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What Is Dri FIT Material? The Complete Guide

What Is Dri FIT Material

Dri FIT fabric is a high-performance technical material engineered by Nike to wick moisture and keep athletes cool and dry during exercise. Made from polyester fibers with proprietary technology, Dri FIT efficiently pulls sweat away from the skin and onto the fabric surface where it evaporates quickly.

This advanced fabric is a core component of Nike’s athletic apparel line. It comes in various lightweight constructions optimized for running, training, and sports requiring breathable, sweat-wicking performance.

How Does Dri FIT Work

Nike Dri FIT technology relies on the inherent properties of polyester combined with capillary action and mechanical moisture transport. Here’s an overview of the key factors that make Dri FIT so effective at moisture management:

Polyester Fibers

Nike Dri FIT is made from polyester, a synthetic material valued for performance apparel because it is hydrophobic. The fibers do not absorb water, so they stay drier than cotton and dry quickly. This makes polyester an ideal fiber for drawing sweat off the skin.

Capillary Action

The fine fibers of Dri FIT fabric create countless tiny air pockets. Sweat on the skin moves through these air pockets via capillary action, allowing moisture to spread over a larger surface area for faster evaporation. The evaporation process has a cooling effect.

Mechanical Transport

The fibers in Dri FIT fabric are specially engineered to enhance mechanical moisture transport. This means the physical structure of the fibers actively pulls moisture perpendicular and up from the skin onto the exterior fabric surface.

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Together, these factors work to keep skin drier by efficiently wicked moisture outward where it evaporates. The result is a durable, lightweight performance fabric that dries quickly and supports ventilation to inhibit overheating.

Types of Dri FIT Fabrics

Nike utilizes different weights, constructions, and features in its Dri FIT fabrics to optimize performance for different sports and environments. Key types of Dri FIT material include:

Dri FIT Cotton

A blend of polyester and cotton, Dri FIT Cotton maintains the soft feel of cotton while providing moisture management. It is used in lifestyle and training apparel.

Mesh Dri FIT

Open-hole mesh constructions enhance breathability and ventilation. Mesh Dri FIT is exceptionally lightweight and is common in singlets and jerseys for running and court sports requiring superior airflow.

Double Knit Dri FIT

Double knit Dri FIT involves interlocking fabric layers to provide a smooth face and thermal insulation. This is ideal for cold weather training and outdoor sports, often featuring ribbed sleeves and hems to lock in warmth.

Burnout Dri FIT

In burnout Dri FIT, high heat selectively removes fibers to create patterned perforations for ventilation. This increases airflow while maintaining a solid fabric structure. Burnout Dri FIT is popular in training tops and t-shirts.

Stretch Dri FIT

Incorporating elastane or spandex fibers adds stretch and flexibility, optimizing freedom of movement. This is advantageous for base layers and tight-fitting performance apparel.

Dri FIT Type Key Features Example Uses
Dri FIT Cotton Soft cotton feel, moisture management Lifestyle wear, training
Mesh Dri FIT Ultralight, highly breathable Running tops, jerseys
Double Knit Dri FIT Insulating, thermal Cold weather training
Burnout Dri FIT Ventilation, patterned perforations Training tops, t-shirts
Stretch Dri FIT Stretch, flexibility Base layers, tight fits

This table summarizes key Dri FIT fabric types and their distinguishing performance features. Nike utilizes specialized constructions and blends to build moisture management into apparel for every activity and environment.

The Benefits of Dri FIT Apparel

Apparel incorporating Dri FIT technology provides athletes and active people with important performance benefits:

Moisture Management

The exceptional wicking action pulls sweat away from the body into the fabric where it spreads out and evaporates rapidly. This keeps skin drier for comfort.

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Ventilation & Breathability

Dri FIT fabrics enhance airflow and breathability through constructions like mesh and burnout patterns. This allows heat and sweat vapor to escape.

Lightweight Comfort

Polyester Dri FIT has an inherently lightweight structure compared to absorbent cotton. This reduces weight andclinging, improving comfort.

Quick Drying

With minimal absorption, Dri FIT apparel dries rapidly after activity or washing. This helps maintain comfort.

Odor Resistance

The synthetic structure does not support microbial growth like cotton. This means Dri FIT resists odor even during repeated and strenuous workouts.

Cooling Effect

As sweat evaporates off Dri FIT material, the conversion of moisture from liquid to vapor has a natural cooling effect on the body.

UV Protection

Polyester fibers provide intrinsic protection against the sun’s UV rays. This supports comfort and skin health outdoors.

Range of Motion

Stretch Dri FIT constructions bring flexibility and mobility through strategic incorporation of spandex.

By leveraging these performance benefits, Nike Dri FIT apparel delivers lasting dryness, breathability, and comfort across a wide range of athletic activities. The high-tech moisture management helps athletes stay cool, focused, and high-performing.

The History of Dri FIT

Nike first introduced Dri FIT technology in 2002, but the foundations were in development years before. Here are some key milestones in the evolution of Dri FIT fabric:

  • 1970s – Nike begins researching specialized fabrics to enhance athletic performance. Polyester emerges as optimal fiber.
  • 1980s – Nike develops early synthetic blends to improve moisture movement during activity.
  • 1990s – Focus shifts to construction techniques for optimizing airflow and cooling.
  • 2002 – Nike unveils Dri FIT technology and begins incorporating it across athletic apparel lines.
  • 2003 – Dri FIT makes debut appearance at New York City Marathon on Nike’s premium Swift racing gear.
  • 2012 – Nike unveils updated Ultra-Dri FIT to set new standard for lightweight performance during the Olympics.
  • 2022 – Performance innovations like laser perforations and hybrid knitting expand capabilities.

Over 50 years, Nike dialed in specialized polyester fabrics, moisture-wicking constructions, and advanced performance features that culminated in Dri FIT – now a standard in high-performance athletic wear.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Nike’s Dri FIT high-performance fabric technology:

What is Dri FIT material made of?

Dri FIT is made from polyester fibers, often blended with spandex or cotton. Modified fiber structures and fabric knitting patterns optimize moisture movement.

Why does Dri FIT smell less?

Polyester is an inherently odor-resistant synthetic fabric. It doesn’t absorb sweat or support microbial growth like cotton, preventing odor buildup.

How should you wash Dri FIT clothing?

Follow garment label instructions. Avoid fabric softeners and bleach. Use mild detergent in cold water and air dry or tumble dry on low. High heat can damage Dri FIT fibers.

Does Dri FIT shrink when washed?

Dri FIT is designed to minimize shrinkage, but some contraction can occur. Follow washing instructions to avoid excess heat and agitation which increase risk of shrinkage over time.

Is Dri FIT good for hot weather?

Yes, Dri FIT excels in hot weather and high exertion training. The moisture management, ventilation, and cooling effect help maintain performance and comfort despite sweat.


Dri FIT represents a breakthrough in performance apparel fabric technology. Leveraging high-tech polyester fibers and constructions, Dri FIT clothing delivers exceptional moisture management to keep athletes cool, dry, comfortable and performing at their best.

With rapid sweat wicking, quick-drying capabilities, and cooling ventilation, Nike’s proprietary Dri FIT technology has become the premier fabric for running, training, and sports apparel across both professional athletes and recreational fitness enthusiasts. Dri FIT’s lightweight performance truly embodies Nike’s brand promise to bring innovation and technology to every level of athletic achievement.

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