In this glossary you’ll find technical descriptions about accessories, fabrics, construction methods, and anything else you could want to know about backpacks and textiles! We update this glossary as soon as there is a new technical term that appears in one of our product descriptions, but if you have any questions at all, please contact us! It’s always our pleasure to talk about bags with people.
The abbreviation PES stands for Polyester. It is the most widely-used synthetic textile fibre in the world: more than 70% of synthetic textile fibres on the market are Polyester! It can be mixed with cotton or wool to make a blended fabric. The photo below is an example of 600D Polyester.
Polyamide is also used to create synthetic textile fibres. It is very crease-resistant, and also very resistant to tears, even when wet. One thing to consider however, is that it is quite sensitive to heat, which is something that could permanently deform the fabric. No iron-on patches for a Polyamide fabric okay guys? In the photo below is an example of a 1680D Polyamide.
Nylon is a textile fibre that comes from the Polyamide family. It was invented in 1935 by the Dupont company (the same creator of KevlarⓇ). Its elastic properties and high resistance make it one of the most highly used synthetic textiles out there!
This fabric is made exclusively for Mission Workshop. It contains 500D nylon fibres woven at high tenacity and permeated with polyurethane. This treatment gives it very strong resistance to abrasion and to water while staying light and flexible.
CorduraⓇ is the result of a technology applied to a textile fibre (generally made of nylon), which was created in the 1930s by the Dupont company. In the beginning, CorduraⓇ was used for military clothing. Its resistance to abrasion is up to 3 times greater than standard nylon; this makes it a very useful material for areas that are subjected to regular friction, such as the bottom of a backpack. In the photo below is an example of a 1000D CorduraⓇ.
Hypalon® is a textile fibre created by the Dupont company during the 1950s. It is known for its high resistance to abrasion, extreme temperatures, ultraviolet light and chemical compounds. It is a material used in the construction of several inflatable boat models, like the Zodiac.
Dyneema®is a high-density polyethylene: its resistance to cuts, abrasions and ultraviolet light is one of the best available. Notably, it is used in the fabrication of anti-ballistic elements for military vehicles, helmets, bullet-proof vests and cut-resistant gloves. Due to its high molecular mass, this material is fairly rigid.
The X-PAC™ fabric is a laminate textile, used originally to make sails for sailboats. It was developed by the German company Dimension-Polyant. It is waterproof, very tear-resistant and very lightweight.
Cotton is a natural fibre that is generally spun into a thread and then woven in order to create a fabric. It is the most widely produced natural fibre in the world, most notable in India and China. The main criterion for cotton quality is the length of the fibre (this can vary between 1 and 4 centimetres) The longer the cotton fibres are, the thinner they are, and so are easier to transform into a thread.
Waxed cotton is a cotton fabric permeated with paraffin wax or natural beeswax, either during the weaving process or afterwards on the finished fabric. Since the middle of the 19th century, it is widely appreciated for its water resistance and durability, especially in England and Scotland.
Vinylon F is a synthetic fabric created by the Swedish brand Fjällräven. When the Vinylon F fibres become wet, they expand which makes the fabric weave tighter. Because of this, they are resistant to rain and showers, without any additional water-proof coating. Care instructions.
The Dyecoshell fabric was specially developed by the German brand Heimplanet. Their mantra is “Buy less, but better”. It’s for this reason that they wanted to develop this sustainable and durable eco-conscious fabric. Dyecoshell is made up of a structure of Nylon and polypropylene threads which are dyed directly when the fibres are spun. As such, the colour won’t fade over time. This process greatly reduces the amount of water, energy and chemical products used during production, as well as reducing CO2 emissions. This fabric also has excellent abrasion resistance.
Mesh fabric is made up of different-sized synthetic threads woven together in the form of a net-like grid. It allows for air to pass freely through the holes and is quite a flexible material, even when combined with foam padding. This fabric is very often used in the parts of bags that touch the body, such as the back or the straps of a bag.
D like Denier
When we say that fabric is 900D, it means that it is made up of threads of 900 deniers. A denier is a unit of measurement of linear mass density. Effectively, a 1 denier thread is a 9000 meter thread that weighs one gram: 1 denier = 1g / 9000m. What is important to remember, is that while deniers are not the only criteria for high quality, they do provide an interesting indicator: the higher the number of deniers, the higher the resistance to abrasions. For example, a fabric like a liner (used on the inside of a bag) would generally be less than 600D. The most resistant polyesters will have a linear mass density between 900D and 1680D.
However, the higher the Deniers, the heavier the fabric. It’s for this reason that polyester can sometimes be replaced with polyamides or Cordura®, which are fabrics that have a higher resistance to abrasions. For example, a 600D Polyamide fabric could be used to replace a 1680D polyester fabric, which would make the bag lighter, while providing similar levels of abrasion resistance.
Ripstop fabric is like an anti-tear fabric, or rather a fabric that ‘stops’ tears from getting bigger. That is to say that the ‘architecture’ of a ripstop fabric is designed with reinforcing threads in a square or hexagonal-shaped grid, which allows it to stop tears from getting bigger. One of the benefits of using a ripstop fabric is its weight: at equal resistance levels, a ripstop fabric will be lighter than a standard fabric without this strengthening ‘architecture’. Ripstop fabrics can be made of polyester and/or polyamide.
TREATMENTS AND PROCESSES
Polyurethane is a polymer (plastic), often used as a coating on other fabrics (like polyester for example), because of its elasticity and resistance to water. It makes the fabrics on which it is applied waterproof.
DWR stands for “Durable Water Repellent”. It refers to a water repellent treatment that is applied to the outside layer of fabric. The DWR polymer penetrates the fabric fibres and lowers the surface tension of the material; this way water will form ‘droplets’ on the fabric instead of being absorbed. This treatment isn’t permanent, but it is easily re-applied at any moment if needed.
High Frequency (HF) welding can be used instead of stitching to connect two layers of plastic. A high-frequency electric current (generally 27.12 MHz) will literally melt the two layers together. This technique allows you to join two pieces together, while at the same time conserving their waterproofness (unlike stitching which creates holes in the fabric and thus allows water to pass).
A Bartak stitch is a zigzag-shaped stitch that, because of its shape, has better resistance to stress than a straight stitch. This type of stitch is often used in the most sensitive areas such as the straps or accessory attachment points, and also sometimes to reinforce the stitching of certain zips.
YKK and Duraflex
The two most renowned accessory producers are YKK and Duraflex, based respectively in Japan and China. For many years, their technical innovations have allowed many bag brands to improve the quality of their products. As such, the fact that your bag has buckles, adjustment straps, clips or even zippers by YKK or Duraflex is a sign of quality and durability.
The humble zipper was invented at the end of the 19th century by a group of American engineers. Today, there are more than a hundred different models which vary based on their size (#3, #4, #5, #8, #10), their material (plastic, metal, nylon), and also whether or not they are waterproof.
Binding is a strap folded in half that serves to protect certain seams and to conceal the assembly of two fabrics. The presence of binding on a backpack is often the guarantee of a certain quality: it protects the seams as well as the fabric against wear and contributes to the rigidity of the bag.
Piping is simply a plastic tube that is placed between two pieces of fabric in order to reinforce the construction of the bag. It protects from daily wear and tear, as well as making the structure more rigid.
The name M.O.L.L.E. is an acronym that stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Bullet-proof vests and tactical bags designed for the Army are often covered in this horizontal webbing with vertical stitching in a grid-like pattern. There are a lot of M.O.L.L.E. compatible accessories that exist such as pouches and holsters that can then be attached securely to this webbing grid. The main advantage of this system is its modularity: the user can completely customize the setup and choose what equipment is to be carried on the backpack.
A roll-top closure is a waterproof way of accessing your gear. As the name suggests, one just needs to roll the top of the bag in order to close it, and as such water cannot get inside.