Our Materials

Our Materials


Some people will say, well,
if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And you know, that is an attitude
that makes sense sometimes. But for me, I come from that
background that says, well, if it’s not broke,
take it out in the backyard and throw rocks at it
until it does break. And then figure out
why it broke, and then maybe make it
so you can’t break it. Every piece of clothing I buy,
every item in my house, pretty much, I want to know the story about it. It didn’t just come from
some store. It got there because somebody
had an idea to make it, to design it,
so there’s always a story. And for me, the story of our bags,
a big part of the story is the quality of the materials. We’re always looking for the best
fabric or finding, buckle, zipper, webbing, for a specific need. The ballistic nylon fabric is
a 1050 denier, which is the weight of the yarns
that go into the fabric. It’s high tenacity yarn. As the yarns are actually extruded
from the molten nylon, that’s done under tension
which aligns the molecules and makes the fabric 30, 40, 50 percent
stronger than a non high tenacity nylon. It also increases the
melting temperature of the nylon by about 40 degrees centigrade which
allows for a better abrasion resistance, because a lot of the degradation
you see in the fabric from abrasion is actually from the
heat of being abraded. We’re, I think, one of the very few
companies left in the United States that actually has ballistic nylon
dyed to colors other than black. That’s a pretty big investment
to get into, but we found the more of that we do,
the more our customers like it, the more we like it, the more we are
excited by the color combinations we can produce because of that. The Dyneema ripstop nylon is a much
lighter weight fabric made for us in Japan. It’s a great lining fabric.
It’s very lightweight. Even though it’s just a lining fabric,
it’s being sewn directly to the ballistic nylon on the
inside of the bags, forming dividers and pockets
on the inside of the bags. And those are subject to a surprising amount of stress, especially when you’re overloading the bag. We didn’t want to have, you know,
this beefy exterior fabric, a 1050 ballistic nylon,
and then, a cheap lining fabric that could tear out on the seams
where it’s joined to the ballistic. So we upped the ante and went to Japan
and had them make for us this nylon fabric with the Dyneema blend, and you get
this incredible tear strength. The Dyneema basically is
almost impossible to tear. It’s a fabric that costs us
two or three times what the all nylon version would cost us, but we don’t care
because it’s what we want. It’s the best. Details are what makes it fun. It’s not like just, oh, put some nylon
in there and make some bags. It’s like, no. It’s going to be a TOM BIHN bag
and it has to be a specific kind of nylon. We have to know where it came from and why,
and every little detail along the way, so that it all becomes part of that.

Danny Hutson

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