Cotton vs. Nylon vs. Leather Lifting Strap: Which is Better?


by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

You’re not alone if you’ve got strong lats and glutes but find your grip strength holding you back in the gym. The good news is that there’s scientific backing for the benefits of lifting straps to enhance grip recovery and maintain strength.

In addition to that, when paired with a weightlifting belt, it could improve knee flexion angle, leading to better form. The catch? Choosing between leather, nylon, or cotton lifting straps can be a dilemma.

In this article, we will break down the difference between cotton, nylon, and leather lifting straps.

Although less durable for heavy lifting due to increased stretch under load, cotton straps serve a purpose. With minimal stretch, nylon lifting straps are an excellent choice for most lifters. Leather straps, the most durable, come with the trade-off of being bulky and less absorbent of sweat.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before engaging in any exercise program.

Cotton Lifting Straps

Cotton lifting straps are a familiar sight in gyms, known for their widespread use. The primary appeal lies in their exceptional comfort, offering a softer feel compared to nylon. This characteristic is particularly valuable to those concerned about chafing, ensuring a comfortable lifting experience.

While cotton lifting straps provide decent grip support, they do have limitations, especially as the weight increases. The material tends to stretch under heavier loads, reducing its effectiveness in improving grip strength.

Ideal for beginners lifting moderate weights, cotton liftin straps may become less favorable as lifting capacity grows, pushing a shift towards non-stretch materials like nylon or leather.


  • Cost-effective option
  • Suitable for both light and heavy training
  • Comfortable on the wrists
  • Low risk of chafing or skin irritation
  • Excellent sweat absorption


  • It may not be as durable as leather or nylon straps
  • Some cotton straps can stretch under heavy loads

Nylon Lifting Straps

Nylon lifting straps dominate major strength training facilities, with powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, and Strongman competitors favoring their use. The thickness of the nylon lifting strap, particularly beneficial for heavy weights, sets it apart from cotton.

A non-stretch material, nylon is crucial for enhancing grip strength and securing a firm hold on the bar during maximum lifts. Its resistance to wear and tear, owing to thickness and lack of stretch, ensures longevity even with consistent use. While nylon doesn’t absorb sweat as effectively as cotton, proper drying practices can mitigate any potential degradation.

Despite being less soft compared to cotton, nylon’s durability compensates for its minor drawback. It may cause minor discomfort or chafing under heavy loads, so those sensitive to skin issues might want to consider alternatives.

Although pricier than cotton, their longevity and resilience justify the added expense of nylon lifting straps. The investment proves worthwhile for those seeking durable and reliable lifting accessories.


  • Trusted and utilized by experts
  • Minimal stretching
  • Exceptional grip strength
  • Outstanding durability
  • Versatile and suitable for lifters of all levels


  • It is less comfortable compared to cotton
  • It may cause skin irritation and wrist discomfort
  • Subpar sweat absorption

Leather Lifting Straps

Lifters who appreciate quality and style often opt for leather lifting straps. Known for their high-end appearance and tactile feel, leather straps can be custom-made for a personalized touch.

While not necessarily outperforming nylon counterparts, the choice between leather and nylon is more a matter of taste and preference. Leather lifting straps boast comfort, getting rid of concerns about chafing. They excel in durability, not succumbing to stretching under pressure, making them suitable for heavier weights.

However, their almost overly resilient nature may pose a challenge initially, requiring a “breaking in” period for ease of use.

Despite being sweat-resistant like nylon, proper maintenance is essential. Drying the leather lifting straps after each workout prolongs their lifespan. Available in various thicknesses, with 2mm being a popular choice for its balanced feel on the barbell.

While leather straps share a comparable price range with nylon, any customizations come at an additional cost. Yet, considering their longevity and the infrequency of replacements compared to cotton, leather lifting straps offer excellent value for money.


  • Stable non-stretch material
  • Wrist-friendly comfort, reducing chafing and irritation
  • Engineered for optimal grip (differentiating from wrist wraps)
  • Remarkably resilient
  • Boasts a high-end appearance and tactile feel
  • Customization possibilities for a personalized touch


  • Needs some extra maintenance for the leather
  • Limited sweat absorption
  • Takes time to “break in” the strap
  • It comes with a slightly higher cost