Often overlooked as an important part of our wardrobe, the activewear we sport to the gym has a major impact on our ability to perform to the best of our abilities. If it’s too tight, we lose range of motion. If it’s too baggy, it can get in our way.
If you’re looking to update your activewear collection but are unsure where to start, never fear: we’re here to help.
What To Look For When Shopping Activewear
There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for activewear, and we’re going to talk about these in particular:
- Weather Resistance
- Overall Fit
Breathability: Why It Matters
Breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to allow air and moisture to pass through. This is an especially important factor in activewear, since such clothing is often worn during intense physical activity. If you were to work out in a leather jacket, you might look pretty cool, but you’d feel really warm — that’s because leather isn’t a breathable material.
In contrast, natural fibers like those in bamboo and cotton fabric are incredibly breathable; they let air and moisture pass through easily, which allows your body to regulate its temperature.
When working out, you want to keep your body cool and dry for as long as possible — the longer you’re comfortable, the longer you’ll be able to push yourself to your limits.
While breathability is an important factor in your own comfort when working out, fighting odor is necessary for the comfort of everybody else. As you work out, you start to sweat… and as you start to sweat, you start to smell.
This is because of tiny living things called microorganisms. There are countless microorganisms living on your body at any time, which is a good thing — they’re not harmful and they actually help your body accomplish a lot of important biological tasks. When they combine with sweat, however, they can create some pretty unpleasant odors.
Luckily, many activewear manufacturers design clothing with antimicrobial fabric. This fabric is engineered to kill or limit the spread of microorganisms that create foul odors — keeping you smelling fresh for as long as possible.
However, many synthetic materials are made to be antimicrobial through a chemical process — these fabrics are sprayed with or soaked in harsh chemicals that can cause skin reactions and environmental harm.
Some natural materials don’t need to go through chemical treatments in order to keep those microorganisms at bay, like bamboo. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so clothing made from bamboo fabric naturally protects you (and everybody else) from those odors.
One of the more impressive advances in textile technology involves fabric’s moisture-wicking abilities. Moisture-wicking fabrics are engineered to draw moisture (i.e., sweat) away from your body and allow it to rapidly dry on the surface of the material.
Since physical activity usually results in sweating (it’s your body’s way of regulating temperature), the best activewear is able to wick moisture away, keeping you dry and comfortable for as long as possible.
Again, some synthetic fabrics are chemically treated to be moisture-wicking — and these chemicals aren’t great for you or the environment. But natural fibers, like bamboo and cotton, wick moisture away organically, without the use of harsh chemicals.
Some people only like to work out from the comfort of their basement or their specific gym, but many others like to be out in the open air when working out. That means you need activewear that will be able to stand up to the weather, whatever it might be.
If you’ve ever bought sunscreen, you’re probably familiar with the acronym SPF, but you might not know that it stands for Sun Protection Factor. You may not be as familiar with UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor.
SPF refers to how the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden. A sunscreen with an SPF of 50 may protect you 50 times longer than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen at all.
UPF measures how much UV radiation is able to penetrate through the fabric to reach your skin. If an article of clothing has a UPF of 50, that means that it protects the wearer from 98% of UV rays and allows 2% (or 1/50th) to reach the skin.
Because so much physical activity happens in the sun, it’s important to consider the UPF rating of your clothing. While the warmth of the sun’s glow feels nice, and a suntan can make for jealous colleagues at the office, UV rays can cause skin cancer and should be kept at bay. Wearing clothing with UPF protection is a great way to protect yourself from those harmful rays.
Synthetic materials can be made to be UPF protective, but in order to do so, they have to go through a chemical process (there are a lot of chemicals used to make clothing from synthetic fabrics). Luckily, natural bamboo fabric has a UPF rating of 50+, which makes it an ideal material for natural UV protection.
There’s a fine line between a cooling breeze and freezing wind — and the latter can be extremely uncomfortable. To stay comfortable in the wind for as long as possible, you need to wear clothing with wind resistance. Wind resistant clothing, like our Motion Vest, keeps the wind at bay, so you don’t have to end your run early, even with the wind whipping around.
While running in the sun can feel wonderful, it’s important to stay cool. Many fabrics naturally provide cooling effects, allowing your body to organically regulate its temperature and keep you cooler for longer.
Bamboo fibers contain micro gaps, which allow air to pass through and moisture to evaporate — this process helps your body with its natural thermal regulation.
The Overall Fit
Once you decide on the features that you need in your activewear, it’s time to consider the overall fit and how it’s going to help or hinder your workouts.
Relaxed Fit Vs. Slim Fit
There are two basic schools of thought when it comes to activewear: some like it loose, some like it tight. While there’s an entire spectrum between ultra-baggy and skin-tight, most activewear comes in either a relaxed fit or slim fit.
Relaxed fit is just as it sounds — relaxed. Clothing with a relaxed fit won’t be constraining and has plenty of room to move around in. Take our Carrollton Relaxed Fit Gym Pants: they have a soft, luxurious, lived-in feel — but with enhanced performance capabilities.
Slim fit clothing, on the other hand, will have a more snug feel. Because athletic apparel is usually stretchy, the best slim fit activewear will be snug without sacrificing mobility. If you’re looking to show off the shape of your body (after all, you’ve been working so hard on it), slim fit clothing is the way to go.
Type Of Material
We saved the best for last. Often overlooked, the type of material used in activewear is incredibly important for a number of different reasons.
As we already discussed, synthetic materials — like spandex and polyester — are often chemically treated to have moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and UPF protective properties. If you want to avoid wearing clothing that’s been treated with harsh chemicals, you might want to stick to natural fabrics.
At Tasc Performance, we make our clothing with natural bamboo fibers, which contain all of the performance capabilities of specially-treated fabrics — but without the harmful chemicals.
The other benefit of natural fabrics is their eco-friendliness. Bamboo requires ⅓ of the water needed to produce cotton, and bamboo is 100% biodegradable — unlike those synthetic materials that are often made of non-biodegradable plastics.
When shopping for activewear, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. You want the clothing you wear while performing physical activity to be stretchy and breathable, capable of wicking moisture away from your body and fighting unpleasant odors before they start, and able to stand up to any weather conditions.
Whatever sort of activewear you’re looking for, there’s something for you in our collection.