Nothing can equal the determination, strength, and stamina of athletes and outdoorsmen or women. Fabric technology can help athletes, travelers, and nature lovers to achieve their performance goals by overcoming natural challenges such as rising humidity levels, temperature changes, and sweat production.
Quick-dry fabrics – also called sweat-wicking of moisture-management fabrics – do just so. They help people feel fresh in any condition, reduce the visibility of sweat patches, and better regulate body temperature. As more people recognize the great potential of these fabrics, manufacturers and scientists have brought to life new types and started to test new applications. But no two quick-dry fabrics are the same! Here is all you need to know about selecting the right sweat-wicking fabric for your products.
What Is Quick Dry Fabric?
Quick-dry fabrics are fabrics designed to absorb the sweat away from your body, pushing it towards the outer edge of the garment or footwear and facilitating natural evaporation. Quick-dry fabrics can be made of various materials, including natural and manmade fibers, among which the most common are merino wool, nylon, and polyester.
Natural fibers are those found in nature, which can be directly made into fabrics without chemical processing, while man-made fibers can be processed from natural raw materials or synthesized through chemical methods. Some man-made fibers take the multiple advantages of natural fibers to strengthen and integrate, combining the traits that natural fibers don’t obtain, such as antibacterial properties.
Today, the number of quick-dry fabrics and their application is skyrocketing, but these synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, are still a relatively new invention. In fact, in 1986, an American company called Invista pioneered the developing “Coolmax ”, which is a kind of polyester fabric and is breathable and sweat-wicking. It also made great progress in other synthetic fabrics like spandex and nylon. However, the patent for these revolutionary sweat-wicking fabrics was only filed in 1998 by Robert Kasdan and Stanley Kornblum. Until then, only minimally-wicking and natural fabrics were used, including cotton and wool.
However, after the initial introduction of moisture management fabrics, this technology continued to be developed. Today, moisture-wicking fabrics are those that can absorb the moisture and promote speedy evaporation, thus preventing the garment from becoming damp.
Since the production of sweat increases as the heart rate rises during exercise or strenuous activities, sweat-wicking fabrics can avoid the feeling of dampness. In addition, by keeping the body surface exposed to moisture below 50–65%, these fabrics can guarantee much higher comfort levels and better body temperature control.
What Are the Benefits of Quick Dry Fabric?
Quick-drying fabrics have become an important feature to look for in a garment – and an important unique selling point for manufacturers. These fabrics come with several advantages, including:
- Helping people hide sweat marks and patched
- Staying dry in extreme weather or during strenuous physical activity
- Regulating body temperature in situations where temperature drops and spikes are common (thermoregulation properties)
- Protecting the body from high humidity levels
- Reducing skin irritation and heat rashes
- Reducing odors
Quick-dry fabrics usually sit on top of the skin. Thanks to this contact, they are able to act as a sponge for sweat and moisture, pulling it towards the garment’s outer layer and away from the skin. In addition, when the contact surfaces between moisture and air increase, sweat-wicking fabrics can speed up the natural process of evaporation.
In the case of athletes and outdoors people, sweat-wicking fabrics can also enhance performance and protect muscles from extreme heat and exertion.
What Fabric Dries the Fastest
As we have seen, several fabrics on the market can be considered quick-drying. However, these are usually natural fibers such as cotton and wool, and they might not be up to athletes’ standards. In fact, quick-drying synthetic fabrics should be able to go from wet to damp within minutes (usually under 30) – and dry entirely within two hours.
While cotton is the fastest natural quick-dry fabric to dry, polyester is considered the overall fastest fiber. In less than two hours, polyester garments can be completely dry while also remaining antimicrobial and antibacterial. Modern manufacturers also ensure that these properties are maintained at least for 20 washes.
It is also essential to keep in mind that quick-dry fabric drying time often depends on how the fabric is used, how wet it is, and where it is located. So, while trying time is an essential factor to consider, it is not the only one you need to select the best quick-dry fabric for your project.
Some of the most popular and versatile quick-dry fabrics include:
- Merino wool
Applications for Quick Dry Fabric
With an increasing variety of garment types and fabric properties on the market, the number of applications for quick dry fibers is rising. Some of the most common uses for these fabrics include:
- Travel apparel – travelers and backpackers appreciate quick-dry fabrics’ versatility, which allows them to explore their destination all day long without dealing with wet clothes or sweat patches.
- Sportswear garments – during training, sweat production can be 10-20% higher than normal and can amount to 3-4 liters of moisture per hour. Athletes undergo several hours of training and need to remain dry and comfortable for hours.
- Towels and undergarments – quick-dry fabrics remain clean and hygienic over time. For towels and undergarments, these properties mean that these fabrics can protect the skin and prevent rashes, irritation, or infections from sweat.
Problems With Normal Quick Dry Fabric
Quick-dry fabrics have never been so popular – and yet they are not so perfect just yet! After all, this technology has only been in development for just over 20 years, and there is still plenty of space for further improvements. Here is a rundown of the downsides of the most common quick-dry fabrics.
Quick-dry natural fibers such as cotton and linen can dry in just over two hours, mostly thanks to their great airflow levels. As the fresh air filters through the fabric, it dries both the garment and the skin underneath. However, faster-drying synthetic fibers work on a different principle, and they are not blessed with such a great airflow. So, while they can still keep you dry and comfortable, they can cause skin irritation.
Negative Environmental Impact
The environmental impact of the fashion industry is becoming increasingly substantial, and many consumers have started to realize the consequences of their choices. In turn, manufacturers have started looking into what materials cause the least impactful footprint. For example, while cotton is the most damaging natural fiber, polyester and nylon account for over 60% of the pollution caused by synthetic fibers.
Limited Aesthetic Potential
Nylon and polyester might be highly efficient fabrics, but they are not among the most visually appealing ones. While new styles are being developed, it is still a challenge for many consumers to find quick-drying clothes to wear daily.
How ARIAPRENE® Deal With Normal Quick Dry Fabric Problem
ARIAPRENE® is a game-changer in the field of quick-dry fabrics. This material is not only fully customizable and highly efficient, but it is also appealing and versatile, meaning that applications are endless! Thanks to this unparalleled versatility and comfort, ARIAPRENE® has been adopted by several leading names in the active-wear industry, including Tortuga, Nike, and New Balance. Aside from shoes and apparel, ARIAPRENE® is also appreciated in other manufacturing sectors, including equipment, electronics, and wearable technology. Here is what makes it different from other sweat-wicking fabrics.
What Is ARIAPRENE®?
ARIAPRENE® is created differently from any other quick-dry material. It is formed by chemical pellets, molded into a paste thanks to a gentle heat and foaming agents. Once the paste is created, it obtains a clay-like consistency and then is rolled into sheets. After that, the sheets are baked in industrial ovens and will expand larger.
According to the end use, manufacturers can also control the finished product’s elasticity, texture, and appearance by modifying the chemical planets in the mix.
How Is ARIAPRENE® Different?
ARIAPRENE® is a new and improved version of the quick-dry fabrics that have populated the market for two decades, its foam-core made of TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastin) is degradable and recyclable. This fabric is unique and preferred for some exclusive properties, including:
- It is lightweight – ARIAPRENE® is an ultra-lightweight fabric that can be used for a great range of applications, from footwear to apparel or accessories.
- It is highly flexible – thanks to the foam-core technology, ARIAPRENE® is highly flexible, elastic and like a second skin. This makes it ideal for athletes and sportspeople who should not be stopped by the quality of their outfits.
- It supports the body’s natural movement – by stretching and compressing, ARIAPRENE® encourages the body’s natural movement and does not restrict the range of motion athletes need.
- It is quick-drying – the closed-cell synthetic foam is designed to prevent moisture log and achieves one of the fastest-drying levels out of the most common quick-dry fabrics.
- It is hypoallergenic – ARIAPRENE® is based on a non-toxic foam core technology, which makes it suitable for long-term wear.
- It is highly breathable – Even ARIAPRENE® is closed-cell construction, additional perforations can create more airflow to make it highly breathable. This keeps the skin fresh, dry, and at the perfect temperature.
Lastly, ARIAPRENE® is designed to represent the eco-friendly alternative to most synthetic fabrics. Sustainably developed and manufactured, this fabric is fully recyclable and long-lasting.