The Technology of Wicking Fabric in Workout Clothes: How These Fabrics Keep You Cool

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With an abundance of high tech workout gear available, choosing the right clothing for your summer workouts can make a big difference in your performance. Even more importantly, the technology behind wicking fabrics, fabrics that keep athletes dry and cool, can help you stay safe in the heat.

Wicking fabrics are fabrics that actually lift moisture away from the skin. These special fabrics have been engineered with water-resistant coatings and a system of fibers that work like capillaries to carry water.

Regular fabric—like cotton—soaks up water like a sponge, allowing water to penetrate all of its fibers. When that happens, you end up with a heavy, soaking wet shirt that sticks to your skin.

But wicking fabrics, which are usually polyester, are made of fibers that are designed to act like the capillaries in your body. When moisture builds up in the fabric, the fibers have the ability to transfer the water to a drier portion of the fabric without absorbing it-thanks to the water-resistant coating. Instead of getting bogged down with sweat, you shirt can stay drier and lighter.

Some wicking fabrics even have a special dimpled feature that creates puckers in the fabric. These puckers act as small air bubbles, allowing more air to circulate over your skin and carry sweat away.

More than any other type of fabric, wicking fabrics can actually provide a cooling effect during workouts.

Workout Gear Made With Wicking Fabric

Because of the cooling, drying properties associated with wicking fabrics, the fiber is popular with many types of clothing manufacturers. Hunting gear companies, winter sports gear companies, and even pajama-makers use different types of wicking fabrics or wicking linings in their garments.

Fitness gear manufacturers have also embraced wicking fabrics to allow athletes to augment their performance in uncomfortably warm conditions.

You can find a variety of workout gear available in wicking fabrics:

  • Socks
  • Sports bras
  • Compression shorts
  • Boxers and panties
  • Shirts
  • Pants and shorts
  • Tennis shoe lining

All of these items are widely available from major retailers. Nike, Champion, and Under Armour are examples of just a few of the labels that have lines of wicking fabric gear. And these lines aren’t necessarily expensive: you can find brand name t-shirts made of wicking fabrics for as little as $20.

The best place to find good deals on workout gear made from wicking fabric is from online discount sports stores. But you may also find inexpensive gear at your local sports super store. Just check the labels on the garments and look for wicking fabric buzz words like “moisture-wicking” and “dry fit.”