Do you ever wonder what your backpack is made of and how it affects its durability and functionality? Well, look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of backpack materials and explore the different options available to you. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a frequent traveler, or a student looking for a sturdy backpack, this guide has got you covered.

We will start by discussing the most commonly used materials in backpack manufacturing: nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and canvas. Nylon, known for its strength and durability, is a popular choice due to its resistance to abrasion and varying temperatures. On the other hand, polyester is another commonly used material that offers durability, wear-resistance, and lightweight construction. If you’re looking for a material with high water resistance, polypropylene might be the right choice for you. It’s also known for its resistance to chemicals and tearing. And let’s not forget about canvas! Although it may be heavier than other options, it has become trendy among fashionable brands and is known for its exceptional durability.

In addition to these main materials, there are also branded options available, such as ripstop, Cordura, Kodra nylon, and ballistic nylon. These materials provide extra strength and durability, making them ideal for those who require backpacks that can withstand tough conditions. To measure the strength and durability of backpack materials, ratings such as denier (D), thread count (T), and grams per square meter (GSM) are used. Our guide will explore these ratings in more detail, along with a brief discussion of waterproofing materials used in backpacks. By the end of this article, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of backpack material options and feel confident in choosing the right backpack for your needs. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of backpack materials together!

A Comprehensive Guide to Backpack Materials

The backpack is a versatile and essential item for many people, whether it’s for school, work, travel, or outdoor activities. When searching for the perfect backpack, one important aspect to consider is the material it is made from. The choice of material can affect the durability, strength, and functionality of the backpack. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of backpack materials, their characteristics, and how they can impact your backpack’s performance.

A Comprehensive Guide to Backpack Materials

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Types of Backpack Materials


Nylon is one of the most commonly used materials for backpacks, and for good reason. It is known for its exceptional strength, durability, and resistance to abrasion and high temperatures. This makes nylon backpacks suitable for various activities, including hiking, camping, and traveling. Nylon also dries quickly, making it ideal for outdoor adventures where exposure to water is possible.


Another popular choice is polyester. Polyester backpacks are known for their durability and wear-resistance. They can withstand rough handling and frequent use without showing signs of wear and tear. Additionally, polyester backpacks are lightweight, allowing you to carry your belongings comfortably without adding unnecessary weight.


While not as widely used as nylon or polyester, polypropylene backpacks offer unique advantages. This material is highly resistant to water, making it an excellent choice for outdoor activities in wet environments. Polypropylene backpacks are also resistant to chemicals, making them suitable for carrying items that may leak or spill. Furthermore, polypropylene has remarkable tear resistance, ensuring that your backpack will last for a long time.


Canvas backpacks have a timeless appeal that never goes out of style. Although canvas backpacks are heavier than their nylon and polyester counterparts, they are known for their exceptional durability. Canvas backpacks can withstand heavy loads and rough handling, making them a popular choice among students and outdoor enthusiasts. Additionally, canvas backpacks are often associated with fashionable brands, offering both functionality and style.

Branded Materials

Some backpack manufacturers use branded materials to enhance the strength and durability of their products. These branded backpack materials include ripstop, Cordura, Kodra nylon, and ballistic nylon. Ripstop is a lightweight material known for its resistance to tearing and ripping. Cordura is a highly durable material that can withstand abrasion and rough use. Kodra nylon is similar to Cordura but is more lightweight and resistant to abrasion. Ballistic nylon is the strongest and most durable of these branded materials, designed to protect against high impact and heavy loads.

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Measuring Strength and Durability

When evaluating backpack materials, it is essential to understand how strength and durability are measured. There are three key metrics commonly used to measure backpack materials: denier rating (D), thread count (T), and grams per square meter (GSM).

Denier rating measures the thickness and weight of the fibers used in a material. Higher denier ratings indicate a thicker and stronger material. Thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads woven into each square inch of fabric. Higher thread counts generally indicate a tighter and more durable material. Grams per square meter measures the weight of the material, with higher GSM values indicating a more substantial and durable fabric.

By considering these metrics, you can make an informed decision when choosing a backpack that meets your durability requirements.

A Comprehensive Guide to Backpack Materials

Waterproofing Materials

In addition to considering the strength and durability of backpack materials, waterproofing is another important aspect to consider.

Waterproofing materials are designed to keep your belongings dry even under inclement weather conditions or in water-based activities. Many backpacks come with a waterproof coating or treatment applied to the material, creating a barrier against water penetration. This treatment helps to repel water and prevent it from seeping into the backpack’s interior.

While nylon and polyester backpacks offer some level of water resistance, specialized waterproofing materials can provide additional protection. These materials often include laminated layers or coatings, such as polyurethane or silicone, that enhance the backpack’s waterproof capabilities.

It’s important to note that while backpacks with waterproofing materials can provide protection against light to moderate rain, they may not be fully submersible or suitable for prolonged exposure to heavy rain or underwater activities. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the intended use of your backpack when assessing the need for waterproofing materials.

A Comprehensive Guide to Backpack Materials


When shopping for a backpack, it’s important to consider the material it is made from to ensure its durability, strength, and functionality. Nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and canvas are the primary materials used, each with its unique characteristics and advantages. Additionally, branded materials such as ripstop, Cordura, Kodra nylon, and ballistic nylon offer extra strength and durability.

By familiarizing yourself with the strengths and weaknesses of different backpack materials, as well as understanding how to measure strength and durability, you can make an informed decision when selecting a backpack that suits your needs. Whether it’s for everyday use, outdoor adventures, or travel, choosing the right backpack material is essential for both functionality and longevity. So, take your time, consider your requirements, and find the perfect backpack material to accompany you on all your journeys.

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By Allan Prosser

Hi, I'm Allan Prosser, I write for Camping Supply Reviews as I'm a passionate outdoor enthusiast. I aim to provide you with honest and reliable reviews of camping equipment. With years of experience exploring the great outdoors, I understand the importance of having quality gear that enhances your camping experience. Whether you're a seasoned camper or just starting out, my goal is to help you make informed decisions when it comes to purchasing camping supplies. From tents and sleeping bags to cooking gear and backpacks, I'll guide you through the vast array of products available, ensuring you choose the perfect gear for your adventures. Join me on this exciting journey and let's make every camping trip an unforgettable one.