What Is Dri-FIT Clothing?

High-end sportswear brands have recently begun to market their Dri-Fit apparel, promising that it does everything from keeping you cool to limiting sweatiness and even boosting your performance. This seems like an athlete’s dream.

But what exactly is Dri-Fit clothing, and how does it carry out its innovation?

Dri-Fit material is a blend of polyester fibers that efficiently wicks your sweat to the outside of your garment. The fabric prevents stickiness and odor through its specially formulated weave that contains antibacterial agents. 

However, before trading in your regular workout gear for Dri-Fit garments, you may wonder how the two compare and whether the persuasive marketing behind Dri-Fit technology is merely selling you a sweat-free fantasy.  

Does Dri Fit material live up to the hype?

Let’s take a look!

What is Dri-Fit Clothing Material?

What is Dri-Fit Clothing?

Dri-FIT fabric is a high-performance polyester material with advanced sweat-wicking qualities that keep you dry during high-performance workouts.

Nike developed Dri-FIT; however, several athletic wear competitors market comparable merchandise. Dri-Fit clothing ranges from shirts to shorts, socks, and even outerwear. 

The microfiber material helps to disperse the sweat you create across your clothes, allowing you to stay drier for longer. This design is intended to cooperate with the body’s natural cooling system to guarantee that perspiration evaporates quickly. Furthermore, sweat does not weigh down the cloth. The even distribution factor aids in the evaporation of perspiration before it is absorbed by the material. 

This material works the same whether you’re in an air-conditioned gym or a sweltering, humid climate. The range of Dri-Fit clothing items means that these garments translate from the gym into everyday life. Dri-Fit can be worn in virtually any casual occasion where you want to remain cool while looking your best.

Dri Fit apparel is comprised chiefly of polyester. The cotton-poly mixes offered by the manufacturer may contain some cotton, but the bulk of the goods are manufactured entirely of polyester. The polyester utilized in this material is still manufactured from the same petroleum materials and harsh chemicals used in all other polyester textiles.

There is no discernible difference between the materials used in this garment and those used in any other polyester clothing brand. If you are sensitive to strong chemicals or petroleum materials, it is better to choose a different brand to wear.

Examples of Popular Dri-Fit Shirts

Want to take a closer look at some of the most popular dri-fit shirts?

While you can find dri-fit shorts or even full tracksuits, shirts are the most popular example of this material in use:

Bestseller No. 1
5 Pack Men’s Active Quick Dri Dry Fit Crew Neck T Shirts Athletic Running Gym Workout Short Sleeve Tee Tops Camisas Summer
  • ACTIVE CREW T-SHIRTS: Elevate your workout gear with our pack of 5 men’s athletic workout shirts. These shirts provide the perfect blend of comfort and performance, whether you’re in the gym, running on the track, or just doing errands
  • ATHLETIC STYLE: Look and feel great in the gym with our pack of 5 active workout t-shirts in solid colors. Perfect for layering or wearing alone, these shirts will give you the confidence you need to excel your workouts and lead in the gym.
  • WORKOUT TRANSFORMER: Say goodbye to sweaty T-shirts with our quick-drying dry-fit fabric that wicks away moisture and keeps you cool and dry. The breathable dry fit material easily cools heat and feels super-soft on your skin
Bestseller No. 2
Mens Workout Shirts Dry Fit Fitted(Blue/02,L)
  • Men’s Running Shirts Moisture Wicking: The key feature of our t-shirt is the breathable fabric, which is perforated with small holes to ensure maximum airflow and comfort. Our breathable fabric ensures that your body is well ventilated, helping to keep moisture at bay. This means that even when you sweat, your skin stays dry, cool and comfortable.
  • Workout Shirts Men Athletic Fit Quick Dry: This shirt is designed to fit any body type. It is flexible, lightweight and comfortable to wear, making it ideal for all sizes. It is versatile and can be worn for a variety of activities such as running, working out, playing sports, or as casual wear.
  • Men’s Workout Shirts Dry Fit Fitted: If you prefer a looser fit, we recommend ordering one size larger than your regular size. This will allow for a more relaxed and comfortable feel. On the other hand, if you prefer a tighter fit, we suggest going down one size from your regular size. This will give you a slimmer and more streamlined look.
Bestseller No. 3
CE’ CERDR Mens Workout Shirts Quick Dry Performance Short Sleeve Athletic Shirt
  • STRETCHY & SOFT: Our workout shirts for men are made of soft and breathable 4-way stretch fabric that allows you to run, play and workout more comfortable making them great for anyone looking for athletic clothing that could keep up with their active lifestyle
  • QUICK DRYING SHIRTS: The men’s sports t-shirts are gentle on your skin and breathable enough to keep you cool throughout the day. They wick away moisture from the skin to keep you dry, comfortable and focused on your workouts
  • MADE FOR PERFORMANCE: We combine soft and breathable materials with a non-restrictive crew neck and short sleeves to bring you gym shirts for men that will help you boost performance and push your limits while looking good
Bestseller No. 4
Nike Men’s Legend Short Sleeve Tee, Royal, M
  • Regular fit is eased, but not sloppy, and perfect for any activity
  • Features brushed interior that feels super soft against skin
  • Delivers an ultra-lightweight feel and superior performance

Is Dri-Fit Material Waterproof?

Although most Dri-FIT fabrics are highly water-resistant, they are not entirely waterproof. However, some athletic wear brands manufacture items with sealed seams and a special laminate covering that makes the garment waterproof. This type of apparel is ideal for trekking in extreme weather. 

Regular polyester is ideal for shading you from light rain since it does not extensively absorb liquids, making it the perfect material for wicking. However, without a specialized laminate coating, the microscopic air holes between threads will eventually allow water to get through.

Dri-Fit is perfect for layering since it maintains a comfortable temperature and avoids excess moisture on your skin. It works as a thermal base layer in colder climates, trapping heat while retaining breathability and moisture control. In warm weather, a Dri-Fit base layer wicks moisture away from the skin and to the outside of the garment, where it evaporates fast, providing a cooling impact on the body.

While Dri-Fit garments effectively keep light rain off you, it is ineffective for swimwear. Most pool water contains chlorine, which can potentially damage the synthetic fibers. Furthermore, its unique properties, such as sweat-wicking, aren’t as relevant to underwater sports.

What Are the Benefits of Dri-Fit Clothing?

What is Dri Fit Clothing?
A selection of dri-fit apparel from the Nike store

The Fabric Compliments Your Skin to Maximize Comfort

One of the most appealing aspects of a Dri-Fit is its ability to complement various skin types. The loose microfiber blend creates a luxuriously soft texture ideal for irritable skin. Because Dri-Fit shirts come in various textures and fabric combinations, you are guaranteed to find a garment fit for you. 

Dri-Fit Has Excellent Moisture Wicking Properties

Dri-Fit is praised for its capacity to wick sweat, regardless of the intensity of the workout. Unlike conventional clothing, Dri-Fit garments absorb moisture and dissipate perspiration, allowing them to feel dry all the time. A Dri-Fit clothing also improves breathability to maximize comfort further.

The Material Allows You to Move While Maintaining Your Comfort

Dri-Fit garments are popular amongst active individuals because they do not limit your range of motion. Twist, stretch, jump, bend, and run with ease as your Dri-Fit clothing moves with you. Because the material fits your shape, it allows for uninhibited mobility of the body without requiring any effort on your part. 

Dri-Fit Benefits Your Performance

Restrictive clothing that leaves you feeling hot and sweaty detracts from your concentration, thus influencing your performance. By fitting to your form and adapting to your bodily functions as you move, Dri-Fit offers you the most out of your workout

What Are the Drawbacks of Dri-Fit Clothing?

Dri-Fit is An Expensive Material

The innovation behind Dri-Fit begs an intricate manufacturing process and an expensive cost of materials, making these garments pricier than other athletic wear items. Because Dri-Fit garments are on the pricier side, you will need to take special care of them to ensure that you get the most out of your investment. 

Several athletic wear brands offer Dri-Fit garments or items with a similar blend. Off-brand Dri-FIT shirts may be purchased for as little as $5 from retailers like J. C. Penny; however, similar shirts from high-end sports brands, such as Adidas or Nike, can set you back $40 to $70. 

The Fabric Clings to Your Body

Although promised to maximize comfort and mobility, this lightweight microfiber fabric is designed to fit your form, which is why some consumers may shy away from Dri-Fit sportswear. If you prefer more loosely fitted gear while getting your heart rate up on the sports field or in the gym, you may not enjoy Dri-Fit quite as much.

Dri-Fit Tends to Develop an Odor

The characteristics that make Dri-Fit fabric so successful at wicking away moisture from your body also make it a hotspot for germs and odor. The microscopic notches gather sweat and transport it from the garment’s inner layer to the outside surface, where it may evaporate more readily. The issue is that these tiny grooves are ideal sites for bacterial growth.

So, while this synthetic material is ideal for an active lifestyle, bacteria readily get caught in the fibers and can be difficult to remove even after a wash cycle. Unless the synthetic fabric is coated with odor-blocking technology, your garment may shortly begin to smell.

Many brands claim that their clothing feature “odor block technology” because they have “wicking characteristics.” However, “wicking” should not be confused with odor-prevention technologies that eliminate microorganisms.

Dri-Fit is Susceptible to Damage

Dri-Fit material notoriously snags on any sharp edges, which causes irreparable damage to the garment. Although the microfibers blend to create a soft fabric, they are also responsible for the delicacy of the material. Since Dri-Fit gear is an expensive investment, some consumers may find that the inconvenience of keeping their clothes away from any sharp or rough surfaces is not worth the price tag.

Dri-Fit Can Be an Irritant to Sensitive Skin

Microfiber is rougher than most jersey knit fabrics, such as cotton, and is made from harsher chemicals to achieve its delicate texture. Dri-Fit, therefore, becomes an irritant to skin that is prone to contact dermatitis. This condition is aggravated when sensitive skin is exposed to friction or irritating substances.

How Does Dri-Fit Compare to Traditional Athletic Wear Fabrics?

Dri Fit Tech

How Does Dri-Fit Compare to Cotton?

Cotton has a unique softness and breathability that most textiles lack. However, cotton readily absorbs moisture and remains saturated for an extended period before drying. Furthermore, cotton shrinks in the washer and dryer, making it more high maintenance than synthetic fabrics. 

It is not uncommon for Dri-Fit material to contain a small percentage of cotton. Still, it is in the far minority compared to the percentage of polyester in the fabric. Sportswear brands market these garments as a ‘cotton’ version of their Dri-Fit gear but ensure that most of the garment is made from synthetic fibers to optimize odor prevention and moisture-wicking. 

If you purchase Dri-Fit gear from high-end brands, such as Nike or Puma, you will almost certainly spend much more than you would for 100% cotton clothing. On the other hand, synthetic textiles are less expensive because polyester is significantly cheaper to make than cotton.

How Does Dri-Fit Cotton Compare to Polyester?

There are no obvious distinctions between these two fabrics. Dri-Fit cotton is a blend of cotton and polyester, so the only true advantage over 100 percent polyester is its softness. Furthermore, the polyester blended with the cotton fibers will retain all the qualities of 100 percent polyester. The only exception is that the Dri-Fit cotton may absorb more moisture than the 100% polyester fabric.

The only other category where the Dri-Fit cotton blend would trump polyester is breathability. Because cotton breathes better than polyester, the Dri-Fit cotton mix will be cooler and have greater airflow than the polyester material.

However, polyester material may last longer than Dri-Fit cotton apparel due to cotton’s shorter shelf life. Therefore, if you intend to invest in a Dri-Fit garment, you may want to consider a 100% polyester blend to extend the life of your investment. 

How Does Dri-Fit Compare to Microfiber?

Microfiber is a synthetic filament with a diameter of fewer than ten micrometers. It is usually constructed from various polyesters to produce an airy and soft material. Therefore, Dri-Fit and microfiber are essentially the same kinds of fabric, and Dri-Fit is only a brand name for fabric that contains microfiber.

Nike markets their unique gear to athletes all around the world under the brand name Dri-Fit, but countless brands use similar microfiber technology to create sweat-wick sports gear. 

The video below compares Nike Dri-Fit vs Under Armour Heat Gear:

Does Dri-Fit Fabric Shrink?

With proper care and cleaning, Dri-Fit should not shrink. However, certain varieties of this material have a combination of other fibers, such as polyester and cotton. If your garment contains a mixture of fibers, you must take precautions to prevent the garment from shrinking. 

When exposed to heat, cotton shrinks dramatically. If you put your sportswear through a hot wash cycle and then a hot drier, it can shrink by one or two sizes. To avoid this, gently remove your Dri-Fit clothing out of a cold wash cycle and hang it to dry. 

How Should Dri-Fit Clothing Be Washed?

You may be surprised to learn that this innovative fabric requires a very simple cleaning process to maintain its properties and avoid shrinking. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the following steps to maintain your Dri-Fit garments properly:

  1. Start by turning the garment inside out before throwing it in the washer. Since this fabric is susceptible to damage by sharp objects, this trick will help avoid snags from zippers or snaps as they tumble through the cycle. 
  2. Try to do a separate load dedicated to workout clothes. Washing your athletic gear with cotton or other natural blends causes a build-up of lint on your workout clothes.
  3. The most crucial step to remember is to set your washer to a cool wash cycle since the heat could cause the garment to shrink if it has any fibers besides Dri-Fit woven into the fabric.
  4. Dri-Fit clothing does not require any specialized detergents. Toss in a cap of your regular wash powder but be sure to avoid adding any fabric softeners as they tend to clog the finely woven material and affect its quick-drying ability.
  5. Once the washer completes its cycle, hang your Dri-Fit garments on a line to air dry. It is essential that you keep the Dri-Fit fabric away from the drier since this extreme heat can damage the garment.

Is Dri-FIT Worth It?

Dri-Fit sportswear marries function and style. This fabric contains a blend of polyester fibers that efficiently wicks your sweat to the outside of your garment. The material prevents stickiness and odor through its specially formulated weave that contains antibacterial agents.

The biggest plus? Dri-Fit garments are relatively low-maintenance, making them ideal for individuals who are on the go. 

Author Profile

Alex Randall

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Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

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