Cotton Doesn’t Hold A Candle To Wicking Polyesters
December 1, 2009
What kind of work clothes do you prefer? Bright-coloured? Dark? A company shirt with a company logo? A ball cap? Or, just jeans and a t-shirt? Besides style, have you considered the material your unif...
What kind of work clothes do you prefer? Bright-coloured? Dark? A company shirt with a company logo? A ball cap? Or, just jeans and a t-shirt? Besides style, have you considered the material your uniform is made of?
Many clothing manufacturers are now promoting clothes made of a wicking material -and for good reason. Wicking materials protect the surface of the skin by drawing moisture away though a system of fibers that acts as capillaries. This material is great in the summer heat, but summer is over. Why think about it now?
Wicking material is also great for colder weather! Just think about your own fall/winter work day. You’re not sitting in a snug, temperature- controlled office, sipping coffee at your computer.
While delivering your loads, you’re climbing in and out of your truck all day long. First, you’re outside freezing; then, heating up in your cab, sweating in your winter coat -over and over each day. Although everyone’s skin becomes sensitive in the cold, dry months, when you add the temperature fluctuations experienced by a trucker, a driver’s skin may be affected even more.
So, why not enjoy the benefits of wearing clothes made of a wicking material?
The actual action of wicking is quite common. I’m sure you’ve seen it, even though you may not have thought about it as wicking. One example is when you dump water into sand.
The movement of the water away from the place it landed is wicking. Paper towels and sponges also distribute moisture through wicking. Even your eyes use wicking to move the tears from your eyeball surface back into your body. Wicking fabrics work in the same way. They pull moisture away from the source and distribute it throughout the material.
These materials are made of specially- woven polyester which absorbs little water, unlike cotton or wool. That’s what makes them so effectively dry.
Cotton materials stay wet because they allow all their fibers to absorb water. They can actually absorb 7% of their weight in water. That’s why wearing sweaty cotton makes a person feel clammy. When clothing gets wet and stays wet, it sticks to your skin, affecting your body’s evaporation process.
This affects your ability to control your temperature. So, wet clothes in the summer traditionally make us stay hot; and in the winter, stay cold. Wool is one of the only materials that will still keep you warm, even when it’s wet. However, have you ever worn a wool sweater that is soaking? It is really heavy and scratchy.
Polyester stays drier because it only absorbs 0.4% of its weight in water. Wicking polyester has been made with a special cross-section with a large surface area.
This unique manufactured design picks up moisture and carries it away from your body, distributing it, so the moisture evaporates easily on the outside of the fabric. This process helps you stay cool and dry.
Some wicking materials have been further developed to include a dimple feature that forms puckers on the surface of the material. These puckers allow more air to flow over your skin and keep you cooler when it’s hot and warmer when it’s cold.
Many people describe wicking fabrics as feeling breathable since they let air in and sweat out. Even waterproof materials with wicking properties can be breathable. Raincoats made of wicking materials can keep you dry from the inside out, and the outside in. The tiny pores in this material are larger than vapour molecules, yet smaller than drops of rain. This lets the sweat out, but keeps the rain out, too.
Some common name brands of specialized products boasting wicking materials are: ‘Supplex’ nylon, which has a certain weave that lets out steam while keeping wind and rain out; ‘Gortex’ and ‘Ultrex’ have products with a layer of coating that is waterproof, while still breathable; ‘Polar’ products also retain heat while remaining breathable.
Wicking material is especially popular with athletes, but is useful for everyone. It is found in all sorts of clothes: socks, sports bras, compression shorts, boxers and panties, shirts, pants, and even the lining of tennis shoes. Any body part that sweats has a wicking product made just for it.
Nike, Under Armour, and Champion are just a few of the major companies that carry wicking products and fortunately, they’re not necessarily more expensive than regular products.
When looking for products with wicking properties, look for these words on the label:’moisture-wicking’ and ‘dry fit.’ Be sure to read the washing instructions, though. Bleach and fabric softeners can ruin their effectiveness.
Take good care of your skin this season. Become a friend of modern technology and try out this new twist on an old fabric. Old-fashioned cottons and wools don’t hold a candle to modern wicking polyesters for keeping your skin dry and healthy. •
-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.