Since fitness has more recently taken off as everyone’s favorite hobby, the sales of fitness clothing have naturally soared, too.
However, the market is bombarded with clothes claiming to use the latest textile tech to help aid your workout, make you sweat less and give you the most comfortable experience while exercising. While these claims might just be a load of old marketing spiel, one way of finding out for sure is by putting the tech to the test.
I have been trying out a bunch of different brands’ fitness clothing, all of which claims to be developed with some sort of technological innovation, to find out if they work as well as they promise. Here are a bunch of what I deem the best…
Best for under everything: Runderwear
Promising a chafe-free experience no matter what you are doing, it’s no wonder that Runderwear was voted by the UK as the best underwear and socks brand in the 2018 Running Awards
The undergarment material is made via a flatlock edging and 360-degree construction which results in a seamless pair of undies that offer comfort for even the longest of runs.
The high-tech fabric is constructed with micro-perforations, which manage airflow to improve the wearer’s core temperature control to maximise your comfort during any activity. This also wicks moisture and sweat away fast to keep you dry while you’re bossing it. These are the most high-tech yet functional undies you’ll ever pull over your ass.
Best for hot weather: Adidas Climachill
Adidas latest compression wear, called AlphaSkin Climachill, has been designed to wrap your muscles for not only a secure feel, but with a stretchy fabric that pulls heat out of your body as it sweeps sweat away. This, I’ve found, makes them perfect for hot yoga sessions in the winter, or hot weather outdoors in the summer. They’re also made to resist odour with a Polygiene technology for a more fresh feel, and UV protection guards against the sun’s harmful rays. I’ve been wearing the compression shorts, which proved to stay cool and dry as I added intensity to my training sessions.
Best for sprinting: Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo
Inspired by Nike’s Vaporfly Elite and 4%, combined with the go-to staple Pegasus, the US sports giant created the Zoom Pegasus Turbo earlier this year, and they’re by far one of my favourite pairs of running shoes. While I found they’re ideal for short sprints, these lightweight daily trainers feel on-point whether you’re enjoying some easy miles, pushing through a long tempo workout, or even super-fast fartleks. But the main thing here is comfort, being central to how enjoyable the Turbo is to run in. My favourite innovation here, though, is the bevelled heel, which gives you a smooth heel-to-toe transition. There’s also a sturdy, waffle-pattern outsole which provides multi-surface grip when you push off the ground. A true delight to run in, no matter the distance.
Best for yoga: 2XU ICE X
2XU isn’t one of the legacy brands you’d associate with sports or fitness, but it’s certainly getting there. I’ve used the firm’s compression stuff for many a yoga class and they’ve proven the best again and again, mainly due to the extra grip built into the fabric that helps with balances poses when you’d usually be sweaty and slipping everywhere. The durability of the material is top notch too. My favorite is the ICE X full-length compression tights.
They’re pretty dam tight but easy enough to get on and not comfortably so, doing exactly what compression wear is supposed to do; keep everything in place while you get your exercise on.
They’ve got a great selection over at Greaves if you’re looking to get your hands on some at a decent price.
Best for mud runs: Under Armour Vanish
Some of the best gear to arm your body with before you step out onto an obstacle course is Under Armour’s new Vanish athletic wear.
It features subtle “next-to-skin” compression without the harsh squeeze and is loaded with HeatGear fabric, which is incredibly soft and smooth, ideal for extreme fitness events like Spartan and Tough Mudder, mainly because it’s comfortable and light. The high-tech fabric also features UnderArmour’s Microthread technology, meaning it dries faster and won’t cling to you when you’re running in and out of the course’s lakes and streams, for example. During use, it didn’t chafe and it stretched without absorbing sweat.
Best for cardio: SculptMode
This brand’s not one of the big players in the fitness world…yet. I’ve been using the firm’s “athleisurewear” for a good few weeks now and found it to be one of my favourites for comfort, no matter how I’m exercising.
The team behind the brand said they worked with yoga instructors and athletes to assist with the design of SculptMode, incorporating a whole caliber of tech fabrics, and you can tell. I’ve probably worn the short sleeve grey SculptMode t-shirt more than any of the other pieces of clothing in the feature due to not only how good it looks for any occasion but how its dry tech fabric is able to keep me cool while powering through a workout.
Best for running: New Balance stretch top
One of my favorite tops for running is this New Balance long sleeve stretch piece. It features minimal seaming over other fitness garments to offer a more streamlined design and thus better breathability when you’re sweating it out. This is done via jacquard mesh venting, which is placed strategically in hot zones to help facilitate fresh airflow. Even though it’s long sleeved, I felt warm enough while running outside but without overheating. It looks the part, too, which is a nice bonus.
The New Balance Reflective Packable Jacket or Heat Half Zip are decent additions for an extra layer on those wetter or colder runs, as they offer the same textile tech and comfort features.
Best all-rounder fitness shoes: Adidas Ultraboost trainers
They might be labelled as running shoes but in my experience, the Adidas Ultraboost trainers can make any fitness activity or sport feel like you’re floating on a cloud. Combining comfort and high-performance shoe tech, they have a stretchy knit upper that adapts to the changing shape of your foot as you run, skip, jump, cycle, hop or whatever. They also have a responsive midsole cushioning and a flexible outsole, which works to ensure you forget you’re wearing trainers at all, even after long periods of use, especially at home using the Fiit app.
And better yet, you can get them at a pretty great deal right now over at getthelabel.com.
Best for recovery: Dagsmejan temperature-controlled sleepwear
And last but not least, let’s not forget about the best apparel for resting in after your workout, too. These pyjamas are scientifically made to help you sleep better thanks to the high tech fabric that is used.
Made by Dagsmejan, they have apparently taken insights from high-performance sportswear and have been adapted to the body’s physiological sleep needs “with the help of sleep science and research to offer innovative benefits never seen in the sleep industry before”.
The company says it has done this by working with Empa, the Swiss federal institution for innovation in materials and science, to ensure that the fiber mix and construction of the garment meets the body’s needs during sleep.
While that’s a bold claim, I have to admit that these pjs are seriously the most comfortable items of clothing I’ve ever worn for bed. They are super light and soft, even after a good few washes, so whether the science that has done into designing them works or not, I’m sold.