We use backpacks and other kinds of bags almost every day. Going to college, school or office and plethora of other uses. Though it never crosses our mind as to what material is used to making these backpacks. If you go and check the product description of any of your favorite backpacks you will see a jargon of technical terms like nylon, oxford, polyester etc. Today we try to understand this better.
Leather: When it comes to backpacks the most primitive of the backpack were made of leather. Not for the reason that people understood the great properties of using leather as a raw material but because of the simple fact that there was no man made alternative.
Cotton: Later as industrial revolution started and humanity got to know the first kind of fabric, it was cotton. Derived from the cotton farm. The bags made of cotton were never very strong and durable and had the property of getting decomposed if used for longer than it's life cycle. As people became more aware of these issues and tried to find alternative ways to find raw materials that can survive for long without much maintenance led to higher variables of cotton material. People started to use coating on top of the fabric to prolong the life cycle of the product. It also helped in stopping the seepage of water inside the fabric thus making them water resistance. There were some drawbacks to using the coating like wax as it made the fabric very heavy and bulky. You can easily see world war movies and identify the cotton canvas bags and gear used by the army men. In today's day and age as we become more fashion conscious this vintage looking canvas cotton culture is coming back to vogue and people have started suing it again. Somebody rightly said that nothing goes out of fashion it just gets to go into a time cycle and repeats itself after a time period.
Nylon: Long since the need for a better, waterproof and durable material came into need Nylon has been filling this place. It is a polymer that is molded by the process of melting polymers and giving it necessary shapes. You can call it a thin sheet of plastic which is waterproof and super durable. But as with all sheet like structures it has a low tear resistance after been punctured by a nail or any cut or slit. To overcome this issue a lot of variables were devised. One of the variables that comes to mind is Rip stop nylon. As the name signifies it is designed to stop ripping. The technical architecture of rip stop essentially incorporates sewn threads in blocks at closer intervals making an loosely made weave causing a rip stop structure stopping ripping of the fabric. The result was a thin material with rip stop weaves at close intervals that can be used for sails, parachutes etc. Still the case was made to make a materials that is a little heavier and can't be punctured easily for more protection. Basically people wanted the nylon material that is made by the process of weaving the entire fabric. This led to the invention of ballistic nylon. As the name suggest it was designed for army men to keep them safe from sharp objects and act like an armor.