Polartec Power Dry Technology Review
Published on 01/09/2012
By Billy Brown
There's a reason that they say cotton kills. It's because being wet makes material heavy, makes you cold, makes you chafe, and makes you miserable. It could even make you dead, which is why synthetic materials are such a popular fabric for outdoor gear nuts. One of the more popular synthetics is Massachusetts textile company Polartec's Power Dry material, which is designed to (you guessed it) dry. Powerfully. Well, quickly, anyway.
Power Dry is composed of two layers of polyester. The inner layer is composed of larger Macrofiber yarns that pick sweat up off of the skin, while the outer layer is made up of many Microfiber yarns that spread the sweat over a wide surface area, allowing it to evaporate faster. Since companies industry-wide utilize variations of Power Dry in their base and midlayers, we at Active Junky have made it our business to check this stuff out and make sure it can deliver what it promises.
We've been running, and biking, and kayaking in a factory sample from Polartec, a long sleeve crew neck base layer. The two layers are visibly different; the interior (with the Macrofibers) has a more "waffled" look whereas the outer surface (with the Microfibers) feels smooth.
We immediately liked the material's soft touch, and the skin-tight shirt stretched well, providing a full range of motion. Test runners quickly soaked the fabric, but were pleased to report that the material dried out shortly after stopping. We also noticed that the fabric breathed very well, keeping us from overheating while running stadium stairs or cranking uphill on a mountain bike. Hiking with a pack led to the inevitable back sweat, but again, the fabric was bone dry within minutes of dumping the pack.
The only issue that we've had with Power Dry fabric is one that's common for synthetic base layers - these guys get stinky after a few uses. Many pieces are fortified with anti-stank treatments, such as Patagonia's Capilene 3 Midweight baselayers, which feature Patagonia's Gladiodor anti-bacterial treatment.
Here are a few Power Dry pieces that you can find on ActiveJunky.com:
The North Face Better Than Naked Crew Top Shortsleeve
The Better Than Naked Crew Top is ideal for those days when it's a little chilly outside but still warm enough to break into a good sweat. You'll stay comfortable from warm up to cool down.
Not only does the Marmot Midweight crew keep you dry thanks to Polartec Power Dry, but it also keeps you smelling fresh. This top incorporates Cocona Technology as well, which manages odor absorbtion.
The Capilene 3 is designed to be forgotten about. Once it's on, you don't ever have to worry about it again. Its flexible material allows for a full range of motion and thanks to Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative, it's completely recyclable.