Backpacks comprise of various different components and elements. However, if we are to determine the most crucial element in their construction, it would have to be the fabric they are manufactured with. The fabric of the backpack essentially signifies the function of the pack.
If you are an avid backpacker, it is imperative for you to know your backpack. When choosing a backpack, you should ideally select one that suits your usage and purpose.
You should focus on the durability, functionality, and versatility of the backpack. You should aim to get one that is appropriately sized, has padded hip belts, lightweight internal frame, and is constructed of the most sturdy and durable fabric and materials. You will also need to pay attention to the capacity of the backpack, the features of the backpack, and the fit of the backpack.
Before we discuss the various different types of fabric that are used in the construction of backpacks, you should learn about the multiple factors that contribute to how your backpack´s fabric functions.
Weight- You should understand that the backpack´s weight lies primarily on the fabric. In fact, the strength and durability of the fabric are directly linked to the weight of the fabric.
Tenacity- This term is used to determine or describe the tear strength of the fabric or the fabric´s capacity to resist more tearing after a tear is in place. The tearing resistance differs between fabrics.
Tensile strength- Not all fabrics have the same tensile strength. Some are simply sturdier than others. The weave, material used, construction, denier, and other special treatments are involved in the tensile strength of the backpack´s fabric.
Water resistance- Some backpacks are constructed to be resistant to water. These types of backpacks usually undergo some coatings and treatments to repel water. Aside from treatments, the material used, as well as the type of weave utilized, affect the fabric´s ability to resist water.
Without straying away from the topic any further, here is a comprehensive rundown on all the different nomenclature, technology, materials, and terminology being used in backpacks.
Most of the backpacks in the past were constructed of cotton canvas. The cotton canvas backpacks are coated with wax for waterproofing. Unfortunately, these types of backpacks are quite heavy and susceptible to damage by abrasion.
When cotton canvas backpacks aren´t dried properly, they can even start to rot and decompose. Thankfully, most of the manufacturers these days have switched over to using non-cotton fabrics such as polyester and nylon. Put simply, cotton canvas backpacks can´t meet the load demand of modern times.
Along with cotton canvas, leather is also one of the earliest known materials/fabric used for backpacks. However, the material is quite costly. Hence, leather backpacks aren´t as commercially successful as other backpacks. On the bright side, leather backpacks are quite stylish and have excellent durability.
The days of cotton canvas seem to be long gone. These days, manufacturers usually stick to nylon to construct the backpacks. Nylon is a polymer plastic that can be formed into numerous fibers and shapes through melt-processing. Nylon also has better waterproof abilities than cotton. Regrettably, nylon is prone to tear when punctured.
Much of the nylon material backpacks undergo rigorous and thorough silicon treatment or are provided with a polyurethane finish. Such treatments help make the bag heavier, water-resistant and more durable.
We mentioned earlier that nylon has the tendency to tear when punctured. Fortunately, this issue can be solved with the implementation of complex sewing patterns and various weaves, which can also be referred to as Ripstop nylon.
Ripstop nylon can be described as the integration of a grid of thick threads sewn directly into the nylon at close intervals. This helps prevent the problem of unraveling or ripping if the nylon is punctured.
In addition to this, this construction process also helps with waterproofing. Ripstop nylon is distinguished by its unique grid pattern of heavy and sturdy threads that are stitched thoroughly and packed into every square inch.
You should also know that ripstop nylon fabric is extremely lightweight and resistant to scratch.
Polyester is also commonly used by the manufacturers in the construction and production of backpacks. Why is polyester favored by the manufacturers you ask? Well, it is favored because it is cheap and holds its colors well.
In most cases, polyester is usually used to produce backpacks intended for school children and younger kids. And, you must have guessed by now—polyester backpacks aren´t as durable as their canvas or nylon counterparts.
If you don´t have plenty of cash at your disposal and are looking for lower-end and cheap backpacks, you should consider polyester backpacks.
In the simplest of terms, polypropylene is basically a thermoplastic polymer that is constructed by adjoining propylene monomers. Polypropylene is used in a variety of things including paper, carpets, and ropes.
You should know that polypropylene is much more hydrophobic than polyester. What does this mean? It means that polypropylene dries up quicker than polyester.
Regrettably, polypropylene backpack isn´t the best choice for you if you are an avid backpacker. It is because polypropylene is less resistant to UV rays than other fabrics. Hence, when it is overexposed to the sun, it starts breaking down and the color starts fading as well. Usually, polypropylene isn´t a common fabric used in backpacks.
Cordura fabrics are widely used in consumer products that need fabrics of durability, resistance to abrasion, and strength, such as backpacks and military and performance apparel. If you see that a backpack has been constructed of “Cordura” nylon or any other “Cordura” fabric, you can be assured that the fabric used is of premium quality. You´ll often find “Cordura” nylon in most higher-end backpacks.
Cordura backpacks are air-treated and manufactured specifically for tough environment settings. Cordura is also used to construct heavy-duty luggage and bags/carriers meant for military use. This material helps make the backpack significantly durable, water-and scratch-resistant.