While you may love working up a sweat at the gym, you might not love hanging out in wet clothes afterward. Finding the right exercise clothes with moisture-wicking properties is crucial to remaining comfortable during even the most intense workouts. But where do you start? With so many brands and styles competing for your attention, you might feel overwhelmed. If so, this guide is designed to help you navigate the exercise clothing marketplace so you can choose the best workout clothes with breathable material and still look good wearing them.
Moisture Wicking 101
Moisture-wicking material allows moisture to pass from your body to the exterior of your clothes instead of becoming trapped in the material itself. This helps your perspiration evaporate and thus keeps your skin cool and dry. This technology works due to hydrophilic fibers located within the material, which draws sweat away from the skin.
The Benefits of Moisture Wicking
Along with keeping you dry and comfortable, moisture-wicking exercise clothes may keep you from overheating. In the same way that the fabric pulls sweat away from the body, it’s also breathable, pushing air in toward the skin to provide a cooling effect. Most moisture-wicking exercise clothes are also easy to wash and require less water and detergent.
Choosing the Right Fabric
Some natural fabric, like cotton, retains moisture more than others. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, retain less moisture. Most moisture-wicking clothing is made of synthetic material or blends of polyester or nylon. However, merino wool is a natural option that also features moisture-wicking properties.
Best Budget Options
Moisture-wicking technology, while amazing, doesn’t have to break the bank. This exercise shirt will keep you cool with their 100 percent polyester Dry-Fit material with UPF 50+ — which makes them ideal for outdoor use. Pair them with these performance shorts and you’re set for the week.
If you’re looking for yoga clothes, check out these leggings, which are made from a moisture-wicking blend of nylon and spandex and have passed the squat test, so nobody will see your underwear in a downward dog. Speaking of underwear, this racerback sports bra from MIRITY is made with nylon performance fabric to keep you comfortable and supported throughout your workout, while these shorts for men offer a compression design to increase muscle power and decrease recovery time.
If you’re into the idea of moisture-wicking all the way down to your toes and don’t mind the extra spend, merino wool exercise clothes might be the best option. These socks from Darn Tough offer breathability and even a thin layer of cushioning along the base of the foot for extra comfort. The socks are even backed up by a lifetime guarantee, which makes the nearly $90 splurge worth it. If socks aren’t enough, you can find everything from merino wool performance underwear and yoga pants to lightweight T-shirts and hoodies. Not only are these products odor-resistant and breathable, but they’re also so soft you might want to wear them to bed. After that intense workout, you deserve a rest.
Buying a gift for the gym fanatic in your life? Check out our gift guide for fitness lovers.
Shop the best moisture-wicking exercise clothes:
- Exercise shirt
- Performance shorts
- Racerback sports bra from MIRITY
- Tank tops
- Training jackets
- Performance underwear
- Yoga pants
- Lightweight T-shirts
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, and VICE.