The Definitive Guide to Cordura and Cordura Backpacks

Man with cordura backpack

Of all of the backpack fabrics on the market, there is no doubt that Cordura is one of the most well-known. While you may be familiar with the actual term, just how much do you know about this material? Are you aware of its properties, strengths, weaknesses, and more?

How to Choose the Best Cordura Backpack

If you aren’t all that sure about just what makes Cordura backpacks so great, don’t worry. In this article, we tackle all of the subject matter associated with this material. Here, you will learn about all of the important components of these types of backpacks and how to choose one for yourself.

An Analysis of Cordura Backpacks

The term ‘Cordura’ and Cordura backpacks are used quite freely. Just how much do you know about what these labels actually mean? If you are confused about what is being referred to when the word Cordura is mentioned, here are some things that can make this distinction a little clearer for you:

What is Cordura?

It is important to start at the very beginning so that you are fully aware of all the elements associated with this fabric. So, let’s begin with how Cordura first came to the attention of the public. The real confusion arises due to the fact that the actual company and the fabric both have the same name. Although the Cordura material may be used by numerous manufacturers, the actual fabric is trademarked. Today, the company is a division under the management of the global corporation INVISTA.

The Cordura material has come a long way from when it consisted of rayon fibers. Today, it involves nylon fibers of varying deniers. The 6.6 nylon fibers are re-spun, interwoven, and finally, air treated to give the fabric its famed properties. So, what do all of these terms mean?

Higher end, more durable backpacks used Cordura that is made from 6.6 nylon fibers, which is one of the strongest types of nylon. The specific weave of the material also lends a great deal of durability. First, the fibers are re-spun for tightness and then they are interlocked together to create a stronger weave. One of the things that really sets this material apart, however, is the fact that it undergoes an air texturing. Here, jets of air are blown over the fabric causing it to bulk up. This method also affects the feel of the material, resulting in a canvas-like texture.

Benefits of Using Cordura for Backpacks

Since Cordura is used quite often in backpacks, this begs the question why? Here, we take a look at some of the properties that are associated with this fabric and why it is used with backpacks:

Abrasion Resistance

At the very top of the list of what makes Cordura special is the fact that the material is resistant to abrasions. This is largely to do with the materials is constructed by air texturing. Since this causes the fabric to thicken, it evens out the wear and tear, making the material less likely to split. On average, Cordura has greater abrasion resistance than polyester, cotton, and even traditional nylon.

Water Resistant

While Cordura backpacks are not waterproof, they are water resistant. This means, that for a little while, backpacks made from this material are able to prevent moisture from seeping in. It is only once it gets waterlogged that it lets the water droplets in. Also, if the backpack does get wet, the properties of Cordura are such that it will allow the pack to dry quite quickly.

Balance between Weight and Strength

Typically, the stronger a material is, the heavier it is. This can cause some discomfort for hikers, backpackers, and others that need to trek across a long distance carrying a heavy load. Cordura, however, manages to find a balance between these two traits. As a result, you can get very durable material for a fairly low weight.

Types of Cordura Backpack

Cordura packs come in all different shapes and sizes, and there is often one design for every activity. Here are some of the more popular categories:

  • Waistpack (3 – 10 liters): As the name implies, these are smaller packs that can be worn around the waist. They can often carry the bare minimum so are typically suited for incredibly short treks. At most, you should be able to fit in a couple of bottles of water and a few snacks.
  • Daypacks (20 – 35 liters): These are the most common type of Cordura backpacks. They can carry water, food, survival supplies, and maybe another layer of clothing. These packs are usually meant for hikes that don’t last longer than a single day.
  • Multi-day Packs (40 – 80 liters): If you are going on a camping trip, then these are the backpacks to take with you. They can store food, water, clothes, sleeping bags, and maybe even larger tools. You should be able to take most things that you need for a camping trip that is longer than two days.
  • Tactical Backpacks: Cordura is one of the more common materials used for tactical backpacks. These are incredibly sturdy and strong backpacks, designed to withstand wear, tear, and rough use.

What Does Cordura Denier Describe?

One of the ways that manufacturers choose to describe backpack durability is with deniers. What this unit actually measures, however, is lost on the Average Joe. When a manufacturer talks about denier, what they are actually referring to is the weight of the yarn. One denier is the weight in grams of 9000 meters of yarn. This means, for instance, that a 500 denier backpack would weigh 500 grams for a 9000-meter length.

Since it can be quite confusing think of deniers in such a way, you should think of denier in terms of thickness or robustness. Therefore, the higher the denier, the more wear and tear it can endure. While 500 denier is one of the most common fabrics found, 1000 denier material is used for hardier, higher end packs.

What denier should not be mistaken with is strength. While materials of higher denier are more abrasion resistance, it doesn’t necessarily make them stronger. So, although some manufacturers may like to advertise that their packs are stronger due to the denier, this isn’t always the case.

The other thing that you should understand about denier is its relationship with weight. As you can imagine the thicker or more robust a fabric is, the more it is going to weigh. This is partially why not everyone wants a 1000d backpack. While this may be quite long wearing, it can also be heavy for hikers to carry a long distance. As such, when choosing denier, you will need to find a balance between durability and weight.

Waterproof Cordura Backpacks

As mentioned, Cordura backpacks aren’t waterproof although they are water resistant to a certain degree. This doesn’t mean, however, that the backpacks can’t be made waterproof. The most common way of obtaining a waterproof backpack is with the help of fabric treatments.

This is when a coating of sorts is incorporated to the backpack. This coating is hydrophobic and prevents the water from seeping into the pack. Sometimes, a coating, much like polyurethane is sprayed onto the fabric. While this is effective, this has a tendency to wear out after a while.

While durable water resistant (DWR) coatings aren’t permanent either, they do hold up a little better. The DWR coating is what is applied once a laminate has already been added to the fabric. This adds a bit more protection to your backpack when having to repel moisture.

There are several other components that go into making a waterproof backpack. For instance, the seams have to be either welded together or the sewn seams need a waterproof backing. There should also be as few segments and compartments as possible. As a result, the number of pockets on this type of backpacks is limited. For a Cordura backpack to be truly waterproof, the zippers too must be treated with a water repellent coating. Last but not least, the truly waterproof backpacks are top loading and have only one access point.

Caring for Your Cordura Backpack

Cordura backpacks are constructed to last you for as long as possible. While its abrasion resistant properties greatly help, it also depends on how well you care for your backpack. This becomes particularly important if you have a Cordura backpack that has been treated to become waterproof.

To prolong the durability of your backpack, you should avoid putting it in the washing machine. Instead, your backpack should be washed by hand, preferably without the use of harsh detergents. You should never use cleaners that contain either chlorine or bleach in them. These can compromise the integrity of the fabric.

When washing your backpack, you should use lukewarm water, mostly so that you don’t accidentally remove the protective covering on it. If you are attempting to remove grease or oil, you should use the mildest possible remover and avoid scrubbing at the stain with a brush. You should also take care with the zippers. As mentioned, some zippers may have also been treated to repel water. So, if you scrub these areas too hard, you could end up removing this coating.

You should also know how to dry the fabric properly too. It is important to thoroughly dry your backpack. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t put it in the dryer. In fact, you should try not to place it in direct sun either. The UV rays in sunlight have a tendency to degrade the waterproof coatings on your backpack. You can either dry your backpack indoors or where it isn’t in direct view of the sun.

This is essentially all that you should be aware of Cordura as well as the backpacks that are made from this fabric. As you can see, it is no surprise that these packs are so sought after. Their numerous benefits, including durability, make them a sound investment for any backpack owner.

Top 9 Best Cordura Backpacks


1 – Burton Fathom 44L


Burton Fathom Backpack
  • Made in USA or Imported

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Fathom 44L:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Fathom 44L

  • Reviewers thought that the Burton Fathom backpack has a lightweight design.
  • Other reviewers remarked that it was comfortable to wear.
  • Users lauded its snap closure design for added security to its interior.
  • Other users recommend the use of the backpack for overnight trips or daily missions.
  • Testers found that its various designs are attractive and striking.
  • Many of the reviewers commented on its durability as manifested by its robust fabric.
  • Users found the bag to be versatile and accessible.
  • A lot of users thought that the pack was easy to carry.
  • Laptop users praised its padded compartment specifically designed for laptops.
  • Tablet users also lauded the presence of a specific sleeve for their gadget.
  • Testers also noted that its PU backing makes it resistant to any weather conditions.
  • Other testers like that it has specific pockets for water bottles.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer noted that its fabric shred after just a few months of use.
  • A reviewer thought that it does not fit on all body types.

2 – Burton Hiker 25L


Burton Day Hiker Backpack 25L, True Black Ripstop, One Size
  • Dimensions: 19" x 12" x 7; Volume: 25L; Durably constructed
  • Main zippered opening with internal organization; Webbing board carry with molded wings for improved grip and fit
  • Padded hydration-compatible laptop sleeve [18" x 10.5" x 1.5"] and tablet sleeve [10.5" x 8"]
  • Fleece-lined accessory pocket, overlapping front accessory pockets, side water bottle pockets, and internal zippered mesh pocket with key clip
  • Lifetime warranty

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Hiker 25L:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Hiker 25L

  • A reviewer thought that the Burton Hiker backpack provides sufficient comfort to the user.
  • Users noted that its main compartment offers ample space for storage and organization.
  • Testers noted that it is equipped with a pair of ergonomic shoulder harness for a comfortable carry.
  • They also mentioned that its shoulder harness consists of a pocket for on-the-go storage.
  • According to some reviewers, the backpack was durable and sturdy.
  • Several of those who have tried the bag found that its sternum strap could be adjusted for a custom fit.
  • They also noticed that it is lightweight.
  • A user thought that pack has a stylish and attractive design.
  • Several reviewers indicated that its waist strap could be removed when it is not needed.
  • Some users recommend the backpack as a carry-on for short hiking adventures or travel.
  • Laptop users praised its padded compartment specifically designed for laptops.
  • Tablet users also lauded the presence of a specific sleeve for their gadget.
  • Other users noted that the bag is equipped with two external water bottle pockets.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer had issues with the cinch down straps that get in the way of opening the pack.
  • A few other reviewers noted that the bag lacks sufficient pockets.

3 – Burton Annex


BURTON Annex Pack, True Black Triple Ripstop
  • Dimensions: 20" x 10.5" x 7"; Volume: 28L; Durable polyester construction
  • Zippered bucket top opening to main compartment for convenient storage; Adjustable webbing system for attaching gear
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap and load lifters for comfortable carrying
  • Internal zippered mesh pocket with key clip, external fleece-lined accessory pocket on bucket top, and secured external accessory pockets for storage
  • Externally and internally accessible padded laptop compartment [18" x 10" x 2"] and tablet sleeve [11.5" x 7.5"]; Lifetime warranty

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Annex:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Annex

  • Most users said that the pack is perfect for weekend trip.
  • Many users said that it is a great looking backpack with a lot of features.
  • Reviewers said that the pack is lightweight & not bulky.
  • Many users said that the interior is great, especially the lining at the top.
  • Reviewers said that the dense foam back frame provides some rigidity and structure to the bag while keeping it light.
  • One great feature mentioned by many users that there is a secured laptop pocket and secondary pocket for tablet.
  • Users said that there is a micro-fleece lined top cover pocket for cell phone.
  • Many users said that the laptop pocket is sewn into the back frame a couple inches above the bottom of the bag which provides protection from the ground.
  • Many other buyers said that the side pockets with flap and clip buckle closure are good sizes for accessories.
  • Many reviewers said that the main cinching buckles are metal and slide in an out of strap loops easily.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • One user complained that the fabric isn’t as comfortable, feels a bit cheap.
  • Some users said that the handle is very flimsy.
  • Other users said that the chest strap can’t be adjusted high enough on the shoulder straps.

4 – Burton Tinder


Sale
BURTON Tinder Pack, True Black Triple Ripstop
  • Dimensions: 20" x 13" x 6"; Volume: 25L; Durably constructed
  • Rucksack-style main entry with drawstring closure for convenience
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap for comfortable carrying
  • Top accessory pocket and internal zippered mesh pocket for storage
  • Externally and internally accessible padded laptop compartment [16.5" x 10" x 1.5"] and tablet sleeve [10" x 10"]

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Tinder:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Tinder

  • Many reviewers noted that the Burton Tinder backpack had varied exceptional designs to choose from.
  • Laptop users found it easy to store their gadgets due to a compartment dedicated for laptops.
  • Many users also pointed out that the presence of several pockets makes it easy for storing equipment and gears securely.
  • Several reviewers found out that the pack is lightweight, providing ease when using it for a variety of activities.
  • Many of the users thought that it was easy to place and access gears due to its rucksack style entry.
  • Users noted that it is easy to close the pack due to its easy-cinching drawstring closure.
  • Other users pointed out that the bag has mesh pocket with zipper closers making it easier to organize and store things.
  • Several reviewers found the bag to be highly functional.
  • Reviewers said that it was comfortable to use the backpack.
  • Testers thought that the compact design of the bag made it useful for those with relatively many things to place.
  • Other reviewers felt the bag could be used for school, work, or pleasure.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the buckle of the bag might break easily.
  • A reviewer said that its fabric does not stretch too much.

5 – Burton Prospect


Sale
Burton Prospect Backpack, Balsam, One Size
  • Dimensions: 19" x 11.5" x 7.5"; Volume: 21L; Durably constructed
  • Main zip compartment with internal organization; Padded laptop compartment [15.5" x 10.5" x 1"] and tablet sleeve [9.5" x 10.5"]
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap for comfortable carrying
  • Fleece-lined accessory pocket, external accessory pocket, dual mesh water bottle pockets with compression straps, internal zippered mesh pocket with key clip, internal Velcro slip pocket for storage
  • Lifetime warranty

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Prospect:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Prospect

  • Testers say that it is a lightweight, compact and great backpack for daily use.
  • Some of the testers have also said that the pack is durable with good built materials.
  • Reviewers say that the pack is spacious to fit a large laptop.
  • Some reviewers also mentioned about the good number of external pockets that helped them to carry extra gears for daily use.
  • Some travellers said that they have used the pack for snowboarding and camping also and it was a good fit.
  • A few travellers have also complimented about the excellent waterproofing quality of the pack.
  • Most reviewers said that it is a stylish backpack and is very comfortable to carry.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • Some reviewers have complained that pack to be small in size for travelling.
  • A couple of reviewers also complained about the built of the pack. They say that the pack is not enough padded to carry sophisticated gears like a professional camera.

6 – Jansport High Stakes


JanSport Disney High Stakes Backpack (Super Cute Minnie)
  • Premium fabric for superior durability and unique texture
  • One large main compartment
  • Straight-cut, padded shoulder straps
  • Front utility pocket with organizer
  • Fully padded back panel

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Jansport High Stakes:

Reviewers like these things about the Jansport High Stakes

  • Many reviewers noted that Jansport High Stakes backpack is simple and lightweight.
  • Other reviewers pointed out that the bag had lots of room and made well.
  • Testers also noted that it is easy to carry around.
  • Many users found that the main compartment is very large.
  • They also mentioned that it is a decent bag and the design and print is good and clear.
  • Several reviewers found out that its colors are bright.
  • Many of the users noted that its design is cool.
  • Users pointed out that the bag’s material will keep stuff dry in case it rains.
  • They pointed out that its padded shoulder straps are straight-cut.
  • Several testers also noticed its front utility pocket with organizer.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A user said that the bag has no water bottle pockets on the outside of the bag.
  • Another user thought that the fabric is of low quality.

7 – Burton Westfall


Sale
Burton Westfall Backpack, Tandori Ripstop
  • 23L [19.5in x 13.75in x 6in] [49.5cm x 35cm x 15cm] 1 lbs./ 0.4kg
  • Cinch Top Closure with Zippered Accessory Pocket on Inside of Flap
  • Padded Laptop Sleeve [17in x 10in x 1in] [43cm x 25cm x 2.5cm]
  • Two Stretch Side Water Bottle Pockets and Daisy Chain Attachment
  • Ergonomic Shoulder Straps

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Westfall:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Westfall

  • Testers found out that the Burton Westfall is a very simple backpack which closes at the top with a drawstring.
  • Other testers pointed out that it has a flap that goes over the top and snaps shut with a plastic buckle.
  • Reviewers noted that the bag has a handle at the top for lifting it.
  • Users also said that its back is padded.
  • Other reviewers thought that it consists two water bottle pockets that are nice and deep.
  • They also indicated that it would serve well as a daypack for not too heavy items.
  • According to some users, the pack is well-made.
  • Other users found that its seams inside are covered.
  • According to those who used it, the backpack materials are very high quality, ripstop nylon outside with a closer, finer weave.
  • Many users pointed out that it has a water-resistant liner.
  • Testers noted that the bag’s coloration is unique and attractive.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A tester thought that the bag internally has no structure to assist in organization.
  • A reviewer mentioned that it only has a single very small zipper pouch.

8 – Burton Riders 2


Burton Rider's 2.0 Backpack
  • Pockets: 1 interior zip, 2 exterior, 3 card slots

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Riders 2:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Riders 2

  • According to users, the Burton Riders backpack is comfortable to use.
  • Reviewers mentioned that it is durable due to its nylon material.
  • Other users noted it has a zippered interior pocket meant for storage of essential items.
  • Reviewers said that it has two external pockets intended for on-the-fly storage of things.
  • They also noted that the bag includes a vertical board carry.
  • Other reviewers thought that it has sufficient internal gear organization options.
  • Reviewers mentioned that the bag has a storage of snow tools such as shovel for backcountry safety or booter building.
  • They noticed that its fabric provide durability to the pack.
  • Testers noted that its waist belt could be removed when not needed.
  • Users found it easy to access the storage of the bag.
  • Other testers said that its has a side water bottle pocket, making it easy to quench thirst.
  • Other users praised its ergonomic shoulder harness and back panel.
  • Reviewers lauded its efficient pack compression system.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer felt that the bag was not durable enough.
  • Another reviewer thought that the bag was smaller than expected.

9 – Burton Kettle 20L


Burton Kettle 20L Laptop Backpack - Checkyoself Print
  • Dimensions: 16.5" x 11" x 6"; Volume: 20L; Durable fabrication
  • Ergonomic shoulder harness with adjustable sternum strap for comfortable carrying
  • Main zipper compartment and external zippered accessory pocket for storage
  • Padded laptop compartment [14.5" x 10.5"]
  • Lifetime warranty

Here’s what the reviewers think about the Burton Kettle 20L:

Reviewers like these things about the Burton Kettle 20L

  • Many reviewers highly recommend the Burton Kettle backpack for traveling and commuting.
  • Others suggested that the bag could be utilized for everyday use.
  • Other reviewers mentioned that the pack is durable due to its polyester material.
  • Users lauded the presence of a large pocket which fosters better organization of things.
  • Testers found out that the waist belt may be removed.
  • Several users thought that there were sufficient compartments and pockets in the backpack where they conveniently place several things.
  • Laptop users lauded the presence of a padded sleeve dedicated to keeping their gadgets safe and secure.
  • Other users found that the bag to be simple yet fully functional.
  • A lot of testers have noted it is comfortable to wear.
  • Users have found the bag convenient and comfortable to use.
  • Other users mentioned that the bag is tall enough that the top of the main pocket could be stuffed without being crushed by the books or other belongings.
  • According to reviewers, its sturdy plastic loops could hold keys if needed.
  • Other reviewers noted that its cross-body strap is sturdy and elastic.

Reviewers don’t like these things

  • A reviewer thought that the cross-body strap is not removable.
  • Another reviewer noted that there are no pockets designated for water bottles.

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Last update on 2018-11-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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