The fibers, when processed, are a tan color but can be dyed to virtually any color before being woven into backpacks.
Hemp can be organically grown, is easy to cultivate and process. When woven, the resulting cloth is extremely strong.
Hemp Fibers a Quick Recap
For those who are not familiar with hemp fibers, they come from the inside of cannabis Sativa plants after they have been harvested for their seeds and leaves.
We are talking about the many strains of industrial Sativa that contain less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
These hemp plants contain very high levels of CBD or cannabidiol that can be used for a range of medical purposes and is available here in the U.S. and around the world.
The fibers, when harvested correctly, are tougher than steel, but can easily be woven into an incredibly durable material.
The plant the fibers come from grows from being planted to full maturity in only four months.
Most parts of the world will see only a single harvest yearly. There are some areas where two harvests per year are possible.
The material used to make hemp backpacks is soft and supple and can be used for things like blankets and clothing.
When used to craft a backpack, you end up with a product that is exceptionally durable and won’t stretch out of shape like canvas or nylon. Unlike nylon, hemp does not “rip” if a hole does happen to occur.
When woven properly, hemp fabric is water-resistant, which can come in handy when you get caught out in the rain.
Bear in mind; this doesn’t mean it’s waterproof, only that it takes a fair amount of water to soak through to the inside where your belongings are stored.
Most who prefer a hemp backpack say that the material continues to look as if it hasn’t been used and only looks better with age.
Which, when you consider how fast regular canvas and nylon backpacks begin to look well-used, making it an excellent choice for those who need a backpack that will stand up to significant abuse or long-term use.
What to Look for in a Hemp Backpack
One thing you should keep in mind is that not all hemp cloth is the same. Some of the lesser expensive brands tend to have only a small percentage of natural hemp in them.
The rest could be cotton, nylon, even plastic. With no laws to govern what constitutes hemp cloth and what doesn’t, manufacturers can pretty much use whatever percentage they want.
Look for products that are all hemp or have a very high hemp content.
Processing is another issue to consider, as not all hemp is processed the same way. Some of the lower-priced hemp fabrics are processed using harsh chemicals and may contain heavy metals left from the manufacturing process.
The best hemp material is made using nothing more than warm water and a mechanical weaving loom or depending on where it comes from, a handloom. The best hemp fabrics come from Nepal.
The lining you choose for the inside of your hemp backpack is more a matter of taste than anything else. Some are lined with a second layer of hemp others may feature a cotton or nylon lining.
In many cases, the nylon will have been treated to add more protection from the elements for things you put inside the backpack.
If you are looking for a backpack that is truly environmentally friendly, you should avoid those whose fasteners are manufactured from human-made ingredients. Materials like plastic are highly toxic to the environment from start to finish.
Keep in mind that plastic is a petroleum-based material. On top of this, the process of making plastic involves numerous toxic chemicals.
- Phthalates – a chemical that has been linked to hormone disruption and a cause of reproductive damage to male infants.
- Ethylene – this product is known by the State of California to cause cancer.
- PVC – another chemical known to cause cancer.
- PCBs – again a cancer-causing chemical and one that will leach out of the plastic and into soil and groundwater supplies.
- Many others too numerous to mention.
According to the EPA, 78% of the priority pollutants on their list are included in the process of making plastic.
While metals do have to be mined from the ground, which is also environmentally unsound, the basic process of smelting the ore and then shaping into zippers, buttons, and buckles involves far fewer chemicals.
Moreover, once returned the ground, it will eventually biodegrade. Wood fasteners are also an option but keep in mind, wood is not a sustainable material as millions of trees are cut down each year, and most of them are not replaced.
Hemp is Easy to Clean
Hemp has one more fantastic property; it seems to get better every time you wash it and is machine washable.
Each time you run your hemp backpack through the washing machine, new surfaces of the fibers are revealed, continually giving it that “brand-new” look.
Hemp cloth is very porous; it dries very quickly. You could run your backpack through drier, but its porosity allows it to dry very quickly, so you could hang it on the clothesline or over the shower curtain rail.
Using heat may also discolor the hemp fabric, so let your backpack air dry for the best results.
Hemp is one of the most versatile materials available and has been used to make an incredibly diverse range of products ranging from blankets to clothes and shoes.
Products made from hemp are likely to last far longer than the same products made from most other fabrics. A hemp backpack will provide you with years of reliable service, providing you take care of it.