Ripstop refers to a textile fibre-weaving technique that makes finished goods more durable. Most people assume that this weave has something to do with stopping rips from occurring. It doesn’t. What it does is stop rips from spreading once they begin. In technical terms, ripstop prevents a tear from fully breaking the structure of the fabric. A tear might get started, but it will extend no further than the weave’s thick reinforcement yarns located a few millimeters away.

This capability makes ripstop ideal for tactical use—especially in situations where a tear develops while the wearer is in the middle of an op and has no way to change clothes.

It is arguably the tactical-clothing world’s best-known weaving technique (indeed, practically every tactical garment manufacturer employs it). Twill, knitting, and other techniques all bring something unique and valuable to the table, but none so much as ripstop.

Exploring the structure of ripstop helps us better understand this fabric. 

Like many common fabrics, ripstop has two distinct planes or dimensions: horizontal and vertical.

Technically, ripstop is what the textile industry refers to as a “plain weaver”. But it’s more accurate to say that ripstop employs a special variant of plain weaving construction. This construction entails “simple” up and down alternating cross-hatches always intertwined with two fibres.

The structure of a fabric is also impacted by its warp and weft. Think of warp as the fabric fill-in while the weft is the yarn woven in between. Think of warp as the fabric fill-in while the weft is the yarn woven in between.

NB: One very important structural characteristic of ripstop is the thing that allows it to stop rips. That thing is its yarn thickness (which also happens to correlate with weave technique). In a ripstop fabric, thicker yarn is placed at intervals of 5 mm to 8mm (or 0.2 to 0.3 inches).