Rug Fabrics & Other Terminology

We’ve written this guide to help you understand all the different terminology and jargon used when talking about rugs. It’s important you should know this so you know what to look for in a rug, so you can make sure you’re getting value for money.

Rug styles

First off: rug styles. The two main types of rug are:

Standard rugs – These rugs are a standard body rug, without the neck rug.

Combo rugs – Combo rugs include a neck rug (usually permanently attached)

Fabric measurements


Denier refers to the linear mass density of the fabric, and is measured in grams per 9000m of yarn. This means that 9km of 1680D yarn will weigh 1,680 grams, or 1.68kg.

The denier count of a rug refers to its strength, not its warmth rating. The higher the denier count, the stronger the outer shell of a rug will be.

Here at Tuff Horse Rugs, we only use 1680D fabric in our rugs. 1680D fabric is the strongest fabric commercially available, and we make a point of only having the very best of materials. A lot of other brands sell 1200D or even 600D rugs to cut corners and save costs, but unfortunately it’s their customers who suffer when the rugs rip 3 months down the track. Make sure you check out the denier count of a rug before making a purchase, and insist on only the best. It can make all the difference.


GSM stands for Grams per Square Metre, and are a measure of how warm a rug will be. When people talk about the GSM of a rug they either mean

  1. The weight of the polyfill in a synthetic winter rug, or
  2. The weight of a polycotton rug

The polyfill in a synthetic turnout rug can range from nothing (zero fill – for mid season) to 400GSM or more. We’ve found, in our experience, that a fill of 220GSM is optimum for cold winter nights. Any more fill than this and your horse can overheat. All brands are different though, some warmer than others even for the same amount of fill, depending on how they’re made as well as the material composition.

If you’d like to learn more about choosing the right warmth for your rug, click here.

Types of rug – different fabrics

Polycotton ripstop rugs

We make all our summer rugs from a poly/cotton blend with a diamond ripstop weave. The ripstop weave is the cross-hatches you’ll see all over the rug; rugs that have a ripstop weave can still rip, but those little cross-hatches will stop the rip in its tracks, rather than a standard weave, where one little rip can gradually (or quickly) rip the rug right in half.

Our polycotton rugs use a 70/30 blend, which means the fabric is 70% polyester, and 30% cotton. The polyester gives the rug strength and stops it from shrinking, while the cotton gives it breathability and a comfortable feel for your horse (more on breathability here if you’re interested). We’ve found a 70/30 blend to be ideal, with a great balance between durability and comfort.

Be careful when buying polycotton rugs that you know what blend they have. A lot of companies will make a 100% polyester rug and call it polycotton. These rugs won’t breathe, and your horse will get clammy underneath. It’s like wearing a plastic bag!

Polycotton rugs are great for keeping your horse cool in the paddock, and for keeping the sun off his coat. They also make good under-rugs, because they’re very comfortable against your horse’s skin.

Synthetic turnout rugs

Synthetic turnout rugs (or paddock rugs) are made from either polyester or nylon (Tuff Horse Rugs synthetics are made from 1680D polyester), and are made waterproof by a thin membrane attached below the outside fabric (for more information on the waterproof and breathability of horse rugs, click here).

Synthetic rugs make great paddock rugs, because the waterproof membranes can be so effective at protecting your horse in wet weather. Canvas rugs, although being water-resistant, will slowly soak through until the rug is wet to the inside.

Synthetic rugs will be lined on the inside with either a polycotton or nylon (Tuff Horse Rugs uses polycotton to line all our synthetic rugs), which are designed to be comfortable for the horse and assist in drawing moisture away from your horse’s body.

Synthetic rugs have a denier count which dictates the strength of the outer fabric, ranging anywhere from 420D (only useful in stables as they aren’t very tough) all the way up to 1680D (ideal for anywhere, especially out in the paddock, where the extra strength will resist ripping and last a long time). Tuff Horse Rugs synthetic rugs are all 1680D. We go to great lengths to make sure we have the best product on the market, and this is one example of what makes Tuff Horse Rugs so good. Most other manufacturers will sell synthetic turnout rugs at 1200D, but if you plan on using it in the paddock, shop around and make sure you’re getting a good sturdy 1680D rug.

Canvas Rugs

Canvas rugs are available on the market, and are often sold as “waterproof”, but in reality canvas rugs are water-resistant at best, and their water-resistant abilities will degrade over time. This is because the process of waterproofing a canvas rug involves dipping the rug in wax to seal the outside. Unlike the membrane in a synthetic rug, the waxed canvas DOES slowly let water through, and when exposed to wet conditions for prolonged periods, will eventually soak right through.

We only stock synthetic rugs at Tuff Horse Rugs, and believe they’re much superior to canvas.

Show Rugs

Show rugs are polycotton rugs, but made without the diamond ripstop weave that makes other light rugs so durable. Because of this, while being fine in controlled conditions, or as an under rug, show rugs aren’t a great choice for everyday use, as they’ll rip quite easily.

Wool Rugs

Wool rugs are generally used as under-rugs, or in stables to keep the chill off horses in mild weather. They’re often made in poly/wool blends, and blends with high wool content are quite comfortable and breathable, comparable to a polycotton rug. However, the wool can shrink or lose its shape quite easily, and wool rugs are definitely not suitable for paddock use.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. Feel free to look at our products, and if you’re thinking of giving us a try, remember we offer a 100% money back guarantee on all our products. So give us a try, you’ve got nothing to lose.