Cool Wicking Undershirts

Question from a reader curious if a moisture wicking undershirt would keep him cooler at Disney World in summertime.

Tug,

I started looking at cool wicking undershirts because I’m travel to Florida in June, to Disney World specifically. It’ll be hot and humid. We will be doing a considerable amount of walking.

So, I thought an undershirt that wicks the sweat away would help keep me cooler. I plan on wearing polo shirts over the undershirt. I’ve many of your blogs about wicking undershirts. I now see that, while the sweat might wick away, the polo will become stained/wet.

My question is: Is there an undershirt which will keep me cool without staining my outer shirt?

Thanks, David

Do Wicking Undershirts Keep You Cool?

My response to David:

heya david,

good to hear from you buddy and thanks for stopping by my site!

glad to see you’ve been doing a little research prior to emailing me (: gotta tell you, most folks just email me questions when the answer is clearly available in an article on my site. so kudos man for reading before writing!

so here’s the thing: if there is a good about of space (air) between your undershirt and your outer shirt, there’s a good chance that airflow will help the sweat on the outer-side of the undershirt to dry some before saturating the inner-side of your outer-shirt.

tbh — wicking+cooling can’t really be experienced in a dailywear situation. or at least i’ve personally never experienced any significant cooling effects wearing a wicking undershirt in a dailywear situation. so i don’t think you’re necessarily better off with a wicking undershirt, but that’s not to say that you should avoid a wicking undershirt.

hanes-comfortblend-crew-neck-undershirt
Hanes Comfortblend Eco-Smart Crew Neck Undershirt

my recommendation would be to find something lightweight, that has a blend of absorbing & wicking material. this combination will allow the undershirt to absorb sweat and dry faster than an undershirt made mostly from (>90%) absorbing fabric.

so, maybe a 50/50 cotton/poly undershirt, or maybe something made from viscose/bamboo. i also think it would be good to have something that’s close fitting, but not too tight.  another option would be to go with something like 70/30 cotton/poly, which i believe is the approximate blend of several the dri-release products.

you might want to try the 50/50 from hanes, american apparel, urban outfitters, or ribbed tee. another possible option would be to see if you can locate a coolmax (polyester) undershirt or lightweight dri-release t-shirt that isn’t too boxy fitting. those fabrics feel a lot more like cotton on the skin, but will wick & dry pretty quickly.

hope that information helps out. keep me posted & let me know what you wind up buying and what you think of it, ok?

Wicking + Cooling?

A point of clarification for those curious about my position on wicking undershirts not offering cooling in a dailywear situation.

With most performance or wicking gear, there usually needs to be some catalyst for a person to experience cooling. In my own personal experience, that catalyst is usually a good amount of airflow.

For example, if you’re running, and have wicking gear on, the airflow will help you feel cooler as you sweat. And you WILL feel cooler wearing a wicking garment in that situation than if you were wearing a garment that absorbed moisture/sweat.

But in a typical dailywear situation, if you’re wearing a wicking undershirt underneath an outer shirt, and you’re just going about your business (walking, sitting, etc.), your undershirt won’t get in contact with much (or any) airflow. As such, you really wouldn’t experience any notable cooling effects.

Airflow is the key. No airflow, no cooling. Easy enough?

Wearing Undershirts in Hot Weather?

I know it might seem counter-intuitive to wear an undershirt in hot weather, but the main benefit of wearing one would be to prevent sweat-through.

I can’t say you’ll feel cooler wearing an undershirt when it’s hot out, but if you find a lightweight undershirt that doesn’t fit too tight, you shouldn’t feel hotter wearing one.

Plus, the undershirt will provide that much-needed layer of protection between you and your outer shirt.

Do You Have Any Recommendations?

If so, tell us about them in the comments section below.

5 thoughts on “Cool Wicking Undershirts”

  1. One deciding I have noticed that may be worth mentioning is the fact that the purely synthetic “wicking” shirts tend towards letting (in my case, from the back and shoulder) sweat zip right through to the outer shirt showing a pretty clear outline of a sweat bead when the outer shirt and undershirt make solid contact.

    This has not been the case with, say, a 50/50 cotton blend or all cotton blend in my experience. I think this is due to the absorbancy of the cotton holding on to the moisture, and delaying it’s release.

    Last summer I switched to the “Micro” thickness cotton undershirts and when paired with a loose fitting outer shirt (especially when UN-tucked, as with a seersucker short sleeve button up) gives a reasonable amount of cooling via a slight chimney effect when walking.

    that said, if you meant DisneyWorld rather than DisneyLand, nothing will save you from the humidity of Florida. ;)

    Reply
  2. Hi Tug, how are you my friend.

    i have comments for cooling. what you mentioned airflow and light weight can cause cooling, the key point is taht the water (sweats) evapour quickly so our body feel cool.

    as you know when water or sweat is evapouring it need energy which is from our skin. so our bodu feel cooling . so the garment with quick dry and good wicking performance can have our body cooler.

    there are other products with cooling performance like as xylitol treatment and PCM ( phase change material) treatment.

    Best regrds,
    Qiuyong

    Reply
    • heya q! good to hear from you again (:

      that’s a really good point about evaporation time. though, i still feel that i haven’t “notably” experienced cooling effects in a dailywear situation.

      here’s the thing: let’s say i tested two different undershirts in the following circumstance:
      undershirts: [a] one of them really good wicking (with or without xylitol or pcm), [b] the other a lightweight breathable cotton undershirt.

      situation: wear undershirt [a] or [b] under a typical dailywear shirt (say a short sleeve button up since that’s what i wear a lot), and was in a typical situation like in an office environment or working at a desk indoors, and maybe i sweat a little because it was hot while i was walking to the office to/from my car.

      my point is that i wouldn’t likely notice any greater cooling effect from undershirt [a] over undershirt [b] in that situation — a typical dailywear situation.

      now, if there is a different catalyst — like if i were more active and there was some airflow, there’s a greater possibility that i’ll noticed the cooling effects.

      see, i’ve tested nearly 200 different undershirts and i can’t say that any one of them made me feel significantly cooler in a dailywear situation.

      granted those wicking undershirts could claim they offer some cooling, when in fact they technically would because of how evaporation works, but the big question is whether or not an end user would experience that in a typical dailywear situation.

      now for our reader, there is a chance that in his hot/humid weather situation at disneyland where he might sweat more, a wicking undershirt may make him feel cooler. but, there’s also a chance that same wicking undershirt could transfer the moisture to his outershirt faster, leaving visible sweat marks.

      i’m not sure if there’s an ideal solution for this reader, but hopefully all this information will provide some ideas for him to try out and report back (:

      Reply

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