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How to Sew A Backpack with Cordura or Kodra Material

How to Sew A Backpack with Cordura or Kodra Material

How to Sew A Backpack with Cordura or Kodra Material

TuffSew here, your heavy duty sewing machine manufacturer! So you want to learn how to sew a backpack? Maybe you just want to learn more about Cordura materials? If yes, you found the right article.

The first backpacks of our time were made of “cotton canvas” material waterproofed with wax coating. The problem with this was the material combination was very heavy. Also, the waterproofing was inadequate. 

One of the reasons backpacks were made of cotton canvas was the fact that they were very inexpensive to produce. 

This low cost to build quickly translated poor quality and low durability.

Today, if you are looking to manufacture a quality backpack…you’ll want to use Cordura or Kodra fabric. These fabrics have a rough fuzzy texture and used in all high quality backpacks. Compared to normal canvas, the Cordura is very lightweight and abrasion resistant. 

Compared to cotton canvas, polyurethane coated Cordura or Kodra is waterproof. You could use a nylon weave, but they are much heavier and not sought after as much in the backpack industry.

When looking for a superior strong, resistant to tearing and durable backpack, you should definitely consider military tactical backpacks. they can be made of both: Cordura or Kodra fabric.

Other advantages with Cordura is resistance to tearing and scruffing. Intense backpackers travel next to trees, brush, and rocks. They appreciate the durability of the waterproof travel backpack Cordura fabric and will spend extra money on a quality made backpack that will last them several years.

In terms of lifetime usage, overtime the polyurethane coating will eventually wear down. This is due to sunlight, exposure to water/salt water, chemicals used in cleaning, and storing the backpack in a damp area. 

Advise your customers to completely dry off the backpack before storing it. There are several quality levels of Cordura, so do your homework and find one that may be guaranteed of the weardown of it’s coating.

Now that you’ve selected Cordura or Kodra to be your material for your backpacks…..what sewing machine should you use to stitch it up?

Here are 5 tips for sewing cordura: 

1) Look into a built-in walking foot sewing machine. 

Our TuffSew Straight Stitch and TuffSew ZigZag are heavy duty, semi-industrial type sewing machines. Using a sewing machine with a built in walking foot is best because the walking foot is motorized and pulls the fabric through the sewing process from the top of the fabric. In conjunction, the gripped style feed dogs in a walking foot sewing machine pull the fabric from the bottom of the material. This top/bottom pull action gives you ultimate feeding ability when you sew Cordura or heavier type materials.  With a built-in walking foot sewing machine, you can sew many layers up to 1/4″-5/16″ thickness.  Here is a picture of this portable walking foot sewing machine and a true built in walking foot (the top portion):

For best results, do not use a standard household sewing machine when sewing layers of Cordura for backpacks. These sewing machines use a walking foot attachment.  Below is an picture of a walking foot attachment. This is what you DON’T want to use if you are sewing Cordura or Kodra fabrics. You won’t be able to sew more than 1 or 2 layers.

2) Make sure and increase your stitch length to the maximum while you are sewing.

 Some walking foot machines have a 5mm stitch length, others might have a 5.5mm or 6mm stitch length.

3) Use the largest size needle available. 

With most walking foot sewing machines, you can use up to size 21 needle.

4) Ask for a “slow” type foot pedal (some call it a carbon-elemented foot pedal). 

This will be a big advantage when sewing layers of Cordura. Take your time for best results.

5) Use a heavier type thread. 

Another great reason for using a walking foot sewing machine. Standard sewing machines can’t handle nylon bonded size 69 thread…but a true walking foot sewing machine can.

Lastly, if you want to learn why an industrial portable walking foot machine has advantages over a standard sewing machine…see this video: 

Also, here is a video on the belt pulley system advantages these walking foot machines have:

If you have any further questions regarding heavy duty sewing… email us at

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