Canvas vs. Nylon: Battle of the Travel Bags

Photo of author
Written By Robert

Robert is passionate about traveling, technology, and reading books on his phone.

When it comes to selecting the perfect travel bag, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a bit like choosing a new car – do you go for a rugged SUV or a sleek sports car? But when it comes to travel bags, the choice is even more complicated because there are two main materials to pick from: canvas vs. nylon.

Each material has its pros and cons, and choosing the right one for your travel needs is essential. In this article, we’ll explore the surprising truth about canvas and nylon travel bags, and help you decide which one is right for you.

Canvas Travel Bags

Canvas travel bags are a popular option for travelers who want a classic, stylish look. The material is made from a plain-woven fabric that is durable and easy to clean.

canvas bag, man holding it in front of airport

Advantages of Canvas Travel Bags

Canvas bags earn their reputation for longevity thanks to the sturdy cotton fabric. A well-made canvas duffel or backpack withstands years of adventure while developing a retro patina over time.

The natural material also cleans up easily by wiping away spills or dirt. For travelers who prioritize style and eco-consciousness, few materials compete with trusty canvas.

  • Durable and long-lasting: Canvas is a sturdy material that can withstand wear and tear, making it ideal for travel.
  • Easy to clean: Spills and stains are no match for canvas travel bags, as the material can be easily wiped clean.
  • Stylish: Canvas travel bags have a classic, timeless look that never goes out of style.
  • Eco-friendly: Many canvas travel bags are made from sustainable materials, making them a great choice for eco-conscious travelers.

Disadvantages of Canvas Travel Bags

Canvas has its downsides too! Lugging around a heavy bag defeats the purpose of carefree traveling. Plus, densely woven canvas also takes forever to dry out after getting soaked. The fabric’s porous surface tends to show dirt and stains more visibly unless properly treated.

  • Heavy: Canvas is a heavyweight material, which can make it difficult to carry and pack.
  • Not waterproof: While canvas is water-resistant, it is not completely waterproof, making it a poor choice for wet environments.
  • Takes longer to dry: If a canvas travel bag gets wet, it can take a while to dry out completely.
  • Attracts dirt and stains: The porous nature of canvas means it can easily attract dirt and stains, making it harder to keep clean.
canvas tan bag on bed

When it comes to canvas travel bags, duffel bags are a classic choice that never seem to go out of style. Their timeless and stylish look makes canvas duffel bags a popular pick for travelers wanting both form and function out of their luggage.

For the adventurous souls out there, canvas backpacks also offer that perfect blend of durability, functionality, and retro panache that travelers crave. You’ll often spot canvas backpacks gracing the shoulders of wanderlusters seeking a durable yet vintage-looking bag to accompany them on their exploits.

Lastly, canvas totes present a lightweight and versatile option for quick getaways and carry-on companions. Easy to pack and carry around, canvas totes lend themselves well to day trips or as an extra bag on shorter journeys. Their no-fuss styling also means they work nicely as shopping bags when meandering around foreign marketplaces.

So whether you prefer the vintage vibe of a trusty duffel or backpack, or seek a practical carry-on tote, canvas has you covered when it comes to stylish and durable travel bags. They may develop that worn-in look over time, but that only adds to their rugged charm!

blue tan canvas bag on bench

Canvas: TL;DR

Canvas is a durable material that is great for travelers who want a classic, timeless look. It is easy to clean and has a natural, eco-friendly feel. However, canvas bags can be heavy and are not completely waterproof. In general, canvas is a great option for travelers who value style and durability over weight and water-resistance.

Nylon Travel Bags

If keeping dry is a priority for you, nylon bags have a clear advantage. Synthetic nylon naturally repels moisture, protecting your belongings inside. And it dries lightning-fast – a soaked nylon pack will be ready to wear again in no time. This makes nylon a top choice for adventures in wet environments like jungles or sailing trips.

nylon overnight tourist

Nylon also wins points for being feather-light. An empty nylon backpack feels almost weightless on your shoulders, which is a blessing when you’ve already got 30 pounds of gear stuffed inside. Modern nylon bags can take a beating too – it’s not as fragile as it used to be. Brands like Eagle Creek use thick, ripstop nylon engineered to withstand years of travel.

Advantages of Nylon Travel Bags

  • Lightweight: Nylon is a lightweight material that is easy to pack and carry, making it ideal for travelers who want to travel light.
  • Water-resistant: Unlike canvas, nylon is water-resistant and can protect your belongings in wet environments.
  • Quick-drying: Nylon dries quickly, so if your bag gets wet, it won’t take long to dry out completely.
  • Stain-resistant: Nylon is resistant to stains and dirt, making it a great choice for active travelers.

Disadvantages of Nylon Travel Bags

I’ll admit nylon lacks the visual appeal of canvas, with its technical, artificial look. It also tends to show dirt and stains more noticeably. Additionally, nylon production isn’t great for Mother Earth. But for the ultralight packer who moves fast and wants maximum weather protection, nylon offers compelling benefits.

  • Less stylish: Nylon travel bags don’t have the same classic, timeless look as canvas bags, which may be a downside for some travelers.
  • Not eco-friendly: Nylon is a synthetic material that is not biodegradable, which may be a concern for eco-conscious travelers.
  • Prone to tearing: Nylon can tear easily if it is not made from high-quality materials, which can be a problem for long-term use.
  • Not breathable: Nylon is not a breathable material, so it may cause your belongings to sweat or retain moisture.
Prada nylon duffle bag

Nylon also comes in duffel and backpack formats, catering to adventure travelers who value durability. Rolling suitcases with nylon shells strike a nice balance between protection and maneuverability. I’m also seeing more nylon totes for everyday use, like lightweight foldable grocery bags.

  • Backpacks: Nylon backpacks are a popular choice for travelers who want a lightweight, durable option that can be used for day trips or long hikes.
  • Duffel bags: Nylon duffel bags are a great option for travelers who want a lightweight, easy-to-pack bag for short trips.
  • Rolling luggage: Nylon rolling luggage is a great choice for travelers who want a durable, lightweight bag for longer trips.

Canvas: TL;DR

Nylon travel bags are a great choice for active travelers who want a lightweight, durable bag that can protect their belongings from the elements. Nylon is water-resistant and dries quickly, making it a great choice for wet environments. However, nylon is not as stylish as canvas and is not a breathable material, which may be a downside for some travelers. In general, nylon is a great option for travelers who value functionality and durability over style.

women's parfait travel nylon bag

Canvas vs. Nylon: Pros and Cons

Deciding between canvas and nylon travel bags poses a tricky balancing act. Both offertempting advantages that play to different travel priorities. In this everlasting debateamongst jetsetters, there are no universal truths – merely tradeoffs to weigh.

Canvas exudes a kind of battered elegance, the grace of age and experience mapped onto every scuff and fray. What canvas lacks in featherweight portability, it makes up for in hard-wearing durability that laughs in the face of baggage handlers. A trusty canvas duffel bag evolves beautifully over decades of adventure, becoming an old friend filled with memories. 

Nylon, that futuristic fabric, prioritizes utility over nostalgia. It holds up admirably againstrough-and-tumble abuse, resisting tears more stubbornly than canvas. And nylon’s unquestionable edge lies in its innate water resistance and quick-dry performance. Caught in a tropical storm? Nylon could be your lifeline, keeping valuables high and dry. 

woman holding nylon backpack for travel

Which Material is Better for You?

Alas, between canvas and nylon, there is no universally “right” choice. As travelers, our needs are as diverse as our passports. Choosing the best material comes down to your personal priorities. How long will you travel? What climate will you encounter? How much stuff are you packing?

For some globetrotters, nylon makes perfect sense. For others, it’s canvas all the way. There are no absolute truths when it comes to travel gear! As the saying goes, “To each their own pack.”

  • For short trips: If you’re going on a short trip and want a lightweight, easy-to-pack bag, nylon is a great option.
  • For longer trips: If you’re going on a longer trip and need a durable, long-lasting bag, canvas is a better choice.
  • For wet environments: If you’re traveling in a wet environment, a nylon bag will provide better protection for your belongings.
  • For style-conscious travelers: If you value style and classic design, a canvas bag is the better choice.

Nylon vs. Canvas TL;DR

Choosing between canvas and nylon travel bags comes down to personal preference and travel needs. If you’re going on a short trip and need a lightweight bag, nylon is the better option. However, if you’re going on a longer trip and need a durable, long-lasting bag, canvas is the way to go. Both materials have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

So – canvas, nylon: Which one is right for you?!

At the end of the day, both canvas and nylon make excellent travel companions if chosen wisely. My advice is to reflect on your upcoming trips and how you like to travel. Select the fabric that best suits your intended adventures – whether that takes you to the Sahara or Scandinavia.

And remember, you can always get the best of both worlds! Use a nylon daypack for daily excursions and a rugged canvas duffel for the long haul. The world is your oyster, so get out there and put together your own perfect blend of bags.