When you are designing your own backpack, it’s easy to think about all the things you want in it – a laptop compartment, a top handle for carrying – but often, people forget about the straps.
In reality, the strap is the key element that will decide how comfortable and functional your backpack will be. Whether you’re thinking of making a classic school bag or a backpack for hiking, the strap is still an important consideration.
In this article, let’s take a look at what makes a good backpack strap and how you can choose the right material for a perfect backpack.
What’s the best backpack strap material? Some of the best backpack strap materials are nylon webbing, polyester, and dyneema webbing. Each has its pros and cons depending on the project your are working on and your goals.
Let’s take a look at some key things that you should consider below.
Backpack Strap Material – What To Consider
Have you ever thought about what you should be looking for when it comes to a strap for your backpack? There are various factors to consider when it comes to choosing a material to make an efficient backpack strap.
A wide strap is ideal for spreading the load across your shoulders. However, if they are too wide, they will rub on your arms and neck, making them uncomfortable (not to mention unfashionable) to wear.
2. Strap Construction
Backpack straps are also made with two main constructions: binding and without binding. The former provides a soft and comfortable fit, while the latter allows the use of high-density foam to make the straps more comfortable to wear.
As you can imagine, straps with binding are often made to support a lighter weight, while straps without binding are thicker and can support a much heavier load.
Ideally, the straps should allow for adjustment for the wearer, and the adjustment needs to be efficient and easy to use.
EVA foam is a good choice for adding some volume and comfort to your backpack strap. It is a high-density foam that provides good durability and is very flexible without adding too much weight to your backpack.
5. Strap Material
Finally, the material of the strap is an important consideration when it comes to a good backpack strap. After all, this will be the part that will touch your skin directly, so you will need something lightweight, breathable, and won’t irritate your skin.
3 Best Materials For Backpack Straps
Backpack straps are commonly made from nylon webbing. However, polyester and Dyneema are also commonly used. Let’s take a look at the three popular materials below.
1. Nylon Webbing
Nylon webbing is one of the most common choices for backpack straps because it’s strong, has low stretch, resists moisture absorption, and dries quickly. It’s also durable and abrasion-resistant, so it will last a long time.
Nylon webbing is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and widths, offering you lots of options to customize your backpack.
Nylon webbing is a great choice for backpack straps because it’s durable and holds up to stress. The nylon material is a bit stiffer than polyester webbing but is stronger, which makes it a good choice for backpack straps.
The stiffness of nylon webbing can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the purpose of your pack. It offers more support for heavier loads and can help prevent the strap from shifting during use.
However, this same stiffness can cause rubbing or chafing if you carry your pack with lighter loads or if you have narrow shoulders or hips.
Nylon is also popular because it is quite inexpensive and readily available. You can buy rolls of nylon webbing for a very affordable price, which means that you really get good value for money when it comes to investing in nylon webbing straps.
Although nylon webbing is the most popular material when it comes to making backpack straps, it still has some disadvantages.
Nylon fibers are very stiff when they are first made, which makes them ideal for strapping, but when they are exposed to sunlight or heat, the fibers become weak and brittle with time.
Nylon is also less absorbent than cotton or spandex. This means that it does not wick moisture away from the body, making it quite uncomfortable to wear on hot days.
2. Polyester and Polypropylene
Another great option for a backpack strap is polyester. Polyester has a lot of similar properties as Nylon. However, it has less stretch and is not as strong as nylon webbing. However, it can still make for great backpack straps.
Polyester is a highly popular synthetic fiber that comes in a variety of forms. For backpacks, it’s used to make straps and other components. Polyester is favored for its durability and strength. It is also wrinkle-resistant and mildew, and abrasion-resistant, making it extremely durable and long-lasting.
Polyester retains its shape, which makes it ideal for backpack straps. It also dries quickly, so you can wash it in the washing machine to kill germs or clean up after a spill.
Polyester doesn’t shrink when washed or dry cleaned, so you don’t have to worry about it becoming too short when you launder an item made from this fabric.
Polyester is relatively inexpensive, too. That’s why it’s the most common type of fabric for making backpacks and other accessories for school-age children.
When shopping for bags made from polyester, keep in mind that some fabrics are treated with flame retardants to increase their fire safety. This added safety feature adds to the cost of the material but doesn’t affect its performance or its ability to be laundered safely — a benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re looking at price tags.
However, this material also has some disadvantages that you should consider.
The first disadvantage of polyester is that it is prone to static buildup. This can cause problems since the static electricity can make the material cling to your body, and this can be very uncomfortable.
The second disadvantage is that polyester tends to hold odors. This means that if you wear your backpack while hiking and swearing a lot, the material will start to smell, and you have to launder it frequently.
The third disadvantage of polyester is that it is not as breathable as other materials. If you are wearing a polyester-strapped backpack while hiking on a hot day, you may find yourself sweating more than normal because the material does not allow airflow through it as well as other fabrics do.
3. Dyneema Webbing
Dyneema is a lighter and stronger material than Nylon, which is why this durable material is beloved by outdoor sports enthusiasts. It is used in high-end backpacks for its ease of use and cut-resistant properties.
Dyneema is a fiber developed in the early 1960s by Royal DSM, a Dutch chemical company. It was originally used for commercial fishing nets and car tires.
Dyneema fibers are made of two long chains of molecules that are interleaved with each other. The resulting structure helps make Dyneema fibers strong and lightweight.
Dyneema is considered one of the strongest synthetic fibers available today and is five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis. You’ll find that this material is often used in very high-end backpacks for professional athletes and serious hobbyists.
In comparison to Nylon, it has a much higher strength-to-weight ratio, is thinner, lighter, and far more packable and pliable than Nylon. They’re also very flexible, so they conform well to your body and your load.
Dyneema fibers can be woven into textiles in a similar way to traditional fiber materials such as cotton or polyester but with around ten times higher strength levels.
Dyneema is resistant to UV damage and abrasion. So if you’re going to be hiking in harsh conditions where your pack could get scuffed up against rocks or branches, Dyneema webbing straps can hold up very well.
Dyneema webbing is also hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate your skin as some fabrics can, and it absorbs less water than Nylon and cotton. The material even floats, making it ideal for ice climbing and mountaineering needs.
If you’ve ever been frustrated by back pain caused by your backpack straps digging into your shoulders, the time may be right to switch to Dyneema webbing.
The main disadvantage to Dyneema for use as webbing for backpacking straps is the price. Dyneema webbing is about twice or three times as expensive as normal nylon webbing, depending on the thickness. This is the main reason why it’s only used in high-end backpacks, and it’s not a very popular choice for DIYs.
Also, Dyneema doesn’t stretch much, so you can’t get the same amount of “give” out of it under load. If you’re worried about breaking your pack down low on the trail, this might not be a good choice of material.
Another disadvantage to using Dyneema webbing is that it seems like more work than normal webbing when sewing it together since the fibers are thinner and don’t grip needles quite as well. If you can afford it, though, Dyneema makes incredibly strong straps that will last a long time, with little or no maintenance.
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