Leather Vs. Nylon Lifting Belts: What Are the Differences?

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Of all the lifting belts variations, there tends to be two different base materials that belts will made out of; these are leather and nylon. There are multiple material blends, foam inserts, and cloth variations in belts, but at the end of the day, the base always typically falls back to either leather or nylon.

This article will be a dissection into a few key differences between both styles of belt. For the weathered lifter, this information may seem like a no-brainer, but newer strength athletes may not fully understand what each type of belt has to offer.

[Looking for the right lifting belt for you? Check out our rundown of the best lifting belts on the market!]

In the video below, I pulled two standard belts we reviewed from each category. For leather, I pulled the Rogue Ohio Lifting Belt, and for nylon, the Harbinger 4″ Lifting Belt.

First Difference: Buckling Systems

Leather Belts: This style belt will utilize three different options, which include: single-prong, double-prong (there are a few triple-pronged belts), and levers. The belt’s end will have pre-made holes, similar to regular belts you wear on a daily basis. Buckles/prongs and levers are made out of metal, and are usually a stainless steel to ensure durability.

Single, double, triple, and lever buckles are all made to be strong and avoid any form of bending during maximal movements. Unlike prongs, lever buckles have a pre-fixed nature, so you’ll have to tailor the belt to your torso/needs to find the perfect fit.

Nylon Belts: These belts utilize stainless steel buckles as well, but only on the actual fastening section on the belt. The strap that tightens the belt will be made of pure nylon, or a cloth blend, and can be adjusted to fit the torso as tight as needed.

This style belt can often be pulled a little tighter, as it has more material to work with and no pre-made holes. Additionally, some nylon belts are made more rigid than others, so belt and strap width should be take into consideration.

Lifting Belt Styles
Lifting Belt Styles

Second Difference: Construction

Leather Belts: A leather belt will be thicker than a nylon belt, and will provide more rigidity for the torso. They’re usually constructed with multiple layers of finished leather, and enclosed with single or double stitching. Leather thickness and stitching can play a major role in a belt’s durability and stability.

Nylon Belts: Nylon belts are flexible and are noticeably thinner compared to leather belts. These belts will have varied stitching patterns, which are often dependent on the belt style.

Leather Versus Nylon Lifting Belts
Leather Versus Nylon Lifting Belts

Third Difference: Who Uses Them

Leather Belts: Often times, not always, powerlifters, weightlifters (tapered leather belts), and strongman competitors will reach for leather belts. These are the belts that provide the torso with the most stability, so lifters performing maximal lifts frequently will benefit best.

Another factor that goes into a lot of these athlete’s belt decisions is based on competition approved belts. Every powerlifting organization has their own set of approved equipment, but generally a competition belt can’t exceed a thickness of 13mm.

Nylon Belts: These are versatile belts that often benefit CrossFit, functional fitness athletes, and recreational lifter. They provide support, but also offer maneuverability through a variety of movements. This characteristic also makes these belts a little more ideal for beginners who may be new to using and bracing into a belt.

Leather Versus Nylon Lifting Belts Compared
Leather Versus Nylon Lifting Belts Compared

Leather and nylon belts both aim to provide the torso with additional stability. Your perfect belt should cater to your wants, needs, and strength sport.

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.