Nylon vs Polyester Leggings – Comparison You Need to Know

Christine Steuber
Aug 12, 2020
Back in the days, leggings were an item of clothing that women used to put on without giving much thought. But leggings are not the same…

Back in the days, leggings were an item of clothing that women used to put on without giving much thought. But leggings are not the same anymore. Leggings, in the present day and age, are designed in various patterns, styles, colors, and even lengths. Because they’ve become a modern wardrobe must-have.

In terms of material, the nylon vs polyester leggings comparison is quite common. And that’s only reasonable because leggings are supposed to feel comfortable. The blend of materials you choose is important for that very reason. At the same time, durability matters too. You don’t want your pair of leggings to show any signs of wear and tear anytime soon, right?

In that context, it’s time to get a basic idea and understanding of what both fabrics have to offer. Along with which material is better suited for your personal needs and preferences. Be it for working out or lounging at home!

Nylon vs Polyester Leggings – Overview of Nylon Leggings


There are plenty of nylon leggings and nylon spandex leggings to buy both online and offline. But did you know that the fabrics nylon, polyamide, and chinlon are much the same? Polyamide is actually the brand name for nylon. And the term chinlon is the combination of the words China Nylon.

Now let’s talk about nylon. It’s an artificial, synthetic fiber made of high-massed polyamides. These fibers are produced using the process of chemical synthesis. The compounds that undergo the synthesis are derived from water, fossil fuel, coal, and air. This is how synthetics started to develop in huge quantities.

The material is manufactured by melting spinnerets. The melt solution forms fibers that are then produced into textiles. Nylon, along the way, develops a high resistance to chemicals and heat. This explains why nylon fabric is so commonly used.

Synthetic polymers such as nylon are hydrophobic as well. They wick away sweat and moisture very quickly. Nylon leggings are also extremely durable and tear-proof. So you have enough valid reasons to go for a blend of nylon and spandex the next time you’re buying leggings.

What’s So Great About Nylon?

It’s highly elastic

It’s stain-resistant and heat-resistant

It’s abrasion-resistant, resilient, and durable

It’s easy to clean

It’s mildew-resistant and mold-resistant

It wicks away moisture and sweat quickly

What Not to Like About Nylon?

It has a shiny appearance

It’s not a recyclable, environment-friendly material

It fades very easily under sunlight

Nylon vs Polyester Leggings – Overview of Polyester Leggings


The greater part of polyester fibers today consists of ethyl glycol and terephthalic acid. But you probably don’t want to get into the technical details of polyester. You might be more concerned about knowing that polyester fabric and its yards are very elastic and strong. They have a natural tendency to spring back into the original shape on their own.

Also, the material is wrinkle-resistant and highly abrasive. However, the strength of polyester fibers is not comparable to that of its nylon counterparts. Meaning the latter is comparatively stronger, no doubt.

You might also want to know that, in some cases, the fibers of polyester (synthetic) are warped together with naturally-derived fibers. This is primarily done to offer the best of both worlds. For example, a blend of cotton and polyester leggings. Cotton is breathable and strong. While polyester is prone to less shrinking.

Synthetic polyesters offer a higher resistance to wear and tear, water, and damage. Higher than plant-based fibers. But polyester leggings have become such a popular choice because of the fabric’s exceptional stain resistance.

What’s So Great About Polyester?

It’s stain-resistant and heat-resistant

It has low absorbency

It resists fading and bleaching

It’s environment-friendly

What Not to Like About Polyester?

It’s dye-resistant

Not a suitable choice for sensitive skin

It cannot withstand long-term outdoor use

Nylon vs Polyester Leggings – Comparison


Let me state it outright that polyester is a better choice because of its hydrophobic properties. It’s the only reason why polyester is preferred over nylon. For the simple advantage of moisture management.

Nylon, on the other hand, tends to absorb more water. That means you might end up feeling colder in case your nylon leggings get wet. Because they’re more likely to remain wet for a longer time. The material demands a higher amount of heat energy for warmth. That said, when damp or wet, nylon impedes breathability.

But polyester has its own drawbacks as well. Such as poor durability and also odor retention. Nylon, in this case, performs better by lasting longer.

Here’s the detailed breakdown of the comparison between nylon and polyester…

1. Moisture/Sweat Wicking Capacity


Which pair of leggings are going to dry faster in case you wear them for a sweaty workout session? The answer, hands down, is polyester leggings. The fabric expels water to its surface to encourage quicker evaporation.

On the contrary, nylon is among the fabrics that absorb water. Hence, it takes a longer time to dry after getting damp or wet.

No wonder most workout, yoga, and even compression leggings are manufactured using polyester and not nylon.

2. Color Retention

As I’ve already mentioned, polyester consists of hydrophobic properties. That means the dye used for color in the leggings dissolves within the fabric, thus becoming permanent.

As for nylon, it’s hydrophilic i.e it absorbs water. The outcome of this is the textile swelling and gradually weakening its molecular composition. Dyes on nylon oxidize. And this particular process is set in motion by light. So that’s how quick color fading in nylon leggings is such a common complaint.

Swimwear made using a blend of polyester and lycra don’t fade as easily as a nylon-lycra swimsuit. Speaking of which, polyester is a superior choice even in terms of withstanding high heat. That’s why polyester leggings hold prints much better than nylon. The latter melts if the printing process uses high heat.

The moral of the story; the color retention quality of polyester exceeds that of nylon.

3. Feel

Are polyester leggings better in terms of feel too? Meaning are they softer than nylon? Well, in this department, nylon is the more preferable choice. Nylon was actually produced as an alternative to silk. All thanks to its soft and shiny feel.

Compared to that, polyester offers neither the softness nor the smoothness of nylon. But, at the same time, I’m not going to deny that the polyester fabrics manufactured today are relatively softer. Nearly as soft as cotton even.

4. Durability

Needless today, both polyester and nylon leggings are lightweight yet strong. The latter offers strength in the form of a greater stretch. While polyester is stronger when it comes to resisting pilling.

As for which fabric can withstand outdoor use, polyester wins the battle here. It’s naturally well-equipped to tolerate outdoor conditions. But this hugely depends on the thickness of the fabrics as well. For instance, if nylon leggings are thicker than polyester. Then nylon is more suitable for a colder climate.


Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of both the fabrics, it’s time to decide. Choose polyester leggings if you prioritize design, fade-resistance, and even affordability. As for nylon leggings, they’re all about a softer feel. Not that nylon isn’t durable and strong.

Now you decide what material you want to choose based on your personal preferences and style.


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