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Thread: What's the difference between Cordura and Ballistic Nylon?

  1. #1
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    What's the difference between Cordura and Ballistic Nylon?

    I just really don't know the difference and would like to know. Is there a list of what fabrics come in what type of nylon? Is there a reason for having different kinds?

  2. #2
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    From my Experience, Ballistic nylon is a larger weave fabric, shiny and more smooth than Cordura.
    Linkfest follows:
    Wiki's
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_nylon
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordura
    Manufacturers
    http://www.cordura.com/FAQ.html

    Found this post at (http://www.scubaboard.com/archive/in.../t-18004.html), surprisingly hard to find hard info on this stuff =)
    * What is Ballistic Nylon?

    Originally developed for use in bulletproof vests, genuine American-made 1050 denier nylon is one of the toughest fabrics in the world. While some luggage manufacturers have tried to imitate this fabric, the american-made Allied Signal Fibers Tru-Ballistic 1050 denier fabric meets U.S. Military Specification #MIL-C-12369F-GL. Always know what you are buying!

    * What is the Definition of "Denier" in Ballistic Nylon?

    "Denier" refers to the weight, NOT the strength of an individual fiber that goes into making a fabric. Therefor, a higher denier count does not indicate a stronger fabric, it just means a heavier fabric. Strength and abrasion resistance are achieved through molecular manipulation, or how a fabric is stretched, spun, or woven. These characteristics are measured through tenacity (strength per denier), breaking strength (tenacity x denier) and toughness. Laboratory tests prove that the Tru-Ballistic 1050 denier fabric is the strongest and most durable fabric for its denier weight level.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, thax, for the answers.

  4. #4
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    Also, my experience is that colors are brighter in Ballistic Nylon fabric than in Cordura fabric. Ballistic Nylon is heavier and thicker too.
    eWalker likes this.

  5. #5
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    So far so good.
    There are two significant technical differences between cordura and ballistic nylon. First, ballistic is a "filament" yard, vs cordura which is texturized. This means ballistic nylon yarns are smooth & slick; cordura yarns are slightly fuzzy, actually discontinuous, more like a natural fiber. This gives cordura somewhat higher abrasion resistance, while the ballistic has higher tear strength. However, in both fabrics the tear strength and the abrasion resistance are so much higher than necessary, the end-user will seldom if ever experience any difference between cordura and ballistic. The other technical difference is that ballistic is two-ply weave, which means two 1050 denier yarns are woven as one. This mostly impacts the look of the fabric, not so much it's utility, but it pretty much is what people like about ballistic nylon.
    Some other differences: ballistic is harder to dye, hence many manufacturers use only black (we reject a lot of ballistic nylon because of bad color, streaks, etc.); because cordura has more texture than ballistic, it frays less at the cut edge. With modern coatings on the backsides of the fabrics, this is typically not a problem these days, but it used to be. We finish 100% of any exposed internal seams on all of our bags, ballistic or cordura, so don't sweat that on with a TOM BIHN bag.
    Aesthetically, cordura has a more natural, cotton-canvas sort of feel; ballistic has decidedly synthetic feel and look, more techy for sure.
    Also important to note here is that many of our competitors have switched to 1680 ballistic nylon. The 1680 is woven (as I understand it) from a really big 1680 denier single yarn, rather than two plies of 1050; this large yarn size makes if look like a two-ply fabric. The 1680 is made in asia and is about half the cost of 1050 ballistic, and though it may look very similar when brand new, it ages rather poorly, tending to fuzz out at any wear points. I've seen messenger bags made from 1680 ballistic that look pretty bad after only a few months of use.
    For me, while I appreciate the esthetic of the 1050 ballistic, I prefer 1000 denier cordura. My dream is to replace both fabrics with "ballistic-weave cordura": 1000 denier cordura yarns woven two-ply like ballistic. Sort of the best of both worlds. But it's super hard to find, so I wait . . .
    (Ask me what time it is and I'll tell you how to build a watch.)
    Last edited by Tom Bihn; 05-17-2007 at 11:40 AM.

  6. #6
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    Wow Tom,
    I tried like heck to find out info like that and couldn't find the details of construction and weave that you provided. Is there a web site that outlines this stuff?
    I appreciate the information very much, thanks!

    Thax

  7. #7
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    Wow, I can't believe a post I started warranted a response from the CEO! From what I gathered in these posts, then, the outside flap of my Ego is Ballistic while the inside is the Cordura, I think...

  8. #8
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    Cordura vs Ballistic -- other considerations

    Hi,

    I like the cordura fabric and colors a lot, but I thought I'd weigh in with another reason I might choose ballistic nylon instead -- this has to do with the way ballistic nylon holds its shape. Using ballistic nylon for the style pouches, for instance, is clearly better for maintaining contours that are not flat or rectangular.

    Here are my comments about how this property of the ballistic nylon is used in posts about the Aeronaut and the LUX bag (vs. Utility tote). In the case of the Aeronaut, I think the choice of ballistic nylon combined with the shape of the zipper design helps keeps the compartment conveniently open and the sides maintain depth while you pack -- even when the bag is empty. In the case of the LUX vs Utility tote (that I've now had an opportunity to see first hand) the different fabrics and correponding design shapes mean that the LUX stands up by itself, even when empty. (For my usage, this factor is a key selling point.)

    The Imago is available in either Cordura or Ballistic nylon, and I have this bag in Cordura. If you carry a smaller laptop (e.g. 12" PowerBook) or other small, heavy items (binoculars, camera, etc.) without books or papers to spread out the load more evenly in the Imago, you might find the Ballistic nylon version holds these items with fewer sags. Note that this is not a consideration if your laptop fills the bag (e.g., a larger Macbook Pro) or if you are carrying other books or papers that occupy the full compartment, or if you're not carrying items like a laptop.

    For bags that are designed with smaller or shaped compartments (like my original Buzz used with a 12" PowerBook laptop), the Cordura is just fine.

    Just my thoughts. YMMV.

    moriond

  9. #9
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    how easily is it to slice through a bag made out of ballistic nylon and cordura fabric? i heard about thieves in spain slicing through backpacks and i was wondering if the tom bihn bags would withstand this kind of assault on our bags. will the cafe bag hold up to such an attack? thanks.
    aeronaut[black/solar]tristar[black/red iberian]western flyer[black/steel]synapse[black/steel]side effect[black/wasabi]medium cafe bag[black/wasabi]large cafe bag[black/wasabi]shopping bag[steel].

  10. #10
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    I cannot answer your question about which fabric is more resistant to a slicing attempt. As much I LOVE my Tom Bihn Synapse and respect the Smart Alec I would bring my PacSafe backpack to Spain as I did to India for this exact reason.

  11. #11
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    it seems everyone is talking about pacsafe when it comes to slash proof travel gear. thanks.
    aeronaut[black/solar]tristar[black/red iberian]western flyer[black/steel]synapse[black/steel]side effect[black/wasabi]medium cafe bag[black/wasabi]large cafe bag[black/wasabi]shopping bag[steel].

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    More ballistic please!

    How about the new larger Synapse?

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    ----------------
    à plus tard...

  14. #14
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    The other difference! If Hamish cat sleeps on my ballistic Aeronaut and Dougle cat sleeps on my cocoa cordura Ristretto, only the Ballistic Aeronaut will be fit for use in the morning without the application of copious quantities of parcel tape to remove the fur! Cordura is a much nicer feeling, 'natural' almost, fabric, but it is a fur magnet. Of course, I could just keep the boys off the bags

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bihn View Post
    My dream is to replace both fabrics with "ballistic-weave cordura": 1000 denier cordura yarns woven two-ply like ballistic. Sort of the best of both worlds. But it's super hard to find, so I wait . . .
    Have you looked at "CORDURA® Ballistic Fabric"? CORDURA® Brand - CORDURA® Ballistic Fabric

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