Watch the Sweat Disappear
The Performance Shirt Gets an Upgrade, and We’re Smitten with It
Colby Cohen, a former Boston Bruins player, is no stranger to putting workout gear through the ringer. In 2015, he decided to put his knowledge of what makes great workout gear to use by founding Endeavor Athletic, a company gaining traction in the high-performance and boutique worlds of fitness clothing. Its main selling point? A new-to-market material called DryForce.
The Good: In short, DryForce wicks sweat, is comfortable for all-day wear and can actually be seen working. In testing in both 70-degree heat and 55-degree temperate mornings, the DryForce kept me dry — helping me stay at a comfortable temperature. Unlike some sweat-wicking shirts, from the first wear to the fiftieth the DryForce fabric feels like butter when you put it on and it doesn’t deteriorate in the wash. I’m normally uncomfortable in my gear when I first start sweating — that in-between phase of lightly sweating and full-on sweating is awkward — but with this fabric, I felt comfortable from my first pedal stroke to my last all-out sprint thanks to the perforated side panels. Each piece is the perfect amount of stretchy (no tight body-builder fits here) with a Polygiene anti-microbial treatment built-in to prevent stink.
Who It’s For: While the fabric is made for the everyman athlete, it’s been tested by elite athletes and trainers who have long worn products from bigger name brands. Endeavor Athletic’s gear is for the guy who is tired of showing up to the gym looking like everyone else on the treadmill or in the weight room. The understated apparel works well for a variety of activities thanks to all of the built-in performance features. The shirts are slightly heavier-weight than your typical go-to running tee, and will work at the gym, as well as on the trail. If you’re tired of shirts splashed with a large company logo, Endeavor addresses that too with a small logo on the left chest (where a pocket would fall) or in a circle no bigger than your fingernail along the bottom hemline.
Watch Out For: The technology on these shirts is top notch, but the design is pretty basic — there are no patterns, and most of the pieces are simply offered in black or grey. If you’re a snappy dresser and like your gym kit to match your life kit, you might want to step it up and try a variety of other brands.
Also, keep in mind that although the shirt is quick-drying, it doesn’t work instantly when you sweat through it. For workouts like yoga, pilates or light stretching, the minimal amount you sweat will be wicked away while you’re in class. For something like an indoor cycling class, where your back is soaked through with sweat, it can take much longer for the water to evaporate from the outside of the shirt. After a 45-minute indoor cycling class, the shirt feels dry from the inside, but is visibly wet.
Alternatives: There are a lot of running and performance shirts out there. It depends what activity you’re doing. For running, Tracksmith or Asics both make good options. If you’re hiking, Patagonia and The North Face are the way to go. If you want a shirt you can sweat in and still wear all day without stinking, the Outdoor Voices Merino Tee is your best bet.
Review: At first touch, the shirt is supple and soft, similar to the initial feel of a brand new leather jacket, but one that’s already worn in. While that sounds terrible to sweat in, it’s cooling as soon as you pull it over your head. It’s definitely a bit heavier in comparison to a shirt like the New Balance Q Speed or the Patagonia Windchaser, but is more durable. After wearing and washing at least fifteen times, the shirt retains its excellent hand feel.
The cut of the shirt, along with the reflective hit on the back and perforated side panels, are standard features for most gym shirts — but the DryForce technology is what sets it apart. The material comes from a mill in Korea that Endeavor Athletics has partnered with. It’s a material used throughout the entire garment to help with sweat-wickings. The material pulls the sweat (or water) from your body onto the inside of the shirt, and then through an osmosis (of sorts), the fabric pushes it to the outside of the shirt so it can evaporate quicker. You feel drier because the inside of the shirt stays pretty dry, while the outside of the shirt can be damp. The nylon and spandex ratio isn’t all that different from other performance shirts. Nylon is one of the most durable fabrics used in fitness apparel, but it’s not absorbent at all, so the DryForce technology that’s infused into the garment is what makes all the difference. The technology is infused into the fibers before the fabric gets spun.
When you pour water on the fabric, it doesn’t immediately sink in. Similar to other performance fabrics, you have to let the water soak before it starts to drip through the material. Once a bead of sweat hits the shirt, the water forms a webbed hexagon on the inside of the shirt. The DryForce technology instantly spreads the moisture out from the concentrated bead of sweat into these beehive-like formations. From there, the water is pulled through to the exterior of the shirt to keep the inside cool and dry. In one weekend, I washed the material every single day to re-test it the following day, and no matter how many times it went through the laundry, it was still possible to see the technology in action with a simple bead of sweat, or drop of water.
I wore the DryForce technology to a variety of indoor cycling, tabata and core classes, and ran up to 20 miles in New York City in temperatures ranging from 55 degrees to 75 degrees. Chafing was a non-issue, and even when I started to sweat, the fabric still felt buttery and never sticky. The most significant difference I felt between the Endeavor fabric and its competitors was the possibility to wear the shirt all day long. In classes like yoga or pilates, I can typically leave right after class and not worry about showering since there’s not much sweating involved. But, with classes like indoor cycling or running, I normally have to change immediately after, simply due to the uncomfortable feeling that comes with walking around in damp clothes. The rapid sweat-wicking properties of the Endeavor shirt meant that even after an extremely sweaty class (i.e. boxing or indoor cycling), I felt dry — even if the shirt looked wet.
Verdict: Overall, if you’re looking for a shirt that you can wear to the gym and workout hard seven days a week, and feel your sweat disappear, this is the shirt for you. The DryForce technology doesn’t wash out, and the shirt doesn’t feel like it’s going to disintegrate if you decide to wear it for your speed workout or your 15-mile run. It’s not going to spark any creative discussion at the water cooler, but the simplicity of the shirt is why we like it so much. It’s a worthwhile investment and an understated garment that’s going last.
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