What is the military-grade fabric known as Ripstop, and what are its safety benefits? Workwear manufacturers that develop garments constructed in Ripstop will point to its well-performing simplicity implicit in its name — Ripstop is a fabric designed to prevent tears from spreading and in essence, stops rips.

Ripstop fabric is woven using a special reinforcing technique that makes it very resistant against tearing and ripping. During the weaving process, an extra, thicker yarn is used every so often as reinforcement threads. These extra yarns are woven in at regular intervals in a crosshatch pattern in the fabric.

If you take a basic weave at random areas in the pattern, in both warp (vertical direction) and fill (horizontal direction), a thicker yarn is used in place of the existing yarn. This forms small blocks in the fabric where the warp and fill directions cross each other. When a small tear develops and contacts the reinforced area, the extra yarn or the thicker yarn stops the tear. This process sums up what a Ripstop fabric is and how it is manufactured. But how does it apply to garment construction?

Fabric options
Ripstop is produced in a range of weights and textures, waterproof, water-resistant, fire resistant, zero porosity (will not allow air or water through), light, medium and heavy-weight. Textures range from soft, silk-like to crisp or stiff ones that sound like a paper bag when they are moved.

Ripstop fabric can come in a light-weight 50-percent cotton and 50-percent nylon blend — two extremely important fabrics, as one is light-weight and the other contains nylon. Having a light-weight 6.4 oz fabric provides an option that is less weather-dependent. By blending the cotton with the nylon, you get a more comfortable fit and added performance properties from the nylon. Nylon is known for its strength and durability. It is very abrasion-resistant and dries quickly. An advantage of Ripstop fabrics is that it provides a favorable weight to strength ratio.

Military origins
Ripstop is an extremely versatile fabric and widely used outside of an apparel capacity. Originally developed as an inexpensive synthetic replacement for silk in the production of parachutes during World War II, common uses today include items such as kites, sails, tents, hang gliders, parachutes and hot air balloons, all situations where the fabric must not fail under stress — and the same goes for workwear garments constructed in Ripstop.

Workwear Ripstop clothing uses a military grade fabric; reinforcement can be incorporated into heavier fabrics for extreme durability, such as those used in the manufacture of luggage and protective clothing for workers and law enforcement officials.

Remember, this fabric is designed to do just what the name says. It stops rips. Garments constructed in this fabric can give workers the confidence that what starts out as a small tear or rip will stay that way. By utilizing a light-weight fabric, you have a fabric that is less weather-dependant without losing durability and abrasion-resistance in the garment. And by incorporating a cotton-nylon blend into Ripstop, strength properties are enhanced and the fabric dries quickly.