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  1. #1
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    How come Cordura fallen out of favor?

    Hi, Bihnions.

    I couldn't find an answer in my searching, but please do let me know if this has been asked and answered already.

    I was searching the forum for tips on Nikwaxing an old Cordura cafe bag, and in the process discovered flitcraft's paean to Cordura and a 10-year-old comment by Tom in which he expresses a preference for 1000d Cordura to 1050 ballistic:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bihn View Post
    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 . . .
    Which got me wondering, what ever happened with Cordura anyway that ballistic has (nearly) taken over? I like the Cordura fabric's durability and aesthetic and personally never experienced the lint/hair problem or any problems with Cordura roughing up my clothes like some have. But were those latter issues influencing factors that overshadowed the former positive aspects? Has Cordura become prohibitively expensive? Is it now made by Evil Corp? Other?

    And now that we're 10 years into the future, are we any closer to achieving ballistic-weave Cordura?
    Last edited by kmw; 01-04-2018 at 03:28 PM. Reason: clarifying an ambiguous noun

  2. #2
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    Yes, Cordura is made by the "Evil Corp." No joke.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  3. #3
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    I have only one all-Cordura bag, an SCB in Kelly. It looks like Coyote, because my tan-colored dogs' hair has twisted itself into the actual threads. I have a Smart Alec with Cordura side panels, and I mostly don't mind that bag looking grungy because I use it for camping and road trips. Otherwise, I stick with ballistic or halcyon.
    Last edited by kieri; 01-05-2018 at 01:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Yes, Cordura is made by the "Evil Corp." No joke.
    Yikes, I just looked it up. I shouldn't have jested!

  5. #5
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    Wow. Who knew they were into destroying the world, and fabrics?!?!

  6. #6
    Registered User davidflo's Avatar
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    I have a Smart Alec with Cordura and ballistic. I much prefer the ballistic part which make me ask why did they use Cordura at all?

  7. #7
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    Regardless of who owns it, Cordura is quality material.
    Editor--One Bag, One World: News, Reviews & Community for Light Travelers. http://www.1bag1world.com

    Aeronaut(2), Tri-Star(2) Cadet , Large Cafe Bag, Travel Tray, Travel Money Belt, Absolute Straps(3), Side Effect, Clear Quarter Packing Cubes (2), 3D Organizer Cubes (4), Aeronaut & Tri-Star Packing Cubes, Clear Organizer Wallet, numerous Organizer Pouches,, Guardian Dual Function Light, Vertical Netbook Cache, Nexus 7 Cache, RFID Passport Pouch, numerous Key Straps.

  8. #8
    Forum Member jess's Avatar
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    Cordura pills all my knitwear and I’ve noticed that it leaves some abrasion marks on some of my athletic wear fabrics as well so when given the option I tend to stay away from it now.
    Self-declared Captain of Team AUBERSKY

    Hoping for a return of Hunter and Sage...

  9. #9
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    From my first high-end bag purchase to my Tom Bihn obsession I have always and still love Cordura 1000D.

    I like the look of it, I like the feel of it, and I appreciate the wear characteristics of it.

    I have also never had a clothing-eater problem with it either, although I do appreciate that the Synapse made with it has no Cordura on it's backside.

    I did take the plunge to try a Ballistic 525D bag from Tom. I do like it: there's a nice stiffness and the weave is delightful to look at; however I'm not sure it could replace Cordura for me. It is shinier and just a bit slicker than I'd prefer! I've also tried out Halcyon and Halcyon 400. They're nice too and that grid gives it a lovely character. But the venerated Halcyon has too soft of a fabric hand and lacks in stiffness for my tastes. Bags made of it are a little slouchier and just don't drape the way I like to see.

    Cordura 1000D is a high-tech fabric in disguise and I love it for that. A good well-loved Cordura has that same patina of wear as classic waxed canvas but none of the traditional cotton downsides- it doesn't soak up a ton of water, it's much lighter, and it's much tougher. It's stiff too: objects carried don't print through it, and it retains its shape nicely while still having a little give for those overpacked days.

    If you look at a Cordura bag and you look at a traditional cheap student's knapsack, it doesn't stand out any different either. But one fabric will last nearly forever and the other will last a few semesters.

    Anyhow, cheers to Tom Bihn to giving us bag nerds plenty of choices!

  10. #10
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    I like the way cordura looks and feels, but man, I do find that it collects lint and pet hair. It's harder to clean. And I do find that as it rubs against a (say) soft wool hoodie, it does indeed abrade the fabric. I think nylon is still probably a better choice for anything up against your body.

  11. #11
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    There’s nothing wrong with 1000 denier Cordura® nylon. If you have a bag made from it and you like it, well, there you have it. It does have excellent abrasion resistance, and as @carrot points out, 1000d Cordura® ages well. Over time, though, we’ve grown tired of the way in which the texturized yarns collect pet hair and lint as if that’s what it was designed to do (we’ve used scraps of Cordura® as ad-hoc lint brushes, I kid you not.)

    A decade ago we had far fewer fabrics to choose from, in part because we were a smaller company then (it’s difficult for small manufacturers to have custom fabrics made), and in part because the industry simply didn’t offer the variety that it does now. Back when our choices for exterior fabric were limited to 1000d Cordura® and 1050 ballistic nylon, we chose to work with both fabrics, using each where we concluded it was best applied. We liked our 1050 HT ballistic fabric because it had excellent abrasion resistance and strength; it didn’t collect fur or fuzz, and slid nicely into and out of the overhead bin on airplanes. However, it was too stiff and heavy for some applications, hence we continued to use 1000d Cordura® and, later on, Halcyon 400d.

    Then, in 2017, we were introduced to a mill in South Korea that can make ballistic nylon (2x2 yarns woven side by side in a basket weave) in a wide variety of weights. This factory uses the best Invista (the company behind Cordura®) high tenacity yarns and can twist them as they are woven to increase durability and enhance the finished appearance. In working with the sample yardage they provided, we realized it was pretty much our dream-come-true fabric: it has excellent abrasion resistance and tear strength, and can be made in pretty much whatever weight we’d like. As you guys know, the first two weights we’ve chosen to have made for us are 525 denier ballistic nylon — which is very similar in weight and feel to the old 1000d Cordura® — and 210 denier ballistic nylon, which turns out to be an excellent fabric for interior panels.

    As mentioned in our Materials Glossary entries on 525 and 210, these new fabrics are woven from the very best high-tenacity nylon yarns, produced in Canada by Invista. They are branded as “Cordura®” yarns but are filament (smooth) yarns rather than the original texturized Cordura® yarns developed by Dupont.

    We wouldn’t say we’re completely phasing out 1000d Cordura®, but we certainly are using much less of it.

    (In regards to Tom’s brief obsession with finding a 2x2 basket weave construction of 1000d Cordura®…. we did finally find some sample yardage to test. Turns out that the 2x2 construction effectively reveals slightly longer stretches of yarn, and therefore, in the case of the texturized Cordura®, slightly more of the discontinuous filaments. To sum it up: a ballistic-weave Cordura® collects even more pet hair than standard Cordura®. A perfect storm of pet hair!)
    Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

    Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    mill in South Korea that can make ballistic nylon ... in a wide variety of weights ..... This factory uses the best Invista (the company behind Cordura®) high tenacity yarns and can twist them as they are woven to increase durability and enhance the finished appearance. In working with the sample yardage they provided, we realized it was pretty much our dream-come-true fabric: it has excellent abrasion resistance and tear strength, and can be made in pretty much whatever weight we’d like.
    Having sampled the new ballistics in my cubelet and travel cubelet, and as a pet-owning knit-wearer, I LOVE them. Bag nirvana (Tom Bihn) has reached new heights.

    And I'll say it again: how cool is it to have a discussion like this with a company's CEO?

  13. #13
    Forum Member terayon's Avatar
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    That was fascinating. As I recall, one of the pros to Cordura is that it was that it’s easier to dye compared to Ballistic; are the newer Ballistics any different than the older ones?

  14. #14
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    Darcy, thanks so much for the info! Hearing about the fabrics evolution is fascinating -- and this is pretty hilarious:

    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    the texturized yarns collect pet hair and lint as if that’s what it was designed to do (we’ve used scraps of Cordura® as ad-hoc lint brushes, I kid you not.)
    (I'm now picturing a kind of Cordura ouroboros in which, to remove lint from itself, Cordura rubs itself against itself.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    ...As mentioned in our Materials Glossary entries on 525 and 210, these new fabrics are woven from the very best high-tenacity nylon yarns, produced in Canada by Invista. They are branded as “Cordura®” yarns but are filament (smooth) yarns rather than the original texturized Cordura® yarns developed by Dupont.
    Ahhhhh, thank you. When I'd read the Materials Glossary previously and came across "This fabric is woven and finished in South Korea with Invista Cordura® yarns from Canada," I got a little lost since you also mention elsewhere in the 1000d Cordura section that you're using "Cordura" to refer to the texturized fabric. From your explanation here, I'm now realizing there's a bit of a mixed use of the term Cordura going on on the Glossary page.


    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    (In regards to Tom’s brief obsession with finding a 2x2 basket weave construction of 1000d Cordura®…. we did finally find some sample yardage to test. Turns out that the 2x2 construction effectively reveals slightly longer stretches of yarn, and therefore, in the case of the texturized Cordura®, slightly more of the discontinuous filaments. To sum it up: a ballistic-weave Cordura® collects even more pet hair than standard Cordura®. A perfect storm of pet hair!)
    HAHAHA, d'oh!

  15. #15
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terayon View Post
    That was fascinating. As I recall, one of the pros to Cordura is that it was that it’s easier to dye compared to Ballistic; are the newer Ballistics any different than the older ones?
    Good question! I shared it with Tom, and here's what he had to say:

    Our new high tenacity fabrics (525d and 210d ballistic nylon) are not particularly easier to dye than our old 1050 Ballistic. However, two things seem to be working together to make the new fabric look great:

    #1 - The mill in South Korea has more experience, and specifically up-to-date experience, in dying high tenacity nylons for commercial customers such as us. In contrast, the U.S. finishing plant that dyes our 1050 Ballistic works almost exclusively for the military, and apart from our orders, doesn’t dye 1050 in anything other than black.

    #2 - Our new 525 and 210 Ballistic fabric utilizes twisted yarns. We spec this because it creates better abrasion resistance and also better hides any broken or damaged filaments on the surface of the fabric. But the twisting also impacts the finished appearance of the dyed fabric in an unusual and less-than-intuitive way. When we say that HT nylon is hard to dye, it’s because an occasional filament (the very small fibers that are packed together to make the yarns, which are then woven into fabric) refuses to accept the dye in quite the same way as all the other filaments –- these outliers won’t dye quite as deeply a hue as their buddies. If the yarns (think bundles of filaments) are not twisted as they are woven, one of these lighter-colored filaments might catch your eye and your brain will register it as a very slight streak in the fabric. However, if the yarns are twisted as they are woven, your brain doesn’t tend to pick up on the lighter colored filament because instead of the streak running across an entire panel of a bag, for example, it becomes effectively camouflaged as it appears and then dives back into the bundle of other filaments to reappear further on in the yarn. So, basically instead of a long streak of lighter color, you get a much less noticeable streak.

    Hope that makes sense. (If you ask Tom what time it is, he'll tell you how to build a clock.)

    Quote Originally Posted by kmw View Post
    When I'd read the Materials Glossary previously and came across "This fabric is woven and finished in South Korea with Invista Cordura® yarns from Canada," I got a little lost since you also mention elsewhere in the 1000d Cordura section that you're using "Cordura" to refer to the texturized fabric.
    Thanks for pointing that out -- I made an update to the Materials Glossary to help clear that up.
    Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

    Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.

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