It's no secret that a large part of the population is still working from home. A June 2020 PwC survey polled 120 managers and found that they expect at least half of their employees to be remote one or more days a week, even after COVID is under control. That’s good news for people who love sweatpants: uncomfortable business clothing is out, and comfortable loungewear is in all day, every day. But if you don't have air conditioning at home, or live in a hot climate, it probably won't take too long to sweat through your favorite cotton T-shirt or hoodie.
That's where moisture-wicking fabrics come in. Moisture-wicking technology exists in a variety of synthetic and natural materials (such as wool), but the premise is simple: They pull moisture away from your skin to keep you dry when you perspire. Most moisture-wicking items are also quick-drying, since moisture evaporates faster when it's on the outer surface of fabric, rather than against your skin. Moisture-wicking fabrics make it easier to regulate your body temperature and ensure you don't walk around with wet clothes all day if you've already started sweating at 9 a.m.
As you might imagine, moisture-wicking fabrics are great for more than just working from home in the summer—they're handy for outdoor activities, like hiking and biking, all year round. Here are some of the best moisture-wicking items on the market, whether you're working from home, running errands, or gearing up for a 20-mile mountain bike adventure.
1. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Crew Socks; $16-$22
You've probably heard of Smartwool, as they make literally hundreds of types of athletic socks. But one of their best is the PhD Outdoor Light Mid Crew Socks, which come in a variety of colors and patterns for men and women. Socks in the brand's PhD line are made from merino wool, a fiber that naturally regulates sweat and temperature. They're incredibly soft, and since they're moisture-wicking and odor-resistant, they'll help keep you more comfortable during summer hikes in heavy trail shoes.
2. Black Diamond Solution ¾ Bottom; $95
Hey, if merino wool works on your feet, it should work elsewhere, right? Luckily, Black Diamond makes some excellent cropped base layers that use similar materials as Smartwool. The Solution 150 base layer is cropped, so you can wear it on summer hikes or during your next Zoom meeting without overheating. In addition to typical summer activities, these can double as a base to wear under waterproof pants for winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing. Full-length versions are available, too.
3. Activist T-shirt from Houdini; $55-$85
If your work-from-home uniform is a comfortable T-shirt and sweats or leggings, you'll love the Activist T-shirt from Houdini. It has a loose fit and crew neckline, and it's flattering on all body types. Although it looks like a basic T-shirt, the fabric's merino wool and Tencel blend work to resist odors, even if you wear it for multiple workouts in a row. It works well for throwing on in the morning before opening up your laptop, but it's also well-suited for travel, sports, or even acting as a pajama top in a pinch.
4. Columbia PFG UPF 50 Hooded Sweatshirt; $25-$60
Columbia's PFG line of clothing strikes a great balance between being affordable and highly technical, so you can't go wrong with any option. However, this lightweight long-sleeve is an especially great choice as the fabric is UPF 50, meaning it blocks out around 98 percent of UV rays (cotton has a UPF of about five.) It also uses the brand's proprietary Omni-Freeze technology, which supposedly cools your skin if you start to sweat, and Omni-Wick, Columbia's moisture-wicking tech.
5. Patagonia Fleetwith Dress; $75
The Fleetwith dress is chic enough to wear to a wine tasting or garden party but is just as functional as your favorite light rain jacket. It's made with moisture-wicking synthetic fabric and covered with a DWR coating to repel light water, so you can expect light rain to bead off the dress rather than being absorbed. The Fleetwith dress has two hand pockets, an adjustable waist tie, and uses fabric made from recycled materials to lower the amount of carbon released in the manufacturing process.
6. Columbia Utilizer II Solid Short-Sleeve Shirt; $30
This shirt is a no-brainer for guys who find themselves sweating through their tees before lunch. It has a classic button-down design that's completely appropriate for business-casual meetings or casual Fridays. But it's also ideal for hiking and backpacking, since it has a host of outdoor-focused features, including the aforementioned Omni-Wick technology, an anti-microbial finish, vents in high-perspiration areas, and UPF 40 sun protection. The fabric is 100-percent ripstop, making it unlikely to tear or rip if you wear it out on the trails.
Buy it: Columbia
7. Momento Sports Bra from prAna; $44-$59
When you're working or playing in a hot environment, you want the layer closest to your skin to be moisture-wicking, especially in areas prone to heavy sweating. That's one reason why having the right bra is so important. The stretchy Momento Bra from prAna is always a good choice, and not just because it's wire-free. It comes with mid-level padding you can remove while working from home and has a mesh lining to help enhance airflow. And because it's a nylon-lycra blend, it'll dry quickly, even when you break a sweat during your next online spin class.
Buy it: Backcountry
8. Glerups Rubber Slippers; $135
If you love slippers but don't love how they make your feet feel in the summer, check out Glerups. The brand makes slippers with uppers made from a proprietary wool blend. And just like with sheep, the wool does an excellent job of regulating temperature. It's also very breathable; after all, sheep wear their coats in the summer months, too. Glerups are particularly comfortable as the inner footbed molds to your foot shape, and the rubber outsole is durable enough to wear them outdoors or while running errands.
Buy it: Backcountry
9. Fjallraven High Coast Short; $64-$100
Moisture-wicking isn't limited to just T-shirts and footwear. The High Coast Shorts from Fjallraven look like a modern cotton chino, but they're made with the brand's sustainable and high-tech G-1000 Lite fabric. It's a soft, flexible fabric woven with durable ripstop fibers and finished with a thin wax to make it resistant to light rain. Because the High Coast doesn't have the baggy, cargo-style look of many outdoor-specific shorts, you can wear them to happy hours or picnics where other guys are sweating through their khakis.
10. Tech Lite Crew T-shirt from Icebreaker; $45-$75
Icebreaker was founded in 1995 by an outdoor enthusiast who wanted to wear a performance fabric that didn't involve chemical treatment or manufacturing. And everything they make still follows that mentality, including their line of versatile solid color T-shirts. They're odor resistant and moisture-wicking, so you can wear them days (weeks?) in a row. But thanks to the classic cut, you can also throw it over khakis or pair it with jeans and a blazer for a business casual look.