The Best Fabrics for Backpacks

The Best Fabrics for Backpacks

May 21, 2021

At North St our choices matter, especially when it comes to selecting the best bag materials possible. We insist on quality, but we also consider origin and sustainability. As a brand committed to building gear that's guaranteed for life, we opt for the most durable, longest lasting, best textiles on the market. 

EcoPak

North St. Bags operates with the goal of continual improvement. We prioritize the slow and steady, the scenic routes, and doing whatever we can to make our gear the ethical, sustainable, and economic choice. 

Enter EcoPak. It's the first and only 100% recycled sailcloth of its kind. Made by Connecticut-based heritage manufacturers Challenge Sailcloth, EcoPak boasts the storm-weathering performance of virgin nylon cloth with a fraction of the CO2 emissions, energy efficient manufacturing, and are VOC free.

All of that in an eco friendly bag, while still being incredibly abrasion resistant, lightweight, and ripstop.

Shop our selection of 100% recycled EcoPak bags, or our classic 1000d Cordura Nylon lined with EcoPak.

Here's the nitty-gritty on EcoPak:

  • all woven components are made from 100% Repreve recycled polyester, primarily made from plastic bottles
  • DWR coating is made with no fluorocarbons (proven bad for the environment, and banned in Europe)
  • it's proprietary 'Challenge RUV' polyester film backing is 97% UV Resistant, and lasts about 4 times as long as the polyester film used in similar fabrics
  • it reduces CO2 emissions by over 1lb per yard of fabric
  • EcoPak is recyclable after use

 

CORDURA® Nylon

CORDURA® is the best woven nylon available on the market. But its success over the years is similar to that of Kleenex® or Xerox®. When you build a product that is the clear industry leader, often your brand name becomes synonymous with the entire category of product, lumped together with the imitators and infringers. With so many copy-cats (legal or otherwise) on the market, many companies will use imitation nylon and simply call it CORDURA® without thinking twice. That's not us. 

Today, to use CORDURA® brand nylon in your products is truly a differentiator. We only source 1000 denier* CORDURA® for the outer shells of our bags. It's durable, rip and wear resistant, and it's even coated with a durable water repellant (DWR) finish making it fairly water resistant. This fabric is built to last and we are some its biggest fans. 

*What's a denier you might ask? For reference, 'denier' is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers, is the mass in grams per 9000 meters of the fiber. That's how fabric is measured and rated, with a higher number indicating a heavier weave, thereby (in theory) being more durable and abrasion resistant.

 

 

X-Pac™

A nylon sailcloth from Dimension Polyant made in Connecticut. Lightweight, strong, with a waterproof laminate backing, X-Pac™ provides durable weather protection without a significant weight penalty. It's also incredibly abrasion resistant and many feature an X-PLY® monofilm backing.

X-PLY®'s signature diamond or 'X' pattern is often visible through the outer face fabric, which retains strength across the bias (45 degree angle)--a traditionally weak point in most ripstop fabrics. For technical, all-weather applications, X-Pac™ is the ultimate balance of weight, durability, waterproofing, and affordability. 

VX-21 features a 210 denier CORDURA® nylon face fabric, making it more durable and abrasion resistant than most other fabrics. A standard black polyester X-PLY® 22° monofilm is backed with a 50 denier polyester taffeta. Also called 'Rugged X-Pac™' it's best suited for high-stress/abrasion areas on a bag intended for rugged usage in a lighter weight package. 285 g/m². Tear strength 139 N.

Sometimes we use other variants like X-33, X-21, and X-51 depending on the application and intended use case scenario. The varying numbers denote the weight of the face fabric bonded to the waterproof laminate, with a higher number indicating a heavier and more durable outer sheath.

X-33 uses a 330 denier CORDURA® nylon face fabric making it durable and abrasion resistant. A layer of X-PLY® monofilm is bonded to the backside making it tear resistant, waterproof, and has high-tensile strength. Also our current stock features the official US Army Multicam camouflage pattern.  214 g/m². Tear strength 102 N.

 

X-51 is truly tough stuff. It features a 510 denier CORDURA® face fabric bonded to black polyester X-PLY® 22° monofilm. It is highly abrasion and tear resistant, waterproof, with high tensile strength. Very very gnarly material. We love it. It's 312 g/m². Tear strength 174 N. 

North St. Weekender Backpack - X51 fabric

 

 

Fabric Care 

Whether it's made from CORDURA® or EcoPak we recommend keeping your North St. Bag clean with occasional spot treatment on stains or accumulated dirt with a damp cloth. For set in stains use a brush with lukewarm water and mild detergent or hand soap. Please do not machine wash or dry. Seriously. Air dry for an hour or two. 

To keep your bag looking fresh and keep water from accumulating on the outer shell face fabric, reapply a DWR finish. We like Nikwax TX Direct.