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November 11, 2022

Are you in the market for a new bag? Shopping for the perfect pack that’s suitable for your needs isn’t always the easiest experience, as it is sometimes difficult to determine a backpack’s quality. Luckily, there are a few characteristics and factors that often indicate a product is worth the purchase. Read on to learn how to differentiate a good backpack from a poor one.

Construction: Fabric Material Durability

The first determining factor of a quality backpack relates to the product’s construction—more specifically, the durability of the fabric material and stitching. For the construction of the material, look towards the main compartment and straps. If these areas feature a tough, strong synthetic fabric, chances are the entire backpack is suitable for storing heavier items and less likely to wear quickly.

Quality fabric materials to consider include Nylon (with a polyurethane or PVC coating), polyester pack cloth, and Cordura (military-grade Nylon). Avoid leather and cotton canvas backpacks, as these products are more likely to rot over time and are less practical for outdoor activities. Additionally, look for hiking backpacks with padded strapping to reduce stress on your back. Compression straps and PALS webbing configurations are more comfortable than traditional shoulder strap designs and better suited for hiking, camping, and climbing.

Stitching is another important aspect of backpack construction, as poor stitching can cause the product to degrade faster. First, determine the thread material of the stitching. Kevlar is the strongest and most desirable material, although any high-quality Nylon works well, too. Furthermore, pay attention to the stitch pattern, as double stitching with zig-zag and double boxed-X patterns are far superior to single stitch lines. Non-hiking backpacks don’t require complex stitch patterns but benefit from high-quality Nylon thread material.

Design: Storage Space & Accessibility

The design of a backpack is also essential when determining the quality of the product, specifically relating to storage space and accessibility. When it comes to storage space, more is always better. Having a backpack with multiple areas to stash gear, tools, and other important items allows for superior functionality when engaging in outdoor activities. Plus, it helps keep you organized when out and about, increasing your experience overall. Exterior mesh pockets are excellent for storing water bottles and other easy-to-reach essentials. If you’re looking for a daily backpack for work or school, find ones with laptop sleeves and additional electronic-safe pockets.

Next, let’s discuss backpack accessibility. Basically, a backpack that’s frustrating to remove, open, and search is not of high quality. But which backpack design is best for accessibility? Top-access? Clamshell? Draw-bridge? The answer is subjective—if you prefer a top-access bag, stick with that design when shopping for a new product. Feel free to test out different configurations before purchasing to find the style that works best for your needs.

Wear: Comfort & Performance

After wearing your backpack all day, the last thing you want is a sore and achy back. However, manylow-quality bags put loads of extra stress on your body and reduce how well you perform while doing outdoor activities. Conversely, high-quality backpacks often feature specific designs and materials to help lessen the impact on your shoulders and spine. These features are incredibly important when shopping for hiking backpacks, as you don’t want a product that wears you down quickly.

Look for bags with adjustable and compression strapping if you want to remain comfortable for long periods of time. Furthermore, seek out backpacks made from materials that are light and breathable to prevent overheating and excessive sweating. Breathable packs help mitigate exhaustion and skin irritation caused by moisture.

Modularity: Function & Execution

We’ve mentioned a few times in this guide that not all backpacks serve the same function—some are suitable for hiking, while others work best for carrying books. It’s important to find a product capable of meeting your specific needs and executing its function while in action. Additionally, bags that you can configure to fulfill different roles (such as hunting, camping, survival, and more) are highly modular and even more valuable. In fact, modularity is a clear indication of a quality backpack, especially if you’re shopping for outdoor gear.

Fashion: Style Trends

Functionality, construction, performance, and design aren’t the only determinants of a quality backpack—don’t forget fashionability! There are many products available to you that work well for outdoor activities, but you don’t need to sacrifice your aesthetic and style.

But which backpack trends are popular right now? Surprisingly, micro bags are extremely stylish today, including a continued rise in popularity with cross-body and fanny packs. If you require something with suitable storage options, the trendiest styles include polyester ripstop fabric materials, unique and colorful patterns, and functional features, such as hooks and hangers.

Brand: Reputation & Reviews

Brand reputation isn’t always the clearest indicator of a quality product, but it does help you narrow down your purchase. For instance, shopping from top outdoor backpack brands with many years of experience ensures that their backpacks are more likely to perform well and feature quality designs.

Brands such as the North Face and Arc’teryx manufacture and sell highly-functional and durable products. Additionally, Patagonia and Fjallraven produce popular and trendy bags that work well for many different situations. Consider browsing top backpack brands when shopping for a new bag to find the very best products. Furthermore, read customer reviews and view real-life photos of the products to get a better idea of the quality. Usually, products with many four- or five-star reviews are well worth the investment.

Follow this guide to better determine the factors that indicate a backpack’s quality. These tips apply to both online and in-person shopping and ensure you won’t waste money on a poor product. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for quality outdoor wear, bags, accessories, and more, check out our selection of items here at Escape Outdoors! We have all the essential products you need to enjoy nature all year round. Discover top brands and unique pack designs that suit any outdoor activity, from hiking to training and more.

6 Factors That Determine a Backpack’s Quality

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