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Cordura backpacks Reviews and Buyer's Guide (Jan 2019)

Cordura is a popular material for moden backpacks, so it shouldn't surprise you that there are quite a few different cordura backpacks to choose from.

When you are looking at the different models, you need to spend some time comparing the quality and the features.

Not all packs are on the same level, so it pays to spend a few minutes extra making sure you buy the best choice for your needs.

The 39 Best Cordura Backpacks

RankCordura BackpackRating
1Gregory WanderGregory Wander
Available on Amazon
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4.4335 reviews
2The North Face ReconThe North Face Recon
Available on Amazon
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4.4114,042 reviews
3Mystery Ranch ScapegoatMystery Ranch Scapegoat
Available on Amazon
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4.4010 reviews
4The North Face SurgeThe North Face Surge4.405,653 reviews
5The North Face RouterThe North Face Router4.40607 reviews
6Topo Designs RoverTopo Designs Rover4.3818 reviews
7Thule VersantThule Versant4.3776 reviews
8Granite Gear NimbusGranite Gear Nimbus4.3558 reviews
9Chrome BravoChrome Bravo4.3460 reviews
10Granite Gear VirgaGranite Gear Virga4.3457 reviews
11The North Face BorealisThe North Face Borealis4.3317,612 reviews
12Mountainsmith DayMountainsmith Day4.30621 reviews
13Mountainsmith ApproachMountainsmith Approach4.2661 reviews
14Thule UpslopeThule Upslope4.2647 reviews
15Mountainsmith ApexMountainsmith Apex4.2662 reviews
16Granite Gear BlazeGranite Gear Blaze4.2564 reviews
17Thule SaplingThule Sapling4.2437 reviews
18Timbuk2 BruceTimbuk2 Bruce4.2330 reviews
19Mountainsmith MayhemMountainsmith Mayhem4.2143 reviews
20Timbuk2 RapidTimbuk2 Rapid4.2130 reviews
21Mountainsmith Clear CreekMountainsmith Clear Creek4.2074 reviews
22The North Face Hot ShotThe North Face Hot Shot4.18101 reviews
23Mammut LightMammut Light4.1644 reviews
24Timbuk2 RobinTimbuk2 Robin4.1256 reviews
25Camelbak QuanticoCamelbak Quantico4.0742 reviews
26Mountainsmith VibeMountainsmith Vibe4.0727 reviews
27Mountainsmith ScreamMountainsmith Scream4.0518 reviews
28Herschel SupplyHerschel Supply4.0310,867 reviews
29Thule GuidepostThule Guidepost4.0030 reviews
30Granite Gear CrownGranite Gear Crown3.99158 reviews
31Watershed AnimasWatershed Animas3.9545 reviews
32Jansport High StakesJansport High Stakes3.9521,479 reviews
33Jansport Right PackJansport Right Pack3.9418,204 reviews
34Timbuk2 ParkerTimbuk2 Parker3.9331 reviews
35Mountainsmith AdventureMountainsmith Adventure3.9263 reviews
36Thule CapstoneThule Capstone3.81126 reviews
37Watershed Big CreekWatershed Big Creek3.6833 reviews
38Black Diamond HaloBlack Diamond Halo3.5516 reviews
39Sierra Designs RevivalSierra Designs Revival3.0510 reviews
How we rate the bags

We have checked 90,688 Cordura backpack reviews, so we can show you the weighted average rating of all the bags.

Using the average ratings, you can check what all the reviewers think instead of just viewing the subjective opinion of one specific reviewer.

It's much simplier to find the best bags that way.

Buyers Guide to Cordura Backpacks

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.

14 More Cordura Backpacks

Classic cordura backpacks and models that haven't yet got enough reviews to be ranked.

RankCordura BackpackRating
Patagonia AscensionistPatagonia Ascensionist
Mountainsmith LariatMountainsmith Lariat
Gregory TahquitzGregory Tahquitz
Sea to Summit Ultra-SilSea to Summit Ultra-Sil
Mystery Ranch TerraplaneMystery Ranch Terraplane
Mountainsmith PursuitMountainsmith Pursuit
Black Diamond PilotBlack Diamond Pilot
Black Diamond SagaBlack Diamond Saga
Ortovox Haute RouteOrtovox Haute Route
Mystery Ranch KletterwerksMystery Ranch Kletterwerks
The North Face SnomadThe North Face Snomad
Arva ReactorArva Reactor
Matador DayliteMatador Daylite
Watershed WestwaterWatershed Westwater

Last updated on January 22, 2019