H2X, DryTech, UltraCool, DDX. Whatever the name it’s known by, performance technology has rapidly become the standard for quality promotional wearables. What are the features that drive this technology? And how do these things actually work?

UV protection: Clothes can protect the skin against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays with this feature. The tightness of the weave, weight, type of fiber and color all affect the amount of protection the product provides. Garments are measured by the degree of Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) they possess, so a fabric with a 40 UPF rating will allow only 1/40th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. In general, light-colored, lightweight and loosely woven fabrics do not offer much protection from the sun.

Anti-pill: Apparel with loose, short fibers (like fleece and polyester) is highly susceptible to pilling, because over time the fibers work themselves out of yarn loops to create pesky balls of fabric on the surface of the garment. Anti-pill fabrics are made of yarn spun with a high number of twists per inch, making the fibers tighter and harder to catch on a rough object or to be pricked and pulled out of the cloth. The fabric can also be singed for a much smoother surface and no future pilling.

Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial treatments control the growth of odor causing bacteria. Normally these bacteria would generate unpleasant odor molecules, but by limiting their growth, treatments prevent the formation of these odors and keep fabrics fresher longer. Silver ions were among the first antimicrobials, but manufacturers have now developed a number of topical applications and fabric additives.

Moisture wicking: A common misconception about this feature is that if you’re wearing a wicking shirt, you won’t sweat. In fact, the body still sweats just as much as it normally would; however, the capillary action in the garment (wicking in the truest sense) attracts moisture from locations where it is abundant and transports it to areas where it is less abundant, bringing it to the exterior of the garment to dry. Therefore, the technology keeps wearers drier through- out the day.

Windproof: Windproof garments typically feature an outer shell or membrane between the lining and the outmost layer that is impenetrable to wind – but at the same time keeps body heat from creating moisture. Windproof garments play a large role in keeping the wearer warm, even when not facing any other weather mishaps.

Waterproof/water resistance: Waterproof fabrics are treated with a substance such as rubber polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU) that forces water to roll off the surface without penetrating the garment. Water resistance suspends a certain amount of water above the fabric before it becomes soaked and the water seeps through. Both features also allow the fabric to breathe, letting perspiration out while keeping water from coming in.

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