Most of us have heard the term “wicking” at one point or another.
While the term was once a mystery, the big athletic apparel brands have helped semi-educate the consumer market on what they are and why they matter.
In the context of daily-wear undershirts, I’ve never been a huge advocate of wearing wicking undershirts as a replacement for a good lightweight hydrophilic (water loving/absorbing) or hydrophobic+hydrophilic (blend of moisture absorbing & repelling) undershirt.
What I didn’t clearly understand until recently, is that there are performance bands in wicking technology and fabrics, going from ok performance to very good performance.
Interestingly enough, synthetic fibers alone (nylon & polyester) aren’t what makes a shirt a wicking shirt. It’s a combination of fibers, weaves, and topical treatments that can dictate whether a wicking shirt performs just ok, or really good.
If you can believe this, some companies treat synthetic fibers or the fabrics with hydrophilic (absorbing) topical coatings to allow the fabric to absorb sweat. Once the absorbing coating has attracted the water, the repelling part of the fiber immediately pushes it away and out of the fabric so that it can dry more quickly.
As you could expect, “topicals” or treatments that are sprayed onto or pressed into fabrics eventually wear out and lose their effectiveness. This doesn’t mean that wicking shirts won’t wick anymore, it just means that they may perform worse over time.
The Wicking Test
One way to determine how well your wicking shirt performs is to do what I call the Wicking Test.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lay your wicking shirt on a flat surface, ideally with only one layer accessible, with good lighting
- Find a colored piece of paper (light blue is the best, but yellow works too) underneath the wicking shirt area that you’ll be testing
- Using a water bottle, dropper, or lipped measuring cup, dribble some water on the fabric
Now, look at how the water is distributed on the fabric.
Did it just soak through to the piece of paper? If so, how much soaked through? Did it soak through at all?
Did it spread out across the fabric surface? If so, how much did it spread?
I’ll bet you if you take out 5 different wicking shirts and do the above test, nearly every single one of them will behave differently.
Because each fabric will likely have different fiber make-up, different weaves, different levels of residual topical treatments, etc.
Wicking Shirts Are Dead
Knowing the above, what would be better than a standard wicking shirt?
A shirt made with a fiber that would never loose it’s wicking traits, and something that offered a much more advanced moisture transport system.
Enter, Vaporactive from Mission Athletecare, powered by 37.5® technology from Cocona.
37.5® technology Explained
Here’s a great blurb from the 37.5 website (link):
With 37.5 technology, patented active particles permanently embedded at the fiber level capture and release moisture vapor.
Not only do these active particles provide 800% more surface area to the fiber, they also provide a unique driving force to remove moisture vapor unlike any other technology.
By actively responding to body heat, the active particles use this energy from the body to accelerate the vapor movement and speed up the conversion of liquid to vapor, significantly increasing drying rates.
This means the hotter the user gets, the stronger the driving force removing moisture becomes—and the more comfortable the garment remains.
Vaporactive is the line of athletic apparel from Mission Athletecare that has the exclusive rights to use the 37.5® technology in performance gear, including shirts, underwear, and even undershirts.
That means that if you want to experience the 37.5® technology in one of the above applications, you’ll need to get it from Mission Athletecare directly.
The company has two different “Cooling” offerings:
For their VaporActive line with 37.5 technology, which is permanently embedded at the fiber level, and dramatically increases the surface area of traditional fibers by over 300%, creating a hyper drying environment that helps efficiently manage temperature and humidity by capturing and releasing moisture vapor.
For their EnduraCool line, which is their gear and accessories. EnduraCool is made from a proprietary chemical-free performance fabric that instantly cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature when soaked with water, wrung out, and then snapped in the air to activate. The proprietary technology works by absorbing moisture and perspiration into the fabric core where the unique radiator-like fiber construction circulates water molecules and regulates the rate of evaporation to create a prolonged cooling effect.
The Vaporactive line includes the following products:
- Compression Shirts. Price: $40. Available in 6 colors. Imported
- Boxer Briefs. Price: $30. Available in 4 colors. Imported
- Socks. Price: $18.00 (2-Pack). Available in 4 style, and 2 sock profiles. Made in USA
Source: Mission Athletecare website (link)