Nylon vs Polyester Backpack – All You Need To Know

Have you ever noticed that one of the most popular fabrics used on backpacks is nylon?

Coming close behind it is polyester which is also a popular fabric used on backpacks.

But is either better than the other and how different are they?

It turns out they have similarities while also having some differences.

In this post, I intend to compare a nylon vs polyester backpack pointing out how similar they are and their differences.

I also intend to point out their strengths and weaknesses.

Regardless of which of these fabrics is better, it ultimately boils down to what you feel would be your ideal choice for your needs.

But first, you need to understand what these fabrics are.

Nylon Fabrics

Nylon fabric is a synthetic substance which means that just like every other synthetic substance out there made by humans so is the production of nylon.

They are usually made in chemical plants from organic chemicals found in natural materials such as coal, water, limestone, petroleum, etc.

If you wish to learn more about the production process of this material then check out this post on nylon fabrics to get a gist of how nylon is produced.

Nylon is a strong fabric but at the same time very lightweight and flexible which is among the reasons a lot of people like making use of backpacks made with this fabric.

They are also easy to maintain and can take more abuse which is a huge advantage when comparing leather and nylon backpacks.

But are they more easier to maintain compared to polyester backpacks?

We would find this out during this post but first, we need to understand what polyester fabrics are.

Polyester Fabrics

Just like nylon fabrics, polyester fabrics are also synthetic man-made polymers but their production tends to be more expensive and extensive than the manufacturing process of nylon which is one of the reasons manufacturers prefer making use of nylon.

Just like nylon they are also produced through chemical reaction by making use of natural substances such as coal, water, petroleum, etc.

For a detailed explanation on how this fabric is made you can check out this post on polyester fabrics.

Both of these fabrics though man-made are considered to be very good as suppose to other fabrics due to how light they are, their durability and how strong they are.

They are both similar in a lot of cases but they have certain properties were one might outshine the other.

Do these properties make either better than the other?

Truth be told:

I would not say it does.

Backpacks made with these fabrics’ are perfectly fine to make use of daily but the little differences that they have might make a backpack user prefer one over the other.

In comparing a nylon vs polyester backpack you would need to know how they perform in certain occasions and this would help you to determine which is better suited to your needs.

Nylon vs Polyester Backpacks – Which is Easier to Maintain

If you intend to make a choice based on which of these backpacks are easier to maintain then you might not have much to go with because bags made with these fabrics are easy to maintain as suppose to other fabrics.

Both of these fabrics’ are easy to clean and are both even resistant to stain.

But here is the thing:

Though these fabrics’ are resistant to stain and easy to clean, they can still both be affected by oil stains which if not properly cleaned or taken care of can leave an oily mark on your backpack.

Luckily, they are not natural fabrics and therefore if you follow some steps on how to remove oily stains from these type of fabrics you would be able to get the oily stain out of the bag.

But my advice to you is that you get it professionally cleaned by someone that knows what they are doing if you are not confident that you can get the stain out of the bag.

Reaction To Water

Both of these fabrics differ based on how they react when exposed to water either while washing them or when they are under the rain.

A Nylon vs Polyester Backpack – How They React When Washed

Both of these fabrics are easy to maintain but knowing how to maintain them is important.

When washing a nylon backpack especially in a washing machine it is important not to wash them with other items as nylon is known as a fabric that can easily get stained by the color of other fabrics.

This is considered as a major difference between nylon and polyester backpacks as polyester backpacks don’t mix with the color or dye produced from other fabrics.

What does this mean?

This means if you toss a backpack made with polyester fabric into a washing machine with other items, the backpack would not pick up the color of the other fabrics. They are also known to retain their shape even after being washed in a washing machine.

But if you do the same thing with a backpack made with nylon then your backpack might get stained by the color from the other fabrics in the machine.

This is why it is advised that when washing a nylon backpack to make sure it is washed separately from other items.

How They React Under Rain and Sunlight

Nylon backpacks are not able to hold their color as compared to polyester backpacks. Polyester backpacks retain their color much longer than backpacks made with nylon even after being used for a long time.

Because nylon is not able to hold its color it tends to fade out when exposed to the UV rays of sunlight much quicker than polyester.

In case you might be asking yourself:

Which of these backpacks is good under the rain?

Then you need to know that the answer to that is polyester.

Think about it for a second:

Nylon is a fabric that is known to easily absorb water. When this happens the nylon expands and the backpack becomes heavier.

Since the fabric easily absorbs water, any gear or item inside the backpack cannot be considered safe from water…

…and the worst part is that it takes longer to dry.

On the other hand:

Polyester backpacks do not easily absorb water and due to the slow rate by which they absorb water they do not expand or stretch as much as nylon does.

For this reason, they can get dried much faster and do not become heavier when they are wet, unlike nylon backpacks. This makes them perfect to use in areas that experience lots of rainfalls.

Due to the increasing popularity of nylon backpacks, their absorbency rate is being reduced with methods such as waterproofing, coating, lamination, etc.

Nylon vs Polyester Backpacks – Retention of Heat and Reaction to Flames

These are both synthetic and not natural materials and unlike a natural fabric such as leather which is porous, polyester is less porous while nylon can be considered to be the list porous.

Polyester fabrics still offer some level of breathability unlike nylon fabrics.

Nylon fabrics are known to retain heat, especially during summer periods. So if you have items that can get damaged due to heat then you should avoid putting them in a nylon backpack especially during summer periods.

All fabrics as we know it are flammable which means they would burn when exposed to fire but what differentiates them based on this property is how fast they combust when exposed to fire.

When comparing nylon vs polyester backpacks one factor you might want to consider is which of them can easily get burnt by fire.

Polyester, unlike nylon, is very flammable so you would have to be careful when making use of a bag made with this type of fabric.


Though nylon and polyester backpacks are both synthetic, the ability or ease for them to be recycled differ.

Nylon fabrics were once considered not to be recyclable. While this fact is true, recent developments have created methods that would enable this fabric to be recycled. The problem with this is that it can be an expensive or resource-intensive process.

On the other hand, polyester can be easily recycled and even when a polyester backpack has been used for a long time it can be broken down and put into the creation of another polyester backpack because of their thermoplastic property.

Companies concerned about the environment are now making use of this method in producing backpacks that can be recycled to produce other products.

Resistance to Mildew

Some fabrics are known to be prone to mildew when left in a particular place for a long time such as cotton fabric, leather, silk, etc and unlike these fabrics’ nylon and polyester are both resistant to mildew from the environment.

These fabrics don’t support the growth of mold, moths, fungi on the surface of the fabric but due to recent studies, it has been proven that if soil is present on these fabrics it can supply food to start mildew.

So my advice for you is that even if you don’t regularly make use of your nylon or polyester backpack always try to make sure you regularly clean it just to be on the safe side.


When comparing nylon and polyester fabrics we have been able to see that both these fabrics have a lot of similarities and although they have some differences, these difference should not affect the use of the bag.

Their differences might have been more pronounced some years back but due to developments in science, the gap between these two fabrics are less obvious than they used to be.

For example, polyester has been known to be more water-resistant than nylon but with methods that have been recently developed this is no longer the case as nylon backpacks are now being made to be water-resistant and even waterproof.

Will I say one of these backpacks is better than the other?

No, because it all depends on your needs in a backpack so while I may prefer nylon backpacks someone else might prefer polyester backpacks.

They are both resistant to mildew, stretch and shrink and although one is more flammable than the other they are still both fabrics and are therefore combustible.

5 comments on “Nylon vs Polyester Backpack – All You Need To Know

  1. Wow, great comparison. A lot of work must’ve gone into this post maybe even practical. I see that nylon backpacks are quite cheaper and that’s the type I’ve been using right from time but I think the polyester bag is also cool, doesn’t take in too much water when being washed and other colours don’t really affect it. I think I should get a polyester bag. You have any recommendations?

    1. There are a lot of amazing polyester backpacks that you can get. Based on your preference a little research would give you a bag perfect for your needs.

  2. Excellent comparison you have done up here concerning nylon and polyester backpack materials. I must say I find it really hard to note the differences between them because of my misconceptions before that they are both products of the same quality and resources. Wow! Good to spot the little differences now and besides, I think I’m more okay with polyester materials since I have like two of them  already and they work well. 

  3. Hi Manuel, thank you for the side-by-side comparison. I’ve been a bit puzzled with the plethora of options available to buy but never did take the time to really check what the differences are.

    I travel a lot and, as an online entrepreneur, I definitely need something that can withstand the elements (electronics + water = disaster as you know).

    Due to this, I’m more inclined to go with polyester bags. Do you have any favourite brands? 

    1. I would not exactly say that I have a favorite brand because I have made use of several polyester backpacks and they were all pretty amazing 

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