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What is the best material for military IFAK ?

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

The durability of military IFAKs is a core feature to consider before getting one. The quality of fabric with which a kit was made greatly influences its durability. Thus, in discussing the quality of military IFAKs, durability should be discussed, and in discussing the durability of these essential items, the type of fabric should be discussed.

This article discusses the types of fabrics for making military IFAKs and points you to the best material to choose.

Types of fabrics for making IFAKs

A variety of fabrics are applied in making military kits. Our focus in this article is on the most commonly used fabrics. We will be highlighting the pros and cons of the most commonly used fabrics to decide on the best.

There are many different types of fabrics that are easily accessible and used for making an IFAK. However, not all of them accomplish the same thing and some may be better than others in certain situations.

Let's take a look at what each type offers so you know which ones to choose when it comes time to make your own kit.


Canvas has been one of the most preferred tools for making the gear and backpacks for centuries. Canvas is a thousand-year old material with an incredible history.

It was originally used as sailcloth on ships but also became incredibly popular as a tough outdoor clothing fabric that could stand up to the elements.

If you've ever been on a tour of Concord or Lexington, you may have seen reenactors wearing canvas haversacks over their shoulders just like the Revolutionary soldiers did.

Canvas is made from 100% cotton that has been tightly woven together, usually using an "x" crosshatch pattern to form the sheeting material.

It is extremely durable and very easy to care for as it's machine washable, although you should probably refrain from using bleach as this may deteriorate the material.

Canvas is not water-resistant, but it will absorb moisture that comes into contact with it until it eventually evaporates naturally. Canvas doesn't have any significant resistance to punctures, so it's best used inside an inner pocket instead of directly against skin where rips or perforations could result in a medic having to throw away a whole pouch full of otherwise perfectly good medical supplies.

However, in recent times, the application of canvas in making the kit has declined. This is because of the weight and difficulty in waterproofing the material.

When used in making IFAKs, the kit can be bulky and difficult to waterproof. Thus, canvas cannot be described as the best material for military IFAKs.

Because of the downsides of canvass, manufacturers have moved on from applying it to make IFAKs.

We should mention that a lot of work has been put into making canvas lighter. The material, which was originally made from cotton is now being made from lighter fibers.

Even though canvas is not as heavy as bulky as it was centuries ago, it is still not the most suitable material for making IFAKs because of the weight.

Standard nylon

Standard nylon has several features that make it the most suitable fabric for military IFAKs. It is a durable and lightweight fabric. It is also particularly aesthetically pleasing, another feature that could be considered in choosing it for making the kit.

We should also mention the ease of waterproofing this material. The ease of waterproofing standard nylon particularly makes it a suitable material for making IFAKs. Nylon also has repellant abilities against insects and fungi that could grow on the kit.

Nylon also has a high melting point, which means it won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with fire. Finally, nylon is relatively affordable compared to other fabrics.

There are, however, some disadvantages to using standard nylon for IFAKs. For one, standard nylon is not very breathable, which can make it uncomfortable to wear in hot weather. Additionally, standard nylon doesn't offer much protection against cuts or stabs.

Also a possible downside to the application of standard nylon is its tendency to easily tear when punctured. It also does not have excellent tolerance for UV rays.

So, when choosing a fabric for making an IFAK, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each option. Nylon is a good choice for those looking for a durable, water resistant fabric. However, if breathability or protection against cuts and stabs are important factors, other fabrics may be a better option.

Rip-stop nylon

Nylon is one of the most popular military IFAK materials because it's lightweight and highly durable. It can withstand multiple uses, which makes nylon a great investment for military ifak.

Unlike metal ifak, however, nylon does not handle heat or water well at all! If you do get your medical kit wet or let it sit in extreme heat (like inside an oven), then this material will likely break down over time rendering your medical equipment useless after only one use.

Rip-stop nylon has most of the features that make a fabric suitable for making IFAKs. A top feature is its durability. The durability of rip-stop nylon makes it an excellent choice for making the gear as well backpacks and other similar items.

This fabric can also be easily waterproofed and is not considered a heavy or bulky fabric.

Rip-stop nylon is particularly known to be more durable than other similar fabrics like standard nylon. The durability of this fabric could be attributed to the square pattern of the fibers.


Polyester is a highly durable fabric that can be used to make long-lasting items like military IFAKs and backpacks. Other notable similar features of this fabric include the ability to dry quickly and the resistance to chemicals.

This is a lightweight fabric too. Because of the numerous desirable features, polyester could be favored in making military kits and other similar materials.

Cordura nylon

Cordura nylon could be described as an upgrade of standard nylon in terms of durability and its lightweight nature. Because of both features, this fabric is commonly applied in making backpacks.

In terms of application for making military IFAKs, cordura nylon has some features that could be considered as downsides. Such features include waterproofing challenges and limited comfortability. Cordura nylon is not as comfortable as standard nylon because it is as smooth as the latter.

Because of the highlighted downsides, cordura nylon cannot be described as the best material for making military IFAKs.


PVC has several desirable features that could drive its application for military IFAKs and is a cheap fabric. The notable features of PVC are the weight and waterproof nature. It is also readily available.

Emergency Medical Kits: The Difference Between Cotton, Polyester and Nylon

What is the difference between cotton, polyester and nylon? This question has been around for a while. There are pros and cons to each material that make it different from the others. Let's get into them!

Cotton is a smooth fabric that comes from the cotton plant. Cotton can be blended with other materials, such as elastic or spandex to make it stretchy and form fitting.

Polyester has its origin in petroleum products - petrochemicals are mixed together which results in polymers (long chains of molecules).

Nylon is another synthetic fiber made from chemicals derived from coal or oil.

Polyesters have higher abrasion resistance than both nylon and cotton fabrics.-Working conditions for textile workers who manufacture textiles by hand can be harsh since they must work long hours on difficult tasks under hot working conditions.-Textile manufacturing processes include spinning, weaving, knitting/crocheting and dyeing/printing.

What is the best fabric for IFAKs.

The best fabrics for making military IFAKs should have the core important points such as durability, tear resistance, chemical resistance, and water resistance.

In terms of water resistance, the best fabrics for military IFAKs should be easily waterproofed. Strength and durability ratings particularly influence the suitability of fabrics for military IFAKs.

All of the fabrics highlighted in this article could be applied in making military IFAKs as they have the core features of strength and durability. However, some of the fabrics are more suited than others based on their desirable features.

From the fabrics highlighted above, rip-stop nylon could be described as a top choice for making military IFAKs because of its durability, ease of waterproofing, and chemical resistance. Another fabric from the list that could be excellent for making military IFAKs is Cordura.


Finally, the best fabric for an IFAK should be durable, breathable and resistant to fluids. This is true whether you are looking at a custom made pack or one that has been pre-made by a company like Yeye Tactical.

If you're interested in learning more about how the materials used in your tactical gear could make it better for first responders, please contact us today!

We can help you find what product will work best for your needs while also training you some of the ins and outs of our products including fabrics, zippers, fasteners etc. Contact Us Today!

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