the majority of producers of backpacks. Such polyester-made backpacks are extremely robust, as well as water- plus tear-resistant, and they are extremely lightweight. It is also non-reactive to a wide range of substances and dries extremely quickly. In addition, it is both robust and lightweight.

Polyester is a popular material for backpacks, that can be used for various purposes. Polyester textiles are not quite as durable as nylon fabrics though, when compared to one another.

Since polyester has excellent UV resistance, it is suggested that you use a polyester backpack if you are working outside, hiking, or participating in other activities that will expose you to constant sunlight.

When comparing to the nylon-made backpack, the polyester-made ones are more affordable. If you cannot afford a more expensive backpack, you should use a polyester madeone instead.


  • Strong and durable fabric
  • Lightweight
  • Quick to get it dry if wet


  • The material is not breathable
  • It is temperature-sensitive
  • Prone to dye migration

5. Genuine Leather

Back in the day, leather was among the most often used materials needed to make a backpack. Genuine leather backpacks are often manufactured from processed and dehydrated animal skins such as those of sheep, cows, and calves, among other animals.

Despite the fact that they are extremely durable, easy, and attractive, they are much more expensive than the standard of materials and therefore need more attention and care to ensure that the quality of the product remains consistent.

6. Canvas

Materials like canvas are also classified as fabrics. It is a cloth that is extremely long-lasting. Camps, backpacks, marquees, tents, kites, purses, electronic gadget cases, footwear, and other items requiring toughness are made of this material. The modern canvas is typically constructed of cotton and linen, mixed with polyvinyl chloride and polyester, it is heavier than polyester and nylon.

That is why it is not the preferred material for making backpacks for outddor purposes. But if that’s not your plan, then getting a backpack produced from canvas should serve you well.


  • Retains color well
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Water-resistant and windproof


  • Little expensive compared to other materials
  • The material is not breathable

7. Cordura

Cordura is another sort of material that may be used for backpacks. It is an extremely robust and long-lasting substance. Due to its water-resistant, robust, and abrasion-resistant properties, it is used in the manufacture of DuPont goods such as backpacks and suitcases.

Cordura is a type of material that is commonly used these days. As a result, their textiles are made up of a variety of long-lasting Polyester and Nylon items that are known and trusted across the world.

8. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC fabric is both sturdy and colorful, and it may be utilized in a variety of different types of clothing and occupational accessories. It may also be used to decorate and make bags waterproof, as well as to increase their durability.

It has a variety of beneficial characteristics, depending on the type of PVC. This can be waterproof, flame-resistant, tear-resistant, fluorescent, as well as other properties.


  • Highly durable
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight


  • Prone to breakages above its limit
  • You need to be aware of polyvinyl chloride because it’s easy to get cheated.

What is the Best Material For a Backpack?

materials that make a backpack

Choosing the best material can be difficult, especially if you don’t know anything about it. But the truth is, every material has its pros and cons, so the question of the best material for a backpack is subjective. For instance, if you want a travel backpack that is tough, durable, and will keep all your things dry when it rains, you can go for polypropylene or polyester fabric. If you want something light, then both these materials work perfectly too.

Generally, most people consider the best material for a backpack to be branded and expensive. Cordura is one such material. It is a brand that has multiple applications. What started as a single 1000D thread of nylon went on to produce backpacks in the 1970s and became a success. Today, it has multiple uses and is trusted by major companies that produce different products using the material, and it’s reassuring that even the military trusts the material. So if you see any backpack with a Cordura tag on, it is an excellent sign that you are getting some quality product.

Ballistic nylon also qualifies as one of the best materials for a backpack. After all, the name itself suggests that it’s military-grade. Originally developed during World War 2, the material helped soldiers protect themselves from shell shrapnel. Although it did not turn out to be as robust as planned, it found its use in other products such as backpacks. It derives its durability from a specific weave of nylon that makes it stiff and resistant to water. As opposed to ordinary weaving, ballistic nylon uses two pieces of nylon thread weaved in each direction.

So if you want the best material you can get for your backpack, ballistic nylon or Cordura is the best option. It can be a little expensive but rest assured, you can get a backpack that lasts longer and can withstand harsh treatment.

Are Cotton Backpacks Good?

You probably wouldn’t want to purchase a pure cotton backpack, and there are many reasons for it. Cotton is an excellent material for clothing, but it is not ideal when it comes to carrying stuff. Firstly, cotton is nowhere near as tough as any of the other nylon-based materials. Also, cotton absorbs a lot of water and quickly too.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the first backpacks were cotton made. Despite not being the best material for the purpose, the backpack did have comfort, and it still does. That is one of the most significant attributes of a cotton backpack. It can also withstand a considerable amount of wear and tear depending on the weave and cotton threads. But it fails when it comes to waterproof qualities.

Nowadays, most of the cotton backpacks will have synthetic materials mixed with them. They are generally made of cotton and canvas. This combination is far more durable than cotton itself, it looks better and lasts much longer. And they are also elegant but usually more expensive.

What is the Toughest Fabric Material?

Whenever it comes to selecting a sturdy and robust fabric, you have two alternatives. Fabrics could be manufactured from natural fibers such as cotton and silk or synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. Every group contains textiles that are stronger than those in the same range.


Generally, any fabric made from nylon is rigid and works excellent for many products.

Heavy-duty backpacks are often composed of super strong nylon material with durable zippers and nylon straps. The most common fabrics are nylon and polyester. Heavier materials, such as canvas, can provide long-lasting bags that you might use for many years.


Polypropylene is a fairly common material that may be found in anything from carpeting to ropes and paper. Polypropylene really does have a high melting temperature and is resistant to water as well as other chemicals. It is also a tough and tear-resistant material.

Polypropylene is a water-resistant material that dries rapidly, making it more hydrophobic than nylon and polyester.

It is also a strong absorber and does not transmit heat, so it is used in the manufacture of backpacks – typically, handbags and string backpacks made from plastics, as well as some backpack components.

Moreover, polypropylene is much less resistant to ultra violet rays than other textiles. Its main disadvantage is that when exposed to the sun repeatedly or for an extended period of time, Polypropylene begins to degrade, and the color fades; consequently, it is not commonly seen in backpacks.

But if you want to know about the toughest fabric material available, there are two of them; Dyneema and Zylon PBO. These two are considered to be the most robust fabric material in the world.


Dyneema is an extremely tough, yet lightweight fabric used for several applications. It has fifteen times more tensile strength compared to steel. But despite the comparison with steel, it can even float on water because it is so lightweight.

Dyneema goes through a patented gel spinning process where the fibers get heated, elongated, and then cooled to obtain the final product. It derives its strength from the stretching and spinning process. No other fabric material comes close when compared to the tensile strength and the wide range of applications. You can find them used on gloves, sails, ropes, backpacks, and even clothing. So if you have the money to spend, you can’t go wrong with a backpack made from Dyneema fabric.


Zylon prides itself as the world’s strongest synthetic fiber. It was developed around 1980 and is truly one of a kind. Apart from the tensile strength, it has excellent creep resistance and thermal stability and a decent flame and chemical resistant property. That is why this fabric is ideal for things like parachutes, standing rigging, conductive textile, etc.

As far as toughness goes, Dyneema and Zylon are undoubtedly the best. So if you want a backpack that can endure harsh environments and last long, you can get some fantastic designs made from these materials. It’s also worth mentioning that they are super light.

What Material is Good for Waterproof Backpacks?

backpacks outside

If you really want a backpack that won’t rot, stink, or degrade, you’ll want to make sure it’s waterproof. Certain fabrics are inherently waterproof or certainly more than others – polyester will keep water away better than cotton, for example, because in most situations, a fabric gets the designation of waterproof due to the coating which is put to its surface rather than its fundamental nature.

Whenever it comes to waterproofing coating materials, U coating materials should be your first choice since they give a waterproof surface to whatever cloth they are put on. The coatings are not indestructible and will ultimately lose their water-repellent properties with prolonged or frequent contact to liquid compounds including salt, chlorine, bleach, and heat. However, if you keep your waterproof backpack material in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area, you may expect it to last for at least 15 years.

What Materials Are Backpack Straps Made of?

Nylon is a robust synthetic material with minimal elasticity. It prevents the absorption of moisture so that when wet, it dries fast. Although nylon webbing may be cut, it is surface roughness, resulting in a high level of resilience.

Polyester shares many characteristics with nylon; however, it is less stretchy and absorbs much less water. Polyester is not as robust as nylon, thus more material is required to provide the same strength, resulting in a higher weight.

Many high-end, lightweight backpacks make use of Dyneema webbing. It really is lighter and tougher than nylon, but it is much slicker; therefore, any buckles must have a better grip.

Dyneema is significantly more cut-resistant, making it ideal for ice axe loops as well as other jobs that may come into contact with sharp objects. Webbing is a weaving of threads that creates a flat ribbon that is robust and stain-resistant.

It has enough roughness to keep friction buckles in place when tensioned. When opposed to a rope or a cable, flat webbing distributes the pressure around when it is used to attach or tighten down against the load.

A backpack’s shoulders strap and hip belt are composed of foam-padded nylon webbing. This protects the shoulders as well as hips from the weight of the whole pack, making it more convenient to carry for extended periods of time.

Final Thoughts

There are several multiple kinds of backpack materials in the market. The best backpack contains characteristics such as longevity, convenience, water resistance, tear resistance, lightweight, and so on.

Nylon and polyester are the most common and have the finest characteristics and advantages in these materials. Therefore, they are considered the best materials for a backpack. However, nylon and polyester backpacks generally (apart from leather) are slightly more costly than other materials.