In my quest for my perfect travel bag - one which I think I'll have to make - I read the other day on the Tom Bihn forums about a fabric test that they had submitted their fabric and a competitor's fabric to.
It was interesting to see that the Tom Bihn 1050 denier fabric turned out to be more wear-resistant than a 1680 denier fabric. You can see the pictures and a blurb about it at the Tom Bihn website.
Doug Dyment, has a wonderful explanation about types of fabric at www.onebag.com. You'll need to scroll down to the heading: "Quality Luggage Components".
Doug explains the differences between different weights (denier is a measure of weight, not strength) and the difference between ballistic nylon and cordura nylon.
All this means the plot thickens in my local search for the perfect fabric. While I can find two places here in Sydney where I can get luggage-type fabric, without seeing the fabrics, its hard to know quite what they're like. I do like the shinyness of ballistic nylon, but the fabrics I have found are cordura, rather than ballistic.
In case you're interested, the two sources that I have found so far are Synergy Textiles (caution: very unattractive website!), and Ricky Richards. I'd love to know if there are any places in Australia selling ballistic nylon fabric by the metre. Anyone?