This is the third entry in our Tech Type series where we explore the technical aspects of our products. For this episode I will be discussing our selection of materials that you find in our initial production.
Fabric is what we are about here at Nock Co. I will be relatively generic in this post mainly because we could get into a technical talk about wear at the individual fiber level and even chemical makeup of different brands (if you want to talk about this please email us). I want to explain some of the characteristics of our materials and why we chose these over some other popular materials. Some folks have asked us why pack cloth and the reason for that we haven’t used something like an synthetic suede for our liners.
We are using a high quality pack cloth made with Cordura fibers. Cordura is a manufacturer of nylon (originally created by DuPont) fabric or fiber, as many people know, but realistically they are a technology holder for mills to make. Cordura does not own fabric mills, they license their technology. They are also woven into many other materials such as denim or cotton blends for added durability. The exterior and interior fabrics on our cases are coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, which is standard throughout the outdoor carry world. The durability, water resistance, and tear resistance is why we chose to manufacture our cases with these fabrics.
Some More Specifics:
Pack cloth is a tightly woven material that allows for little or no penetration from sharp options (such as a needle point gel pen). We use this material as a liner instead of an exterior because its smooth feel and tight weave. It is a plain woven fabric as opposed to a twill or other types of weave. For the exterior we use a 1000 denier (a system of measurement originally used with silk), which is the same fabric you see on most high end messenger bags or backpacks like Topo Designs. The reason this material isn't used as a liner is due to its ability to be punctured by a fine tipped pen. It is a larger weave that allow for greater abrasion resistance but can allow some penetration. The DWR coating on both fabrics does assist with puncture resistance.
Why Not Something Else:
Questions have risen about our selection of these fabrics. Why not leather? Why not something like an eyeglass cleaning rag? Leather is a luxurious material if used properly and offers great life and structure. Leather is a more time consuming to work with and also more costly. That is why a nice leather case costs 3 to 4 times more than our cases, see Doane Paper and Field Notes. There is also significant material loss and waste when working with natural materials such as a cow or horse hide and this is the main reason for not working with it right away. We have designed our products to limit waste and streamline the manufacturing of the goods so we don’t pass more waste or cost onto our customers and community. Some of the main US suppliers of cow hides suggest only a 60% yield from a single hide where with a manufactured material we can yield up to 98%+.
A number of folks have suggested using a softer, almost chammy like, material called Ultrasuede for our liner. While I have used Ultrasuede while working in car interiors, the thickness of this material is prohibiting. The pack cloth we use is .010” thick while the Ultrasuede is .034” thick (around a millimeter). After adding a nice finishing hem the materials would create such bulk that it would be difficult to slide your pen’s clip over. This added bulk would also increase the size of the case a bit, limiting where our cases would fit (our lookout would no longer fit in a Timbuk2 passport pocket). Not to mention, the lack in structure of Ultrasuede would add a level of annoyance when using the cases. All size issues aside, wear and durability is the main issue we didn't go with a product like this. Synthetic suede is not water resistant like our nylon materials. They can also wear down and become structure-less more quickly than pack cloth and 1000D nylons. We aren’t trying to create a product that you must replace every six months to maintain peak performance. We are, hopefully, creating products that you buy every six months because we have a rad new colorway out with the same durability and usability that you expect and love.