The Best Guide on Leather Vs Nylon Backpacks 2020

Leather can last for ages unlike nylon backpacks and it is one of the best fabrics that can be used for a backpack.

But is it actually better than nylon?

In this post, we are going to explain everything we know about leather vs nylon backpacks showing you the advantages and disadvantages of both.

An image of a leather pack

What Exactly is Leather

Here’s the deal:

The leather used to make some backpacks just don’t come that way.

There is a process involved that involves a preparatory stage, tanning, and crusting…

…so the next time you come across a leather backpack that is expensive you should know that it involved some complicated processes that was probably manually done before the fabric was finished to become a fine product.

Leather is gotten from the hide of animals which is basically the skin of animals treated for human use.

You might be wondering:

How is this actually done?

Well, it involves some processing and the skin of the animals have to be treated before they can become viable for human use.

You can head over to Wikipedia to learn about the processing of leather.

But the quick gist to this is that before the leather can go through the tanning process it first of all has to be prepared and this preparation stage involves the removal of the hair from the skin, soaking, liming, etc.

After this, it is tanned to make it flexible which in turn makes it suitable to be used for various applications.

Finally, it undergoes a crusting process which involves lubricating of the leather.

This is just a summary of the process involved in its production.

What you need to know is that it is a natural material.

Understanding Nylon

On the other hand:

Nylon is a man-made fabric (material) which is made using polymers.

Nylon can be considered as the most popular fabric used on backpacks and I think that would explain why it is relatively cheap.

But is it wise going for nylon packs because they are cheap over going for expensive leather packs?

Read on and you would find out later in this post.

Anyway, back to understanding this particular fabric. Nylon is a polymer with long heavy molecules that are made of short repeating sections of atoms.

Different processes can be used in the production of nylon. You can learn about this by visiting this informative post we found on nylon.

It is a bit chemistry complicated so we are not going to be going into that here…

…but feel free to visit the link I provided above if you would like to learn more about it.

The short gist is that because nylon is not a natural material they need to be made in chemical plants from organic chemicals found in some natural materials such as coal and petroleum.

To learn more about this please visit the link we provided above.

Leather vs Nylon Backpacks

Just like every other thing on this planet there are always opposing views on why people prefer a particular item over another.

I mean just check out backpacks vs messenger bags and you would see that both of these items have their advantages and disadvantages which would make people either like or dislike them and most of the time their reasons are always understandable with proof.

The same thing can be said when comparing both leather and nylon backpacks. Please note that whatever reasons I provide below are based on my opinion and the opinion of others that have made use of bags made with these fabrics.

Leather is Heavier Than Nylon


I have seen contradicting opinions on this about leather being heavier than nylon. Below is a reason why a fellow user of nylon packs dislike packs made with leather.

I like making use of nylon backpacks to work because it is much lighter than leather backpacks. I know it does make me look kinda classy but I am not just a fan of the weight.”

Majority of people that have made use of leather packs always complain that it is pretty heavy and because of that they are not able to carry in their bag some of their heavy items.

But wait, let me tell you something.

If your leather bag is heavy then I have bad news for you.

There is a high probability that it is not a genuine leather bag.

You remember I said something about tanning in the process involved in producing leather. This particular process gives it a soft touch which makes it lightweight.

For this reason, if you bought an original leather pack there is no reason why it should be heavy.

So if you are of the notion that they are heavier than nylon packs then you might want to change that and get yourself a high quality leather pack.

Leather Packs Are More Classy and Sophisticated

Leather vs nylon backpacks

I recently came across a post that referred to leather as the “king of fabrics”.

Were they right referring to it that way?

I think they were spot on with how they described that fabric.

Out of all the fabrics you know of, which is considered royalty?

You answered right if you said leather. But if you mentioned another fabric then I think you need to leave a comment below on the reasons for your answer.

The fact is that it is considered classy and sophisticated and it also shows that you are a person that values quality. It is not a type of fabric that is used by just anyone.

I am not saying that packs made with nylon are not awesome but when it comes to comparing both fabrics the one that has more authority is leather backpacks.

Nylon Packs Are Way Cheaper

This is an obvious reason why people prefer nylon packs. This is very understandable as really good quality leather packs can go for above $400.

Like I said earlier on, leather packs are considered to be a sophisticated and classy fabric and anything or should I say most things that are sophisticated always tend to be on the expensive side.

There is a reason celebrities making use of backpacks like making use of sophisticated and expensive packs. It is not just because they have the money but rather they know expensive items always tend to be of high quality.

This is a reason people prefer expensive bags as they know it would be of really good quality which in turn would last them for a long time before they think about getting another bag.

If you know you don’t have the funds to go for an expensive leather pack you can always go for a relatively cheap nylon pack.

But here’s the kicker:

You might end up buying more than 1 cheap nylon pack over a short period. That’s just how it goes.

Age and Beauty

Want to know the best part about leather packs?

The best part about them is that as they age their beauty tend to come out even more.

How is this possible you might ask?

This is possible due to a thin surface layer that forms on the surface of the leather due to regular usage and age. This layer is referred to as “patina”.

A name for it has even been created which is called “patina effect”.

So how exactly does this work?

What you need to know is that this effect mostly only occurs in natural products and a perfect example is genuine leather products.

Naturally, leather ages and as it does it absorbs traces of life around it such as the natural body oils that your body produces, moisture, water, heat, conditioner, etc.

As these are absorbed you would notice that over time a sheen is developed in some places while some other spots may start to get relatively dark.

It is pretty amazing and if you would like to learn more about it you can check out leather patina.

With this as your bag ages it would not lose its beauty but instead would even be better looking than when you first bought it.

I seriously doubt packs made with nylon can do this.

Leather vs Nylon Backpacks: Which is Easier To Maintain

One of the golden rules of a leather pack is not to even bother getting it for your little kid especially if it is expensive.

One of the reasons people like or should I say prefer packs with nylon is due to how easy they are to maintain.


You might just be able to throw them into a washing machine but you definitely should not try that with a leather pack.

They are a little more complicated than just throwing them into a washing machine and needs a bit more attention to detail when maintaining them (you can even end up damaging them if you decide to put them in a washing machine).

Due to the lifestyle of a college student, I might not encourage them to go for leather. It would be best sticking with a nylon backpack due to spills and stains. These can be easily removed from a nylon backpack but can be disastrous when it comes to a pack made with leather.

My advice to you is to just wait till when you graduate before you get yourself one as by then you would be a bit more responsible and not be carrying items that can easily spill or stain your bag.

To learn how to take care of a leather backpack please watch the video below.

Internal Organization

This can be considered as a flaw in leather backpacks. The organization of the internal compartments and pockets of the main compartment of the backpack is just not as good as that of nylon backpacks.

I think this is something that they are working on as I have started to come across leather packs with nice internal organization.

The usual design of the main compartment of these type of bags is usually just a big opening. I would love to see those with organizational pockets similar to those of nylon packs.

Which is Better For Hiking

If you are contemplating a leather pack or a nylon pack for hiking my advice to you would be to go for a nylon pack.

My reason for this is simple. There are a lot of packs that claim to be genuine leather which in actuality is not. If they are not genuine there is a good chance that they would be heavy.

Since nylon backpacks are known to already be lightweight then I would advise you to stick with it.

Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want the weight of your bag to add to the weight of the items you intend to carry during your hike.

Moreover, hiking trails are mostly always rough and you definitely don’t want to get your expensive leather backpack damaged or manhandled like you would other fabrics.

So I think the best thing you can do is to use a bag you know is specially suited to be able to take manhandling.

If you know you would be able to take care of your leather backpack while on the trail then, by all means you can go for it. It is probably not that difficult anyway.

Standing Out

If you are one of those people that hate being conspicuous then you might want to forget about getting a leather pack because you are going to stick out like a sore thumb.

A conspicuous pack

If you want to be like Waldo in Where’s Waldo then a nylon backpack is the way to go. You are going to blend in just fine because it is one of the most if not the most popular fabric used on backpacks.

Most of the time when I step out the door I always like being different and standing out wherever I go to and I think that is one of the reasons I like backpacks made with leather.


Having thoroughly gone through this post I am pretty confident that you now know the advantages and disadvantages of leather compared with nylon backpacks.

I do have my preferences and I think it is better to get a leather backpack than to get a rucksack made of nylon.

The reason for this has been properly laid out and explained during this post.

Of course, there would be some contradicting opinions to this. So my question to you is which do you prefer and what are the reasons you prefer it?

I would like to know your answer in the comment section below.

Also, if you have any questions regarding this post you can leave your questions in the comment section below and I would personally reply to you as soon as I can.

9 comments on “The Best Guide on Leather Vs Nylon Backpacks 2020

  1. When I first came across this topic, the first things that came up to my mind wss that leather bag is heavy and no one want to be going around caring heavy things. Before I finish reading the review, another thought came up which is in favor to our environment. Leather bag is less dangerous to the environment compared to the nylon bags. This is because of the chemistry behind nylon and when nylon is no more in use it might not be easily degradable because it is not made of organic materials. When considering eco-friendly back bag, leather bag is very important or what do you think?
    I think I will like to go for the original leather back pack.

    1. Your comment is spot on Stella.

      Leather is eco-friendly especially when tanned naturally without making use of chemicals.

  2. Being an introvert has its disadvantages and I surely wouldn’t want to be the main source of attention in my college and that’s the reason I always stick to the nylon backpacks since it’s what virtually everyone else possess. However, I do have a leather backpack too and I must say, it is such a quality pack but the maintenance and the heaviness coupled with it being unique contributed to the reasons I gave that out to my cousin. So, I will go for a nylon backpack over the leather one. Thanks

  3. This article takes an interesting look at leather and compares it to nylon. I like the fact that nylon is so easy to clean. Just a thorough wipe off and you are good to go. It is also good that it costs much less and you can find it in all sorts of colors. However, for me, there is something beautiful about leather. I like the earthy feel and elegance that it offers. So to satisfy my taste, rather than purchase 2 nylon backpacks I prefer to dig into my wallet a little deeper and buy one beautiful leather backpack. Thank you for this comparison

  4. This is very interesting and useful information.  Previously, I never gave it much thought about nylon or leather backpacks.  

    The Wikepedia information on how leather is processed is very informative.  I agree it is a personal preference whether to go with leather or nylon given your particular needs.  

    It’s interesting to discover that genuine leather is lightweight because of the tanning process.  I do like the sophisticated look of leather backpacks despite the expense.  I also like the idea of them looking better with age.  

    So basically overall I prefer the leather backpacks given the pros and cons of each.  Thanks for this informative article. 

  5. No matter where I shop, my taste is always larger than my budget.  There is nothing better than the feel of soft supple leather compared to the rough surface of a nylon backpack in my opinion. 

    For my uses like travelling and knowing it may get thrown around, I also prefer nylon.  I couldn’t bear to to see my leather backpack fall into the mud.

    For use more like a purse, I would go leather all the way.

    1. Due to how expensive an original leather backpack is and how difficult they might be to clean they are to be used with care unlike a nylon pack that can be easily cleaned and less expensive.

  6. Reading this article has confirmed for me the longevity of leather over nylon or other material. I do and advertising mail run, and i need two back packs one on the back on the front. Both of my backpacks are at various stages of damage and becoming unuseable – my last one just over one year old, and the other about 9 years old, I think. Both are good capacity, but they have their limitations. My hope has been to find a material that last a lot longer than this – if I am doing the job for a longer length of time. I would prefer to spend the money and have the longevity of leather.

    As for the environmental concerns, i am not really concerned, given that the earth is going to end – no matter which worldview you hold – even if we can do something that prolongs the world – it will be a bandaide solution, a patch – and we can only patch so many times before we realize we can’t stop the end.

    I think leather is the far better option for humanity all the same. Offending the vegans is a national pass time here. Lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Wow, having a pack that has lasted for 9years is really amazing. I would really love to know what type of bag that is and the material used on the backpack.

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