From the Founder: Fabric Selection for the Knack Pack

Recently, I shared the inspiration behind Knack as a company and the post got a lot of great comments from Knackpackers.  A few people asked me about the work that went into developing our products and I thought it may be interesting to talk about all the effort the Knack design team put into selecting and creating the materials in the Knack Pack.


Two Years of Research & Testing

When we started to develop Knack back in the Fall of 2016, we knew we wanted a body fabric that looked at home in a work setting (not on a hiking trail) and could stand up to both daily commuting and travel.  We looked at hundreds of different fabrics from fabric mills across the world. When we narrowed down these options to a handful we liked, we then ran them through a bunch of sewing and quality tests. We tested strength, water resistance, and hand feel (how the fabric feels when you touch it) – just to name a few.  

We soon figured out that the fabric we wanted for our Knack Backpacks didn’t really exist. Our tests eliminated almost all of our fabric choices! So we began to work with one fabric mill to combine attributes we liked from certain fabrics with attributes we liked in other fabrics, and we created our own fabric.

Knack employees at the shipping warehouse in Rhode Island

The Final Fabric Selection

We used a total of 4 main fabrics in the Knack Pack.  An exterior body fabric inspired by suiting, an interior printed lining fabric, fabric for the mesh pockets, and neoprene for the back panel.

  • Body Fabric:  We use a specially treated 1200 denier two-tone polyester fabric, because it gives us the right mix of looks, hand feel, strength and is also lightweight.  (“Denier” refers to the thickness of the yarn in the fabric. The larger the number, the thicker the yarn. A high denier doesn't necessarily make a fabric better or worse, the type of fiber and the type of weave plays a large role. However, in general, the higher the denier, the thicker and more durable a fabric tends to be.)
  • Lining Fabric:  Our lining had to be stain-resistant, strong and lightweight.  It also had to do a great job with our Knack logo print. We ended up using a 150 denier nylon lining that ticked all these boxes.  This print also makes it easier to find items inside your Knack.
  • Mesh Fabric (Pockets):  We wanted a mesh that was strong, lightweight, didn’t snag and you could see through.  We looked at an insane number of samples, and finally settled on our current nylon mesh.
  • Neoprene:  The neoprene fabric on the back panel is meant to provide comfort, stretchiness and durability – as well as facilitate air flow, so Knackpackers don’t get sweaty carrying around their Knack Pack.

Expandable Laptop Backpack - Full View

What Differentiates These Fabrics from Other Types Used in Backpacks and Luggage?

All of the fabrics used in our Knack Pack are high quality because they perform. We put every fabric we use through a bunch of tests to help understand how they will hold up in real life.  We tear, puncture, abrade and heat our fabrics while also testing them for water-resistance, color-fastness, staining, fading, dye transfer, etc.  

The difference between our approach to fabrics versus some other companies’ approach is that we don’t compromise on looks, performance or quality.  

Group of Knackpackers hanging out with their laptop bags

Picking Colors

Finally, one of the most important characteristics of a fabric is its color, and the durability of that color over time.  

To pick colors for the Knack Pack we consulted a Magic Eight Ball – kidding!  Actually, we showed color swatches that we liked to friends and family, as well as to other potential customers, and we picked the ones that most people liked.

Do you have a color you’d like to see the Knack Pack in?  Reach out to me on Twitter, I spend part of every day reviewing Knackpacker feedback.

Fabrics of the Future

The design and development process is never over, and we’re currently working with our fabric mill to create an even better fabric.  Fellow Knackpackers are discerning people who truly understand quality, and we’re continually upping our game to exceed their expectations.

What questions do you have about the design of the Knack Pack?  Let us know
in the comments!


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