If you have an active lifestyle you may struggle to find athletic clothing that keeps you cool and sweat-free. The good news is that new, specialized fabric like Dri-FIT will keep you comfortable during any kind of workout! So, what is Dri-FIT material, and what does Dri-FIT mean, anyway?
Dri-FIT fabric has moisture-wicking and body-mapping properties that suck the sweat from the skin and allow the moisture to evaporate on the outside of the fabric. Nike, Inc. invented Dri-FIT as the next generation in moisture-wicking fabric. This material contains polyester microfibers and antibacterial agents that prevent odors.
In this article, you will learn exactly what Dri-FIT material is and how it is made. You will also find out how Dri-FIT compares to polyester, cotton, and other fabrics. Finally, you will get helpful tips on where to buy Dri-FIT clothing.
What Is Dri-FIT Material?
Dri-FIT material is a high-performance polyester material that offers advanced sweat-wicking capabilities. Nike created Dri-FIT and markets it in many of the company’s athletic wear lines. That said, several other companies offer similar products under different names.
Nike named their new product “Dri-FIT” to highlight its cooling and sweat-wicking abilities. Clothes made of Dri-FIT should keep you dry and sweat-free even during a tough workout.
Dri-FIT clothes also include something called “body mapping.” This means that the garments will contain mesh panels in key places to promote airflow.
Does this mean you can wear Dri-FIT in the summer? Absolutely! This material should keep you comfortable in pretty much any weather.
The mesh panels provide breathability. The lightweight microfiber does its fantastic wicking thing to keep you dry. And finally, the material also blocks UV rays, giving you extra protection from the summer sun!
Nike describes the feel of the cloth as an “understated pebble texture,” but you can think of it like the silky feel of gym shorts. Of course, the key difference between this advanced material and an average pair of gym shorts is that Dri-Fit features thin, light-weight microfibers.
What Is Dri Fit Made Of?Dri-FIT is made of interlock polyester microfiber. Microfiber goes through much of the same production process as regular polyester material, with one key difference.
Microfiber strands must have a smaller diameter than a single strand of silk, a metric called a “denier.” This means that microfiber fabric weighs less than silk!
Polyester comes from petroleum by-products, not a natural source like plants or animals. Textile sciences advanced by leaps and bounds during the 20th century. This made it possible to turn plastic into many different styles of fabric.
Microfiber didn’t hit consumer markets until the 1990s. Today it is popular for everything from cleaning rags to professional athletic wear!
It might seem odd to you that a material made out of plastic can feel cool and comfortable during a hot workout. And in all honesty, some polyester garments might feel sticky and hot under these circumstances!
Dri-FIT goes beyond regular polyester, though. Well-made synthetic material is hydrophobic, meaning that it has great moisture resistance.
The fibers don’t absorb water or sweat, so the moisture slips through tiny gaps between threads. Once the moisture reaches the outside of the material, it spreads across the surface. From there, it evaporates into the air!
The interlocking, pebbly surface of Nike’s Dri-FIT excels at sweat-wicking.
Very few natural fabrics can provide wicking. This is because natural fibers absorb water and hold onto it instead of dispersing it back into the air.
Antimicrobial treatments also protect this material from one of the polyester’s big flaws, which is its ability to cling to bad odors. Polyester tends to get stinky under rigorous use. But special treatments can prevent bacteria and or build up in high-performance fabrics.
So, this material keeps you dry and comfortable and also fresh-smelling!
Synthetic materials also tend to have greater durability than most natural fibers. Your polyester workout gear will last a long time without much wrinkling, staining, pilling, or fading!
Of course, the final key characteristic of Dri-FIT garments is Body Mapping. These garments should cling to the contour of your body to activate the sweat-wicking feature. They also provide discrete mesh panels at key points to promote airflow.
For example, shirts might have mesh panels tucked beneath the arms to keep you cool and dry!
Types of Dri-FIT Fabric
Several other companies, such as Puma and Adidas, also offer popular high-performance materials. Puma uses their version of a sweat-wicking material called DryCELL. Adidas offers a heavier material called Climalite and a lighter version called Climacool.
You can also find off-brand or wholesale manufacturers who sell a similar product. Clothing from less prominent brands may not contain quite such advanced features as Dri-FIT technology does.
Is one of these familiar athletic wear brands better than another? The answer lies in your personal preferences. If you feel strongly about one particular brand, you will like their high-performance clothing the best.
For example, if you love Nike and like to wear its logo on your running shoes or tennis shirt, you might prefer to stick with that familiar brand.
That said, all three fabrics pretty much feature the same manufacturing process. While the style of finished clothing may differ from brand to brand, the material itself remains fairly consistent.
Does Nike Dri Fit Shrink?Dri-FIT will not shrink if you follow proper care and cleaning procedures. Some types of this material do contain a blend of different types of fibers, such as polyester and cotton. If your Nike clothing contains blended fibers, you will need to guard against shrinking.
Cotton shrinks quite easily when exposed to heat. If you throw your activewear into a hot wash and then into a hot dryer, it could conceivably shrink as much as one or two sizes.
To avoid this, simply remove your shirts, shorts, or tanks from a cold wash cycle and hang them up to air dry. This material will dry out incredibly quickly!
Dri-FIT Vs Polyester
Even though Dri-FIT is often made almost entirely of polyester, the types of material do have several distinct differences.
First, some versions of the high-performance material contain blended fibers of elastane and/or cotton. This means not all Dri-FIT contains 100% polyester.
Second, and most importantly, the construction of the fabric matters more than its material. You can find dozens of different types of fabric, all made from 100% polyester. The manufacturer simply used different weaving techniques for each style.
For example, a manufacturer could employ a type of waffle-weave to trap tiny air pockets inside the polyester fabric, making it super warm. A twill weave will create a fabric that looks and feels entirely different from a percale weave or a sateen weave.
High-performance microfiber feels thinner and lighter than normal 100% polyester fabrics. Its weave contains air gaps that allow moisture to easily slide from your skin to the outside surface of the material. It also usually undergoes special treatments to provide antimicrobial qualities and UV protection.
The bottom line is that Dri-FIT uses more advanced technology than most other polyesters.
Dri-FIT Vs CottonSome Dri-FIT garments do contain cotton, but all of them also contain polyester. This is because cotton absorbs too much liquid and doesn’t do a good job wicking sweat.
Nike and other sports brands may sometimes promote a “cotton” version of their garments. If you check the label inside this clothing, you will find that it contains some cotton and a significant percentage of polyester! Synthetic fibers do all the heavy lifting of wicking, odor prevention, and UV protection.
So, do performance fabrics work better than cotton to keep you dry and comfortable? Cotton offers a lovely softness and a kind of airy breathability you can’t find in most other materials. That said, cotton also absorbs moisture rapidly and then remains saturated for a long time before it finally dries.
Synthetic fabrics typically offer easier care as well. Cotton can easily shrink in the washer and dryer.
If you buy a brand-name performance fabric from Nike or Puma, you will likely pay a lot more than you would for a 100% cotton garment. In general, though, synthetic fabrics cost less. This is because it costs much less to produce polyester than cotton.
Is Dri-FIT Waterproof?
Most types of Dri-FIT provide excellent water resistance but lack 100% waterproofing. That said, some of Nike’s special outdoor athletic wear has sealed seams and a special laminate coating that does make it waterproof!
This kind of clothing works great as jackets or shirts for hiking in uncertain weather. Even normal polyester does a pretty good job protecting you from light rain, though.
You no doubt remember that polyester does not easily absorb liquid. This enables its great wicking ability! It also means that water won’t quickly soak through it in light rain.
Without a special laminate coating, all the tiny air gaps between threads will let water through, though, over time.
Can You Print on Dri Fit Shirts?
You can print on Dri-FIT shirts, but this process differs from printing on cotton. As you would expect, sports jerseys and tennis shirts often have logos and team names printed onto them.
You can even select a sports fabric option from lots of custom-print shirt sellers. That said, you should inspect the finished garment for any scorch marks, skewed images, or lack of stretch in the printed design.
Polyester can melt or scorch when exposed to overly high temperatures. This means printers have to use special processes to apply vinyl logos or heat-transfer designs to this fabric. Professionals usually do a great job at this, of course!
What is a Dri-FIT Shirt?Nike sells a wide range of clothing options using its special Dri-FIT material. You can find everything from golf and tennis shirts to basic running shirts. They all feature Nike’s trademark sweat-wicking properties.
Different shirts may contain a variety of blended fabrics. Sweat-wicking fabric works best when it touches your skin. For this reason, some close-fitting shirts tend to contain stretchy fibers like Spandex or elastane to keep the shirt snug.
Other shirts throw cotton into the mix for a softer, more airy type of sportswear.
If you want to find out what kind of fabric a garment contains, just read the manufacturer’s label inside the shirt!
You should also read the product description or the sale tag to find out what special qualities the shirt might have. As you read earlier, some products might have extra UV resistance or waterproofing.
You probably prefer sweat-wicking shirts for high-energy activities. This fabric doesn’t get used for “athleisure” as often as cotton or a spandex blend. Its main purpose is to keep you comfortable while you sweat!
Where to Buy Dri-FIT Material
If you want authentic, brand-name Dri-FIT, purchase it from Nike! Of course, you can also buy clothes made from similar materials sold by many other brands.
To purchase fabric-by-the-yard, look for microfiber that contains lycra, spandex, or elastane. You should also check for the mention of the word “wicking” in the product description.
Most of the time, you probably want to purchase your workout clothing from a brand or seller you know. This helps you ensure that you get the best quality product that will perform as well as you do!
You can purchase off-brand Dri-FIT shirts for as little as $5 from sellers like J. C. Penny. That said, if you want a “real” brand-name shirt, check out Nike’s website or search Amazon for a product like the one described below!
Nike Women’s Legend Short Sleeve ShirtThis basic short-sleeved workout shirt offers a tapered waist and a contoured shape. The style allows for snug, comfortable movement. Made of 100% polyester, the Dri-FIT technology will keep you dry and comfortable even on a super hot run! Plus, special anti-odor treatments will help prevent that post-run stink.
You can purchase this comfortable, slightly stretchy shirt in nine different colors. After all, why not keep your workout fresh and interesting?
Dri-FIT shorts have a silky texture and almost weightless feel that makes it easy to keep moving! You can find them in many different styles, such as skin-tight bicycle shorts or looser running shorts.
Nike Women’s Dri-fit Tempo Track 3.5 ShortThese quick-drying, sweat-wicking shorts will keep you dry as you run or work out at the gym!
The shorts come in a whopping 26 colors and patterns. The shorts have an elastic waist and shaped hems for easy movement as well.
A fun decorative band wraps the hem and sides of the shorts. Plus, of course, the famous “swoosh” sits proudly near the hem of the shorts!
Is Dri-FIT Good for Swimwear?
Dri-FIT doesn’t work well for swimwear. The chlorine in most pool water can damage its synthetic fibers. Plus, its special abilities, like sweat-wicking and UV protection, don’t matter as much underwater!
Nike doesn’t sell Dri-FIT swimwear, but it does sell protective swim coverups in a cool, sporty style. You might want to buy a swimsuit made of a more common polyester and lycra blend. Then you can save your money to buy the fancy Dri-FIT cover-up!
How to Wash Dri-FIT Clothes
Dri-FIT clothes require simple, minimal care to keep them in excellent condition. Following these steps will prevent your athletic wear from shrinking or getting damaged in the wash.
- Before you put your clothes in the wash, turn them inside out. This helps them avoid snagging on zippers or snaps as they tumble through the washer.
- If possible, do a load full of all your workout clothes and no “regular” clothing. Washing your sports fabric with cotton or other natural materials could lead to a build-up of lint on your workout gear.
- Next, make sure you set your washer to its cool or cold option. Hot water could cause shrinking if your clothes have any cotton fibers blended into the polyester.
- Use your regular laundry detergent, but leave out any fabric softeners as they could clog up the air gaps between threads in your clothing.
- When the washer finishes its cycle, leave the dryer behind! Instead, hang up your clothes to quickly air dry in your shower or outside on a clothesline.
Given the proper care, your Dri-FIT clothes will last a long time!
Dri-FIT material offers Nike’s most cutting-edge wicking technology to keep you cool as you sweat. This synthetic, microfiber material also has a thin, light feel to comfortably hug your skin.
Other brands offer similar materials such as DryCELL and Climacool. All of these high-performance fabrics share a high percentage of polyester and a special weave that promotes sweat-wicking.
What is your favorite type of clothes to wear during a workout? Have you tried Dri-FIT before? Leave a comment below to let us know!