When I first got into this business in 1986, nylon was still being introduced into the military. Nylon was being sold as a light weight, water resistant substitute for cotton canvas, the main material used for gear in the 19th century up through the mid 20th century. Even in the mid 1980’s, there was still resistance from the “old timers” against nylon arguing it made too much noise. The same argument was made against the use of Velcro®. They also liked the smell of canvas.
Today, all uniforms and most gear are made of nylon and use some Velcro. Because of this, gear is lighter and stronger than it used to be while the smell and sound of canvas took a back seat.