Moisture Wicking Undershirts versus Cotton Undershirts – Food for Thought

For whatever reason, a thought occurred to me this morning:

While moisture-wicking clothing products are intended to keep you cooler by transferring moisture away from your body to the outer layer of the fabric, if you’re wearing an undershirt made out of that type of material, wouldn’t that lead you to believe that your outerwear would get wetter (especially in the underarm area) than if you were wearing an undershirt that absorbed moisture?

Granted, the main point of wearing moisture wicking products is to keep you cooler and drier. For those that sweat a lot, that’s likely more important than the potential by-product of getting your outerwear wet.

But it seems to me that many of us guys (me for sure) wear undershirts primarily to protect our good shirts from getting stained in the underarm/armpit area and to keep the unsightly sweat stains from showing through.

If that’s the case, wouldn’t it better to wear an undershirt that’s made out of material, like cotton, that absorbs moisture?

Update: I received a question from a reader and provide a more in-depth look at the topic in this article: Ask Tug: Does a moisture wicking undershirt make the situation of sweating through to an outer layer of fabric worse?

What do you think?

Obviously our ultimate goal is to find a comfortable undershirt that will not only fit right, but also keep us cool and protect our outerwear from getting stained.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget that it has to be affordable too. That’s a tall order for any one undershirt.

The good news is that we have many more options to choose from today than we did, say a year ago, and out of all the undershirts that are available, we’re bound to find one that works not only for our particular needs, but also our budget.

I can only hope that the information here helps you in your quest to find that “perfect” undershirt.

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Moisture Wicking Undershirts versus Cotton Undershirts – Food for Thought”

  1. I can’t seem to find a lot on this subject, but I do find I sweat a lot, especially in the morning when I walk to work.

    So, my objective is not only to stay cool, dry, and also to not end up smelling sweaty by the end of the day at my corporate job.

    I’ve tried moisture wicking, and I find sometimes it makes the outer clothing wet, and by the end of the day makes the sweaty smell more likely.

    I’ve tried cotton, but somehow a lot of cotton undershirts are too thick and end up creating an insulating layer that heats me up easily in a hot summer day.

    I wonder what would offer both the benefits of staying cool and keeping dry without staining the outer layer or getting sweat onto the outer layer.

    • heya norman,

      yeah, i’ve long took the position that wicking undershirts make the situation of sweat-through more pronounced.

      in fact, a reader wrote in not too long ago and reported that her husband tried a lightweight wicking undershirt (uniqlo airism mesh) and stated that he sweat through that more quickly.

      here’s the article with her comments:

      i’d recommend scanning through my sweat management category:

      there are lots of great articles that cover ways to minimize sweat-through, utilizing a combination of techniques to stay feeling more dry and comfortable.

      i believe the solution you’re looking for is combining one or more of the following:
      – thinner, lightweight undershirts
      – undershirt made from fabric that both absorbs+wicks (viscose/rayon/modal, tencel, or a blend of cotton+poly)
      – stronger antiperspirant like the 7-day antiperspirants sweat shield ultra or sweatblock
      – possibly a hyperhidrosis undershirt that has sweat-through resistant panels (underarm, back, or all over)

      check out that category and above articles, and let me know if you have any other questions (:


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