What is Ripstop Fabric?

a closeup photo of ripstop fabric.

If you have shopped on our website for clothing and tactical gear, you have seen the term ‘ripstop’ mentioned throughout. But what is ripstop fabric and why is it important? 

What is Ripstop Fabric? 

Ripstop is a type of fabric weaving or stitching technique that is reinforced by a specific, square weave and grid-like pattern. Coarse fibers are interwoven in the nylon fabric that help make ripstop fabric stronger and more durable than a normal weave pattern. Ripstop fabric is not only used in making apparel, but for many other applications, as well, including hot air balloons, camping tents, and parachutes. More on parachutes later. 

Now with a name like ripstop, most people think this technique prevents rips and tears from occurring. Yes and no. It does help prevent major tears, but not completely. Where it really shines is in preventing small tears and rips (something that cannot be avoided when dealing with tactical clothing) from spreading or getting larger. 

If a tear does start to happen, the ripstop technique and its ultra-thick reinforcement yarns will help prevent the tear from spreading, as the grid-like pattern ensures that rips will go no farther than a few millimeters. 

The ripstop weaving technique is one of, if not the most, popular, and well-known weaving techniques for tactical-style apparel.  

A Concise History of Ripstop Fabric 

Ripstop’s heritage goes all the way back to World War II when allied forces grew concerned over the frequency of silk parachutes being ruined by rips and tears. The rush to find a solution was on, and it wasn’t long before the DuPont chemical company created the ripstop technique. Parachute problem solved. But that’s where it stopped until the 1960s when Louis Weiner and Harold Brandt saw the benefits of ripstop fabric for clothing and applied for a ripstop patent with the U.S. government. 

Fast forward to the 1980s and ripstop was being used in all manner of tactical gear thanks to its durability and strength, ideal for military and other tactical-style endeavors. 

Today, every tactical apparel manufacturer uses ripstop fabric in some form or fashion. And it is easy to see why, as the benefits are many. 

The Benefits of Ripstop Fabric 

As we have discussed above, the primary benefit of ripstop fabric is its ability to prevent rips and tears from spreading. This is critical for military personnel, law enforcement, and other professions or tactical ops. Consider a soldier in the middle of an important mission, crawling through thick brush. If a tear occurs, they cannot halt the mission and find a change of pants. They must keep going. And if they are wearing ripstop fabric, hopefully that small tear won’t spread, and they can perform their op successfully. 

Considering the solid, grid-like weave pattern, you may be wondering if the pants are heavy and hold heat in. In fact, nylon ripstop fabric is breathable and offers much the same comfort of a normal weave. 

It is important to note that ripstop itself is not water-repellent or waterproof, but steps can be taken to make them so thanks to lamination and other techniques. 

Ripstop fabric is inexpensive for the amount of protection it provides. It is strong, durable, and is the kind of high-performance fabric you need in the most crucial situations. 

5.11’s Collection of Ripstop Pants 

As the premier tactical apparel and accessory supplier, 5.11 features an extensive selection of tactical pants that contain the ripstop fabric weaving technique. 

Our popular Taclite Pro Ripstop Pant presents a blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton Taclite ripstop for an ultra-lightweight, yet durable pant that’s ideal for anything life throws your way. The Taclite Pro is double reinforced at the knees and seat for extra durability when you are crouching, crawling, squatting, or running. Bartacking at major stress points ensures these pants can stand up to anything. 

Another great option is our TDU Pant which was developed with input from a wide range of tactical operators. The polyester/cotton ripstop blend ensures rugged durability, while the Teflon finish helps protect your pants from stains, soil, and other debris. TacTec system compatibility means you have complete customizable storage options for your tactical gear and equipment. 

One of our most comfortable tactical pant choices, the ABR™ Pro Pant highlights our polyester/cotton ripstop blend with mechanical stretch. Other elements include nine pockets, our trademark utility strap, and reinforced seat and knees. This option may suit those who are looking for a lightweight, durable pair of pants that can easily take you from work to leisure. 

If you’re looking for a new pair of tactical pants and want ones that can take the wear and tear of a hard day’s work, always consider ripstop fabric to ensure you’ll Always Be Ready. 


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