Nylon vs Polyester Leggings

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With so many different brands and types of leggings to choose from, it’s hard to know which type is the best. Polyester or nylon? What are the differences?

I’ll break down what you need to know about nylon vs. polyester for your next purchase.

Nylon vs Polyester Leggings Overview

Nylon is a synthetic fiber that is very durable, although it does not breathe well. Polyester, on the other hand, breathes better than nylon because it’s made of natural fibers. Polyester also has more stretch when compared to nylon.

However, both are good for cold weather wear due to their ability to keep heat in by trapping air in pockets created by the fabric weave or knit pattern. Durability is something I look at when I buy any leggings; you don’t want to buy leggings that will tear and wear quickly.

A woman working out at home

Nylon Leggings

Nylon, polyamide, and chinlon are the same fabrics. Polyamide is just a brand name for nylon, whereas chinlon is a combination of china nylon. Globally the production of nylon is minimal since it’s only 5%.

Nylon is an artificial, synthetic fiber that is made of polyamide. A chemical synthesis process is used to provide these fibers. The fibers are produced into textiles, and that’s how along the way, nylon develops a high resistance to chemicals and heat.

It is a standard fabric that comes on the top choice right after cotton. Nylon leggings are very tear-proof and long-lasting. I have a long way to go when it comes to recycling nylon since it’s harder and more expensive to recycle.


  • Nylon leggings are abrasion and stain-resistant, thus making them durable
  • They are highly resistant to mildew and the mold
  • They are easy to clean
  • They are highly elastic due to their stretchability


  • Nylon leggings have a shiny appearance
  • They tend to fade, especially when they are exposed to sunlight
  • They can not be recycled, thus making them environmentally unfriendly 

Polyester Leggings

Most polyesters in today’s world are made of ethylene glycol and terephthalic. Polyester clothes usually are elastic and firm. They are also wrinkle-resistant and are highly abrasive.

Polyester fibers are usually mixed with natural fibers to add more value to the product and reduce the shrinking. An excellent example of a mixture of fabrics is polyester and cotton.

Synthetic polyesters provide better resistance to water, damage, and wear and tear than plant-based fibers. Polyester leggings are now famous due to their fabric having a high stain resistance. Polyester is recyclable, and as of 2020, the percentage of recyclable polyester has reached 15%.

A woman wearing a gray leggings and black shirt


  • Polyester leggings are stain and heat resistant; therefore, they are the best when it comes to printing.
  • They are resistant to fading and bleaching, making them best when choosing leggings that retain their color after washing.
  • They have a low absorbency, and this makes them dry faster.
  • They are environmentally friendly since they are recyclable.
  • Highly durable, which makes them hold on to any climate without getting damaged.
  •  Have a low cost of production due to their cheap production method.
  • They are hydrophobic, meaning they do not absorb moisture.


  • When they are stretched for an extended period, they don’t retain their shape.
  • They are dye resistant since they are hydrophobic.
  • They don’t resist oil stains, and they can make you have a hard time removing the oil stain.

Nylon vs Polyester Leggings

Let’s have a look at the similarities and differences in these nylon and polyester leggings.

Comparing Nylon vs Polyester Leggings

Features Nylon Polyester
Breathability Less breathable Breathable
Color Not fade resistant Fade resistance
Odor resistance Yes No
Feel Soft and smooth Hard and rough
Moisture wicking No Yes


  • Both are made of polymer materials.
  • Both are produced through a process called condensed polymerization.
  • Nylon leggings and polyester leggings are both lightweight and robust because of their polymer structure.
  • Both nylon and polyester leggings are easy to take care of.
  • Both are produced through condensation polymerization.


Understanding how the two types of leggings differ will make you decide which type of leggings you want to buy.

  • Color: Since polyester leggings are hydrophobic, when you dye them, only the color of their dye dissolves into the fabric, thus making them permanent. In contrast, other Nylon leggings absorb water, and the dyes used in it oxides, thus making the color fade away. That’s why people choose polyester when it comes to color. Polyester leggings tend to take higher heat while printing, thus making it hold printing much better than nylon leggings that melt if it’s printed at too high heat.
  • Feel: Nylon leggings are soft and smooth, while polyester leggings lack smoothness and softness. Due to advanced technology, polyester leggings have become softer but not as soft as nylon leggings or cotton leggings.
  • Durability: Nylon leggings are stronger for their stretchability, while polyester leggings are stronger in their pilling resistance.
  • Outdoor: When it comes to outdoor use, polyester leggings win since they are naturally made to withstand outdoor conditions; however, it all depends on the fabrics’ thickness. If nylon leggings are thicker than polyester leggings, then nylon leggings will be the best choice for a colder climate.
  • Cost: Generally, nylon leggings cost more because of their production and expensive process. The polyester leggings manufacturing and production processes are very cheap. Cost depends on the kind of item you are purchasing, the design, brand name, and the type of product, and even with these things, nylon leggings end up being more expensive.
  • Odor Resistance: Polyester leggings tend to hold smell since they absorb oils since these oils hold on to your fabric, and they rarely come out after you wash them. Nylon leggings do not absorb oil, and therefore they don’t retain body odors. Hence nylon leggings are less breathable, and they make you sweat, especially during a workout, but polyester leggings are more breathable and will smell more later!
  • Moisture-Wicking Capability: Polyester leggings are the best for fast-drying fabrics, while nylon leggings tend to absorb some water, making them take longer when it comes to drying.
A woman wearing a camouflage designed leggings

Major Distinguishing Factor

Polyester leggings are more hydrophobic, and they are better than nylon leggings when it comes to moisture management.

When to Wear Nylon Leggings

Nylon leggings have their advantages and disadvantages, and from this, you can know when to use nylon leggings and when not to use them. If your nylon legging is thick, then you can wear it for a colder climate.

If you are looking for a durable, lightweight, then the best choice is nylon leggings.

When to Wear Polyester Leggings

Polyester leggings are hydrophobic fabrics that mean they have water-resistant and sweat-wicking features, making them the best choice for a sports leggings fabric.

Polyester leggings have zero see-through and comfortable leggings that you can wear for any outdoor activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Nylon Leggings Better Than Polyester Leggings?

Yes, nylon leggings are better than polyester leggings as nylon is stronger and more durable.

Nylon is breathable, making the leggings ideal for rigorous workouts that can make you sweat. Nylon fabric is also stain-resistant, making the leggings easy to clean.

Do Nylon Leggings Fade Faster Than Polyester Leggings?

Polyester leggings don’t easily fade as they are hydrophobic. That means once you dye them, the color becomes permanent.

On the other hand, nylon leggings are hydrophilic, which contributes to their fading. Typically, polyester leggings will retain their colors, while nylon leggings will fade with time and lose their original color on exposure to light.

How Can I Clean Nylon and Polyester Leggings?

Use warm water and detergents to clean the leggings. This helps to kill the bacteria from absorbed dirt and sweat.

Keep in mind that both nylon and synthetic materials and washing the leggings in hot water or ironing them when damp can make them shrink.


Polyester leggings are the best choice for those who want heat and stain resistance, as well as rapid drying. Nylon is also great if you prefer softer materials or need breathability in hot weather conditions that can be more comfortable than a stiffer fabric like polyester.