Technologies to Look for in Athletic Apparel

Designed with comfort in mind, apparel technologies can lead to more effective workouts.

Say goodbye to the classic cotton tee. Clothing technologies can help bring your workout to the next level. This Pro Tips guide will break down everything you need to know about technology in sportswear.


What is moisture-wicking fabric? Simply put, it’s wearable technology that helps you stand up to sweat. The secret to this innovative material is found in microfibers, which lift perspiration off your skin to the fabric’s surface where it quickly evaporates.

“When you’re working out, moisture-wicking keeps you cool and dry,” Janie Talerico, athletic apparel merchandiser at DICK’S Sporting Goods, says.

This popular textile technology is available in activewear from most major brands.


Gym odors got you down? Try apparel infused with antimicrobial agents. This technology helps keep gym clothes fresh by minimizing the growth of odor-causing bacteria. You can find it in tops, bottoms, sports bras, and even athletic footwear and socks.


Runners, in particular, can benefit from apparel lined with reflective detailing. These garments feature a panel or strip of fabric that reflects light in dark conditions. When you’re running outside in the evenings, this technology grants much-needed visibility. You can also try sporting a reflective running vest.


When you’re working up a sweat, breathability is essential. Apparel that maximizes airflow is a must for athletes like runners and hot yoga devotees.

Looser-knit stitching helps cooling air reach skin faster. Talerico says this type of stitching is “specially designed to release hot air” for supremely breathable comfort.

Many brands offer apparel with mesh inserts in key areas of the body. You can often find them placed on the back of your knees or the small of your back.

“The mesh is located where you need breathability the most,” Talerico says.


Thermal fabrics can warm up any cold weather workout ­– without unnecessary bulk.

Cold-weather athletic apparel often has an extra-tight knit. This helps to maintain body heat in frigid conditions. Soft, brushed inner liners keep you comfortable and cozy.

“A close-knit [design] ensures that the fabric is more impermeable and wind resistant from the outside in,” Talerico says.

Some brands coat their garments with waterproof or water-resistant agents. Other pieces have lining with thermo-conductive coating for superior heat retention. Many garments are tailored to work with particular weather conditions or climates. This makes it important to review product information when purchasing cold weather athletic gear.


Compression garments have a lean, “second-skin” fit that supports muscles. You can find compression apparel in a variety of styles, including arm and leg sleeves, leggings, shirts, bras and tank tops.

You can wear compression gear alone or as a base layer. Many compression pieces also feature other apparel technologies, like moisture-wicking and antimicrobial fabrics.

These apparel technologies can lead to a more comfortable and effective workout. But apparel isn’t the only thing that can aid you in the gym. Check out this guide to wearable technology that can help you reach a new personal best.

Searching for the right size? Look for the True Fit icon on apparel and footwear product pages when shopping online at DICK’S Sporting Goods. Get personalized size and fit recommendations with just a few clicks. Learn more about True Fit.