Recently I went in search of a laptop bag worth shelling out hard earned cash for. What led to this you might ask.

Prior to this decision the Dell supplied bag for my laptop started to fall apart at the seams, this was after 12 months of very light use. When I say ‘light use’ I really mean it i.e. the bag would be over my shoulder for about 60 seconds a day when I walked from the downstairs car park to my office, the rest of the time it was travelling in luxury on leather, perched on the backseat of my car, hardly a tough life you might say.

It was here that I decided I wanted the kind of bag that could withstand pretty much anything, and just maybe, might have a little style too. The materials used in bags that have a high level of durability usually mention one of these fabrics: ballistic nylon or cordura.
Yes folks, this is the stuff that body armour and stab vests are made with, they are the outer layer that hold the 25 odd layers of Kevlar protection in place.

The difference between cordura and ballistic nylon as I understand it is ballistic is a ‘filament’ yard, versus cordura which is texturized. This gives cordura a better resistance to abrasion but ballistic a better tear strength. Aesthetically, cordura has a more natural, cotton-canvas sort of feel; ballistic has a definite synthetic look to it.

Two common nylon types used in the construction of bags are 1680 or 1050 denier ballistic nylon, this is one of the textile units of measurement ‘denier‘; which refers to the weight of the fabric, not the strength. The 1050 is considered much stronger than 1680 ballistic due to it being a 2-ply weave where two 1050 denier yarns are woven as one. The 1680 on the other hand is woven from a single large 1680 denier yarn making it considerably less resistant to abrasions.

There’s a number of methods for testing a fabrics resistance to abrasions, one such test is called the ‘Stoll Abrasion Test’. Below are images of 1050 and 1680 denier ballistic nylon after such a test.

1680 ballistic nylon

The 1680 denier fails after 1055 cycles.
1050 ballistic nylon The 1050 denier fails after 2110 cycles.

In both fabrics the tear strength and the abrasion resistance are apparently so much higher than necessary, we as end-users will seldom if ever experience the difference. The other big difference is 1050 is more than double the cost of 1680.

After arming myself with all this fabric knowledge I settled on a Booq from RushFaster – after 6 months of use I have to say I’m very impressed with it.