What Fabrics Are Moisture-Wicking?

What Fabrics Are Moisture Wicking 1024x536, Moisture-Wicking Shirts

Understanding the different fabrics available is important to stay comfortable and perform at your best. One type of fabric that is beneficial for athletes is moisture-wicking material. This material pulls sweat away from your skin, keeping you cooler and drier during activity.

In this blog post, we will explore what fabrics are moisture-wicking and discuss the benefits of using them. Stay comfortable and perform at your best with the right fabrics!

  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Merino Wool
  • Wool
  • Nylon
  • Micromodal
  • Bamboo

Moisture-wicking fabrics can be divided into two categories: synthetic fabrics and fabrics made from natural fibers. Most moisture-wicking fabrics are synthetic, as synthetic fibers are generally “hydrophobic.” This means they do not absorb moisture and repel it away from the skin.

However, there are a few natural fibers that do carry these same inherent moisture-wicking properties. A list of natural and synthetic fabrics with inherent moisture-wicking properties is included below.

Natural Moisture Wicking Fabrics

In particular, Merino wool is perhaps the best-known and most effective natural fiber at wicking moisture away from the skin while being soft and warm. It is not, however, as effective as many of the synthetic fibers available on the market today.

While it does push some moisture out through tiny openings in the fabric, it absorbs a small amount of sweat or water into the core of its fibers. One benefit to this is that because of the small amount of moisture absorption; wool fiber tends always to feel dry to the touch.

Bamboo is another example of a semi-natural fiber with inherent moisture-wicking properties. Bamboo is described as a semi-natural fiber because while bamboo itself is a plant, it often undergoes several chemical processes to produce fibers that can be woven into fabric. Nevertheless, bamboo is a cool and soft fabric that is great at temperature regulating, especially when used for products such as bedsheets.

Conversely, cotton is the opposite of moisture-wicking fabric and should mostly be avoided by anyone seeking fabric with wicking properties unless it has been specially treated. Cotton is notorious for becoming damp from sweat or water that sits against the skin, which will only disappear once the fabric is completely dry. Some brands have specially treated cotton fabric to give it moisture-wicking properties. Still, these products are typically not as effective as many other moisture-wicking fabrics on the market today.

Synthetic Moisture Wicking Fabrics

Most moisture-wicking fabrics produced today are synthetic fabrics, which brands in laboratories have specially created to provide optimal moisture-wicking properties. Many synthetic fabrics are often combined to further create unique and effective wicking fabrics.

Acrylic has a moderate level of moisture-wicking and is often used in the production of socks and other footwear. Of the synthetic fibers, it is the closest alternative to natural wool and, as such, is commonly added to other synthetic fabrics on this list to produce synthetic clothing that feels much more like natural fibers.

Gore-Tex has a high level of moisture-wicking and is particularly effective when used for outdoor clothing, such as hiking jackets and camping gear. It is unique because it is extremely porous, containing billions of pores smaller than a single drop of water.

The added benefit to this is that these tiny pores make Gore-Tex waterproof, which is why it is so suitable for outdoor use – and also why it is one of the most expensive fabrics on this list.

Nylon fabric has high moisture-wicking properties and is often used for outdoor wear that needs to repel water, such as raincoats and windbreakers. It has excellent stretch while also being lightweight, giving it much practical use. It is not particularly breathable and can retain odors, which are its primary downsides.

Polyester is perhaps the most versatile synthetic moisture-wicking fabric, which is why it is a common addition to many clothing options. It is especially known for its durability, wrinkle, and shrinking resistance.

Polyester fabric is further known for its high moisture-wicking levels and is often used for day-to-day clothing, such as t-shirts, or for bedding. However, it tends to hold on to odors more than other synthetic fabrics, which can lead to bacteria growth if not washed frequently.

Polypropylene fabric is often used for its high moisture-wicking capabilities. It is made in a very similar fashion to polyester, also known for its durability. It is frequently used for non-clothing applications, including upholstery, and for creating backpacks and other outdoor products where its thermal properties are ideal.

However, it is not as lightweight or as soft of fabric as polyester or many other synthetic options, meaning that it is not the best choice for use in clothing.

Rayon fabric is useful for its moderate levels of moisture-wicking, particularly for light summer apparel worn outdoors. It is not as moisture-wicking as many other fabrics on this list, but it is an excellent fabric for hot temperatures and extra breathable.

Rayon is commonly found blended with other synthetic fibers for added moisture-wicking properties.

Spandex fabric is a common addition to other fabrics due to its moderate moisture-wicking level and comfortable stretch. It is most commonly seen in clothing such as t-shirts, leggings, or exercise shorts.

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