Ultimate Guide to Kevlar Strings
Choosing the perfect set of tennis strings for you is not always an easy task.
With so many different materials, gauges, brands and playing characteristics, tennis strings can become a confusing topic.
However, one of the more unique string materials is kevlar.
Commonly used in protective vests and hard wearing military equipment, kevlar is a very tough fibre that can actually be used to make tennis strings.
So, the question is, what exactly are kevlar strings, how do they perform and should you be using them? Well, we have put this guide together to give you the answer!
At TheTennisBros.com we have also created a custom fitting service for players that need guidance with their string and racket choices.
What are Kevlar Strings?
So, kevlar strings are rough, stiff and highly durable tennis strings that are traditionally used by heavy hitting string breakers.
They offer unmatched durability and spin due to their braided kevlar construction, that is produced in a similar way to multifilament strings.
They are not that commonly used due to the advent of tough, durable polyester strings, as these tend to offer a wider variety of playing characteristics.
However, whilst kevlar strings are durable and generate a lot of spin, their inflexibility makes them very tough on the arm.
If you have any form of elbow, arm or wrist injury, a full set of kevlar strings would not be best for you.
Therefore, using a half set of kevlar coupled with a half set of softer multifilament strings would be a better option.
Characteristics of Kevlar Strings
Playing with kevlar strings can feel like playing with a wooden board.
If they are strung tightly this really adds to that dead feel. So, if you are looking for a spin friendly, control oriented string setup with a neutral feel then kevlar is a good choice.
One of the most significant characteristics of kevlar strings is their control orientation.
Due to the fact that kevlar is so tough and stiff, it is perfect for power players who are looking to rein in their big hitting.
Whilst it is not always the most comfortable string to play with, a softer kevlar variant or a durable kevlar string that is paired with a softer multifilament would yield improved playability.
This would essentially give a best of both worlds situation, offering the durability, control and spin potential from the kevlar string, whilst a softer alternative would increase the soft feel, allowing for better touch shots.
Moreover, kevlar strings hold their tension extremely well and actually are favourable if you are looking for a consistent feel on your shots.
Since they do not move around much in the string bed, you will get a very uniform feel.
So if you are looking for a blank canvas of a string bed, where the strings are going to give you a consistent, reliable feel, then kevlar strings could well fit the bill.
A major benefit of using kevlar strings is the fact that they maintain their tenison extremely well compared to other more conventional string materials.
Because kevlar is so strong and does not flex like a polyester or multifilament string, once it is tensioned and tied into the racket it doesn’t have much room to flex.
This is also why it feels so ‘hard’ off the string bed, as there really isn’t much pop or trampoline effect generated from kevlar strings.
Using kevlar strings should also offer quite a clean, pure feel on the ball.
Since there are a limited amount of vibrations or feedback from these tough strings, the feel will be a bit more neutral.
Therefore this can actually increase your feel on the ball since the ball won’t be pinging off of the racket quite as much as a powerful multifilament for example.
You should get a reasonably plush but very uniform feel from the ball when using kevlar strings, especially when paired with a softer string.
Are Kevlar Strings Right For You?
If you are looking for a dead, neutral feel from your strings then kevlar are a good fit.
Kevlar is designed for players that are notorious string breakers and are looking for a very durable string.
Kevlar really is the ideal solution for this purpose as it is so inelastic and hard wearing.
It is therefore great for players on a budget that do not want to get their racket re-strung too frequently.
However, make sure if you are using kevlar for this reason that it actually suits your playing style and meets your needs.
You don’t want to be using a tough, inelastic string like kevlar if it doesn’t suit your game.
Doing this could place undue stress on your arms, wrists and elbows, causing unwanted injuries.
If you are going to be using kevlar strings, it is probably worth starting off with a lower tension than you would normally use.
The reason for this is that since this bulletproof material is so taught on its own, stringing it at a high tension will make your string bed feel even stiffer than normal.
You would be better off stringing a couple of pounds lower and working your way up, so do avoid any unnecessary strain on your arm.
Which Brand Should You Go For?
Since kevlar strings are not as widely adopted as polyester, multifilament or gut strings, there is a smaller pool of manufactures that produce them.
Most brands will sell kevlar as a hybrid setup, paired with a softer multifilament or synthetic gut string so soften the string bed up a bit.
So, below are some of the most popular kevlar string offerings out there.
Ashaway Crossfire ZX
The Ashaway crossfire ZX is typically sold as a MonoGut ZX pro hybrid set up, meaning you get the best of both worlds from the braided kevlar and synthetic gut strings.
It offers a plush but solid feel, allowing you to strike through the ball with confidence whilst maintaining precision, control and spin generation.
This is a great set up for those who want to try kevlar for the first time, as it provides a neutral platform to work from.
You can work your way into the kevlar feel by stringing at a slightly lower tension, as this may resemble a feeling closer to a stiffer polyester string.
The monogut element of this hybrid setup offers superior feel and comfort compared to a full kevlar string bed.
This means you would have a more comfortable strike on the ball, as less vibrations will transfer into your arm.
Overall, the Ashaway Crossfire ZX string set is a great choice for those who want to benefit from the durable, stiff nature of kevlar strings, but also don’t want to compromise on comfort, playability or feel.
This premium offering from karakal is unique in its construction.
Featuring braided amarad fibres that are twisted and fused around a NRT core, this is a responsive string that also adds durability to your set up.
Aimed at the advanced player that is looking to harness their power, Karakal kevlar is perfect for a big hitter that needs additional spin and control.
This string comes in a 1.30mm gauge, which is towards the thicker end of the spectrum. This offers more control and less power than a thinner gauge.
Moreover, this string comes pre-stretched, meaning there will be virtually no tension loss across the life of the string.
Ashaway is one of the most well known brands when it comes to kevlar tennis strings, and it is clear to see why.
The classic gold kevlar string from the American powerhouse actually has an extra rough, braided exterior.
This creates wicked spin generation due to the strings physically gripping the ball with every stroke.
The Ashaway Kevlar string comes in either a 1.25mm or 1.30mm gauge, meaning you can opt for a more control or more power orientated option.
You can expect decent power for such a stiff and tight string, which is no mean feat from such a notoriously unforgiving material.
Ashaway kevlar strings are the benchmark string that most other kevlar options are compared against. No wonder it still remains such a popular string choice!
Pro’s Pro Amarid 18
One of the more value for monty friendly options on our list, the aramid 18 by Pro’s pro is a very solid choice.
Made from 100% braided aramid fibres, this string is typically used in a hybrid setup due to its neutral feel and stiff nature.
If you are a kevlar purest looking for the most natural, stripped back form of the string, Pro’s Pro aramid 18 could well be the string for you.
Signum Pro Kevlar Speed
Signum Pro Kevlar is a woven kevlar construction that offers a real bite off the string bed!
One of the more rudimentary kevlar strings out there, the pro kevlar speed is another pure string to get you started. You won’t be going breaking these strings in a hurry!
Alternative String Types
As we have mentioned, kevlar strings may well be paired with an alternative string type in order to soften them up a bit and increase their playability and comfort.
With that in mind, it is important to understand the other types of tennis strings out there so you can understand what you are buying.
A stiff polyester would be the most similar to kevlar in terms of playing characteristics. This string type tends to offer more control and spin, at the expense of power and pop.
Much like kevlar strings, stiff polyester strings tend to be quite long lasting and offer great control.
Whilst they won’t generate as much spin as kevlar strings (outside of rough textured polyester strings), they will still offer superior control and durability, particularly when in a thicker gauge.
Alternatively, multifilament, synthetic gut and natural gut strings will offer a more pliable, soft feel that will generate more power at the expense of spin and durability.
Multifilament strings are the most cost effective option of these, whilst a natural gut is by far the most powerful and offers the most plush, connected feel to the ball.
Synthetic gut strings are a good middle ground that tend to feel quite neutral and somewhat ‘dead’, so can actually be paired quite well with kevlar strings if you are after a completely neutral feel.
If you are transitioning over to kevlar strings for the first time, we would recommend using the kevlar strings in the mains and a soft multifilament in the crosses.
This will offer a more arm-friendly option that will help you get used to the kevlar feel more gradually, without posing as high a risk of injury or muscle strain.
Overall, kevlar strings offer an extreme alternative to a polyester string for players looking for a stiff, control oriented, spin friendly string.
Kevlar is a bulletproof material that offers unique playing characteristics and is very difficult to break.
These strings are often best suited to softer multifilaments in a hybrid setup, so you can get the benefits of durability and spin generation, combined with a soft feel and extra pop from your string bed.
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