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πŸŽ’ backpack.css

A lightweight and somewhat opinionated CSS foundation that is best suited to applications.

Table of contents



Run the following command using npm:

npm install backpack.css --save-dev

If you prefer Yarn, use this command instead:

yarn add backpack.css --dev



cdnjs coming soon (see here).

How to use

backpack.css is pretty easy to use. The one strict rule is that it must come before your project's CSS to ensure correct ordering of your styles and to be able to override any of backpack.css styles.

With a bundler (e.g., webpack, Parcel, etc.)


import 'backpack.css';
import '[path(s)-to-your-project-css]';


If you're using webpack, then use the tilde (~) prefix at the start of the path, e.g.:

@import '~backpack.css';
@import '[path(s)-to-your-project-css]';

No bundler

Link to backpack.css using a <link> element in your HTML Head, e.g.:

  <link rel="stylesheet" href="" />
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="[path-to-your-project-css]" />


backpack.css is just CSS so you can easily override any of its styles just as you would override any CSS, as in, via the rules of the cascade and specificity.

For example, if you don't want to use the global system font-stack defined by sanitize.css then override it in your project CSS like so:

html {
  font-family: serif;

Bundle size

Bundle size minified Bundle size minified


Nowadays, I'm building React applications that have highly componentised User Interfaces (UI) making use of native CSS layout mechanisms such as Flexbox and Grid. I'm no longer finding the need for heavy-handed CSS frameworks that handle most of my UI concerns, especially layout and utilities. Instead, I build components with a smidgen of global styles.

What I do need, however, are a bunch of smart and sensible foundational styles suited for applications that I would typically forget project to projectβ€”think sanitize.css and then some. Something lightweight, super easy to integrate, and can easily be overridden or allow for modular use, thus giving birth to backpack.css πŸ™‚πŸŽ’.

What it does

  • Apply sensible form element resets, normalisations, and fixes.
  • Apply a system font, including monospace fonts.
  • Apply the more agreeable border-box value for the box-sizing property to all elements.
  • Apply sensible OpenType features (see OpenType features below).
  • Make embeddable elements responsive.
  • Remove margins, paddings, and borders from all elements that come with those styles.
  • Remove markers from lists.
  • Remove all user-agent styles from heading elements and reset them to have the same styles as the body copy.
  • Where applicable, use CSS logical properties and values.

And more…

All of the CSS is very well documented if you want to dig deeper.

OpenType features

As mentioned above, backpack.css applies sensible OpenType features. However, due to the poor support of the font-variant- properties, backpack.css has to declare their equivalents via the better supported, but harder to maintain, font-feature-settings property (the font-feature-settings properties should always come first).

Here are some resources on this:

Browser support

backpack.css uses Browserslist to manage its browser support.

backpack.css does not support IE. To see the Browserslist queries backpack.css uses, see the .browserslistrc file.

Browserslist is used for Autoprefixer. Autoprefixer only adds a tiny amount of vendor prefixes, the main properties being prefixed are:

  • font-feature-settings
  • font-variant-ligatures

This doesn't mean that backpack.css cannot be used in browsers outside of the above Browserslist query, just that compatibility is ensured with the ones within the query.


Please see our Contributing Guidelines.


backpack.css is maintained under the Semantic Versioning guidelines. We'll do our best to adhere to those guidelines and strive to maintain backwards compatibility.

See the Changelog.


And anyone else who's been so kind to share their work out in the open.

❀️ Open source.


The code is available under the MIT license.


A lightweight and somewhat opinionated CSS foundation that is best suited to applications πŸŽ’.





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