Weight of Bike Bag Fabrics

Weight is our #4 ranked bike bag fabric property in terms of our estimate of its importance to the majority of bikepackers and cycle tourists. How important weight is varies considerably from one cyclist to the next. However, it always has some importance for cycling.

This guide to the weight of bike bag fabrics will cover the standardized methods and terminology for weighing outdoor fabrics. The two big reasons we are interested in fabric weight are first off, in the interest of reducing the load carrying while cycling. Second off, fabric weight can correlate to the durability of the fabric.

Bike bags with lighter weight fabrics are important in ultralight setups where every gram matters in a cyclist’s effort to achieve the most minimalist setup possible. However, for the majority of cyclists, the relative weight savings gained from seeking out bike bags with premium lightweight fabrics is not that substantial considering their premium cost. For cyclists looking to begin shaving weight from their overall bikepacking setup, focusing on other areas of their bike and camping gear will likely yield more weight reductions for the same money spent.

Fabric weight is most commonly assessed by weighing a small portion of fabric.

  • Grams per Square Meter (GSM): This is the most widely used metric for fabric weight. GSM measures the weight of the fabric in grams per one square meter of material.
  • Ounces per Square Yard (OSY): Similar to GSM, this measure gives the weight of the fabric in ounces per one square yard. It’s commonly used in the United States and helps in assessing the fabric’s thickness and suitability for specific applications.

ASTM D3776 – Fabric Weight: This standard testing method for fabric weight details out a standard protocol for measuring the weight per unit area of fabric.

Several other fabric measurement methods are related to the weight of the fabric but are typically more closely associated to the durability, thickness and hand feel of the fabric.

  • Denier(D): A unit of measurement that indicates the thickness or density of the individual threads used in the creation of fabric, measured as the weight in grams of a 9,000-meter length of the fiber. A higher denier count typically suggests a more durable and robust material.
  • Thread Count: This refers to the number of threads woven together in one square inch of fabric, including both the lengthwise (warp) and widthwise (weft) strands. Higher thread counts usually result in a finer, smoother, and sometimes heavier fabric. Thread count is used more commonly to compare fabrics with natural fibers like cotton or wool. It comes up occasionally for some bike bag applications where the appearance, hand feel or lightweight aspect of the fabric is a key property. Style oriented bike commuting bags as well as bag linings sometimes use fabrics where thread count is a helpful measurement.
Bike Bag Fabrics Ranges for Grams/Meter2 (GSM) & Denier(D)
  • Cordura Nylon
    • GSM: 160 to 380g/m2
    • Denier: 500D to 1000D
  • Ballistic Nylon
    • GSM: 250 to 420g/m2
    • Denier: 840D to 1680D
  • Ripstop Nylon
    • GSM: 50 to 150g/m2
    • Denier: 70D to 210D
  • Polyester
    • GSM: 150 to 300g/m2
    • Denier: 600D to 1200D (often coated with PVC or PU for enhanced water)
    • GSM: 50 to 200g/m2
    • Denier: 50D to 150D
  • X-Pac
    • GSM: 70 to 220g/m2
    • Denier: 70D to 420D (base fabric)
  • EcoPak
    • GSM: 180 to 280g/m2
    • Denier: 200D to 600D (base fabric)