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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    1000 Cordura vs 1050d Ballistic

    I am curious: Why does TB still use 1000d cordura for some bags, rather than the ballistic 1050 which he seems to be phasing in? I am thinking specifically about the Brain bag and Synapse here. Curiously, the Smart Alec used both fabrics.

    I own and love my co-pilot and aeronaut, both in the wonderful 1050d. I am not clear what the advantages are of the 1000 fabric...

    Also, I am looking for and cannot locate a thread comparing the Synapse and Smart Alec for one-bag travel.
    THANKS for the info.

    p.s. Tom - Any plans to actualize the "Pilot" (slightly larger co-pilot)?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Answered my own question:
    Tom Bihn writes, "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.)"

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