Ballistic Nylon vs. Nylon Canvas Headcovers, What's the Difference?

Above is a picture demonstrating the differences between  ballistic nylon and nylon canvas. Ballistic nylon was developed in the 1940s by DuPont in an attempt to make a bulletproof fabric (hence the name "ballistic") for our military. The attempt failed, so please don't try to stop bullets with your headcover. However, they did make an incredibly durable lightweight fabric. It has since been adapted for use in premium rugged luggage and other travel gear.

Ballistic Nylon Nylon Canvas
  • 2x2 basket weave
  • 1080 denier yarns
  • Stiffer than 1x1 nylon canvas
  • Somewhat stronger than nylon canvas
  • Available only in black
  • Favored for military applications and luggage
  • 1x1 plain weave 
  • 1000 denier yarns
  • More fluid drape than ballistic nylon
  • Very strong
  • Available in many colors
  • Favored for outdoor/hiking gear and backpacks

Nylon canvas is similar, but differs in important ways. Ballistic nylon and nylon canvas both are woven with what we call a "plain weave" (see diagram). What this means is that in each direction the yarns are woven under one perpendicular yarn and over the next, alternating one by one. The same applies in the other direction. It is a simple weave and produces a nice, stiff fabric. Ballistic nylon, however is what we call a 2x2 plain weave, where 2 yarns are next to each other in each direction. 2 yarns go over 2 perpendicular yarns, then under the next 2, over the next 2, and so on. This is called a "basket weave". It is very strong and makes a stiffer fabric. Nylon canvas is a 1x1 weave, which produces a more fluid drape (but not as fluid as a twill such as denim) and a finer feel.

In short, ballistic nylon is stronger, stiffer, and has a coarser weave texture. Nylon canvas has a more fluid drape, finer weave texture, and is available in many colors. 

Additionally, because we get our  ballistic nylon from USA military suppliers it only comes in black (that's all the military orders). Nylon canvas, on the other hand, is often used in backpacking and comes in many, many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. If you have more questions please feel free to email me at Thanks for reading!

May 04, 2016 by Michael Buchfuhrer