Backpacks are everywhere and it’s no wonder. They free our hands. They have many things. They just give us a sense of freedom in knowing that we can throw our stuff in and go.

However, a backpack is only as good as the materials it is made from.

Matching your needs with a backpack made from the right materials will help ensure that your backpack will serve you for years.

Let’s take a look at the most common backpack shell materials.


In the beginning, most backpacks were made of cotton canvas. These backpacks were often made waterproof with a wax coating. Unfortunately, these backpacks were often heavy and prone to rotting if stored damp.

Today there is a resurgence of interest in cute backpacks made from modern canvas. Canvas packs are now very popular with college students, hikers, and professionals.

Modern canvas is often a combination of natural and synthetic materials that reduce weight, increase strength, repel moisture, and prevent rot.

Polyester (sometimes referred to as Pack Cloth)

Backpacks for kids and teens are often made from a combination of materials, including polyester. Polyester is not the strongest material for a backpack, but it is usually strong and sturdy enough for young children. Polyester backpacks are affordable, color-fast (meaning they can be very vibrant in color), can have different textures, and are sometimes machine washable. In general, canvas and nylon are stronger and more durable than polyester.

600D and 1200D polyester

Many backpacks are made of 600D polyester (“D” is for denier). Many sturdier backpacks for hiking or camping are made from 1200D polyester. The thickness of 1200D polyester yarns is twice that of 600D packages. If you are looking for strength, a backpack made of 1200D is better. If you want a lighter backpack that has softer fabric, choose 600D. For most students looking for a backpack, the 600D will prove to be durable and stylish, and a better deal than a comparable backpack made from 1200D polyester.

Nylon Rip-Stop

Ripstop nylon, often found in backpacks used for camping, has replaced regular nylon in recent years. Standard nylon has a tendency to keep tearing when ripped or punctured. The ripstop nylon has a grid pattern of heavy threads sewn into the fabric to prevent tears from getting worse. One of the main benefits of nylon is its excellent waterproofing.

Nylon Cordura

It is a special nylon that is mainly used in high-end backpacks for its strength and resistance to abrasion. You won’t see it used as much in low-end backpacks. In general, you will find that these types of nylon are serious backpacks made for adventure.

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