Every apparel brand has their own technology that they build into their clothing. They’re aimed at making the exercise experience easier and more comfortable, with most of them including some kind of moisture-wicking tech, improved breathability, and other features that keep the runner comfy.
Nike Dri-Fit is one such example. Nike makes top-quality apparel, and they’ve been doing so for a long time. Plenty of time to hone their craft!
So what is Dri-Fit and is it good for running? In this article, we’ll explain the technology, how it works, and why it’s helpful for runners.
What Is Nike Dri-Fit?
Nike’s Dri-Fit technology is basically a type of fabric. It’s constructed mainly of polyester microfiber, which is light and comfortable on the skin.
This high-performance material is moisture-wicking and absorbent and does a much better job of keeping you dry and cool than traditional fabrics do.
You’ll find Dri-Fit apparel ranges on the Nike website, for both men and women. They’re effective on their own, but can also be used as a base layer when running in cooler weather.
Because the tech is built into the material, it can feature on any kind of clothing. Nike has Dri-Fit shirts, shorts, hoodies, sports bras, socks, tights, and even dresses. Wherever you need extra coolness and dryness, there’s a Dri-Fit product for you!
If you take caution about the sun, you can also find Dri-Fit apparel with UV protection, which comes with UPF 30 sun protection.
How Does Dri-Fit Work?
The special Dri-Fit material absorbs moisture. From there, it helps to facilitate quick evaporation, so the moisture disappears entirely. It doesn’t get weighed down or soaked through, which is excellent news, and the rapid evaporation helps you to cool down faster.
The closer to your skin the fabric is, the better it works. It makes sense, as the whole premise of this tech is based on drawing moisture away from the skin. It won’t work nearly as well if you’re wearing something underneath it, so it’s definitely best on its own or as a base layer.
Another feature you’ll find on the Dri-Fit range of apparel is strategically-placed ventilation zones on the clothing. These allow for maximum breathability, and they work extremely well in conjunction with the technology to keep you cool as a cucumber.
The more air flows through the apparel, the faster that absorbed sweat will evaporate. This is called Dri-Fit Body Mapping construction, which means the breathable ones are placed where your body needs them most and where they’ll be most effective.
Why Is Nike Dri-Fit Unique?
Every brand has their fancy tech. So what makes Nike Dri-Fit stand out from the others? Here are just a few of the features that make it an excellent option.
Dri-Fit fabric is super thin. It’s light enough to wear under anything without adding any extra weight or hampering your range of motion. The material is light and soft, so you really don’t feel like you’re wearing a solid layer.
This makes a huge difference when it comes to comfort. Soft against the skin, light and breezy… It’s really nice to wear.
This is one of the best cooling and comfort features of Dri-Fit apparel. If you’re wearing regular apparel, you may notice that sweat sort of becomes trapped in the fabric, which leaves you feeling damp and uncomfortable.
Dri-Fit does absorb the sweat on your skin, but it draws it away and brings it to the surface of the fabric, where it helps speed up the evaporation process. That way, the moisture doesn’t sit around making you uncomfortable.
This constant movement of sweat from the skin to the surface of the fabric helps to cool you down noticeably, especially if there’s a bit of wind. You won’t feel bogged down by sweaty clothing, so you’ll be as fresh as you can be!
Although it’s hard to tell the exact numbers, some experts on fabrics estimate that Dri-Fit material can hold up to 7 times its own weight in moisture! That’s a whole lot of sweat absorption, far more than traditional materials.
In normal cases, you might worry that your shirt is going to get soaked through and become uncomfortable and icky to the touch. But this works super well with the evaporation factor, so the sweat the fabric absorbs doesn’t stick around there for long.
The huge range of apparel is a definite pro. Nike doesn’t just put this tech into their shirts. You can kit yourself out in Dri-Fit clothing; shirts, shorts, tights, hoodies, sports bras, and even socks.
This range of apparel is highly durable. Whatever you put your new Dri-Fit apparel through, it should survive just about anything. Unless you go out of your way to tear the fabric or cut it with a pair of scissors or a knife, it should last you ages.
The Dri-Fit technology also doesn’t fade or become less effective with wear. A single piece of Dri-Fit apparel should last you much longer than you expect.
Shrink- and Wrinkle-Resistance
One of the many advantages of the Nike Dri-Fit material is that it’s shrink-proof and wrinkle-resistant. Sure, wrinkles may not matter much when you’re using it as a base layer, but shrinking is something that everyone with fancy new apparel fears.
No need, with the Dri-Fit range! It’s created to be shrink-proof so you’ll never have to suffer the disappointment of having to hand your fancy technology clothing over to your kids.
What Other Materials Are Good for Running or Similar Activities?
This is what Nike uses in its Dri-Fit range. It’s often seen in jackets, but they’ve found a great way to use it in almost all kinds of gear.
Polyester is a plastic-based material. It’s lightweight and easy to wear, but still manages to be highly durable.
It’s also quite breathable. Surprisingly, considering Dri-Fit’s properties, it’s generally non-absorbent. Thankfully, Nike has found a way to combine the excellent properties of polyester with absorbency.
Nylon is another common fabric that’s used in running apparel. It’s fairly light and really stretchy, which means it’s comfortable and easy to get on and off.
It also wicks away sweat and allows for great ventilation, keeping you as cool and dry as possible. Definitely a good choice for exercise wear.
Spandex, also known as Lycra, is extremely stretchy and allows for a completely full range of motion. It’s often used in blended materials, to give them a comfortable stretchiness and make it easier to get on and off without damaging the material.
Bamboo is a relatively new option in apparel. It’s used as a natural alternative to synthetic fibers, and it’s very environmentally friendly.
It’s sweat-wicking and anti-bacterial and has a natural odor-resistant property. Bamboo is also extremely soft against the skin. It may be more expensive than other fabrics, though.
But it’s an excellent choice for runners who want a natural, effective material that will keep them cool, dry, and fresh while being better for the planet.
Merino wool is a super fabric and can be used to equal effect in both hot and cold weather. The best property of Merino wool is that it’s temperature-regulating, which means that if the weather is hot, it keeps you cool, and if the weather is cold, it keeps you warm.
In the heat, it wicks away sweat, allows airflow through the fabric, and has natural anti-bacterial properties. In the cold, it insulates your own body heat and prevents heat from escaping.
Why Is Cotton Not Recommended?
Cotton can be nice and warm in winter, but there’s one big disadvantage to the material. It traps moisture.
There’s a difference between absorbing sweat and moving it to the surface of the apparel for evaporation and simply trapping it in the fabric.
Cotton traps sweat and makes you feel damp and hotter. The more you sweat, the damper your clothing becomes. It doesn’t help to cool you down, either; in fact, the thick material only makes you feel warmer.
What Other Popular Cooling Fabrics Come From Other Running Brands?
New Balance ICE
New Balance’s ICE technology is designed to do similar things to Nike’s Dri-Fit. Their unique fabric is activated by sweat. When you begin to sweat, the fabric wicks away the moisture, taking it away from the skin.
They also use 2-way air circulation, which means cool air can get in and warm air can get out.
Adidas ClimaCool and ClimaLite
Adidas uses both ClimaCool and ClimaLite technology to achieve similar results.
ClimaLite is designed with a cotton outer layer, but a synthetic inner layer, which is interesting considering how controversial cotton is when it comes to apparel!
The inner layer is soft and wicks away that moisture, and some include a hydrophilic material to assist with this movement of moisture.
ClimaCool uses engineered material that provides excellent breathability. It also wicks away moisture and regulates temperature.
These fabrics are very similar and both are designed to serve the same purpose – cooling you down and wicking away sweat.