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The Difference Between Ballistic, 1000D Cordura, and Ripstop Nylon

I’ve been asked many times what the difference is between Ballistic, 1000 Denier Cordura, and Ripstop Nylon.  First off, understand that Denier has to do with the weight of the fabric, NOT it’s strength.  The strength or tear resistance of a fabric comes from how it’s manufactured (woven, spun, etc.), which is why the source of manufacture for nylon is important when evaluating the quality of a pack.  The most trusted brand is Cordura Brand nylon made by Invista.

 

1000D Cordura Nylon

1000D Cordura Nylon

 

Some bag companies have switched to 1680D Ballistic nylon which is woven from a larger yarn versus two plies of 1050 yarn.  This is why 1680D “fuzzes out” in high wear areas faster than 1050D Ballistic.  You’ll commonly see 1680D used in cheap luggage.  Again, the method of manufacture and quality of materials matter.

 

1050D Ballistic Nylon

1050D Ballistic Nylon

 

The weight of a fabric does impact abrasion resistance.  All other things being equal, 500D will be less abrasion resistant than 1000D.  However, there is a weight trade-off.   When ounces count, like in hiking packs, you commonly see lighter denier fabrics being used.  To reinforce those much lighter fabrics and give them better tear and abrasion resistance, fibers are woven into the fabric in a diamond or box pattern.  This is Ripstop Nylon.  The fibers will stop a rip from spreading and ultimately compromising the integrity of the pack.   The strength of the fiber used in Ripstop Nylon can matter.  For instance, Dyneema thread is 15 times stronger than steel.

 

Dyneema Ripstop Nylon

Dyneema Ripstop Nylon

 

In the heavier fabrics, if you really want to split hairs, then 1050D Ballistic has a higher tear strength and 1000D Cordura has higher abrasion resistance.  Both will hold up against anything that a typical user will throw at them.  In most high end packs, seams and zippers will fail before the fabric will (which is why zipper quality is important too).

The most obvious difference between the three is their appearance and how they ultimately impact the look of a pack.  I love the texture of 1050D ballistic nylon.  Cordura has more of a natural/cotton like appearance to it.  Ripstop nylon can come in different design and color combinations.  Which is better looking is purely subjective.

I hope this helps.  If there are additional questions then please leave them in the comments.

25 Responses so far.

  1. Alan says:

    Great information, as always.

  2. Don says:

    Always wondered about this, but was too stupid to ask. Now, I feel like I could teach a class in it. Great job!

  3. Gnarly says:

    Informative; thanx!
    Plus: if I’m ever on a game show…..

  4. arthurvino says:

    enlightening article.

    That”s why I like Tom Bihn 1050d Aeronaut and 1000d Kifaru Xing.

  5. Scimitar says:

    As always, very informative.

  6. David Weglarz says:

    Hey, first post here! Im trying to decide between TomBihn’s 400d Dyneema or the 1000d cordura for a synapse. I will be carrying outdoors a lot, and will be scraping on rocks and trees here and there. Do you think the Dyneema will really hold up to this? Or is the Cordura the way to go for rougher use? This mainly will be my edc bag, and just wondering how much abuse(abrasion/cut/burn) the dyneema will give realistically. Thanks, and I love this site!
    dave

    • Blaine B. says:

      Dave, sorry for the late reply. You should be fine with the Dyneema material. It’s virtually rip proof. If you want to split hairs, Cordura would be more abrasion resistant. But both will stand up to a tremendous amount of abuse. More than most people will inflict in a lifetime.

      As far as burns, both materials are synthetic and will melt. So I’d try to keep either away from open flames if you can avoid it. 😉

  7. David Weglarz says:

    Great. Thanks! I’ve been following you for a long time, love your reviews. Glad to know the ripstop is tough stuff.

  8. […] ease of workmanship, cost, and durability. some interesting reading on the different fabrics. The Difference Between Ballistic, 1000D Cordura, and Ripstop Nylon | Loaded PocketzLoaded Pocketz What's the difference between Cordura and Ballistic Nylon? Parapack vs Cordura vs Ballistic (linked […]

  9. SNK says:

    Very informative post! I’m learning about these fabrics in order to pick the most durable winter blankets for my horses. This is territory where the fabric may be ripped by “normal” use. Most blankets are made with polyester, polypropylene, nylon, ripstop nylon, ballistic nylon, or cordura. Can you say something about polyester and polypropylene, and how they compare to the nylons? Do you happen to have a good resource for tensile strengths and densities for fibers of commercially produced/used fabrics?

  10. Eric Sack says:

    I am contmeplating making a dog bed 4X5 for a doghouse for my 2 – 65 lb english pointers. Trying to decide which fabric is best . Strength from possible chewing is most important but also a pleasing feel. Thinking the 1050 ballistic because it doesn’t gather pet hair like the 1000D cordura. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Blaine B. says:

      Eric, ballistic would resist chewing/rips better and you’re right – wouldn’t collect pet hair near as much as 1000D Cordura (there’s a reason why I keep a pet roller on hand in my gear bunker). The downside is your dog will probably not find the ballistic as inviting as Cordura, which is closer in feel to a natural fiber. Ballistic will also get colder in the fall and winter. So, its a trade-off. Good luck!

  11. echen14 says:

    Is 210D Nylon Twill any good?

  12. […]  The bag is made from 1050D Polyurethane coated Ballistic nylon.  As I mentioned in an earlier post on the differences between the various nylon fabrics, I love the texture of 1050D Ballistic. […]

  13. Sandra Sykes says:

    Hi, which fabric would you recommend for use in making a replacement garden swing canopy ? I have been advised to use a 7oz nylon, I have previously used canvas but this doesw not weather well, thank you

  14. rtcoker says:

    Cordura and Ballistic are synthetic, made from polymers which will quickly degrade from prolonged exposure to sunlight and bleach.

  15. rtcoker says:

    And…. If you live in Arizona or SoCal either might melt when in contact with hot metal objects (frame). Nylon is likely the best choice

  16. James says:

    Hi. I’m looking to buy a rucksack and currently torn (no pun intended) between two:

    – Lowe Alpine Airzone Trail 35 litre – made of N6.6 Mini Rip – link http://www.gaynors.co.uk/equipment/hiking-walking/rucksacks/mens-rucksacks/dp-105528/airzone-trail-35

    – Berghaus Freeflow II 30 litre – made of Ardura 21D HD RS /Ardura 420D – link http://www.gaynors.co.uk/equipment/hiking-walking/rucksacks/mens-rucksacks/dp-78875/mens-freeflow-ii-30-rucsac

    Given the materials used, which of the two sacks would you say is likely to be the more durable?

    Also, you mention 1680D. I’ve seen an old and new version of a holdall for sale online (Berghaus Mule 40 litre). The old version is made of Ardura 1000 D, while the new version is made of Ardua 840D RS / 1680D Ballistic (from images I think it has 1680D base and 840D RS main body). Again, which would say is likely to be the more durable?

    (Old version – http://www.livefortheoutdoors.com/Gear-Reviews/Search-Results/Accessories/Berghaus-Mule-4020-2012/
    New version – http://www.berghaus.com/mule-ii-40-holdall/420823.html)

  17. […] off, this is a solid bag constructed out of 1050D nylon (which was originally made for bulletproof vests). The Rush 24 has a waterproof coating and mine […]

  18. Dave says:

    Question. If i wanted o make an air tight pillow or mattress which would be the best choice for setting directly on the ground? In various locations, rock grass snow…

  19. Jan Gonzalez says:

    Great info. Question: Would you use 1050D ballistic nylon in a tool bag? I want a strong, tear resistant and abuse resistant tool bag fabric because we are in the process of creating one. Since 1050D is your favorite, would you use it on a tool bag or would you use something else?

    Thanks for the info….

  20. […] that when you are using the bag every day. This bag comes in four colors, and it is made of ballistic nylon with heavy zippers that will stand up to all the punishment that they get. You will be using this […]

  21. Alexis Li says:

    Thanks for sharing.
    I’m still wondering why some brands such as booq can make 1680D’s bag so light.
    Is it less strength it can resist?

Comments and Questions are Welcome!

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