The first week of this summer brought blistering, record heat across the country. In various regions across the country, this heat came with intense humidity that forced many folks indoors. But for those who can’t avoid being outside, or simply don’t want to, having cool, breathable fabric is a must.
We’ve all seen advertisements for breathable materials, including everything from bedsheets to tissues to slippers. While picking materials from a list of ready-made options is helpful in a pinch, creating custom cooling garments can be a bit trickier. Here, we discuss what to look for as you search for the perfect gear for your summer plans!
In a recent study out of the University of Oregon, researchers found that the material with the highest thermal effusivity (or ability to transfer heat away from your body) is cotton. If you’re surprised by this finding, you’re not alone. Most people believe that cotton is a poor choice for hot days. However, cotton is one of the most highly breathable fabrics available, making them a slightly better option than other fabrics, like polyester or rayon.
Cotton’s one major drawback is that it absorbs moisture. This makes it a more uncomfortable fabric in particularly humid areas or on days where you’re planning to sweat. On these days, you might consider looking for a polyester or nylon blend. Nylon and polyester don’t absorb moisture the same way cotton does, so a mix of the two helps retain breathability while reducing humidity. These materials are often found in athletic wear.
Other fabric choices for hot days include:
- Rayon: Rayon, while only moderately breathable, does dry quickly, keeping you more comfortable if you begin to sweat.
- Linen: Linen is a comfortable, breathable material that is easy to care for. Its only drawback is, like cotton, it absorbs moisture.
Moisture-wicking has to do with a material’s ability to move your sweat away from your body to encourage evaporation, thus keeping you cool. The same can be said for quick-drying materials. The name of the game is to keep the moisture away from your body, and both of these features will accomplish this.
Moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials require contact with the skin to help pull sweat and moisture away from your body. If they aren’t in contact with your skin, they can’t do their job. So, regardless of the activity, if you’re planning to sweat, the shirt you purchase should be slightly more form-fitting. While you don’t necessarily want the material to be skin-tight, loose clothing won’t make as much contact with the skin, preventing certain materials from doing their job to keep you cool.
Certain materials can impact the ability of a garment to keep you cool. If the fabric used to make your apparel is tightly woven, the fabric is likely less breathable and will not be ideal for the heat. Look for weave patterns that are looser for your summer outdoor adventures. Another trick is the ‘light’ trick. Hold your material up to a light source. Generally speaking, the more light that shines through, the more breathable the fabric.
Believe it or not, this age-old adage is true. Lighter colors, like white, yellow, and orange, are much more likely to help you stay cooler than darker colors, like black or blue. This is because darker colors absorb the sun’s rays, retaining heat within the fabric. For hot days, choose something light.
There are also plenty of additional features that can be added to clothing to help maintain body temperature. Mesh panels, vents, zippers, and ventilation holes are all extra features to consider adding if your goal is to stay cool.
Of course, all of these decisions will impact a material’s ability to be customized. You can read more about this in our blog on cheap t-shirts. If you’re still feeling confused about material selection or would like more information about selecting a material to beat the heat this summer, feel free to send us a message! We’d be happy to help you come up with the best solution to meet your needs! You can reach us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 610-378-7844.