The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Fabric for Athletic Wear

Whether running, biking or doing yoga, form-fitting workout clothing can make all the difference. Moreover, your fabric of choice is essential to how you feel during and after your exercise.

From natural fibers to the latest innovations, here’s what to look for. Avoid rough fabrics that can chafe during movement; choose sweat-wicking and breathable materials.


For many of us, polyester conjures visions of sweaty and clingy fabrics from the ’70s. But this best fabrics idea for athletic wear has come a long way since then and can offer many advantages for the activewear wearer.

Most workout clothes made from polyester are wicking, meaning they pull sweat away from the body and evaporate quickly. This keeps you cool and comfortable in high-intensity workouts and is also useful when exercising in cold weather.

Another advantage of polyester is that it’s a cheap and durable fabric that resists wrinkles, doesn’t shrink much and holds color well. It’s also lightweight and breathable.

For an even better blend of qualities, you can find polyester blended with cotton and other natural fibers. This blend is known as polycotton and embodies the best of both fabrics; it’s stronger, more durable, less prone to wrinkles and far more breathable than 100% polyester. This fabric is often used in sports bras and tighter-knit activewear. It’s also common in rain jackets, skin-tight base layers and socks.


This moisture-wicking material is soft & breathable, keeping you comfortable during sweaty workouts. It’s also wrinkle-resistant & durable, making it ideal for everyday wear and gym apparel. It’s also a great choice for jogging & hiking, as it can shield you from light rain. Unlike regular polyester fabrics, it has a specialized laminate covering that prevents water molecules from seeping through.

Dri-FIT is a high-performance, microfiber polyester fabric that moves sweat away from the body to the fabric’s surface, where it evaporates. Nike uses this fabric in various products, including shirts, socks, shoes, pants, shorts, gloves, and hats.

While this fabric is breathable, it does not have the same level of breathability as bamboo or modal. It also tends to shrink in the wash, so it is important to turn your workout gear inside out before washing it. This helps to avoid snags on zippers and snaps while preventing your athletic wear from stretching out of shape. It would enable to use a cold wash cycle to avoid damage.


The right workout clothes make all the difference in your stamina and performance, but finding high-quality, soft, and durable clothing for everyday wear can be challenging. Fortunately, bamboo is an excellent alternative to polyester and nylon and an eco-friendly choice that doesn’t sacrifice softness for durability.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, and it’s a renewable source of fiber. Bamboo pulp yields a lightweight natural fabric that’s soft, moisture-wicking, antistatic, odor-resistant, and temperature-regulating. It’s often blended with materials like Merino wool, but you can also find bamboo-only activewear.

Interestingly, bamboo can tolerate harsh environmental conditions that other plants cannot. It can grow in tropical and temperate environments and be harvested without herbicides or pesticides. It can be eaten (new shoots), made into paper and clothing, used in concrete reinforcement, provided livestock feed, or machined into various forms of lumber. It’s also a great solution to water run-off since bamboo plants, when planted alongside rivers, streams and dam walls, can catch excess nutrients and prevent them from poisoning clean water.


Polypropylene fabric is a catch-all term used to describe any textile made from the thermoplastic polymer polypropylene. It is a modern textile commonly found in the production of sportswear, outdoor clothing and durable everyday items like rugs, tote bags and tents.

Polypropylene is an exceptionally tough plastic resistant to mold, rot and bacteria. It is also highly abrasion-resistant and has good resistance to oil and water. However, it does have a high thermal expansion coefficient and is susceptible to photodegradation, chlorinated solvents and aromatics.

Despite these drawbacks, polypropylene fabric is an excellent option for athletic clothing because it is a breathable, waterproof material that can keep rain, sleet and snow out while pulling moisture away from the skin for swift evaporation. It is also one of the most inexpensive materials available for making apparel. Just remember that because it is a plastic-based fabric, polypropylene should never be ironed but instead should be washed by hand in cold or lukewarm water and then air dried. Unlike other synthetic fabrics, it is also very soft to the touch.


Nylon is an artificial, synthetic fiber that is made from petrochemicals. It was first produced in 1938 and became widely popular in the 1940s when it was marketed as a more durable fabric than silk for women’s stockings. Nylon has many uses and is a staple for the garment industry, used to make swimwear, lingerie, track pants, raincoats and windbreakers. It’s also commonly used in t-shirts and shorts.

Nylon’s stretchability makes it a good choice for athletic wear. It’s a great fabric for heavy-duty workouts like squats and deadlifts because it bends with your body’s every movement. It’s also a very lightweight fabric and dries quickly.

Various nylon fabrics are on the market with different weights, stretch percentages and colors. Some are branded under trademarked names like Supplex (a polyester/nylon blend), while others are identified as “nylon” on the label. It’s also important to know whether a nylon fabric is recycled. Many brands and retailers are committing to using only regenerated or sustainably sourced nylon (called ECONYL) by 2021.

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