UA Charged Cotton vs. Nike Dri-Fit Cotton? What’s the Difference?

Here’s a timely question from a reader wondering about how Under Armour Charged Cotton compares to Nike Dri-Fit Cotton:

What is the technical difference between UA Charged Cotton and Nike Dri-Fit Cotton?

UA is really hyping theirs while Nike has had it for awhile and hasn’t hyped much.

Under Armour Charged Cotton Vs Nike Dri-Fit


Well, first off, let me clarify something.

The terms “Charged Cotton” and “Dri-Fit” are not so much specific technologies as they are product line names that have been trademarked by each company:


Sweat Proof Undershirts

Under Armour Charged Cotton Trademark

Nike Dri-Fit Trademark

5/2015: Note, the original links above are no longer working.

If you’re interested, you can just jump on over to their TESS Search page and search for the trademarks.

As you can see, the assigned trademarks span a wide variety of product types. These include caps, dress, headbands, pants, shorts, oh and of course- t-shirts.

Companies create product brands so they become easily recognizable by consumers.

Think about it, if you had to ask “Hey, I’m looking for that Under Armour product that is made of cotton and spandex, oh and it’s supposed to be moisture wicking too”, that would be a little tough for consumers to wrap their heads around.

Instead, companies create product line categories and give them easily identifiable names.


So this annoys me a little, but I believe the apparel market goes a little too far with the whole “technology” thing.

They throw out these crazy terms, build up a bunch of hype about it, and then the consumer has to figure out what it all means.

It’s pretty damn confusing.

Case-in-point: “Moisture Wicking”.

Manufacturers started promoting moisture wicking undershirts a couple years ago, and my site got bombarded with traffic from people trying to figure out what the benefits of moisture wicking undershirts were, if any.

Unsurprisingly, nowadays I don’t see the same amount of emphasis from companies touting their undershirts as moisture wicking. I believe most of it was short-lived hype.

Now, I’m not trying to piss off those companies who make moisture wicking undershirts. I’m just trying to illustrate my point of technology hype.

No doubt, there is a good amount of technology that goes into the creation of some clothing products, but I’d like to see a little more balance here and less consumer confusion.

Of course, if the products didn’t sound cool, we probably wouldn’t be learning anything about them, or buying them. So a part of me understands and appreciates the need for companies to do this.

So What Is It Really?

After a bunch of research over the last couple of days, here’s what I came up with:

Under Armour Charged Cotton

This clothing line consist of mens, boys, and womens t-shirts, shorts, and pants.

In most all cases, the fabric blend consists of 95% TransDRY treated cotton and 5% spandex.

TransDRY is actually a product from Cotton Inc. (trademark filed 10/2007) and it’s a treatment that is applied to cotton to give it moisture wicking properties.

So, in essence, cotton treated or made with TransDRY will not absorb moisture like untreated cotton.

One part of the Under Armour marketing doesn’t set well with me.

In most of their marketing, they say this:

We took Mother Nature’s most perfect fabric and supercharged it with our signature moisture transport system to create the world’s first true performance cotton.

If this is a Cotton Inc. product, what the hell is Under Armour’s “signature moisture transport system”?

I’m thinking this is all hype and, from my point of view, it’s really misleading if all they did was apply TransDRY to their own cotton fabric.

If they did more, great.

Maybe someone from Under Armour can email me and give me the specifics so I can add it here.

Nike Dri-Fit Cotton

The Dri-Fit clothing line consists of a whole lot of mens and women’s products.

In fact, the Nike website says there are 1,014 Dri-Fit products available.

When I searched for Dri-Fit Cotton products, that narrowed down the list to 7 items, and they were only for women.

It looks like Nike did offer a Dri-Fit Cotton shirt for men. But it doesn’t appear to be generally available any longer.

In looking at the Dri-Fit Cotton line, it shows that the fabric blend across all products was 62% cotton (5% organic)/34% polyester/4% spandex.

When Nike refers to Dri-Fit, they describe it as a high-performance, microfiber, polyester fabric that wicks sweat away from the body and moves it to the fabric surface, where it evaporates.

What isn’t clear, is what is special about the polyester to make it any different or better than any other polyester?

Also, in looking at the Nike website, the Dri-Fit product line includes a variety of polyester fabric blends (100% polyester, 60% cotton/40% polyester, etc.)

I might be missing something here, but it looks as though Dri-Fit might simply be Nike’s main polyester fabric, so anytime it uses that polyester in a clothing item, it becomes a Dri-Fit item.

What Does It All Mean?

If you distill all that crap above, it really boils down to this: Moisture Management-treated Cotton vs. Polyester/Blend

Which is better?

Well, I assume that is really subjective after it’s all said and done.

Which will perform better?

That depends on your definition of “perform”. I suspect there is little noticeable difference between the two.

Which will feel better on the skin?

I suspect the Under Armour Charged Cotton tee will feel a little softer, more natural feeling on the skin because there’s no polyester in it – but that’s just a guess.

If anyone has experience with Dri-Fit Cotton T-Shirts, please feel free to chime in.

Also, if you do have one and want to pick up an Under Armour Charged Cotton tee to compare the two, be sure to email me or post your comments below.


How to wear undershirts

37 thoughts on “UA Charged Cotton vs. Nike Dri-Fit Cotton? What’s the Difference?”

  1. Hello! I came across your post while searching for the best sporty boxer briefs for my teenager.

    He really likes the Boys’ UA Cotton Boxer Briefs but the last thing I want against his skin are chemicals. In my quest to find out more about Charged Cotton, I called UA and was told that Charged Cotton is cellulose.

    First off, if cellulose is used, which I believe is rayon, viscose or lyocell, why isn’t it labeled that way? Has anyone figured out exactly what this is?

    Also, there was no mention of TransDry. I realize this post and comments go back a while so maybe things have changed? Thanks for your input!

    • hey heathe, thanks for stopping by and posting your question!

      “charged cotton” is more of a trademark then it is anything else. when under armour originally launched their charged cotton line of clothing, it was made with cotton or cotton/spandex blends that were treated with the transdry fabric technology from cotton inc.

      the transdry technology, when applied to cotton, helped it dry faster by way of moisture wicking (transporting water through the fabric faster, less absorption).

      it’s possible that under armour is now blending cellulose-based yarns into the cotton, instead of using the transdry technology. cellulose based yarns are moisture wicking as well as moisture absorbing. they also (normally) dry faster than cotton.

      if there is no mention of transdry, then maybe that is the reason. just guessing though.

  2. I own several UA “charged cotton” t shirts that I bought several years ago. I greatly enjoy them for many reasons.

    A few of them got damaged by things like a coffee stain, etc. I went to UA to get a few more and they do not have them anymore.

    They offer something called UA “sportstyle left chest” which is the closest thing I can find to “charged cotton.

    Sportstyle is 60 percent cotton and I think Charged cotton was 95 percent cotton.

    Unfortunately when I took a look at the reviews for Sportstyle, they were mostly one star reviews saving bring back the charged cotton we hate sportstyle.

    Ugh. I have always owned all UA. Only UA. So now I find myself in need of a new brand for cotton shirts. Not happy.

  3. What concerns me is that I don’t really know how well these chemical formulations, such as TransDry, have been tested for safety. We’ve been told about tons of chemicals being safe, only later to find out they are hazardous to human health.

    In my eyes, we don’t need this stuff. Well-made natural cotton worked fine for hundreds of years. I still say it’s good enough for 99% of people.

    • i generally agree david. plus, many of these formulations are not even permanent.

      so, you may get the benefit of the feature for some period of time, but more often than not, it doesn’t last for the lifetime of the garment.

  4. I have a skin allergy and cannot wear polyester.

    Is Trans-dry cotton actually polyester-like (does the process use some of the same chemicals used in making polyester in order to achieve moisture-wicking)?

    • heya mike.

      i’m not a fiber expert, but i’ll share a little info that hopefully will be helpful.

      while i’m over-simplifying this, polyester is a plastic-like fiber that is generally hydrophobic (water hating) in nature. some polyester fibers/fabrics are coated/treated with hydrophilic (water loving) properties, so they will have some absorption characteristics.

      cotton, of course is natural, and hydrophilic in nature. trans-dry is modified version of cotton that has hydrophobic properties.

      it’s possible that the hydrophobic properties of trans-dry are some form of polyester, but i don’t know enough of the make-up to say precisely.

      also, even if trans-dry does have some amount of polyester content, i’m not sure anyone could say whether or not you’d have any allergic reaction to it.

      i think it would depend on the amount of or concentration of the hydrophic property of trans-dry, whatever that may be.

      do you have an allergic reaction to every polyester fabric?

      meaning, have you tried the types of polyester that have a more natural feeling (brushed, cellular)?

  5. If it is performance you are looking for in a tshirt or socks or other apparel and linens, please check out Celliant (R) based textile products. Celliant yarn has embedded minerals which are clinically proven to absorb body heat and transform it into infrared light, which reflects into local body tissues expanding capillaries and increasing blood flow and oxygen levels. Celliant is designed to improve athletic performance, provide pain relief and quicken recovery time.

  6. I have an Under Amour Charged cotton t-shirt and it feels slightly heavier to wear than my polyester shirt from Nike.

    Cotton inc claim that TransDRY takes moisture away more efficiently than polyester does and it keeps you 2deg cooler.

    Interesting then, that Under Amour who manufacture Tottenham Hotspurs football shirts in the UK, use polyester material and not Charged Cotton (TransDRY!). It surely must be the weight?

    • heya rob,

      i can tell you from personal experience that the under armour charged cotton undershirts i tried some time ago do not dry faster than polyester, generally speaking.

      it does dry faster than regular 100% cotton, but it’s supposed to.

      also, drying time of the charged cotton versus polyester has a lot to do with the testing environment. meaning, not all 100% polyester shirts have the exact same drying time. i’ve seen some polyester shirts take a while to dry, and some dry incredibly fast (~30 minutes).

      so, it’s not a simple charged cotton (transdry) vs. polyester question. it’s more about the construct, weight, and end performance comparison of the fabrics.

      • Its just a marketing claim then!

        What do you think matters most to the consumer these days from your experience? The weight of the garment or the quicker drier time?

        And do you have an opinion about tops made from bamboo? I am really interested in sustainable materials.

        I wondered how bamboo clothing compared to transdry and polyester?

      • heya rob,

        what is your use-case? meaning in what situation were you wanting to wear this shirt or undershirt?

        are you wearing it by itself as a tee, outside or athletic shirt? or are you wanting to wear it as an undershirt, underneath another shirt. are you in hot weather, or an active situation?

        once i know that, i can provide more accurate responses to your questions.

      • Primarily for running and keep fit, general exercise in a hot situation, ie nothing on the top of it.

        The end goal basically is that I am aiming to find the best running top for features, (moisture wicking, weight, fit) etc, that is the most sustainably made!

      • got it.

        i’m pretty bullish on cellular mesh shirts, normally made from polyester. they are incredibly light, dry super fast, and don’t take on water/weight very easily.

        there may be similar constructed fabrics made from other fibers like nylon, but i don’t know off hand which shirts are made from which fibers.

        here are a couple articles to reference:

        in addition the shirts listed in the above articles, i know the following brands likely have cellular mesh athletic shirts:
        1. uniqlo airism mesh (undershirts, but might be worth checking out)
        2. under armour — look for cellular mesh
        3. champion
        4. starter (walmart brand i think)
        5. duluth trading company

        as far as sustainable materials, that’s a really tough one to answer.

        mainly because there is a large amount of debate on how “sustainable” some fabrics really are. for example, viscose from bamboo basically uses the same chemical process to break down the bamboo into mush as other tree-based fibers. however, companies call viscose from bamboo (or just bamboo fabric) sustainable because bamboo doesn’t need much water to grow and it grows back quickly.

        one of the biggest viscose fiber companies in the world, lenzing, has high-efficiency processing plants that are ecologically better than many other fiber producing plants, but whether or not that would be considered more sustainable is debatable.

        the industry unnecessarily confuses the consumer to attempt to make us believe something, when in fact if you peeled back the layers of the onion far enough, their claims would not be entirely true to the extent you want them to be.

        i for one do not buy-in to most industry claims around being eco-friendly or sustainable, because i realize that i’d have to really look deep into it to know for certain whether or not the claims were actually true.

        that said, i appreciate your appreciation for trying to pick sustainable products, because it’s important to our planet.

        while i cannot make a specific recommendation of a sustainable fiber/fabric, based on the characteristics you are looking for, i would recommend taking a look at athletic shirts made with polyester or nylon cellular mesh fabrics.

        hope it helps (;

      • I have a question. Unfortunately, I sweat a lot just in general when I’m hot. I work outside which is embarrassing. If I was to wear a dry fit shirt as an undershirt under my work clothes; would it keep my work clothes from showing that I’m sweating? Please help. Thank you.

      • heya alyssa, thanks for stopping by and posting your question!

        i definitely understand how you feel to an extent, because i’ve had times where i may sweat more in a situation where i didn’t want too — and it’s frustrating as hell!

        ok, so i think you may find this other comment stream/response helpful:

        as i mentioned in the above reply, it is very possible that a dri-fit top (worn as an undershirt) will not keep the sweat marks from showing on your outer clothes.

        but, if you’re not wearing any form of undershirt currently, then any additional layer of protection could very well keep sweat from reaching your outer clothes.

        my recommendation would be to start with a fitted and thin undershirt. maybe some of the airism undershirt products from uniqlo would work for you since they are super lightweight & thin.

        based on your name, i’m assuming your a female, and if that is correct, then you may want to google “nudy patooty” which is a company that is making viscose/rayon (from bamboo) undershirts for women.

        viscose will absorb more than a synthetic fabric will, so you’ll have a bit more sweat-through protection.

        i’d recommend trying out both nudy patooty & uniqlo airism and see how they work for you.

        please be sure to come back here and let me know what happens.

      • Thank you so much for the info Tug. Yes, I am a woman and while I haven’t been diagnosed with hyperhydrosis, I believe I suffer from it because I sweat even when I am cold. It’s extremely embarrassing as a woman to have sweat show through. Even though I don’t stink (thank you deodorant), people still look at you like you’re disgusting if you’re sweaty; especially when you’re a woman. I will definitely let you know my results after I try both of the shirts you recommended. Thank you again.

  7. Just discovered your site via Google search. I love how you break down the marketing lingo — good stuff!

    – Jeremy

  8. hi meg and tug,

    agree what meg said is right . as i know the reason why there are so many fabirc manufactures and garment manufactures and retailers are using aatcc 79 and vertical test for moisture management performance. because contton inc. suggested the MMT test methon to AATCC in last year . before that there is not any properly test methods for this treatment in exist commercial lab test house .
    but i am sure AATCC 195 will be used frequently in coming future .

  9. Got it with thanks! actually we are working with contton incorporated for many years. since UA changed the trade mark . so I suppose they will change the test standard as well.
    anyway thanks a lot fot your info.

  10. Maybe this way for roughly comparison is ok . but for professional test should be under AATCC test method. because there are many moisture management test method in AATCC . do you know which test method that charged cotton under .

    • no, i don’t know what official aatcc test method was used for charged cotton. but, charged cotton is only a brand from under armour. it’s not a technology.

      they are using cotton inc’s trans dry product. you may want to check with cotton inc. to see if they have any information about the fabric used by under armour in their charged cotton product.

      • Actually, it is an actual technology and it isn’t just branding. Also, there is an AATCC test that tests for it – AATCC TM 195

      • meg, maybe i am wrong, but it is my understanding that there is a difference between the actual technology used in the construction of the garments and how a company brands the line.

        like the transdry “technology” used in the ua charged cotton line. “charged cotton” itself it’s a technology, as far as i am aware, but is a trademarked brand of ua.

        maybe i am misunderstanding something and/or confusing the difference, so please correct me where i may be wrong and provide the details that can help me and other readers understand the difference.

        specifically what does the aatcc test – test for?

      • You are correct that a company can brand a technology however they want because it needs to fit in with their corporate image. But the technology itself on the fabric is real and valid has been tested extensively.

        AATCC 195 is a moisture management test that uses the MMT (Moisture Management Tester) to actually measure how quickly the moisture moves form the inside out and how quickly the moisture spreads. The greater surface area the moisture spreads, obviously the quicker it will dry. This is much more quantatative than the typical “vertical wicking test” that almost everyone used before the MMT came along. The vertical wicking test does not really show moisture management and many within the industry consider that test to be a waste of time, but prior to people actually understanding moisture management, that was all that was used. Even today many brands that don’t invest very much in testing their fabrics still use this outdated method.

      • hey meg, thanks for the additional details. so, one more question if i may.

        using ua charged cotton as an example. we already know they use cotton inc’s transdry product, as do other companies like xgo.

        so you have a cotton-based fabric made with transdry – could be 100% cotton, or a blend. it could knitted and constructed many different ways, some of which may change the performance characteristics of the fabric – think single knit vs. double knit.

        so what is ua doing other than using cotton inc’s transdry technology and implementing a certain blend and knit? are they adding other “technology” into their charged cotton line? if so, what specifically are they doing that allows us to believe that charged cotton is an actual technology?

        i’m very interested to better understand this more precisely so i can separate branding from technology used. thanks for your time!

  11. Charged cotton which sounds good. but how to measure the performance? what is the difference of the test method and reqirements for charged cotton and dri-fit ?

    • best way to test is to wet both products and compare drying times. i do this in a couple ways:

      1. work out in the items, hang them, and track the drying progress
      2. wash the items, let them go through the spin cycle, then track the drying progress

      hope that helps!

  12. hey TUG, i love your website and this article! I want to use this information in my science fair project, so i was wondering if you could tell me your primary sources or the places where you got your information?! -Thanks

    • hey talor! thanks for stopping by and posting your question!

      if i recall correctly, my sources for this article included: (for trademark stuff), nike website, under armour website, wikipedia, cotton inc’s website, and of course my site.

      hope that helps!

  13. I agree with Tug. The Nike Dri-Fit products are mostly polyester. Of course you see this across all brands, eg Adidas ClimaCool and many others using the CoolMax technology or spin-offs. And Tug has many articles about alternative fabrics used by shirt manufacturers. I shop at Eddie Bauer and they introduced Cocona fabric from coconuts.

    In the fitness world, you want a ‘technical’ shirt. This is short way of saying moisture-wicking, odor resistant, quick-drying shirt. Be wary of fancy marketing. You want to look for fabric that is treated, alternative fabric specifically for odor/wetness, or physically altered fabric. You just don’t purchase a polyster/cotton shirt thinking it has these features. They do, but there are better products now a days.

    What I mean by physically altered is you will notice some 100% polyester shirts have a textured weave that allows the shirt to breathe better. The Vdri has this. If it’s a polyester shirt that has a sheen appearance, then it won’t help you. I been trying out several shirts over the years to be used both as an undershirt and exercise shirt. I might as well be wearing an old school mesh shirt than a sheen polyester shirt. However, I’ve become a fan other treated shirts rather than a textured-weave polyester shirt.

    Hope this helps.

    I’ve completed my testing of various Jockey shirts, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper. I’ll get to it. Thanks for all you do Tug!

  14. If I am wearing an undershirt to keep sweat from getting my shirt wet and stained, why would I want an undershirt that promises to move that wetness to the outside of my undershirt where it can then get my (outer) shirt wet and stained? Maybe I am overthinking this?

    • hey bart! thanks for stopping by and posting your comment.

      a couple quick responses to your comment:
      1. i don’t really classify the under armour charged cotton tee or nike dri-fit cotton tees as “undershirts”. they are designed more as performance tees. if you look at this post where i put the ua charged cotton undershirt to the test, check out the section titled “quick side note”. it’s there where i clarify that i don’t believe the ua charged cotton tee would be a practical/suitable every day undershirt.

      2. if you peruse my site a bit, you’ll find that i have taken the same position as you with regard to moisture wicking undershirts. take a look at this article i wrote back in oct 2008 where i started surfacing the exact point about whether moisture wicking undershirts made the sweat-through problem worse.

      take a look and thanks again for stopping by!

      • Hey,

        after reading your comments of ua charged cotton and nike dri-fit cotton. on my professional points . the two have different advantage and disadvantage . let me talk moisture wicking first . ua 95% cotton 5% spandex single jersey can get better moisture management is because of it has only 47.5% cotton absorb water . so the fabric dry more quickly than 95% cotton absorb water fabric. and the hand feel is also soft and nature touch . nike’s 76% cotton 34% polyester fabric can be with moisture management as well. if the fabric stucture is plated jersey . it means cotton on the top of fabric and wicking filament polyester on the bottom of the fabric. and the filament polyester using micro fibre with wicking performance ( cross section is ‘+’ or something) . as we know the water regaining of polyester is much less than cotton . when wicking polyester touch the sweaty skin . the perspiration will be transport from polyester and absorbed by outside cotton and go inside the cells of cotton fiber . keeping skin dry . the hand feel can be soft but not nature . comparing the moisture evapour rate . i think ua’s charged cotton evapour moisture fast.

        so the yarn material and fabric structure and treatment are more important for moisture wicking performance .

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