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Leather vs Nylon vs Cotton Lifting Straps: Which is the Best?

lifter using cotton lifting straps

If you want to optimize your weightlifting performance,using the right lifting straps can make all the difference. Leather, nylon, and cotton lifting straps are three popular options that each offer unique benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we will delve into the main differences between these materials and explore the pros and cons of each, helping you make an informed decision to enhance your lifting experience and reach your fitness goals. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or just starting out, understanding the distinctions between these weightlifting straps is essential if you want to get the most out of your strength training. 

What is the Main Difference Between Leather, Nylon, and Cotton Lifting Straps?

The key differences between leather, nylon, and cotton lifting straps are their stretching, durability, and bulkiness. Cotton straps tend to stretch under pressure, which can make them less reliable for heavy lifting. On the other hand, nylon straps don't stretch as much, making them a preferred choice for most lifters due to their reliability. Leather straps are the most durable option but can be bulkier in comparison to the other materials.

Leather Lifting Straps

Leather lifting straps are quite the hit, especially among lifters who appreciate a touch of style and craftsmanship. They're known for their impressive durability and provide a decent level of comfort during those heavy training sessions and don’t irritate the skin. However, leather is a bit stiffer compared to the softer feel of cotton or nylon straps. It may take more time to get used to. 

Pros and Cons of Leather Lifting Straps


  • Offers premium look and feel
  • Extremely durable
  • Can be custom-made
  • Optimized for maximum grip (different than wrist wraps)
  • Non-stretch material ensures stability
  • Comfortable on the wrist and doesn’t chafe and irritate the skin.
  • Great for deadlift, squat, and bench


  • Limited sweat absorption
  • Requires some additional maintenance for the leather
  • Slightly higher cost
  • Takes time to 'break-in' the strap.
  • Mainly used for pulling exercises. Doesn't compare to lifting gloves, which are used for pulling and pushing.

Who Should Wear Leather Lifting Straps?

Leather lifting straps provide an excellent option for lifters who prioritize durability and reliability and are ideal for heavy-weight training. These leather wraps are especially beneficial for powerlifters, weightlifters, and strongman athletes who are training on a consistent basis. Leather is one of the few materials that can withstand the demanding workouts by these lifters. 

Nylon Lifting Straps

Nylon lifting straps are a popular choice for strength athletes due to their reliability. They don't stretch under heavy loads and offer decent grip support. However, the material can be somewhat rigid and may lead to skin irritation, especially when handling substantial weights. Additionally, nylon doesn't absorb sweat effectively, increasing the likelihood of slippage during your workout as you start to sweat.

Pros and Cons of Nylon Lifting Straps


  • Doesn’t stretch much
  • Excellent grip strength
  • Extremely durable
  • Popular and used by experts
  • Versatile and good for lifters of all levels


  • Not as comfortable and can chafe and irritate the skin
  • Bad at absorbing sweat
  • More pricey than cotton

Who Should Wear Nylon Lifting Straps?

Nylon straps, though less common than cotton, are favored by serious strength trainers, including powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, and Strongman athletes. The key reason is their non-stretch, thicker material, which provides essential grip stability for heavy lifts. The thick materials are critical for grip strength and handling demanding loads. 

Cotton Lifting Straps

Cotton lifting straps are commonly seen in the gym for good reason: they offer exceptional comfort. These soft straps are gentle on your skin and prevent chafing or irritation as you lift weights. 

But, don’t be fooled. Cotton lifting straps can be extremely durable, especially Figure 8 lifting straps. (If you don’t know what these are, read our article onwhat Figure 8 lifting straps are) In fact, the world-record deadlift was broken by a lifter wearing these. 

If you value comfort and maximum grip during your workouts, cotton lifting straps are an excellent choice.

Pros and Cons of Cotton Lifting Straps


  • Available in various lengths, with longer options for improved grip strength
  • Effective at absorbing sweat during workouts
  • Affordable
  • Good for novices
  • Less likely to chafe or irritate skin


  • Less durable leather or nylon straps
  • Can stretch under heavy load
  • Not good for intermediate or advanced lifters
  • Doesn’t maximize gripping strength

Who Should Wear Cotton Lifting Straps?

Cotton lifting straps are comfortable, offering reliable grip support and callus protection. While lower-quality ones can stretch under heavy loads, they are a good starting point for most recreational lifters. Consider a reputable brand like TUFFWraps for durability as you progress. Ideal for beginners, general fitness, Olympic weightlifters, and Crossfit athletes.

Which Type of Lifting Straps are Best for You?

When you're weighing your options between cotton, nylon, and leather lifting straps, nylon straps are the way to go. While they're not as budget-friendly as cotton, they offer great performance that lasts as you progress in your lifting journey. You can rely on them throughout your entire lifting career. Nylon straps strike a balance between durability, grip support, and comfort, making them the preferred choice for both recreational and competitive powerlifters.

Leather straps are also a good choice if you’re seeking that premium feel and look. However, nylon and leather perform about the same and neither really outshines the other in durability and versatility. 

If cost is your main concern, then cotton straps are an excellent choice. They’re affordable, comfortable, and great for novices. Additionally, they absorb sweat well and come in a variety of sizes. Just remember that you might need to replace them either because you've gotten stronger or because they've worn out from all the workouts over time.


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