Base Weight, often referenced by backpackers, typically means the weight of everything on a hike not including the human, food, or water. Sometimes people reference base weight specifically relating to pack weight, in which case it would not include anything worn on a hiker, only the weight of their backpack plus its contents (excluding food and water).
BLUESIGN, is a system of solutions for materials industry brands with which companies can increase their sustainability performance. The stringent approval criteria can be achieved by using specifically developed auxiliary materials and chemicals, and with the support of BLUESIGN guidelines. As an independent authority, BLUESIGN checks the progress of participating companies and ensures ongoing continued development of the criteria and solutions.
Bonded Thread is used in most medium/heavy weight backpack applications and has a resin coating to increase tensile strength.
CA Proposition 65 is California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement act of 1986. It addresses exposure to toxic chemicals. This law requires businesses to provide warnings to California consumers about exposures to chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. There are over 850 chemicals registered under Proposition 65 and they are updated yearly.
Clamshell, in relation to outdoor gear and travel bags, references a main storage compartment, that takes up the majority of the bag’s volume. This compartment opens from the side, and splits the bag in half when opened completely.
Compression Straps are fixed adjustable straps, typically webbing, which usually run along the sides of a backpack and allow the user to cinch down the load. When cinched down compression straps work by pulling the load of the pack closer to the wearer’s center of gravity.
Cordura is a popular, industry leading fabric manufacturer. They make numerous different types of fabric for various outdoor, fashion and other practical uses. Many outdoor gear enthusiasts use “Cordura” to refer to any 1000D nylon, or more specifically Cordura’s 1000D nylon. Cordura nylon is used in the constructions of many Matador products, and is an industry standard for quality in manufacturing.
Daisy Chain is typically used to refer to a strip of webbing with incremental bartacks, which create individual loops that a user can tether items to, often with a carabiner.
Denier is a measure of the weight of the yarns that comprise the fabric. The higher the denier the heavier and typically burlier the fabric. The lower the denier the lighter and typically more delicate the fabric. Classic, heavy duty 90’s packs were often made of 1000D fabric. 400D-600D is a typical backpack weight, probably what your school backpack was made out of growing up. Ultralight backpacking packs often range from 100D-210D. 70D and below are often tent or jacket weight fabrics. Fabric weight is sometimes used in place of denier on spec sheets. Fabric weight is often quoted in oz/yd2. For reference, 1000D nylon is often around 11oz/yd2, 400D-600D is often about 6-8oz/yd2, 70D is often about 1.9oz/yd2 and 30d is often about 1.1oz/yd2.
Dry-Through™ Technology is Matador’s proprietary TPU coating which passes water vapor, but not liquid water. This allows wet items to dry while inside a bag, without getting items outside the bag wet.
DWR stands for durable water repellant. It is applied to the outer “face” fabric and causes water to bead up and slough off the fabric instead of getting absorbed. DWR is composed of microscopic “hairs” that stand off the fabric and create a hydrophobic effect. This coating will degrade over time with regular use as these hairs become matted down. DWR can be reapplied by the consumer at home, or often partially revived with a quick cycle in the dryer at low heat. It doesn’t do the hard work of waterproofing -- that is the job of the PU, Silicone or WP/B Membrane -- but rather DWR works as a secondary mechanism that can help the face fabric from getting saturated. If your DWR fails, your garment will feel waterlogged, though the primary waterproofing mechanism (if there is one) should still keep liquid water from passing through the fabric.
Historically DWRs were comprised of long-chain (8 carbon molecules) perfluorochemicals (PFCs). The C8 PFC coating was popular until the mid-2000’s and uses the same chemical that makes Teflon non-stick. A lawsuit in 1998 brought to light some of negative side-effects of C8 PFC manufacturing (including birth defects in humans), which led to it eventually being banned from use in 2016. Since then the outdoor industry has switched to C6, and more recently to PFC-free (commonly called C0) DWRs. These C8 DWR replacements aren’t as effective at shedding liquid water, but they aren’t believed to cause birth defects in the same way that C8 DWRs did.
EDC is a commonly used acronym that stands for “Everyday Carry”. This descriptor has been growing in popularity in recent years to refer to items which a user typically carries on them during normal, day-to-day life. EDC products often have a tactical yet professional attitude.
Engineered Webbing is typically nylon, polyester or polypropylene woven into long strips. It is used in many applications throughout many industries. In outdoor gear it is typically used on backpack shoulder straps, carry handles, daisy chains, etc. Engineered webbing is woven to have non-standard properties, typically repeating throughout the entire woven length; some examples are webbing with attached cord loops, webbing that goes from wide to thin, or webbing that is split down the center.
Gear Loops are attachment points on the outside of a backpack. Can be made of fixed webbing, adjustable webbing, static cord, shock cord etc.
Hardgoods are products which are solid, and in the outdoor gear context, usually constructed of plastic or metal.
Hardware in the context of outdoor gear “hardware”, is a catch-all term for the small plastic or metal pieces which are present on an item and are typically used to close pockets, secure webbing, or attach one component to another. Things like buckles, tensioners, snaps, toggles, cord locks and similar items are considered “hardware”.
Harness is often used to refer to the shoulder strap/hip belt system on a framed backpacks.
Hip Belt is a backpack securement system which goes around the user’s waist. There are two types, which aren’t mutually exclusive. The first “light duty” style hip belt is often present on smaller, frameless packs and sometimes consists of just a single piece of webbing. This type is used mainly to control the pack’s momentum and keep the pack close to the wearer. The second “heavy duty” style hip belt it used in conjunction with a back panel frame system and serves to transfer the weight of the pack to the wearer’s hips. This style of hip belt typically has padding for comfort.
Hypalon, now a generic term to refer to a specific type of synthetic rubber (CSPE). Hypalon was originally a Dupont branded product, though it has since been discontinued by the company. Hypalon is a stiff, and extremely tough fabric, which is heat resistant, chemical resistant, and UV resistant.
Internal Frames are functionally designed to transfer the weight of the pack to the hip belt and the user’s hips. Internal frames are completely encapsulated inside a backpack and are usually not visible on the outside of the pack. This type of frame system is the successor to the original “external” frame, which was typically made of aluminum tube and was mounted on the outside of a pack, between the backpack and the harness system.
IP Rating refers to the IP Code, or Ingress Protection Code. IP Codes classify protection from both water and dust. In order to certify an IP rating, a product must be tested under specific parameters to prove that it meets the criteria.
I - Ingress
P - Protection
X - not tested for protection from solid particles (such as dust)
6 - tested up to level 6 for protection from liquids (such as water)
IP Rating definitions:
IPX1: Dripping water. Test lasts 10 minutes. Water volume measures 0.039 inches (1 mm) in rainfall per minute.
IPX2: Dripping water with device tilted at 15° from normal position. Texted in 4 different positions. Water volume equals 0.12 inches (3 mm) per minute.
IPX3: Spraying water. 5 minute spray test of 10 liters per minute.
IPX4: Splashing water from any direction, using an oscillating tube or spray nozzle. 10 minute duration. IPX5: Water jets. Water sprayed for 3 minutes at 4.4 psi (30 kPa), with 12.5 liters per minute.
IPX6: Powerful water jets. Water sprayed for 3 minutes at 15 psi (100 kPa), with 100 liters per minute.
IPX6K: Powerful water jets (increased pressure). Water sprayed for 3 minutes at 150 psi (1000 kPa), with 100 liters per minute.
IPX7: Immersion (1 meter or less). Up to 3 ft 3 in (1 meter). Test lasts 30 minutes, with depth of 39 inches (1000 mm)
IPX8: Immersion (1 meter or deeper). 3 ft 3 in (1 meter) or deeper. Test length and depth specified by manufacturer. Commonly, this test is up to 9.8 ft (3 meters). Actual test depth noted on each device spec sheet.
Leave No Trace is a name and also an abbreviated descriptor of a philosophy which underpins behavioral guidelines regarding human impact in natural environments. Specifically “leave no trace” references an ethic by which a person will make every reasonable effort to minimize their impact on the land and natural habitat in which they recreate.
Load Lifters are included on many larger, framed packs. An additional set of webbing tensioner straps are attached at the top of the shoulder straps, and sometimes at the sides of the hip belt as well. These serve to pull the pack in closer to the user’s body for a more comfortable carry. These straps should be tightened only after the hip belt and shoulder straps are adjusted properly to the user.
MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Loadbearing Equipment. MOLLE is a system used by NATO forces for quickly attaching softgoods to one another using a PALS grid. MOLLE attachment has grown in popularity in the civilian outdoor industry.
Monomesh is short for monofilament mesh. This mesh has a stiff hand feel and does not stretch. As the name implies each “yarn” is actually a single fiber. Matador uses this mesh to add structure to the shoulder straps of packable backpacks.
Nylon is one of the first types of plastic invented by DuPont in the early 1900s. Nylon can be made with slightly differing molecular compositions, which give the fabrics different properties. The most commonly used is Nylon 6; while still stronger than polyester, has a relatively low tear strength. Nylon 6,6 is considered the cream of the crop, with the highest tensile strength of all commonly used nylons.
One Bag Travel is another descriptor that has been growing in popularity recently. “One Bag Travel” is a self-explanatory term meaning for travel (usually on a plane) with only a single piece of luggage. Often the main drive to travel with only one bag is the avoidance of hassle and fees that come along with checking a bag. The One Bag Travel philosophy ties into minimalism, simple living, and multi-use concepts.
PALS is an acronym for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. PALS is the easily identifiable grid which is the primary component of the MOLLE system. A PALS grid is typically constructed with strips of 1” webbing oriented horizontally and spaced 1” apart. The webbing strips have vertical stitching every 1.5” securing them to the backer fabric and also creating vertical slots. A user can attach one item with a PALS grid to another item with a PALS grid by weaving a special toggle back-and-forth between each slot on each item to create a secure attachment.
Paracord is short for “paratrooper cord”. Paracord was originally the string used to connect a parachutist to his/her parachute. It is thin cord, only a few MM in diameter with a core/sheath design. It is also referred to as 550 cord, a reference to its breaking strength of around 550lbs. Paracord has been adopted by the outdoor industry in a number of applications, primarily as a contingency or preparedness product; many folks carry paracord in their emergency kit.
Polyester—Second to nylon, polyester is the most common plastic used to manufacture outdoor fabric. It is weaker and less expensive than nylon, though it has better UV resistance and performs much better than nylon when wet.
Powermesh is a blend of nylon or polyester, and spandex. It’s lightweight, stretchy, and see-through, and is used in many applications from apparel to backpack pockets.
PU or Polyurethane is a spray on coating applied to the backside of the fabric at the mill and is the most popular way to waterproof a fabric. PU coatings are often tacky and have a rubbery feel. These types of coatings can eventually fail by delamination due to excessive exposure to moisture or heat. Most PU coatings weaken the fabric, creating a give-and-take between waterproofing and tear strength.
PU Coated Zippers have an added polyurethane coating on the outside of a zipper that causes liquid water to bead up and slough off instead of getting absorbed into the zipper tape and ultimately making its way into the bag. PU coated zippers are “reverse coil” meaning the hard coil faces inward and isn’t visible when the zipper is closed. PU coated zippers are identifiable by their matte or gloss plastic look.
Ripstop is a type of weave often used in outdoor fabrics which increases the tear strength of a given fabric, but often decreases its waterproofness. A ripstop weave is created by interspersing thicker yarns every so often within the thinner yarns, which can then act as stopping points for tears. A ripstop weave is easily identifiable by its gridded visual appearance.
Recycled Material—Fabric woven from yarns that are made from melted and reprocessed waste of the same type of plastic. These materials can be sourced pre-consumer from the factory level, or post-consumer after the lifecycle of a product. As it applies to the outdoor industry, the most commonly used recycled fibers include rPET, which is a recycled polyester, and recycled nylon.
Robic® is a proprietary formulation of Nylon which has a higher tenacity (resistance to breakage) than normal Nylon 6, but not as high at Nylon 6,6. Robic® fabric means that the yarns which make up the weave are made out of Robic nylon. This gives the fabric a higher tensile strength, but more importantly gives the fabric better tear strength and abrasion resistance than a fabric made of Nylon 6.
Rolltop is a method for closing a backpack, stuff sack, or drybag; which requires the user to pull the top opening taught and then roll it over on itself a number of times before securing. Typically the rolltop is secured with buckles attached to each end of the opening, that prevent the closure from unrolling. Rolltop construction is often used to increase a product’s waterproofness.
Sealed Seams are sewn seams that have a plastic, heat activated tape applied on the inside of each seam. Seam sealing increases a product’s water resistant properties.
Side Release Buckles are frequently used on backpacks to secure hip belts, sternum straps, compression straps and roll-tops. The name of this ubiquitous piece of hardware is an allusion to the mechanism used to operate the buckle. A user squeezes two tabs on either side of the buckle to separate the two ends of the hardware.
Silicone is another spray on coating that is a popular way to make a fabric waterproof. Some fabrics have both PU and Silicone coatings. To tell one from the other, pinch the fabric between your fingers and rub together...a PU coating is often so tacky that the fabric won’t slide as you move your fingers, but will instead stick to itself, a silicone coated fabric will be very slippery and feel almost frictionless.
Silnylon is a silicone treated nylon fabric. Silnylon feels slick and almost oily to the touch. Silicone coatings are typically used on lighter weight fabrics and while they actually increase the tear strength of a fabric, some silnylons are known for “misting” through in heavy downpours.
Snaps refer to a snap button that is either plastic or metal. Plastic snaps are often Camsnaps®, which are a brand name plastic snap that are common in apparel. Metal snaps require more closure force and perform through higher cycle counts—meaning they do not wear out as quickly.
Softgoods are textile products composed primarily of fabric, or are constructed by sewing.
Spacer Mesh is often soft and supple, and any stretch is imparted mechanically, since spacer mesh doesn’t usually contain any spandex. This mesh is often used to give a backpack’s back panel additional padding. Spacer mesh has fibers oriented perpendicular to the yarns of a woven fabric, which give this mesh it’s dimensional properties.
Spandex, Lycra, Elastane are functionally interchangeable terms and are added to yarns to make the resulting fabric stretchy. Lycra is in everything from base layers, to water bottle pockets. In outdoor fabrics, Lycra typically makes up only a small percentage of the fabric composition. As a general rule, the higher the percentage of Lycra in a fabric, the more stretchy the fabric.
Speed Hooks are often used in conjunction with elastic cord. These plastic hooks prioritize quick on/off and don’t have any sort of gate for an affirmative closure; rather, speed hooks rely on tension provided from the elastic cord to remain secure. These are typically used to tether an item to a backpack.
Stash Pocket, also called a “shove-it” pocket, typically refers to an open topped stretchy pocket which prioritizes quick access over security. Great for temporarily storing things like jackets or other layers when not in use.
Sternum Strap is the securement point on a backpack that connects the shoulder straps together across a wearer’s chest. Typically the sternum strap is constructed from webbing and a side squeeze buckle. The sternum strap helps to keep backpack straps in the correct position on the wearer’s shoulders and back.
Submersion in the context of describing outdoor gear is typically used to indicate the highest level of waterproofness, meaning that an item is designed to be waterproof even when forcibly submerged underwater.
Thread is made up of multiple strands of yarn twisted together, and is used to construct the seams on most backpacks, tents, sleeping bags etc. Thread is to a backpack what welds are to a car, or what nails are to a house frame. Being so critical, it is unfortunate that thread quality is not on the radar of most consumers and that thread is one place where manufacturers are quick to cut cost. Most thread used in outdoor equipment is polyester or nylon.
Tear Resistance is the ability of any given material to withstand tearing forces. The tear strength of a fabric is a function of multiple variables including material type, yarn thickness, weave type, coating, etc.
Tenacity/Tensile Strength—Tensile strength,or tenacity,is a material’s ability to resist pulling apart. In real world applications fabric tensile strength and fabric tear strength are similar, with the difference being the direction in which the forces are applied.
Toggle is a hard piece that passes through a soft loop to create a secure connection in a toggle/loop system.
Triglide, also called a three-bar-slider, is a small piece of hardware used to adjust the length of a closed loop of webbing.
UHMWPE or Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene, is a new kind of plastic that has hit the fabric market. These fibers have a strength-to-weight ratio many times greater than steel and are used in the construction of some modern bulletproof vests. Dyneema® and Spectra® are brands that manufacture UHMWPE. DCF—which used to be called Cuben Fiber—stands for Dyneema® Composite Fabric and refers to a specific family of Dyneema® fabrics. DCF is a nonwoven array of Dyneema® yarns arranged at 90 degrees to each other and most often laminated to lightweight plastic film or woven polyester. Among outdoor fabrics DCF fabric has an unprecedented tensile strength to weight ratio. Many companies also make a woven nylon fabric that has a ripstop grid of UHMWPE yarns, which are often white.
UTS Coating is similar to a standard polyurethane coating, except its proprietary blend of silicone and PU doesn’t weaken the fabric and instead actually increased the tear strength. Like PU coatings, UTS coatings also provide waterproofing to the fabrics it is applied to.
Waterproof is a general qualitative term typically meant to indicate that a given product or material will not pass liquid water when used in the application for which it was designed.
Waterproof breathable (WP/B) fabric is another category of outdoor material. Gore-Tex is the most popular brand of WP/B fabric. Unlike the spray on PU or Silicone coatings, WP/B fabrics are typically constructed from a woven fabric laminated to a membrane. The membrane is basically a plastic layer with holes that are large enough for water vapor to pass though, but too small for liquid water to pass though. This fabric is often used in hardshell jackets to allow moisture from perspiration to pass though without letting rainwater in.
Weatherproof is a term typically used to indicate that an end product was designed to withstand rain and splashing
Welded Construction is a method for constructing soft goods, whereby the seams are bonded together instead of sewn. Often used in waterproof applications like inflatable boats, jackets, drybags, etc. There are many types of seam welding techniques including heat welding, chemical (solvent) welding, radio frequency welding, and ultrasonic welding.
Zipper, also known as a zip, fly, or zip fastener, formerly known as a clasp locker, is a commonly used device for binding together two edges of fabric or other flexible material. YKK brand zippers are the industry leader and most commonly used in the outdoor industry. Below are the four most common YKK zipper size designations:
YKK Zipper No. 3: most often used in ultralight jackets
YKK Zipper No. 5: the standard size for use on most jackets, sleeping bags, and backpacking tents.
YKK Zipper No. 8: used on many backpacks and heavier duty car-camping tents
YKK Zipper No. 10: heavy duty applications, sometimes used on more rugged backpacks