A Guide to EDC Backpack’s Durability & Materials Selection

By Derrick Ferrell
Updated on
Closer look at nylon black tactical backpack material
Image credit: Konstantin Anikin

Since EDC backpacks are meant for everyday use, they must be made using the right material in terms of durability. Not only that, but they also need to be made properly. This includes proper stitching, gluing, and the entire manufacturing process.

To provide readers with useful insights, this article presents EDC backpacks’ main materials, zippers, padding, and other factors that play a major role in backpacks’ overall durability.

What is the Best Main Material?

It is quite clear that materials used for EDC backpacks need to be sturdy and strong to be able to withstand the daily stress and strain.

Of course, there are many cheap models made out of poor material; users that want durable backpacks should definitely stay away from those low-quality options.

Generally, the three most common backpack materials on the market are polyester, KODRA, and nylon. And it is the latter that the user should focus on. However, nylon comes in a very wide range of variations and not all of them offer decent properties.

So, which nylon should be used?

Nylon CORDURA 500D is what everyone should look for in their backpack. The higher the number the better. These types of nylon offer extremely good strength and sturdiness. Furthermore, with proper finishing water resistance comes in automatically.

Not only is nylon durable, but it is also a lightweight solution, which is an important characteristic for a daily backpack.

Aside from the above-listed materials, certain natural options are available as well. Users looking for more stylish solutions may consider backpacks made from leather or canvas, though these are not nearly as durable as models made out of high-quality nylon.

However, the adventure types should mainly focus on tactical backpacks, where nylon CORDURA 500D or better is a definite must.

Material Selection & Weight

Since most users carry their EDC backpack around all the time, the weight of the empty backpack should be considered. Many factors contribute to the weight of the empty backpack, and the reader can find more details on that below. Yet, the material used plays the most important role. As such, it is important to go with materials that are not too heavy.

High-quality nylon meets the criteria of lightweight characteristics very well. Dyneema Composite Fabric (DFC), formerly known as cuben fiber, is another material that is even lighter than nylon. However, it is also more expensive.

Other Factors That Contribute To Backpack’s Weight

Aside from the material selection, the size of the backpack obviously contributes the most to its weight. A 30L backpack will surely weigh more than a 15L one. With that said, users should always go with the smallest backpack that is still able to fit their needs.

Padding is another factor that can add noticeable weight. If all of the backpack’s inner surface is padded and if there are many padded inner dividers and pockets, it adds up quite a lot. It is very important that lightweight foam or similar materials be used for this purpose to retain low overall weight.

Zippers are another weight contributing factor. If made out of metal, they can add up more weight. Luckily, there are many modern materials offering better lightweight-durability properties.

Back and lumbar support in smaller-sized backpacks is normally not reinforced. However, with some larger models, especially tactical ones, metal or plastic reinforcement bars may be installed in the back of the backpack. This too adds to the overall weight.

Additional features like strings, stretchy pockets, clips, handles, and others can all contribute to the overall weight. Thus, it is always important to consider these aspects when looking for a proper backpack. A huge amount of extra features may seem great, however, if a user doesn’t really need them, they only come as an additional and unnecessary weight.


Weather resistance is an aspect that every EDC backpack user needs to consider. For users that live in areas where rainy days are extremely rare, having a high-level water resistance may not be required. However, for those users that tend to spend a lot of time outdoors in regions with frequent showers, water resistance is an absolute must.

Nylon CORDURA 500D or better, is easily impregnated with water repellent agents to offer extremely high levels of water resistance. However, materials like DFC and X-Pac (VX) tend to be even better in that aspect. Though, users need to keep in mind that materials with extremely high water resistance or even water-proof properties tend to be denser and thus often heavier.

Aside from the water resistance, a high-quality backpack material must also be UV-resistant. Without it, a backpack will not last long if exposed to direct sun rays frequently.


Zippers are one of the key elements of most backpacks. They are also common points of failure. As such, it is important that zippers be of high quality in order for a backpack to be durable.

Even if a backpack is made of good material, it is not worth much if a user can’t close it or open it with ease. Luckily, all leading backpack manufacturers are aware of this aspect and they incorporate zippers by reputable companies. These include YKK, TiZip, AustriAlpin, ITW Nexus, and others.

Proper zippers not only contribute to the overall integrity of the backpack but also determine water resistance and overall user experience. The ability to open each compartment and pocket with ease and smoothly is quite essential.

Three main types of zippers include molded zippers, metal zippers, and coil zippers. Here are their details:

  • Molded zippers are the toughest and are used in many tactical and heavy-duty backpacks. They are made out of polyacetal and polyethylene resins. These materials are highly resistant to wear and tear as well as dirt.
  • Metal zippers are the oldest type since the 1800s. They are known as ‘metal tooth’ or ‘metal chain.’ They still offer a high level of sturdiness, however, they tend to rusted and corrode over time. They are also bulkier than the other modern types.
  • Coil zippers, also known as nylon zippers (originally made out of nylon), are very affordable, run smoothly and are water-proof. They also offer a high level of flexibility. Unlike metal ones, they are less likely to catch on hair, skin, or clothing. These days they are made out of polyester material. Their sliders are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Unlike molded zippers, coil zippers get dirty rather easily and thus require regular cleaning to continue running smoothly.


Backpack straps are another common point of failure and thus contribute immensely to the overall durability of a backpack. Aside from being made out of main material, they tend to incorporate padding and venting meshes, which all result in creating multiple potential points of failure.

To ensure that straps last as long as possible, the materials chosen must be put together with quality stitching. High-quality brands perform very advanced stress-testing to ensure that their straps are able to carry the load and not let the users down.

Backpack Internals

Different backpacks incorporate different internal materials. In some cases, users can expect the same ‘main’ material to be used, though, often other types of materials are used for internal parts. These often include polyester, canvas, leather, and other options.

Although internals may not be as vital for the backpacks’ overall integrity as zippers and backpack straps, they still need to be properly made. This is especially important for users that plan to pack harder items, such as metal tools, folding knives, and similar items.

Again, choosing high-quality backpacks that are made with precision will help users ensure that their internals offer as high of a level of durability as their external parts.

Backpack Lifespan

How long does an average EDC backpack last? This is a common question that many users ask themselves. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer. There are simply too many variables entering this equation.

Based on users’ reports, their branded backpacks last anywhere from 3 years to as long as 30+ years. It all depends on each user’s habits. Of course, proper backpack maintenance can also add several years to its lifespan. This includes cleaning it with appropriate agents, maintaining zippers, and not abusing it (using it with care).

One way to look at a backpack’s expected lifespan is to consider its warranty. Many high-end backpacks come with impressive warranties, including some lifetime ones. Of course, there are rather specific terms and conditions that come along with that. But still, if a brand is willing to offer a lifetime warranty, it is a sign that a backpack is likely to last long.