Have you guys ever come across a few technical terms for backpack materials? Have you spent hours of your life in searching for the meanings of these technical terms and abbreviations? I have been one step ahead! I started searching for a backpack material article and ended up reading my horoscope for next year.
Well, I can’t explain why and how I reached there, but since you have reached here, I will help you with those abbreviations. Let’s begin!
Which backpack material is good?
When you invest in a good backpack you want it to stay intact for years. For that, you have to select a backpack material or backpack fabric that stays intact for years. Here are a few fabrics that are worth your money and a few that are not.
Cotton is good to wear not to carry your stuff into it. I personally am not a fan of cotton canvas backpacks. Earlier, the cotton canvas was used as a backpack material and coated with wax to make it waterproof. But it never proved to be a good material for backpacks. Cotton canvas is more prone to damage and is heavy. So definitely not a good choice if you are a hiker or camper. The light the bag, the better for travel. These days too you find cotton canvas bags but those are blended with some durable material. Also, they are not that expensive as compared to other backpack materials.
Buy a mix or don’t buy at all
Nylon actually is a polymer that can be formed into various fibres by the melting process. It is a better fabric than cotton when it comes to being waterproof. Though it has a tendency to tear when punctured, that can be corrected by weavings and sewing patterns. It is a better fabric than cotton but we are going towards the best ones.
More than a fabric, Cordura has now become a brand. Whenever someone talks about Cordura I instantly think of durability and strength. It has a high resistance to abrasion, maybe higher than any other material. Cordura is generally more than sufficient for everyday-use backpacks in terms of strength. A similar fabric is Kodra, which is made in Korea.
Apart from strength polyester also provides resistance to ultra-violet radiation but it is not a rugged material for a backpack. Continuous exposure to sunlight can cause damage to the backpack, so the UV resistance adds extra protection to the backpack. The material is not that expensive and can be affordable. These days many backpacks come in polyester or a mix of it. So availability is not a problem.
It is commonly used for camping and hiking backpacks as it has thicker threads sewn into the nylon. The trick is to sew them at close intervals to provide better stability and strength. All this, and still lighter than cotton canvas. This fabric is popular with many manufacturers as the fabric resists tearing.
Fun fact: Ripstop was originally developed in World War 2 to replace silk parachutes.
Funner fact: Some genius planned to use it for packing stuff. 🙂
Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer which means it is made by adjoining propylene monomers. You will see Polypropylene in everything, be it carpets, ropes or even stickers on a Rubik’s cube. The key feature of this fabric is that it dries quickly and does not absorb water. Hydrophobic and a very good insulator.
The only negative mark about this fabric is that it has less UV resistance than other fabrics. Thus making the backpack material fade the colour or get cracked easily.
So… it is better to take it as a mix with some material that has high UV-resistance.
What are strength indicators?
Strength indicators refer to the strength the backpack material has. That can be seen with:
Denier essentially shows the thickness or density of the material.
Tenacity means that how has is the fabric fighting tear (and you fighting the fear… umm… sorry) after the tear has begun.
Stitches are measured per inch. Backpacks that have 6–10 stitches per inch have a reliable strength. Less than 6 does not provide the required strength to the material.
T (thread count)
Thread count is the number of warps in one square inch of the fabric. Backpack ranges might be a few hundred T or above. More thread count shows more strength.
Polyurethane and Thermoplastic polyurethane are used for the coating to make the fabric waterproof. PU coatings do not last for long. That is the reason that manufacturers never give a guarantee on the product for more than 2-3 years. As much as the fabric remains dry, it is good for the coating and for the life of the bag. If the coating is taken care of properly, it can last up to 10-15 years.
So that was all about the backpack material, life and coatings. I hope the information is enough for you to buy a good backpack for yourself. Start planning now!
Next week has some new stuff planned for you. Stay tuned. Also, let us know in the comments section if there pops up a question in your mind regarding backpacks.
Happy travel 🙂