Dyneema®/nylon ripstop: the ultimate fabric for making tough, ultralight travel bags

TOM BIHN Synapse backpack in Steel 400d Dyneema/nylonThe Synapse in our new Steel 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop.

When Tom was first introduced to the 200d Dyneema®/nylon ripstop fabric we now use extensively as a lining fabric, he began requesting a beefier version, along the lines of a 400 denier weight. While the 200d weight is a surprisingly tough fabric, Tom also wanted something even more durable, something that would make an outstanding exterior fabric. Tom wanted a fabric that would allow us to make ultralight carry-on luggage, daypacks, and more: a fabric that would offer
significant weight savings yet still have great tear strength and abrasion resistance.

After a few years of encouragement, the mill in Japan relented, and we received samples and began testing this new fabric: 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. Like the 200d Dyneema®/nylon, its great tear strength and surprising abrasion resistance comes from the grid of white Dyneema® yarns woven approximately every .25″ / 6 mm parallel to both the X and Y axes (the weft and warp), forming the distinctive “ripstop” pattern (the Dyneema® yarns don’t accept dye and hence remain their natural white color). The Dyneema® yarns in the new fabric are twice the weight and hence much stronger than the original 200d fabric.

TOM BIHN Synapse backpack
Synapse in our new Nordic 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop.

In both fabrics, the base fabric is nylon (the nylon accepts dye and hence is what you’ll see as the ground color). The nylon yarns in the new fabric are twice the weight as well (420 denier as opposed to 200 denier) and will offer just that much more durability. Over-all, the new 400 weight fabric is almost 50% heavier than the 200d weight. Additionally, the new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is a plain weave and thus lacks the fancy diamond pattern of the 200d; we feel this makes for a more straightforward, subtle, and visually appealing exterior fabric.

TOM BIHN Tri-Star in 400d Dyneema/nylon
Tri-Star in Steel 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop.

Like our 200d Dyneema®/nylon ripstop fabric, the new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is not a textured fabric: it will slide in and out of the overhead compartment as smoothly as our 1050 ballistic bags, and it won’t collect pet fur and other debris like Cordura® will.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut in 400d Dyneema/nylon ultralight ripstop fabric
Aeronaut in Nordic 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop.

TOM BIHN Aeronaut in Nordic/Steel Dyneema
Aeronaut in Nordic 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. This photo shows the bag empty and flattened.

It must be noted that while our new 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop is a very durable fabric, there is a compromise in choosing it over 1050 ballistic or Cordura® nylon: your bag will be lighter, but it won’t stand up to the all-out abuse these heavier fabrics can handle. You will need to exercise care and not drag or otherwise mistreat a bag made from 400d Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop. It’s a compromise many will feel worthwhile, but it’s a compromise to consider.

Ready to ship in 400d Dyneema/nylon:
Swift (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel)

Shipping soon in 400d Dyneema/nylon:
Synapse (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel) (Ships by mid-November)

Available for pre-order in 400d Dyneema/nylon:
Aeronaut (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel)
Tri-Star (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel)
Western Flyer, Backpack Straps (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel)
Western Flyer, Rolling Luggage Handle Pocket (Steel/Steel)
Co-Pilot (Nordic/Steel and Steel/Steel)

TOM BIHN Swift in 400d Dyneema/nylon, Steel
The Swift in Steel Dyneema®/420d nylon ripstop.