Cordura has been around for decades, but its new fabrics keep innovating

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CORDURA® Brand Fabric/Facebook
Invista’s Cordura brand has for decades produced linchpin textiles for unforgiving applications designed to keep hard workers and adventurists productive and protected in the most extreme scenarios. Outdoor gear manufacturer Kelty adopted Cordura for use in the iconic Serac external frame backpack of the 1970s. Fellow early adopters of Cordura technology included powerhouse JanSport as well as the legendary Dana Gleason of Kletterwerks, Dana Designs, and Mystery Ranch fame.

Today, Cordura textiles are found in products intended to help protect a motorcyclist from injury during a fall, to carry heavy loads in a backpack over long distances through unfriendly terrain, and to outfit hands-on worksite staff for demanding environments.

That reputation for excellence might explain why the armed forces look to Cordura for dependable nylon and cotton blends to use in their clothing. Soon, these high-performance blends will be getting a next-generation upgrade.

Born from two years of research and development at the same Delaware facility responsible for the original commercialization of nylon 6,6 in the late 1960s, the latest “high tenacity” T420HT nylon 6,6 fiber offers improved performance across the board in the “Nyco” fabric blends where it will be found.

One such fabric featuring the new fiber, the 5.4 ounce per square yard Nyco Extreme, features a 55 percent T420HT and 45 percent cotton mix that Cordura claims is 18 percent lighter and 10 times more breathable than 50 percent T420 and 50 percent cotton, 6.5 ounce per square yard military spec fabrics using the original fiber based on preliminary laboratory test results.

The jump in performance stems from tweaks to the nylon 6,6 at the molecular fiber level.

The jump in performance stems from tweaks to the nylon 6,6 at the molecular fiber level. The upgrades allow for the manufacture of lightweight, abrasion resistant, high tensile strength fabrics that hold up through extreme abuse with the potential of lower replace and repaired frequencies.

For many outdoor enthusiasts, the Cordura brand of fabrics have long been synonymous with durability. If end-users have enjoyed the current product for so long, what drove the development of a new, even more resilient fiber?

“We listened to the needs of the US military,” says Cindy McNaull, global Cordura brand and marketing director. “Every time you see a US military uniform, that’s us.” You can expect to see the new T420HT fiber used in clothing worn in all branches of the military, she notes. “Lighter and stronger” is the goal, one Cordura always works towards.

Lighter, stronger, more breathable, quick to dry materials have obvious battlefield advantages, but what about advantages for the consumer market? Cordura envisions the T420HT fiber making its way to lifestyle denim products like super durable skateboarding jeans and rugged workwear that hold up better than many existing products without placing new aesthetic requirements onto apparel makers. Clothing manufacturer Dickies is one of the early adopters of the new material and has plans to use it in upcoming apparel lines.

Expect to see more from Cordura – like this attractive collaboration with Cone Denim — as they celebrate their 50th year as a brand. When asked about other upcoming material improvements, such as fabrics with greater flame resistant properties, Cindy at Cordura says, “hold that thought”.

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