Other than being ever-versatile, backpacks are one of the most comfortable ways to carry anything.
From camping equipment to your laptop and school supplies, a wide variety of backpacks are available in countless styles.
Practical, functional and spanning all ends of the pricing scale, no one can deny how important this present-day accessory actually is. Yet, few know how backpacks are made.
Let us take you through a look at what backpacks are typically made from, how they are manufactured, and what elements are important in their design.
Backpacks can be manufactured from a range of materials. Every backpack will give you a combination measure of polyester or nylon. The fiber firmness is measured in deniers which is a weight typically given in grams. Deniers measure as mass per grams is given per 9000 meters. This means that a 600D (600 denier) gives you 600 grams of fiber firmness in its fabric.
The higher the denier the greater the weight, durability, abrasion resistance, feel, colorfastness and overall quality. High denier fabrics also cost more so you can definitely expect a higher backpack price but it’s well worth it.
Here’s a look at each type of fabric that backpacks are commonly made of.
Cotton canvas backpacks were the first type to reach popularity, coming with a wax-waterproof coating. They were heavy and easily became damaged. The slightest abrasion would spoil the exterior and eventually wear the backpack down to the point where it was ineffective.
There are now cotton canvas blends which integrate synthetics which are very strong, but also very heavy. Military duffel bags are a prime example of the rugged manufacturing featured by high-quality canvas.
Nylon backpacks bring an improvement on cotton backpacks for most. They’re basically made from a type of plastic which makes them far more waterproof that cotton canvas backpacks. The only issue with nylon backpacks is that they can tear easily. They’re very thin and very lightweight which makes them great for use in the city but don’t try to carry anything too heavy.
Many camping and hiking backpacks feature ripstop nylon. Ripstop nylon has a grid of threads integrated into the fabric. This prevents ripping and unraveling but it is much heavier than conventional nylon.
Prime examples of other items which use ripstop nylon as their primary fabric are hot air balloons and parachutes. Backpacks made from ripstop will most likely last and give good waterproof but they’re going to each have a considerable bulk.
Polyester is one of the most frequently used fabrics in the world. Backpacks made from polyester are astonishingly affordable for the value provided. Colors hold well and the durability is reasonable.
They’re not as durable as nylon or canvass but the waterproof nature is normally better and they’re so much cheaper than you find far more eye-pleasing designs fitted to today’s fashion.
I travel, I read, I write, I have other lives. But when I have a camera, I know that’s my country, my island. Leos Carax
Certain backpacks deliver a blend of polyester and nylon giving them great quality which usually increases their price significantly. You’ll get great abrasion resistance and a feel mid-way between silky and textured. Polyester-nylon blend backpacks are more solid than plain polyester however certain types of polyester can come close to matching their durability.
Ballistics nylon uses a basket ballistic weave using varying fiber firmness. Backpacks made from ballistics nylon are normally black or dark colored as this fabric is hard to dye. Ballistics nylon backpacks are some of the most durable. They exhibit fantastic tear and abrasion resistance.
A backpack will feature a specific strap style. Shoulder straps are the most common. Backpack shoulder straps should be long enough to fit your frame comfortably. Padding is always welcomed while secure clasps of good quality must be present. Certain backpacks integrate a cut-proof lining which serves as an anti-theft measure.
Sternum straps are great for those who don’t want any movement of their backpack. Just make sure that the straps present don’t restrict your breathing in any way. A hip belt strap is another great feature for those who are looking to minimize movement.
Certain backpacks use an internal frame to ensure that it retains its shape at all times. This can be very useful, but it also means that the fabric used is very flimsy.
Alternatively, high-end backpacks use a large, sturdy framework to enhance the carrying capabilities of each pack. Cheaper frames should be avoided unless they’re made of something other than plastic while high-end framework is always valued.
There are tons of features which leading backpacks often integrate. Here’s a brief look at what to be on the lookout for.
- Water bottle compartment
- Utility webbing for hiking and climbing
- Electronics pocket with power bank holder and media port (USB and audio)
- Laptop pocket with cable tidy
- RFID trackers
- Board carry for skate/snowboards
- Secret compartments
- Insulated cooler compartments
- Integrated rain cover
- Hydration system compatibility
Backpacks are normally manufactured in bulk on a production line. Only the best backpacks will feature handcrafted stitching and seams but this type of production considerably ramps up costs. An investment in a handcrafted backpack gives great quality but the price is typically out of reach of the average buyer.