Dyneema vs. Ballistic Nylon

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When I first started buying bags from Tom Bihn, I thought Dyneema seemed like a silly option. It was seemingly a less sturdy option compared to the ballistic nylon. I bought all my bags in ballistic nylon. After using these bags for a few years, and loving them, I started to wish they were a little lighter. I started to wish they had a little more “give” to them. I picked up a side effect in Steel Dyneema for these reasons, and I loved it. I started to think about how I might be better off buying Dyneema bags instead of the ballistic nylon ones. I fully intended to get my Western Flyer in Dyneema but black ballistic nylon was my only option. If I have one problem with Tom Bihn, it’s that you often can’t get the color or fabric you want. I wound up spending $250 on a bag I didn’t 100% want. I’m happy with my Western Flyer, but it’s not the exact Western Flyer I wanted. And as of the time of this writing, that particular bag still isn’t available in Dyneema. No idea if it ever will be again.

Dyneema has been around for 20 years. It was developed by a company called DSM. It’s a great fabric, and I wish all my bags were made out it. Sure, ballistic nylon is a little bit tougher, but unless you’re really rough with your bags, I think most people would be better served by Dyneema bags. Dyneema is slightly smoother, a third of the weight and more flexible. You’ll be more likely to be able to squeeze things into your Dyneema that might not make it into your ballistic nylon one.

Some interesting properties Dyneema has:

  1. Floats on water
  2. Fire resistant and self-extinguishing
  3. Biologically inert
  4. Sonic velocity and acoustic impedance near that of water
  5. High electrical resistance
  6. On a weight-for-weight basis, it’s 15 times stronger than steel

If you’re considering a new Tom Bihn bag (and it’s available in Dyneema), get it in Dyneema. If the Dyneema version isn’t available, consider waiting till it is.