Sustainable foam-core

Backpack Padding Foam: Common Types and How to Choose

Backpack Padding Foam: Common Types and How to Choose
Backpack Padding Foam: Common Types and How to Choose

If your brand is in the process of designing backpacks, either as merchandise or for employees to wear when working in the field, there are several key issues to consider. Before thinking about the sizes or color schemes, however, you must first pay attention to the topic of backpack padding foam,

It is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the entire backpack design but could make all the difference to the comfort, durability, and value that the humble backpack brings. This quick guide will provide the insight needed to guide your decisions, covering all of the following issues.

By the end of this post, you will be ready to make calculated decisions about the right backpack padding foam for your project.

What is Backpack Padding Foam?

The humble backpack is primarily divided into two main categories, which is why you must first make a decision between a simple frameless backsack or a framed knapsack that includes either an internal or external support system. Either way, the backpack padding foam will be one of the most significant features by far.

Backpack padding foam is essentially the padding found on the shoulder straps and the back panel of the bag. In other words, the material used for the parts of the product that actively come into contact with your back and shoulders. 

Therefore, the choice of backpack padding foam is crucial for many reasons. It will influence a range of key attributes that determine whether the bag is a useful product, such as;

  • The comfort of the bag against your skin,
  • How well the backpack supports even weight distribution,
  • How well the backpack padding foam creates breathability.
  • The bag’s manufacturing costs.

The industry is worth over $16 billion in the US alone while millions of people use a rucksack daily. Backpack padding foam has a big impact on a user’s satisfaction with the product, especially when they wear them for long periods. And when you keep your customers or employees happy during their commutes or daily activities, it will bring a wealth of rewards for your organization too.
Backpack padding foam can give the product a far more luxurious vibe and even protect the bag against issues like moisture damage.


Common Types of Foams for Backpack Padding

When considering backpack padding foams, the first step to narrowing your search is to consider the difference between open-cell and closed-cell foams. You should not make any decision before confirming whether the fabric foam is an open or closed cell.

Open cell fabric foam structures are, unsurprisingly, made with cells that are purposely left open. They are often seen in self-inflating mattresses, such as those used for camping. They are primarily known for their softness and breathability. This is because the interconnected air chambers allow air to be compressed. Therefore, they offer a comfortable touch but are prone to becoming misshapen or unable to effectively manage the weight of a full backpack. Still, it can be suitable for lighter loads.

Conversely, closed cell fabric foam (also known as Ensolite) uses closed air chambers that are not connected to one another. In addition to resisting compression even when the backpack carries a heavy load, the materials do not encounter the same level of water damage. 

When designing a backpack and looking at different padding options, some of the most common fabric foam choices are; 

  • Ethylene-vinyl acetate foam (EVA) – a closed cell foam fabric.
  • Polyethylene foam (PE) – a closed cell foam fabric.
  • Polyurethane foam (PU) – an open cell foam fabric.
  • Styrene Butadiene Rubber (CR) -usually closed cell foam fabrics.

All main backpack padding foam options have pros and cons. When entering the material selection process, it is important to feel the materials as well as see them. This gives you a chance to check the compression and quickly tell whether it will have the properties required to achieve your desired results.

Learn more about the Closed Cell Foam Pads


How to Choose the Backpack Padding Foam

Understanding the different backpack padding foam options should allow you to make a calculated decision concerning what you want from the product. Before committing to a decision, though, you must ask several key questions to determine the best solution for your requirements. The following checklist will help;

  • Who is the backpack aimed at and which foam solution is right for them?
  • Where is the backpack most likely to be worn and for how long?
  • How much will the material cost and how will that be reflected in the product price?
  • What is the availability of the intended backpack padding foam material?

A backpack that is used by a schoolchild, for example, will have contrasting attributes than one used by a trekking enthusiast who likes to explore the great outdoors. Whether you intend to sell the product or distribute them to your workforce, though, the right choice of backpack padding foam will significantly enhance the product.
Of course, it is especially important when you have a large run. However, even companies that only plan to manufacture a few dozen backpacks should take note.

ARIAPRENE® Backpack Padding Foam

In addition to the fabric foam solutions mentioned above, all of which have been utilized for some time, backpack manufacturers may now also choose ARIAPRENE® backpack padding foam. It is a type of TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) material. The AP TERRA collection is GRS (Global Recycle Standard) certified foam fabric.
ARIAPRENE® is used in a growing list of applications, particularly with footwear, backpack, functional accessories and apparel. It is characterized by;

  • Being made as a high stretch, low heat-shrinkage, and toxic free manufacturing.
  • Offering a thickness level of 2.0-8.0mm and 5 hardness options of 8C, 12C, 18C, 25C and 30C.
  • Enabling manufacturers to layer the material to resist water by the close cell foam construction..
  • Being made available in various colors and punch design options.

ARIAPRENE® is known to provide the durability and weight loading capabilities of other closed cell foam fabric solutions while still feeling soft to touch, especially when layered. Closed cell rolls have been manufactured and improved over the years with water-based lamination technologies developed by experts at Tiong Liong Industrial Co. in Taichung, Taiwan. 
The ARIAPRENE® closed cell foam material for backpack padding foam often focuses on the AP REV foam-core fabric, which additionally features 100+ surface and backing fabrics as well as over 100 perforation punch designs. Of course the AP TERRA can benefit additional in backpack sustainability and eco-friendly story.

Why choose ARIAPRENE® for Backpack Padding Foam?

A growing number of top backpack manufacturers, including Tortuga, Millet and Porter Yoshida are now choosing ARIAPRENE® as their backpack padding foam solution, not least because it is suitable for the back of the product as well as the straps. The TPE material delivers a range of benefits for the user as well as the organization that has selected the material. 
Some of the telling advantages offered by ARIAPRENE® backpack padding foam include but are not limited to;

  • The material is certified as hypoallergenic, which means it can be universally used without fear of causing user skin irritations,
  • Its non-toxic attributes create an environmentally-friendly product that is further supported by the fact that all waste material is recyclable.
  • As well as providing ultra comfort and light weight distribution for the bag.
  • ARIAPRENE® supports a range of customization options like color choices and fabric textural changes to provide flexibility within the design process.
Millet Backpack NEO 20 ARS - navy blue
Millet Backpack NEO 20 ARS – navy blue

Despite its strength, the fabric foam is also very lightweight. This ensures that the product can be worn for several hours without compromising on comfort. It is a particularly important feature for commuters and trekkers alike. 

ARIAPRENE® is additionally a great option from a manufacturing perspective because it offers direct manufacturing opportunities for quicker lead times and product turnarounds. Whether your organization or brand wishes to prioritize aesthetics, comfort, function, or durability, the closed cell foam rolls (that also feature some of the best attributes of open cell padding foam) are the perfect choice time and time again.

It provides a premium solution without costing a fortune. Ultimately, this leads to happy users – whether employees or customers – which can only keep you satisfied too.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backpack Padding Foam

Does the choice of backpack padding foam really matter? 

Absolutely. Aside from influencing the aesthetic of the backpack to provide a more distinct design, it has a telling impact on the user’s comfort because the back panel and straps are the aspects that are responsible for managing weight distribution. 

What makes the right choice of backpack padding foam?

The right material choice will ultimately suit the company’s backpack while producing a final product that matches the price point (budget v premium) of the brand. Comfort and durability are key features that help determine whether you’ve made the right choice.

Can ARIAPRENE® be used for all backpack styles?

Yes. Whether it’s a framed or frameless backpack, the ARIAPRENE® padding foam offers the benefits of closed cell foam while still offering some of the key features often associated with open cell counterparts. For back panels and shoulder straps, it is an ideal solution. More applications can be found here.


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