If you are looking for a solid backpack, but have no idea where to start your search, perhaps the material the backpack is made of is a good starting point.
There are numerous different materials companies use to create backpacks, and all of them have some special properties that make them good for certain applications.
In order to learn more, we reached out to a custom wallet and backpack manufacturer, Recycled Firefighter who shared their view on a variety of materials.
One of the most versatile materials, nylon can be made of a variety of different recycled plastics. Essentially, you’re giving the plastics second life if you go for a nylon backpack. However, that is not the main selling point of nylon.
This material is one of the most commonly used for making backpacks (and a slew of other products), and for a good reason. It is extremely durable and strong. It can also withstand some significant temperature differences and is resistant to abrasion.
That being said, one thing that nylon is not great with is UV light. This wavelength damages nylon and breaks it down over time. This is why nylon is not the best choice for mountaineering gear – the higher you go, the more UV radiation you’re exposed to.
You are probably more familiar with polyester as that weird material that people in the 70s choose to make all of their clothes of. But this material has had a variety of different uses since then. Mercifully, most of our clothes today aren’t made of it, but plenty of backpacks and similar gear is.
Just like nylon, polyester is a plastic-based material and is extremely durable. Better yet, it is also water and chemical resistant and incredibly lightweight. It is also not as sensitive to UV radiation, making it a better choice for outdoorsy products like hiking backpacks.
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This is an old-fashioned material which used to be extremely popular for a number of uses. The reason it was so popular in the past is because it is robust and durable, even though it is a bit heavier than the plastics-based competitors listed above. Canvas is made of cotton, which explains the weight, although modern varieties can be made of different fibers, like hemp, making the canvas lighter while retaining the robust and sturdy properties it’s known for
Canvas was largely replaced by plastic alternatives thanks to their lighter weight and durability, but in recent years, we have seen a resurgence of canvas as a premium material in branded gear. These tend to be more fashion items than any type of professional gear, though.
Previously listed materials are all common names that anyone can use. However, some companies adapted these materials and improved upon them enough to be given a patent over certain material blends and names.
For instance, Cordura is a group of plastic fabrics created by DuPont as early as 1929. The original material was based on nylon, but there is a range of Cordura materials that incorporate other materials including polyester, cotton and other materials.
Ballistic nylon is another material created by DuPont, this time during World War 2 – you guessed it, for the military. The original intent was to protect the soldiers from shrapnel. And while it did not serve its original purpose, the robust material did find use for extremely durable and strong backpacks and similar apparel.
Choosing the right backpack material largely depends on your needs and intended use. If you’re looking for professional gear, chances are that you will opt for some of the plastic options, whereas those looking for a more fashionable statement piece might be more drawn to a canvas option.