What Material Is a Backpack Made Of?

Backpacks are a necessity for all kinds of trips. Everyone wears backpacks, whether children go to school or adult hikers go on a trip to the great outdoors. But not all backpacks are the same; in most cases, the material is the most significant difference.

If you look into multipurpose backpacks, you will find that they often are made of nylon, canvas, polyester, or polypropylene. But there are other materials that companies use to make great backpacks, including leather, cotton, denim, and so on.

In today’s guide, I will tell you all about the best backpack materials and what makes these the best backpack materials. I will also discuss the essential material characteristics and the branded backpack materials. So, if you want to learn more about backpack materials, stick around for this guide!


Backpack Material Strength and Durability

Backpack Material Strength and Durability

When it comes to testing the strength and durability of a material, you should consider several factors. The most important factors are the denier rating, grams per square meter, and thread count. But many other factors can be considered when checking the strength and durability of the material.

For now, all a person needs to know is the rating of these factors and what they mean for the backpack. You can find the ratings on the backpack’s label, or you can contact the manufacturer and have them help you find the information. So, let’s look into the most critical factors and see what you need to know about them:

Denier rating

Denier is a measurement used to show the fabric’s liner density. The higher the rating is, the stronger the fibers will be. So, if you want a strong backpack that will last you for years, you need to get a pack with a higher denier rating.

Grams per square meter

Grams per square meter is a type of measurement connected to the density of the material at hand. You can get the fabric density by measuring only one square meter of that material. The higher the number, the more durable the material is. So, look for a higher rating on this factor if you want a durable backpack.

Thread count

The thread count is a measurement connected to the number of threads included in a piece of fabric. To calculate it, you need to add the length and width of the threads from one area only. The higher the thread count, the better the material’s quality. So, check the thread count of your backpack material to ensure it is of good quality.

General Backpack Material Types

General Backpack Material Types [Popular Fabrics for Backpacks]

Outdoor backpacks are somewhat different from regular backpacks. The materials for the former are more sturdy and durable, while they also come with stronger water repelling properties.

You can find these properties in various materials, some of which I have included in today’s list. So, let’s get right into the general backpack materials types you can come across.


Nylon is one of the most inexpensive materials that you will come across on this list. It is often used for all outdoor gear, including backpacks. But the price is not the only reason you should get a nylon backpack – it is also because nylon is very durable, strong but lightweight, and waterproof.

To add, nylon backpacks are very easy to clean, so you can take them to the great outdoors without worrying too much about them. You can wash them after you return home or use wet wipes to clean them whenever you want.


Polyester is another material that is quite durable and strong. Polyester backpacks can take a severe beating on an outdoor trip without showing any wear and tear. The best thing about such backpacks is that they will not damage.

Another great thing about polyester backpacks is that they are waterproof. So, you can use them even when it rains, and none of your items will be soaked. You will not even need to worry about taking a rain cover, but you will need to check the waterproofing on the backpack before a trip.

To ensure the waterproof layer stays intact, you must clean and maintain your backpack well. So, keep that in mind if you decide to get a pack made from polyester.


Canvas tents are not the best for rainy weather as they often come without waterproofing. Still, the material is quite strong, so the backpack should be durable. You can wash and dry the pack in case it gets dirty or wet, so there is no need to worry about no waterproof layer on it.

One of the things I love about this material is that it is eco-friendly and very versatile. You will have quite a few designs to choose from, but they all will be worth the investment. So, do not put off getting a canvas tent that you can wear both in urban areas and in the great outdoors.


Polypropylene is one of the most expensive materials on this list. But it comes with many excellent properties that justify the price. If you want a quality outdoor backpack, you should look into polypropylene backpacks.

The first great thing about this material is its durability – it does not get dirty fast. At the same time, it is also stain and scratch-resistant. Even when taking more demanding trips on remote tracks, you can count on the backpack to stay intact during the whole trip.

To add, the backpack will not weigh at all on its own – it is as lightweight as they come. At the same time, it is waterproof and can even withstand heavy rain. The reliable material will ensure that you can use the backpack for years after you buy it.


Cotton is not a material that you would often find on outdoor backpacks. Still, regular everyday cotton backpacks are very comfortable and easy to maintain. This material is quite breathable, so it will not make you sweat while having the backpack on your back.

Additionally, all cotton backpacks are affordable and durable, so you will not regret getting them. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can look for one that will fit your style best.


Leather looks luxurious and feels luxurious. It is not the best material for outdoor gear. Still, it is excellent for everyday backpacks you can take to the city whenever you go out. Leather is also very durable and makes bags last you a while.

Still, this material has some disadvantages, as it is somewhat heavier than the others and is a bit challenging to maintain. You will not be able to wash it in a washing machine – you will need special leather cleaners.

The last disadvantage of this material is that it is not eco-friendly. Still, you can get a backpack from vegan leather that will be as durable and comfortable. You will not even be able to notice the differences between vegan and regular leather.


Denim does not need any introduction, as we are all familiar with it from wearing jeans. Still, denim is becoming a part of our wardrobes not only as jeans but as jackets, shirts, and even backpacks. The fact that the material is also eco-friendly makes things so much better.

You will get your money’s worth with a denim backpack, which is durable and stylish. Denim does not go out of style, which means you can wear such a backpack with anything at any time. This is such a material that you will be able to pair it with any outfit, so I recommend that you look into it.


Unlike cotton, leather, or denim, PVC is the material you can find on many outdoor backpacks. It has very similar properties to polypropylene but is not as expensive. You can rely on this robust and durable material to last you for years after you get it.

As if that was not enough, PVC is a water-resistant material that can stand its ground even against heavy rain. The material is easy to clean, so you can choose to throw it in the washing machine or wipe it down with lukewarm water and some soap.


Cordura is a synthetic material known for its durability and strength. Suppose you have a backpack from this material. In that case, it is likely to be waterproof because this is a densely woven material. But the waterproofing depends on the bag itself.

This is an excellent material for outdoor backpacks as it is tear-resistant. So, you can take it with you on all your outdoor trips.

hiking with north face backpack

Branded Backpack Materials

There are so many backpack brands that I could not cover them all even if I wanted to. But when it comes to bags suitable for the outdoors, five brands stand out. Here are the best-branded backpacks and what materials are used in the making of the backpacks:

North Face

When it comes to outdoor gear in general, not only backpacks, no one does it as good as North Face. This is a company with a long tradition, so they have had quite a lot of time to think out their products. Their backpacks are high-quality packs that are durable, waterproof, and tear-resistant.

The best thing about North Face backpacks is that they are made with 100% recycled and sustainable materials like nylon and polyester. These materials make the backpacks suitable for all weather conditions, even the harsher ones.


Columbia is another famous company that creates all types of gear. In contrast, they are famous for being cheaper than the other brands of their caliber. They often use canvas and polyester, while they also offer leather backpacks for everyday use.

The biggest problem with the backpacks from Columbia is that they are not as durable as the ones from brands like North Face or Patagonia. Their waterproofing is good, and the backpacks are always comfortable and easy to clean, but the durability is not the best. So, remember when deciding the brand you want to trust with your backpack.


Patagonia is famous for its high-quality products that come with a lifetime warranty. The brand believes so much in its products that they always offer this lifetime warranty, even with their backpacks.

Patagonia always uses great sustainable and recycled materials like recycled polyester and nylon, natural rubber, organic cotton, hemp, and so on. These materials are all durable, reliable, and lightweight.


Deuter works with various synthetic materials to make their backpacks. Still, they primarily work with nylon and polyester, as these durable materials are suitable for outdoor gear. Since they use these fantastic materials, their backpacks are always waterproof, durable, quick-drying, lightweight, and UV-resistant.

If you check out their website, you will see that Deuter has various backpacks, including avalanches, mountaineering, ski tour, trekking, climbing, school, lifestyle, trail running, bike, travel backpacks, and so many more. They also have guides on packing, cleaning, and adjusting any backpack to ensure you get the most from it.


Osprey is a company with a long tradition. I mention them in this guide because they specialize in outdoor backpacks. They offer hiking, backpacking, travel, lifestyle, hydration, climbing, snowsports, running, and biking backpacks. They all come at reasonable prices.

The type of material Osprey uses on their backpack is non-toxic, recycled, and renewable materials like nylon or duck cloth (also, Osprey backpacks are durable enough). Their quality backpacks are always durable, stylish, and suitable for all kinds of weather.


Thank you for sticking with me through this guide on backpack materials. As a recommendation, I urge you to look into nylon, polyester, canvas, or polypropylene backpacks for the best strength and durability. The backpack price will differ because of the materials, with polypropylene being the most expensive and nylon being the most affordable.

What material you go with will depend on your preference and your budget. So, make sure that you consider all materials’ characteristics before deciding on the type of backpack you want. Do not forget to share your favorite backpack material in the comment section – I would love to know which fabric you like the best!

Andrew Mullen

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