Environmental Resistance

Environmental Resistance of Bike Bag Fabrics

Environmental Resistance is our #6 ranked bike bag fabric property in terms of our estimate of its importance to the majority of bikepackers and cycle tourists. While environmental resistance is not a top-of mind concern typically, it is very important to the long term reliability of a bike bag.

Environmental resistance is closely connected to the durability, water resistance and appearance of a bike bag’s fabric. All of these fabric properties can be degraded over time due to the variety of environmental forces they come in contact with.  

In this guide, we break down these environmental force into the following types: UV Exposure, Moisture, Dirt, Chemicals and Heat & Cold. Fabrics that resist and minimize the impacts of these forces are of course desirable. We also present how a variety of fabrics and coatings hold up against these environmental forces.

UV Exposure

Long-term usage of bicycle bags whether on extended tours, frequent short trips or commuting will lead to a significant amount of UV exposure over time. Riding in sunny climates and at high elevations will amplify the impacts of UV exposure.

Long term UV exposure can potentially degrade a fabric’s durability, water resistance, and appearance. UV weakens fabric fibers, making the bag more susceptible to tears and reducing its overall strength. It compromises water resistance by breaking down fabric’s coatings or laminates. Additionally, prolonged UV exposure can fade and otherwise deteriorate a fabric’s appearance. Fabrics with strong UV resistance will reduce all of these impact, significantly extending the life of a bike bag.

UV Testing

A variety of testing procedures are utilized by fabric and bag manufacturers to measure the UV resistance level of fabrics. These test involve comparing the appearance and color of fabric samples before and after the test, assessing for fading, discoloration and structural degradation to the fabric. Additionally durability tests can

  • Accelerated Weathering Tests: Simulates continuous sunlight exposure onto fabric samples in a controlled environment to assess UV resistance.
    ASTM G154: Uses a fluorescent UV lamps in an exposure chamber to simulate the effects of sunlight. It is commonly deployed because of its cost-effectiveness and practicality.
    ASTM G155: Uses a Xenon Arc lamp in an exposure chamber to simulate full-spectrum sunlight, including UV, visible, and infrared light, providing a more accurate representation of actual sunlight exposure. Due to the complexity and cost of the equipment, this test is typically reserved for fabric testing requiring more precise sunlight simulation.
  • Spectrophotometric Analysis: This method measures the amount of UV radiation absorbed or transmitted through the fabric. By analyzing the fabric’s UV absorbance spectrum, one can infer its UV blocking capabilities and resistance.
    ASTM E1347
    ASTM E903
  • Outdoor Exposure Testing: Fabrics are exposed to natural sunlight and environmental conditions for extended periods. This real-world testing helps assess how fabrics withstand UV exposure in actual usage scenarios. The results are compared with control samples kept in dark storage.
    ASTM D1435

UV Resistance by Fabric Type

– David says he has seen the most UV breakdowns with Cordura Nylon.

Moisture

Summary

Measuring & Testing?

Broken down by material type

Dirt

Chemicals

Heat & Cold