What Material Are Backpack Straps Made Of? Find Out Here! 

 July 1, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

If you are often on the lookout for the perfect backpack, you know all too well how important the straps are—and probably how crucial it is to know what material they’re made of. Comfort and support are a must, and the strength of the materials used for the straps will determine your decision when buying the perfect backpack.

Backpack straps are usually made of nylon webbing or leather for strength and durability. They can also be made of synthetic materials such as polyester for comfort and breathability.

And that’s where we come in. We’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed it down to the materials you should look for to ensure that your straps give you the support, comfort, and durability that you need. Curious? Then let's get started right away and find out what materials you should be looking for in your perfect backpack straps!

Choosing the Right Material for Your Backpack Straps

Selecting the right material for your backpack straps requires careful consideration of the key characteristics of each option. Leather straps are solid and long-lasting, making them a durable choice, although they can be on the heavier side. If you prioritize a lighter option, nylon or polypropylene straps may be more suitable for their functional weight distribution. Nylon straps are known for their strength, adjustable length, and durability. Meanwhile, polypropylene straps are incredibly light and comfortable, but they may not provide sufficient support under heavy loads.

Another factor to consider is cost. Leather straps are hard to beat in terms of durability and quality, but they often come at a higher cost because of  the material used. Although nylon and polypropylene straps are more affordable than leather, their lack of durability can mean higher replacement costs in the long run if they are not maintained regularly.

Comfort and Support

Choosing the right material for your backpack straps can make or break your comfort when carrying it. As a rule, the straps should be wide and often padded. The materials the straps are made of will affect their comfort and support. Padded, woven polyester is a popular choice as it is lightweight but flexible enough for the shoulder straps to move naturally with you. Neoprene is another good choice for pack backstraps as it is soft and comfortable and molds to your shoulders as you move.

However, some backpackers feel that thicker straps are safer than thinner, padded versions. Sturdy leather straps offer plenty of cushioning and support and are also durable. A sturdier, more durable strap may cause less discomfort in the long run as heavier backpacks don’t slip as much when worn.

Finding a balance between comfort and support will help you get the most out of your backpack straps. Deciding whether to go for a softer, easily adjustable fabric or a sturdier leather strap depends on how much weight you are carrying and how long you intend to wear it. In any case, when trying on different backpacks, pay attention to the areas where you feel uncomfortable so you know what is best for you.

Having discussed the different materials for backpack straps and their impact on comfort and support, we now turn to weight distribution, which is essential when choosing a backpack for a long period of time.

Key Takeaway

When choosing backpack straps, comfort and support are two of the most important aspects. Popular strap materials include padded, woven polyester for adjustability and neoprene to fit to the shoulders. Heavy-duty leather straps offer durability, cushioning, and grip but can cause discomfort over long periods of time. The ideal strap should be chosen according to the weight and duration of the trip. Weight distribution should also be considered when buying a backpack for extended use.

Weight Distribution

The materials used for backpack straps can have a significant impact on the ability to carry heavier items while remaining light. Synthetic polyester straps, for example, are known for their excellent weight distribution, allowing backpacks to carry heavier loads without losing their shape. However, there are differing opinions on the subject, with some arguing that natural fibers such as leather and cotton can distribute weight just as well while offering more comfort and breathability.

Ultimately, it’s important to find a strap material that provides both comfort and support, as well as reliable weight distribution for your type of backpack. The right material means lighter loads without compromising safety or durability. With so many options available today, it’s easy to find the perfect strap for your needs. Let's now take a look at some of the most popular materials used to make backpack straps today..

Popular Materials Used to Make Backpack Straps

Whatever material you choose for the straps of your backpack, it's always good to know what they are made of and how well and practically they distribute the weight on the body. Knowing these details will help you make an informed decision about what kind of backpack straps are right for you. Let’s take a look at some popular backpack models on the market today.


Fabric is also a popular material used to make backpack straps. Fabrics can be made from natural fibers or synthetic fibers. Cotton straps, for example, are soft, comfortable, and breathable, making them ideal for use in the summer months when temperatures get higher. Wool straps are very protective and insulating, so they provide insulation and protection in colder climates.

On the other hand, synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic are characterized by greater durability than their natural counterparts. Since they do not absorb water, the bag stays dry and is more stable overall. They also tend to be cheaper than natural fibers, making them a budget-friendly choice.

The benefits of both types of fabric straps depend on the purpose and environment for which you need them. Natural fabrics may be better if you carry your bag mostly indoors in moderate temperatures but not suit well for harsher conditions that require maximum durability. On the other hand, synthetic materials may be better suited for outdoor activities such as hiking or camping in cold weather where you need a protective material. Ultimately, it comes down to finding the type of fabric that best suits your needs best.

Let's now talk about the popularity of nylon as a synthetic fabric for backpack straps. Its versatility and affordability have made it a popular choice among backpack manufacturers looking for a durable material for their products.


Nylon backpack straps are popular with hikers, travelers, and commuters because of their light weight and durability. Nylon's versatility extends beyond backpacks and is also used in other textiles such as ropes and webbing. This material offers strength and support without being overly heavy or bulky. A notable advantage of nylon webbing is that it dries quickly, making it ideal for use in wet conditions. However, it is worth noting that nylon webbing may not provide sufficient padding for carrying heavy items for extended periods of time.

The benefits of nylon depend on how often you plan to use the bag, where you will be going, and how much gear you need to carry. If you use your bag outdoors a lot or pack heavy items, a combination of both types of material could be beneficial. This way, you have the support of nylon and the cushioning from fabric straps.


Leather is a classic material for making backpacks because it has the potential to look sophisticated and stylish while being sturdy and durable. Leather offers a timeless aesthetic with a certain patina that nylon does not have. Compared to nylon, it is an expensive material, but the attention to detail, craftsmanship, and longevity of leather may be worth the investment. Faux leather materials are also available for those looking for a vegan alternative that looks very similar to real leather.

One advantage of leather over nylon is its natural resistance to water damage; after all, animal skin is designed to protect against all outdoor elements. In addition, cuts or scratches on a leather backpack can be repaired with a leather conditioner or possibly even with stitching. Nylon, on the other hand, is always more resistant to water damage and can be easily patched up with tape or fabric-friendly adhesives.

In terms of environmental impact, both materials are relatively environmentally friendly compared to other materials such as PVC or polyester. Leather consumes quite a lot of energy during harvesting and processing before it becomes a material that can be used for backpacks. Nylon straps also require a lot of energy in the production and dyeing processes.  it comes down to choosing a wallet-friendly material that won’t break easily with regular daily use or outdoor adventures, it ultimately comes down to what’s more important—fashion flair or everyday practicality?

As it stands, both leather and nylon offer something unique while having reliable strengths and drawbacks that need to be weighed depending on the needs and preferences of the individual. It's important to consider all aspects of a decision when choosing materials so that the users can get the most out of their backpack strap, both in terms of quality and value for money. With this knowledge, choosing the perfect strap weight becomes much easier given the overwhelming choice of different design options.

Considerations When Selecting Materials

When choosing backpack straps, it can be difficult to weigh different factors. However, the most important thing is to choose straps that are comfortable, fit well, and allow for good weight distribution. This consideration should take precedence over other elements. Finding the right material for your lifestyle will ensure that the straps last a long time.


Leather is a popular material for backpack straps as it offers a stylish aesthetic, often crafted with a high quality finish. However, leather has its drawbacks—it can be quite stiff and inflexible. Leather also needs regular maintenance to keep it soft and supple and prevent cracking. Furthermore, leather is not necessarily suitable for vegan or animal-friendly shoppers.

For those who prefer something lighter, manmade materials such as nylon or polyester may be a better choice. They are flexible and resistant to mold, fungus, and abrasions, making them ideal for outdoor activities. Polypropylene webbing is also a good choice— strength and flexibility and is also moisture-resistant. However these manmade materials are not as durable as leather in the long run.


Natural fabrics, such as cotton and hemp, are known to wear out over time unless treated with special components or finishes. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, last longer with intensive use and exposure to the elements. Plastic backpacks, while seeming to be the most durable option among fabrics, can pose a greater environmental problem if not disposed of properly and can cause more discomfort if they come into contact with skin.

Strong colors, fasteners, zips and padding have a significant impact on the durability of the backpack straps and the overall life of the bag. Although both sides have advantages and disadvantages, these features undeniably contribute to a more durable product and reduce the need for frequent replacement.

Breathability and Comfort

The breathability of a strap is important because if it does not allow good air circulation, your back can sweat and become uncomfortable. A breathable material also helps to reduce odors. The comfort factor is also important as you will be wearing the strap on your shoulders for a long time. Better padded straps provide better support and less strain when wearing them. Another way to improve comfort is to use adjustable straps that can be adjusted to different body shapes and sizes.

Consider the trade-off between comfort and breathability when choosing thicker, cushioning straps over thinner, more breathable ones. Thicker straps may offer more padding, making them more comfortable but less breathable, and vice versa for thinner straps. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s most important for you as the user of the backpack straps; no two users will have the exact same needs.

Choosing the right backpack strap, whether cushiony or thin, has its benefits and considerations in terms of breathability and comfort. However, it eventually helps prevent future discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different materials used for backpack straps?

Backpack straps come in a variety of materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Nylon is one of the most common materials used for backpack straps. It is lightweight, tear-resistant, and easy to adjust. The disadvantage is that nylon straps do not provide as much cushioning against uncomfortable loads as other materials.

Leather straps are well known for their durability and robustness. They can withstand heavy use and abrasions but may not be able to provide as much support for heavier loads. It also takes longer to dry if it gets wet.

Fabric straps are usually well padded so that they are comfortable to wear even with heavier objects. However, the fabric can stretch or fray over time, especially when exposed to heavy use or harsh elements.

Last but not least, contoured straps are made of durable materials such as foam-padded neoprene or EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). With contoured straps, the load spreads evenly over the shoulder instead of sitting in one area as with traditional flat straps. The disadvantage is that they typically cost more than other strap options.

Are there environmentally friendly materials for backpack straps?

Yes, environmentally friendly materials have gained popularity in recent years. Some examples are recycled polyester, organic cotton or sustainable alternatives like hemp or bamboo fabric. By choosing backpack straps made from these materials, you are helping to reduce environmental impact and support sustainability efforts.

  1. Recycled polyester: This material is made from recycled plastic bottles or other consumer waste. Using recycled polyester for backpack straps helps reduce the amount of plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. It also requires less energy and resources compared to the production of virgin polyester.
  2. Organic cotton: Organic cotton is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides or genetically modified seeds. It promotes healthier soil and water systems, reduces water consumption, and protects the welfare of farmers.
  3. Hemp: Hemp is an extremely sustainable and versatile material. Its cultivation requires little water and pesticides and it grows quickly. Hemp fibers are durable and strong, making them suitable for backpack straps. In addition, growing hemp improves the health of the soil and can be grown without depleting natural resources.
  4. Bamboo fabric: Bamboo is a renewable resource that grows quickly and abundantly. Its fabrics are soft, lightweight and have excellent moisture-wicking properties, making them a desirable choice for backpackers.
About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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