Primer: CORDURA Fabric Explained

In tandem with our new contest this month — The CORDURA┬« brand ‘Search for the Most Durable Person’ — we are getting inquires along the lines of “I have seen the CORDURA name for years. . . but what is it, exactly?” Good question. CORDURA is one of those omnipresent brands in the outdoors space that most people recognize and might associate with items like backpacks or duffel bags. But what it is underlying all that might remain somewhat of a mystery.

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Close-up look at weave of CORDURA fabric

In short, CORDURA is simply a hybrid fabric. Its tough nylon blend, as seen prominently on backpacks and soft-side luggage, is most known, though CORDURA comes in several iterations, including nylon, poly, and cotton hybrids. CORDURA is used in everything from military uniforms to bike-messenger bags to spelunking suits. A new type, used by Timbuk2 in a bag, mimics the look and feel of denim.

The decades-old brand is owned by INVISTA, which also manufactures Coolmax, Lycra, Thermolite, and other known commodity performance fabrics. As our contest illustrates, CORDURA fabric is known for its toughness and durability. The company cites a “superior strength-to-weight ratio over most fabrics on the market.”

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Splay of CORDURA-based products

CORDURA is used to make products by dozens of outdoors gear companies, which employ CORDURA fabric types from Ultra Light Weight Nylon Ripstop to Heavy Weight ballistic nylon.

So there’s your primer! More about the fabric is here in the FAQ section of the company’s website. Be sure to sign up for the CORDURA contest on GearJunkie, our ‘Search for the Most Durable Person,’ which runs through the month of May!

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