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Waterproof Sailcloth

Boat sails take a lot of abuse.

Sails withstand heavy wind and repel battering rain. Yet they still look attractive enough to be photographed on a a sunset cruise.

Sailcloth is high-performance stuff. While it might be an unconventional choice for a travel backpack, we’re not concerned with normal. We’re concerned with quality.

The Outbreaker and Homebase collections are made from durable, waterproof sailcloth technology adapted for travel. Because travel backpacks, daypacks, and duffles take a lot of abuse, too.

The Problem with Traditional Fabrics

A typical backpack’s fabric is pretty simple. Thread is woven together in two directions (weft and warp).

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No matter how tightly you weave a fabric, however, there will always be holes between the threads that let water pass through. If water can pass through, you can't count on keeping your stuff dry in the rain.

Other backpack makers spray or glue a water-resistant coating to the back of their fabrics. These coatings are effective in the short term but eventually wear off when exposed to the elements.

A travel backpack should be your trusted companion for years to come. You shouldn't have to buy a new bag just because the spray-on waterproofing flaked off.

Traditional fabrics can also have durability issues. Even ripstop nylon, a common backpack fabric, develops holes. Once those holes start, they’ll keep growing. If your backpack tears at the seams when you're on the other side of the world, that’s a problem.

Why Did We Turn to Boats for a Backpack’s Fabric?

To find the waterproofness and durability we wanted, we had to look outside traditional backpack fabrics. We found our answer in sailcloth technology.

Sailcloth is more waterproof than traditional choices because it has four layers of protection. An ultrathin layer of PET acts as a waterproof barrier because it is a film, not a woven fabric. Sailcloth is also more durable than traditional materials, with abrasion resistance and fray prevention built into the fabric. It offers the best strength to weight ratio on the market. 

Like any material, there are distinct differences between types of sailcloth. Since the Outbreaker and Homebase collections cater to different types of travelers who have different priorities for their luggage, we chose different varieties of sailcloth for each collection. 

X-Ply Waterproof Sailcloth: Outbreaker's Fabric 

Outbreaker's X-Ply sailcloth is made of four layers for durability and weather resistance. The layers are (from outer to inner):

Each layer serves a unique purpose to improve the durability and longevity of your travel backpack.

(Almost) Complete Waterproofing

Your travel backpack will withstand tomorrow’s rainstorm and still be just as resistant years down the line. The Outbreaker Backpack has both a waterproof coating (on the inside of the outermost layer) and a fully waterproof layer.

Tough, Even Under Stress

Under high tension, traditional fabrics will fray or rip at the seams. The Outbreaker Collection's PET film prevents its seams from ever coming apart.

Easy Packing and Unpacking

Your bag will hold its shape without feeling overly stiff thanks to the PET film. A more structured bag makes packing and unpacking easier.

Stays in Shape

The “X-Ply” and PET film make the bags incredibly strong. Because of the rigidity, the Outbreaker Backpack will not stretch or distort over time like bags made with other fabrics.

Protected from the Elements

Rain isn’t the only weather to consider. Sailcloth’s UV protection means that it will last longer than other fabrics when exposed to the sun. As a bonus, it's also mold resistant, so it won’t get gross even if you’re traveling in humid conditions.

Sailcloth technology isn't the only great thing about the Outbreaker Backpack. Learn more about what makes the Outbreaker the ultimate travel backpack


LiteSkin Waterproof Sailcloth: Homebase's Fabric

Weight was a huge priority in developing the Homebase collection. Reducing weight means making a smaller bag with fewer zippers and a simpler suspension system. We also needed a different material that would be light but still durable.

Our material supplier’s latest project, LiteSkin (LS), was the perfect solution. The LiteSkin line is extremely abrasion resistant and has a different look than X-Ply sailcloth. It has a great mix of weight and “stiffness" for easy packing.

Our version of LiteSkin is a laminate that combines a layer of nonwoven material (the LiteSkin) with a traditional woven fabric (210D nylon). The backing is treated with a DWR coating for added durability and weather resistance.

We placed the second ever order of LiteSkin, so you’ll be among the first people to ever see or own it. Laminates are the cutting edge of the present and will be far more common in the future. We’re proud to bring them to you first.

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