Wicking chemistry allows liquids to flow through narrow spaces (like the tiny holes between fibers in your shirt).
Wicking chemistry allows sweat and moisture to move rapidly from the skin to the surface of the garment where it can evaporate into the air. Wicking is a form of capillary action, in which liquid is able to flow through narrow spaces (like the tiny holes between fibers in your shirt) because surface tension and adhesive forces overcome gravity. Wicking treatments further improve the efficiency of this phenomenon in synthetic clothing.
In warm climates, wearing garments with wicking additives means your body stays cool by more efficiently conducting sweat—the body’s natural cooling mechanism. In cold climates, your body stays warmer by keeping the fabric next to the skin drier.
But wicking treatments are vulnerable to degradation—waxes and softeners found in some laundry products, like dryer sheets and fabric softeners, severely impede wicking chemistry and can shorten a garment’s life. And because wicking treatments are made using synthetic chemicals, they come at an environmental cost that we are actively trying to reduce.
Where We Are
We apply wicking chemistry to many of our baselayers and trail running, climbing and other active styles to influence the way water moves through garments during high-intensity activities. We only apply wicking chemistry to products where it will have a considerable performance benefit.
We also work closely with partners to improve both the performance and the environmental impact of the chemistry used on our products. One partner in our innovation portfolio is Beyond Surface Technologies, a green chemistry-innovation company that offers a wicking chemistry made from plant-seed oil. We invested in BST in 2015 through our Tin Shed Ventures® fund. BST’s wicking technology has a carbon footprint that is up to 70% lower than that of petroleum-based wicking technologies, and it is compliant with several organizations’ hazardous chemicals list, such as the ZDHC’s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List.
We are working with our innovation partners to improve the performance and to reduce the environmental impact of the chemical finishes used in our products. We strive to have all chemistry and auxiliary finishes manufactured safely and with low environmental impacts.