By Emily Walzer / September 22, 2023
Every runner knows that shoes are critical for achieving peak performance, but now, with temperatures routinely reaching triple digits, clothing may play a more important role in runners’ wardrobes. Recent strides in material innovation are ushering in fabric technologies that help runners stay cool and comfortable in super-hot weather.
According to Climate Alpha, a startup that uses AI to measure climate resilience, the challenge isn’t only about heat extremes but also how long these sweltering conditions last throughout the year. This summer set new records for heat waves in areas across the country.  

Sweating is the body’s natural cooling mechanism that works amazingly well. However, today’s textile advancements are engineered to take handling the heat up a notch with quick-acting cooling effects and hyper-fast wicking attributes to thermoregulate runners’ microclimates. Coolcore fabric is constructed with increased surface area, so the moisture has more places to go within the yarn, leading to regulated evaporation and cooling. The technology promoted by the company brrr is a “Triple Chill Effect” triggered by ingredients that are embedded in the fibers.

NexTex Innovations has tapped ultramarathoners for wear-testing purposes to get feedback on the company’s TurboDry fabric technology. Ultra-runners from the Salt Lake City area and collectively known as “Bois of the Satch,” raced the 2022 Canyons 100K competing in concept running t-shirts that featured NexTex’s TurboDry performance. “The functionality is about breathability, dry rates and overall comfort,” noted Jordan Lightstone, NexTex marketing and business development lead, adding, “It’s always a balance between function and aesthetics.”

Recent textile developments also consider another aspect of sweating — anti-stink technologies that are now more effective and more eco-friendly compared to technologies in the past.

Materials for a Warming World

“Our technology is designed to help athletes, including runners, by actively managing moisture and temperature to enhance comfort and performance while also providing optimum UPF ratings at often 50+,” explains David Ludd, chief global sales and marketing officer for Coolcore.

According to Ludd, the technology addresses the growing need for sustainable solutions to temperature-regulating apparel as extreme heat becomes more common. “Our fabrics are mechanically engineered with no additional topical treatments or additives to achieve the cooling and performance benefits,” notes Ludd, sharing that the benefits “don’t wash out and exist for the lifetime of the garment.”

These features have attracted running-focused brands to explore and integrate Coolcore fabrics into products, allowing Coolcore to make strides in the running industry. “It’s all about helping runners maintain their focus, even in the most challenging conditions,” Ludd surmises. “It’s not just about staying cool; it’s about optimizing performance, providing sun protection and regulating the body’s temperature. Our fabric works with the body’s natural moisture, providing a competitive edge by ensuring that runners can excel, no matter the temperature.”

brrr has stepped up in the broader exercise apparel and activewear space with brands including BRADY by Tom Brady, Greyson, Southern Tide, and Strafe using brrr cooling technology. If the garment is super comfortable and allows freedom of movement and has a noticeable impact on keeping wearers cooler and drier, brrr execs believe people are going to wear it as it helps individuals feel more energized while running, walking, doing interval training, or just going about daily life.

The company has recently introduced an advanced performance cooling fabric called brrr Pro aimed at the athletic and fitness market. brrr Pro Polyester uses enhanced cooling fibers, hyper wicking, and performance drying to elevate the Triple Chill Effect that instantly and continuously draws heat and moisture away from the skin.

The brrr Pro product was in development for three years, which included experimenting with dozens of formulas that were tested on more than 1,000 kilograms of yarn before choosing the best combination to achieve a new concentrated cooling technology with advanced dispersion techniques for maximum fabric performance.

NexTex has created a permanent, fabric construction-based, moisture transport technology that relies on physics to force sweat away from the wearer’s skin to the outer surface of a garment. The unique one-way moisture management process mimics the action used by trees to pull moisture from the roots in trees. When applied to textiles the company’s TurboDry technology elevates comfort with super-fast drying speeds that are permanently built into the fabric.

NexTex’s TurboDry technology launched in January 2020, and the following year won a 2021 Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award in the Function category for its TurboDry technology.

Ascend Performance Materials, an established textile developer and supplier of high-performance nylon fabrications, recently brought to market Acteev, an anti-odor antimicrobial product with a handful of benefits ideally suited for activewear and athleisure markets. Acteev is activated by natural zinc ions embedded into the matrix of the material, standing up to wear, wash and heavy use for the life of the product and the technology is free from silver, mildew, pilling, wear and tear, and harmful additives. additives. “We’re finding that hiking hoodies made with Acteev have become popular with some runners,” says Nikki Huffman, business development director, Acteev by Ascend Performance Materials. “The fabric is lightweight, wicking and UV-blocking to help runners stay cool, plus it is odor-fighting.”

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