Nylon vs Polyester Leggings: Which is Better? Which Should You Choose?

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Nylon vs Polyester Leggings: Which is Better? Which Should You Choose?

I guess none of the readers of this article doesn’t have at least a pair of leggings.

The use of leggings has overcome its original purpose. As they were mainly used for exercise, now we see them worn more and more in everyday life. We can say that they have become a fashion trend.

The comfort, flexibility, and popularity of leggings have encouraged the fashion industry to offer choices of style, length, and design providing a wide range of options.

You know that moment you need to decide but you can’t make up your mind? I am sure you get confused by the design, and so do I.

But do you ever stop a second to think about the material?

I didn’t until I started reading about fabric materials and their properties.

For those who are looking for more information to decide on their leggings and activewear, especially between Nylon and Polyester, you’ll need to understand that these materials have different levels of support/compression, sweat-wicking power, and durability.

Today we will compare these two well-known materials and give you an overview of each one of them.

Table of Contents:

1. Nylon Overview

Firstly, I just wanted to clarify that Nylon, Chinlon, and Polyamide are the same fabrics. Nylon is a brand name for Polyamide and Chinlon essentially stands for China Nylon.

Nylon is usually named any artificial plastic material composed of polyamides of high mass, however not always, manufactured as a fiber.

Read also: Is Nylon Good For Winter?

woman wearing leggings

Nylons started developing in the 1930s by a research team led by Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist. The production of fibers by chemical synthesis from compounds promptly obtainable from air, coal, water, or fossil fuel, stirred the growth of study on polymers, resulting in a quickly increasing family of synthetics.

Nylon is produced by throwing a melt solution through spinnerets to form fibers which are then manufactured into textiles. It has a high resistance to heat and chemicals.

Nylon was first used only by the military during WWII and wasn’t reachable by the general public since it wasn’t yet industrialized. While today, Nylon remains one of the most commonly used fabrics in the world, next to cotton.

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Advantages of Nylon:

  • Highly elastic
  • Durable and abrasion-resistant
  • Resilient
  • Mold and mildew-resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Easily cleaned

Disadvantages of Nylon:

  • Fades easily in sunlight
  • Environmentally unfriendly, not recyclable
  • Overly shiny appearance
  • May generate static electricity

2. Polyester Overview

DuPont developed in 1946 the first polyester fiber that was sold under the manufactured tradename Terylene. Most of today’s polyester fibers are composed of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol (PET).

Polyester fabrics and yarns are strong, very elastic (springs back into shape), and have high abrasion and wrinkle resistance.

However, we need to mention that polyester fibers are not as strong as Nylon fibers.

Read also: Is Polyester Good for Running?

Sometimes polyester fibers are twisted together with natural fibers to achieve certain blended properties. For example, composites of cotton and polyester can be strong and have reduced shrinkage.

Compared to plant-derived fibers, synthetic polyester fibers have better water, tear, and environmental resistance.

Polyester fabrics are highly stain-resistant, and this is one of the best qualities they have. In fact, the only class of dyes that can be used to dye polyester fabrics are the disperse dyes.

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Advantages of Polyester:

  • Resists bleaching/fading
  • Heat Resistant
  • Stain Resistant
  • Environmental Friendly
  • Low Absorbency

Disadvantages of Polyester:

  • Dye Resistant
  • Does not resist oil stains
  • Crimp Loss (This occurs gradually from a continuous stretching of the fiber. Some fibers simply don’t spring back as well as others. This is most common with polyester fiber, and no producer has been able to totally resolve the issue.)

3. Nylon vs. Polyester: Comparison and Differences

Polyester is more hydrophobic, and that is why it performs better than Nylon for moisture management.

Nylon absorbs more water than polyester, will feel colder when wet and stay wet longer. It requires more heat energy to warm water than air, so when saturated Nylon will impede breathability.

While the downside for polyester is odor retention and durability (nylon lasts longer).

Don’t miss: Polyester Leggings vs Cotton: Which Material is Better?

Color Retention

As we said, polyester is hydrophobic, so when it is dyed, only the color of the dye dissolves into the fabric, making the dye permanent.

Nylon possesses hydrophilic qualities (it absorbs water). Its inability to resist water causes the textile to swell and eventually weakens the molecular structure.

The dyes used on Nylon tend to oxidize, a reaction that is catalyzed by light. The microscopic effects range from color fading to complete degradation of the polymer matrix. This is why the colors in Nylon-Lycra swimsuits for example fade over time but do not fade in Polyester-Lycra swimsuits.

Polyester can take higher heat during printing, and that’s why it holds printing much better. Nylon, on the other hand, will melt if it is printed at too high of heat.

So, if you would ask me regarding color retention, I would undoubtedly go for polyester.

woman wearing leggings on skateboard


Since it was created, compared to polyester, Nylon has always been considered a softer fabric. Nylon was produced as a substitute for silk because of its soft, shiny feel.

From its inception, polyester had neither the smoothness nor the feel of nylon. Nowadays, the advanced manufacturing capabilities, have led to softer polyester that in many ways competes with Nylon and it certainly reaches the softness of cotton.


Nylon and polyester are both strong and lightweight due to their polymer-based structure.

While Nylon is stronger with greater stretch ability, polyester resists pilling better than nylon, which is when fibers unravel and ball up at the end.

While this does not weaken the garment physically, it is not attractive aesthetically and everybody hates it when it happens.

Water-Wicking Ability

When it comes to fast-drying fabrics, polyester is the best. It expels water ideally to the surface of the clothing where it will later evaporate.

Nylon actually absorbs some water, which means it takes longer for wet clothing to dry.

Outdoor vs Indoor

The two synthetic fabrics are very similar, the two serve you better in different environments.

Generally, polyester is preferred over Nylon for harsher outdoor climates, and Nylon is preferred for indoor activities.

However, fabric thickness can change this recommendation. If a polyester legging is thinner than a Nylon legging, it may be preferred the Nylon one for colder weather.

4. Time to Decide: Which is Better? Which Should You Choose?

Maybe now that you know the characteristics and the pros and cons of each material, you may be more confused than you were before reading this article 🙂 .

Of course, I have to mention that no matter the material declared, the quality of each of them, either Nylon or Polyester, depends on many factors. Different Nylon fibers have different durability and so on.

In my opinion, your decision must be based on what you are looking for.

If you are searching for a better design and colors that don’t fade, go for polyester. Also most of the time, polyester is cheaper.

On the other hand, if you look for a stronger and more durable material, I would recommend nylon.

At this point, it is up to you to decide what is best.

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