Apparel has become so much more than just the season’s hottest fashions. It actually serves an important function for runners and walkers. Technical apparel, which is made from synthetic fabrics, offers performance features and benefits your old cotton tees and sweats just cannot match.
“Cotton is rotten” for running and walking because it absorbs sweat and will not release it into the air for evaporation. For example, cotton absorbs 14 times more water than CoolMax, which is a well-known polyester performance fabric. Technical apparel also provides a solution for every type of weather.
In warm weather, the body cools itself by coating the body with sweat, which evaporates into the warm air. Technical apparel keeps you cool by maximizing the evaporation process through “wicking,” which spreads the sweat throughout the garment and releases it into the air. You can actually stay cooler in warm weather by wearing technical apparel than by going without a shirt.
In cool weather, the body stays warm by trapping a layer of insulating air against the skin and warming it to body temperature. While air acts as an insulator, water acts as a conductor. Thus, if water (i.e., sweat) is trapped against the skin, then it will conduct the outside cold to the skin. Technical apparel keeps you warm by trapping air against the skin as sweat is wicked away from it and by isolating you from the elements because it can be wind / water resistant / proof.
Here are just a few of the differences between technical apparel and cotton clothing:
Cotton shirts collect moisture and sweat, which results in a heavy / wet material. The combination of a heavy and wet material causes you to become cold in cool temperatures and hot in warm temperatures. Chaffing of your skin is also an undesirable side effect of wearing cotton during a work-out. Men and women alike experience this. Body Glide is a lubricated product that will protect any (and we mean ANY) part of the body that may experience chaffing.
Unlike mesh shorts, running shorts are lined either with a brief or with a compression short made of technical fabric designed to pull moisture away from your skin. Like cotton shirts, cotton underwear/boxers will collect moisture and sweat, which may result in the undesirable side effect of chaffing of your skin during a work-out. Technical running underwear is also available when you may be partial to an added layer of protection during cold temperatures.
Most people experience thigh chaffing when running / walking in cotton shorts. Compression shorts (which can be worn either by themselves or under loosely fitting shorts) provide the protection to avoid uncomfortable chaffing.
Layering technical fabrics will ultimately keep you warm in extreme conditions. When air is trapped between one wicking fabric layer and another wicking fabric layer, the moisture is able to evaporate while the material protects you from the elements. A sweatshirt may keep you warm while it is dry, but, just like a cotton shirt, it does not wick moisture from your skin. Technical jackets provide warmth, breathability, and reflective elements. They are also coated in DWR, which keeps you dry during rain and snow.
Let our FIT experts help you find the right FIT for your body and fitness needs.