Polyester fabric is a synthetic fabric found in numerous objects including clothing items, furniture, and tents!
Here we will focus on the latter application for tent fly sheets, and dive into what the different types of polyester mean for your choice of tent, but everything in this article will also apply to other objects made from polyester!
The main difference between 190T and 210D polyester is the thickness of the thread used to make the fabric. The thread used for 190T is approximately 8 times thicker than the thread used to make 210D polyester.
So what do these “D” and “T” designations mean?
The “D” in these fabric designations stands for “denier” which is the weight (in grams) of 9000 meters of thread. The designation “Tex” is also commonly used for polyester fabrics and is the weight of 1000 meters of thread.
Denier is the number of grams that 9000 meters of the fabric thread weigh.
Tex is the number of grams 1000 meters of the fabric thread weigh.
As 1D is the same as 9D, the conversion can be done as follows:
Tex = Denier/9
That is, the 190T fabric corresponds to 1710D, which can then be compared directly to the 210D thickness.
Doing so reveals that 1710D is (1710/210) 8.142 times thicker than 210D!
If you want to see some examples of tents made with these and other lightweight fabrics, check out my list of 20 lightweight budget hiking tents.
What is polyester?
Polyester is made from polyethylene terephthalate also known as PET, which is a synthetic polymer. The polyester plastic itself is used in everything from drinking bottles to TV screens and insulation material for your sleeping bag or “down” jacket!
Garments made from thin threads of polyester are mostly used for clothing, furniture or tents.
Polyester is generally more suitable for outdoor clothing as it is cheaper, more resistant to wrinkling, discolors less in UV/sunlight, and is often regarded as more rough.
When used in outdoor products such as for tents, thicker polyester threads are used because polyester is not as strong as nylon and therefore more polyester material (thicker threads) are needed to obtain the same strength.
I have recently written a post on the different nylon types used for tents if you’re interested in the lightest materials around!
In addition, it is simply not technically possible to make polyester threads thinner than a thickness of 20D (whereas nylon can be spun down to 7D!).
This generally makes products with polyester, including tents, heavier than comparable products where nylon is used.
What is 190T polyester?
190T polyester refers to a fabric woven with a polyester thread that weighs 190 grams per kilometer. The actual weight of the fabric depends on the method used to make it, coatings, rip-stop, etc.
It is fairly thick and rugged and is, therefore, more often used for clothing and backpacks rather than lightweight tents.
A light fabric made for clothing like the Taffeta 190T polyester weighs around 56g per square meter of fabric if not too densely woven.
Do you know the difference between nylon and polyester and that polyester is widely used for rain gear, sleeping bags, tents, and sleeping pads? And do you know how it impacts the functionality? I wrote an article about the fabric type and its impact on rain gear and a post on sleeping pads here.
Take a look at my favourite sleeping bags or check out my post on how to choose an inflatable sleeping pad that is not noisy to sleep on.
Other materials like the extremely durable and waterproof Dyneema material are also used more and more in outdoor gear.
70D Nylon vs 190T Polyester
Fabric made from190T polyester is much thicker and more durable than 70D Nylon, but also heavier.
Whereas 190T polyester has a thread thickness that corresponds to 190 grams per kilometer, 70D nylon has a thickness translating to only 7.7 grams per kilometer of yarn!
On top of that, polyester has a chemical structure that will make it more waterproof and fire-resistant, but less tear-resistant per unit of weight.
Here, 70D nylon is stronger per weight and if the surface is treated with the right chemicals, it will easily sustain above a 6000mm water pressure!
I wrote a longer post on the differences between nylon and polyester if you want to dig deeper into the topic!
What does 210D polyester mean?
The 210D in this fabric designation means that 9000 meters of the thread used to make the fabric weighs 210 grams.
This kind of fabric is often used for more lightweight applications like tents or hunting camouflage nets. When treated with water repellents, the final fabric can weigh up to around 120 grams per square meter.
It is also very often used to make flexible pouch backpacks for outdoor/sport activities.
Is 210D polyester durable?
Yes, 210D polyester is quite durable. Compared to thinner tent fabrics or to nylon, it is more resistant to wear and also less susceptible to UV light.
Whereas it is not used in lightweight tents, it is often used in bigger family tents where weight is not the primary concern.
Is 210D polyester waterproof?
Yes, if the right surface treatment is applied it can be very water-resistant. For example, a layer of silicone or PU can be applied to reach a water resistance of above 3000mm.
However, you have to remember that the “D” designation says nothing about how tightly a fabric is woven and a loosely woven fabric will be less waterproof than a tightly woven one.
The Denier designations of nylon and polyester are sometimes followed by a so-called “thread count”, confusingly, designated with a “T” (like the Tex weight postscript), to tell you how many threads are used per square inch of fabric!
Knowing both the denier/tex and a thread count is the only sure way to know the weight and strength of the (untreated) fabric!
Is 210D better than 190T for tents?
210D is better for lightweight tents, because 210D polyester is lighter compared to 190T polyester without being too fragile, however, if you need a sturdier tent 190T is the better choice.
It is the classical weight vs. strength question!
Perhaps the most popular choice of polyester fabric for tents is the 210T fabric, which is both sturdy and relatively lightweight.
So the choice really stands between strength and weight, however, again remember that the “D” designation says nothing about how tightly a fabric is woven and a loosely woven fabric will be lighter than a tightly woven one and vice versa!
In conclusion, the 190T vs 210D polyester debate comes down to a choice between durability and weight. If you need a light tent, go for 210D. If you need a durable tent, go for 190T.
Interested in other types of polyester than those mentioned here – check out my latest article about the difference between 150D Vs. 300D Polyester or perhaps the even thicker variants of 600D and above!
Similar properties are also found in the thicker nylons like 210D, 420D, 600D, and 1000D nylons that are super strong!
Polyester Fabric FAQs
Let’s take a look at some of the other commonly used polyester fabrics.
What does 30D polyester mean?
30D polyester means that the fabric has been made with a thread weighing 30 grams per 9000 meters! This is very thin and almost the limit (20D) of what is technically feasible to make from polyester extrusion. The fabric made from 30D polyester weighs approximately 1 oz/sq. yard before any coating is applied.
What does 70D polyester mean?
70D polyester is a common fabric used for tent fly sheets, tarps, and hammocks. It has a good combination of thickness, weight, and water resistance.
70D polyester is made using a thread that weighs 70 grams per 9000 meters, or 7.7 grams per kilometer.
It is often compared to 30D silnylon as a functional material for hammocks. Here 70D polyester is thicker and more waterproof but also weighs more. In addition, the nylon fabric will absorb water and expand when wet!
What is 75D polyester?
75D polyester is a synthetic fabric woven from a thread that weighs 75 grams per 9000 meters, or 8.3 grams per kilometer. The fabric made from 75D polyester weighs around 2 oz/square yard.
Is 75D polyester waterproof?
Yes! This fabric along with the 70D polyester is sometimes used for tents and is fairly water-resistant at a 1000mm waterproof rating.
The fabric made from 75D polyester weighs around 2 oz/square yard before coating and approximately 2.4 oz/square yard after waterproofing.
30D vs 50D Polyester
Fabric made from 50D polyester is almost twice the thickness compared to 30D polyester. The thread used to make the 30D fabric weighs 30 grams per 9 km and the thread used to make the 50D polyester weighs 50 grams per 9 km. 30D corresponds to 3.3T and 50D corresponds to 5.6T (g/km or Tex).
30D vs 75D polyester
Here, the 75D (corresponding to 8.3T or Tex) is about twice the thickness of the 30D (3.3T) polyester (or nylon for that matter). The 30D fabrics weighs approximately 1 oz/square yard before coating and around 2.3 oz/square yard after water repellent coating.
Woven 75D polyester fabric weighs around 2 oz/square yard before coating and approximately 2.4 oz/square yard after coating.
Polyester can also be used for other things than fabric – for example, insulating filling in jackets and sleeping bags!
If you would like to know how down compares to synthetic polyester filling for warmth See my newest analysis of polyester vs. down for warmth here (I think you will be surprised!).