Moisture wicking sounds like a highly technical modern invention. It’s actually a physical phenomenon known as capillary action that has the capacity to enable liquid to defy gravity. It was first observed and documented by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. He may have been the first to recognize, observe, and document but humans have unwittingly taken advantage of moisture wicking materials since we learned how to weave wool.
Wool’s water resistant properties make it an ideal material to make clothing out of, but wool fibers offer a secondary benefit in that it wicks perspiration which allows it to evaporate rapidly. Sweating in a freezing environment sounds counterintuitive but if you’re working on a mountainside herding sheep in the snow, you’re still going to generate body heat and thus sweat even if it’s freezing outside. The dual protection from wool could mean the difference between life and death.
Wicking brings moisture away from your body through capillary action allowing your skin to stay dry if you’re working out or experiencing other physical exertion. Man-made moisture wicking materials are not expressly water proof even though it’s easy to draw that conclusion from the name. Many high tech materials do offer some capacity for this. Moisture wicking clothing feature capillary tubes that are alternating hydrophobic, (water repelling) and hydrophyllic, (water loving) and is responsible for the wicking of moisture that takes place. Water molecules are sucked into these tubes and attract other water molecules by a reaction called hydrogen bond.
Sports apparel that is made with more filaments per yard has more “channels” or capillaries, (wicking action) to suck moisture to the surface of the material. The reason the water molecules don’t get sucked back down into the material is because of evaporation. Once the sweat hits the surface, it has the chance to evaporate more easily than if trapped in a material like cotton that does not have wicking properties.p>
Properly fitting moisture wicking apparel is essential to take full advantage of capillary action. A close fit works best since sweat does not vault from skin to a shirt. Most moisture wicking sports apparel manufacturers offer form fitting gear that can almost double as a sports girdle. If tight fitting clothes aren’t your thing, there are more loose fitting options.
How moisture wicking apparel can help your athletic performance is a subjective experience. Since sweating is the body’s natural mechanism to cool the body down, you may experience feeling overheated depending on the amount of exertion you’re expending. Some people don’t care for a cool tingling feeling in place of the normal sweating that takes place. However wearing cotton doesn’t help much either since the sweat your body produces to try to cool you down is trapped beneath a surface that does not allow evaporation. A good compromise between these two materials is a polyblend of either nylon and cotton or polyester and cotton.
However, reduction in chaffing is something that anyone has to appreciate; this is one irritant that can be diminished by wearing athletic performance wear. Most avid athletes will have two wardrobes, their streetwear and their performance wear. Just like everyday clothing, customization of athletic performance wear is desirable for events or competitions. Because of the nature of the material, screen printing a design is the normal method of decoration.
The same properties that make moisture wicking materials attractive to athletes can make it a challenge to custom sports apparel printers. The ideal material for screen printing custom t-shirts is cotton. The reason for this is you can print almost anything on cotton without worrying about any production issues. Cotton is also very easy to sell because it’s affordable whereas performance wear can be pricey.
Printing on any synthetic fabric like moisture wicking shirts is more challenging because it does not absorb ink as readily as cotton. Furthermore, the way performance wear is dyed is through high heat immersion dyeing which opens up the fibers to receive the dye. To cure screen printing inks, heat is required, so when a garment goes through flash curing on the press in case of multiple ink passes or deposits, or the curing process that happens when the garment is sent through the conveyor dryers, there is a chance that the original dye from the fabric will soak into the freshly laid ink layers. This is called sublimation. Low bleed inks and inks that require a low temperature to cure are ideal for printing on athletic performance wear.
We’ve custom printed athletic wear for crossfit competitions, competitive races, professional sports teams, gyms, school athletic departments, and recreational leagues of all kinds. If you need assistance evaluating which options for performance wear are most suitable for your activity, event, or competition, call, email, or chat with one of our custom apparel professionals. We can offer expert advice and money saving tips to make your next purchase of decorated athletic wear an exceptional experience.