Wrist Wraps

3 Types of Wrist Wraps Explained (Which Are The Best?)

3 Types of Wrist Wraps Explained (Which Are The Best?)

Wrist wraps can provide stability and support to help you lift heavier weights more safely, but over the years working as a strength coach I've noticed that lifters are often confused about which type of wrist wrap will best suit their needs.

The main difference between types of wrist wraps is the material they are made from, which impacts the amount of support they offer, the amount of mobility they allow for, how comfortable they feel, and how versatile they are for different styles of training.

In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of the 3 most popular types of wrist wraps to help you determine which wrap type is best suited for your training needs and performance goals. 

3 Types of Wrist Wraps

There are three main styles of wrist wraps; nylon, cotton, and leather. 

The materials used will determine the level of support they provide and the exercises or movements they would be best suited for.




Level of Support




Ease of Use



















Buckle / Velcro

Nylon Wrist Wraps

Nylon Wrist Wraps

Nylon wrist wraps are the most popular materials used for wraps, as they offer both comfort and good support. The nylon material also makes them adjustable so that they can be worn for a variety of exercises and movements.


  • Easily Adjusted. Nylon wraps are secured with velcro fasteners, making them quick and easy to put on and take off. They can be adjusted by making the first rotation around your wrist tighter or looser, based on your preference.

  • Versatile. Nylon wraps are ideal for lifters who want a versatile wrap that can be worn tighter or looser based on the type of support they are looking for. 

For compound pressing movements, like bench press and overhead press, you may want to wear them tighter to help support the wrist, whereas, in more dynamic snatching and clean and jerk exercises, you may want a slightly looser (but still compressive) fit to offer support without restricting movement at the joint.

  • Comfortable. Nylon wraps are stretchy, which helps them conform to the shape of your wrist and fit more comfortably. The elasticity of the material allows you to find the perfect balance between compression and comfort.


  • May Lack Maximal Levels Of Support. While most lifters will find Nylon wraps offer ample support, some more advanced and elite-level lifters may desire wrist wraps that are more restrictive to prevent movement of the wrist. 

This would be the case with some extremely high-level powerlifters who want a stiff wrist wrap, like leather wrist wraps. The comfort of the wrist wrap would not matter to these lifters, as they are looking for maximal support.

  • Velcro Can Fail. Higher-quality nylon wraps will last you a while; however, repeat uses of velcro fastening systems can result in the velcro losing its fastening abilities over time, especially if you’re not washing them properly.

The integrity of the velcro is important as you do not want your wrist wraps to come off in the middle of a repetition. 

Make sure you buy well-made nylon wraps for a company that stands by its products and offers replacement in the event they fail. At Gymreapers, we stand by our products 100%.

Who Should Wear Nylon Wrist Wraps

Who should wear nylon wrist wraps

Nylon wraps are a great wrap for any lifter looking for great levels of wrist support and the versatility to wear them for various movements and levels of tightness. 

Nylon wraps are an ideal choice for first-time wrist wrap buyers, bodybuilders, beginner to intermediate powerlifters, weightlifters, and general fitness enthusiasts. 

What Exercises / Lifts Are Nylon Wrist Wraps Best For?

What exercises / lifts are nylon wrist wraps best for?

Nylon wraps are great for all types of lifts; you can wear them for compound strength movements like bench press and overhead press and for movements that require more flexibility like snatches, clean and jerks, and even gymnastics. 

The only time when they may not be the best is when you feel that the nylon wraps cannot be pulled and secured tight enough to give you a cast-like level of support.

Cotton Wrist Wraps

cotton wrist wraps

Cotton wrist wraps are a softer, more easily adjusted style of wrist wrap that can be worn for longer periods without becoming uncomfortable (which may be an issue with some nylon and leather wraps). 

Cotton wraps usually come in longer lengths because you need to wrap them around your wrist many times to properly secure the string fastening system.

Cotton wraps are adjusted by twisting the material around the wrist once it’s in place and the string has been fastened (here’s a video to demonstrate).


  • More Comfortable Than Other Styles. Cotton is a very comfortable material to wear for longer periods, and because of that, you can wear these during your entire workout. Unlike leather and nylon wraps, cotton wraps can be worn loosely, stay in place, and still be comfortable. 

Cotton wraps are ideal for longer WODs or workouts where you want to avoid taking them on and off between sets.

  • Easier To Wash & Clean. Cotton wraps can easily be cleaned by running them through a washer and dryer cycle. Nylon wraps can be washed gently by hand, but you shouldn’t wash them too frequently as you could weaken the velcro systems. 

  • Leather cannot be cleaned or dried like cotton, so it will get dirtier and more sweaty over time.

  • More Flexibility With Good Support. When doing more dynamic movements like the olympic lifts or gymnastics, you need more wrist flexibility but also support.

    Cotton wraps offer you the best mixture of both flexibility and support, whereas nylon offers you some flexibility and better support. Leather wraps offer no flexibility and the most support.

  • Cons

    • Lacks Support For Heavier Lifts. While cotton wraps offer some support, they offer less support than nylon and leather wraps provide. 

    This may be fine for lighter lifts or when doing higher rep workouts, but if you are lifting heavier weights for maximal strength, then you may need more support.

  • Can Be Bulky If You Have Smaller Wrists. If you have small wrists, you may find that the standard lengths of cotton wraps leave too much material wrapped around your wrist, impacting movement at the wrist joint.

    Since the fasting string system requires that you have many rotations around the wrist, this may be an unavoidable issue. You could look for shorter-length wraps (18-24”) or opt for shorter nylon wraps.

  • Who Should Wear Cotton Wrist Wraps

    who should wear cotton wrist wraps

    Cotton wrist wraps are best worn by lifters who need both higher levels of flexibility and support. 

    Weightlifters (snatch, clean, and jerk) and gymnasts will likely prefer to use cotton wraps over other types of wraps due to the need for mobility at the wrist joint, which is often limited with nylon and leather wraps.

    CrossFitters or general fitness enthusiasts may also prefer cotton wraps if they want wraps they can keep on for the entire workout that still provides good support.

    What Exercises / Lifts Are Cotton Wrist Wraps Best For?

    What exercises / lifts are cotton wrist wraps best for?

    Cotton wraps are best worn during snatches, cleans, jerks, gymnastic movements, or higher repetition sets using lower weights. 

    Cotton wraps are appropriate for any movement that requires some wrist flexibility and support. The only time movements I wouldn’t recommend while using cotton wraps are max effort lifts that require the highest levels of stability.

    Leather Wrist Wraps

    Leather wrist wraps are made of durable leather that offers you the highest amount of wrist support and stability. The leather material is much stiffer than nylon or cotton, making it ideal for heavy pressing and other movements where you want your wrist to be locked in place.

    Leather wrist wraps will not conform to your wrist because they are so rigid, and therefore will not be as comfortable as nylon or cotton.

    Leather straps tend to be fastened with a buckle or velcro, which allows you to adjust the wraps and has high amounts of security and support. While these are supportive, they need to be adjusted before and after every set and should not be kept fastened throughout the entirety of the workout.


    • Most Durable Style Of Wrist Wrap. Leather is one of the most durable materials you could use for a wrist wrap. Leather can withstand higher amounts of friction and wear and tear, making it a great choice for lifters who want a highly supportive wrist wrap that will last them years.

    • Offer Full Support With Zero Stretch. Leather is highly supportive and allows minimal movement of the wrist once it is wrapped. Leather wrist wraps provide a cast-like effect that keeps your wrist as stable and supported as possible under heavy loads


    • Lacks Flexibility Needed For Dynamic Lifts. Leather is a stiff and durable material, which may be an issue if you need the mobility to perform dynamic exercises like snatches, cleans, and dynamic movements (or WODs). 

    Most leather wrist wraps will prevent you from achieving the wrist position necessary to perform dynamic movements, so they are not as versatile as nylon and cotton wraps.

    • Can Be Bulky & Uncomfortable. With the great support that leather wraps offer, comes a loss of flexibility and comfort that you would get from other materials.

    If you are someone who is looking for a comfortable wrist wrap, that can be worn for your entire workout, and that won’t feel bulky, then leather may not be your best choice (in this case opt for nylon or cotton).

    • Most Expensive Style Of Wrap. Leather is significantly more expensive than cotton or nylon straps. For a good quality leather wrist wrap, you could expect to spend between $50-60 (more than triple that of a good nylon or cotton wrap).

    Who Should Wear Leather Wrist Wraps

    Leather wrist wraps are best worn by advanced lifters who need the highest amounts of wrist support with minimal need for flexibility of the wrists.

    This wrap would be ideal for powerlifters, strongman athletes, and even some more advanced weightlifters who have excellent shoulder and thoracic mobility and can keep their wrists stiff in movements like the snatch and clean.

    What Exercises / Lifts Are Leather Wrist Wraps Best For?

    Leather wraps are best worn during heavy bench presses, overhead presses, strongman exercises like carries, log pressing, and even Olympic lifts (assuming the lifter has good shoulder and thoracic flexibility and can keep their wrists stiff).

    For most people, I wouldn’t recommend leather wrist wraps for gymnastics movements, clean & jerks, snatches, or any other movement that requires more mobility at the wrist joints.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does the quality of wrist wraps matter?

    Yes, a high-quality wrist wrap will last you for longer periods and retain its structure. Lower-quality wraps will stretch or lose their ability to support you over time. Look for wraps made of leather or premium nylon and polyester with reinforced stitching.

    Do I need thumb loops on my wrist wraps?

    The need for thumb loops on your wrist wraps depends on the material. Most cotton and leather straps don’t have thumb loops because they are unnecessary with that material, whereas nylon wraps should have thumb loops to help you anchor them as you stretch the wrap around your wrist.

    Are stiff or flexible wraps better?

    Stiff wraps(leather or nylon) are better for heavy lifting where you want minimal wrist flexibility and maximal support, such as bench and overhead presses. A more flexible yet still supportive wrap (cotton or nylon) is better for dynamic exercise like the Olympic lifts and gymnastics, as well as general lifting.

    Reading next

    Do wrist wraps weaken your wrist & forearm
    Should You Use Wrist Wraps For Squats? Coach Answers

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