Whether it’s the sweltering summer heat, a high-intensity cardio session, or a long and grueling yoga class, you’re going to want clothes that breathe easily.
Fabric makes a substantial difference in the quality of your workouts and can even help keep you safe while exercising. You get more mileage out of every garment and enjoy the experience to the fullest no matter what activity you pursue.
But which fabrics are, in fact, the most breathable on the market now? Labels and descriptions make numerous claims, and we’ve all made purchases before that don’t necessarily live up to the hype.
This article is devoted to helping you fill your wardrobe with truly breathable fabrics that keep you cool, dry, and happy all day long. We’ll even tell you the best way to build a collection of breathable activewear that never goes out of style. Time to start!
Why Breathability Matters
As we’ve all learned from exercise, meditation, and biology class, breath is one of the most important functions that our bodies perform.
Stable and deep breathing is a critical part of yoga practice, and it keeps us feeling calm, cool, and collected in any scenario.
It’s not just our lungs that need air and oxygen – our skin needs it, too! Yes, the skin is an organ like any other, and ventilation is essential when you’re working, playing, or pushing your limits in the yoga studio.
Here are some reasons why breathable fabric is so important in your activewear garments:
Things heat up quickly in the gym or out on the running trail. You might also feel the heat when you’re going through daily life, running errands, or grinding it out at the office.
Nothing feels worse than wearing clothes that stifle and suffocate the skin, and it’s almost a claustrophobic feeling to have a non-breathable outfit that seems to trap heat and air.
To perform at our peak in every setting, we need breathable fabrics that keep the fresh air flowing from head to toe, regulating our temperature and allowing oxygen to circulate across the surface area of our skin.
It’s just one of those things that need to be experienced first-hand to fully understand – breathable fabric can make or break your performance, no doubt.
They say that comfort is king, and there’s certainly some truth to that, especially in the activewear world. Breathable fabric is not only performance-boosting, but it’s also super comfortable and allows you to actually enjoy the experience of exercise.
We all know that getting into the gym can sometimes feel like a chore, even for the most motivated among us.
The more comfortable your outfits, the more likely you are to get those clothes on, lace up your shoes, and get a sweat going.
Over time, that effort adds up, and you become a healthier, happier person overall. Breathable fabric = more results. It’s that simple!
Safe exercise is key to longevity and improvement. You can’t work out effectively if you’ve sustained injuries, after all.
Breathable fabric is actually sometimes safer than wearing no fabric at all. For instance, if you wear shorts to yoga class, you’ll end up sweating on the mat and potentially slipping your way to an injury. The same goes for the weight room or cardio machines.
More fabric is truly the safer choice at the end of the day, giving you more grip and certainty when performing your most strenuous routines. As long as the fabric is breathable, you’ll stay cool and comfy the entire time.
Most Breathable Fabrics
Now that you know the benefits of breathable fabric, let’s talk about a few of the best options on the market right now.
You will typically see these materials described in blends, so keep an eye out for them when reading labels and product descriptions online. Find your favorites and stick with them!
Our favorite old-school gym clothes are primarily made from cotton, which is known for its natural breathability.
However, the downside with cotton is its inability to regulate moisture – that sweat often gets soaked up and leaves us feeling water-logged from head to toe. This can slow us down, leave us stinky, and plus, it’s just not a good look!
A minimal amount of lightweight cotton is your best bet for yoga garments these days, so try to avoid heavy cotton blends and keep things breezy.
Known for its strength and stretch, nylon is breathable and often appears in modern activewear garments.
A little bit of nylon goes a long way, so it usually shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your clothing. However, if your leggings or tops include some nylon on the label, you can be sure you’re getting a quality product.
We love spandex for its amazing stretch and longevity, along with its lightweight and breathable features. You don’t need a high concentration of spandex to get the full effects, so it’s great as part of a blend with poly, cotton, or nylon.
Your next pair of bike shorts or padded yoga leggings should definitely include some spandex, so you get that perfect level of ventilation while you're twisting and bending on the mat.
Waterproof, durable, and breathable, polyester is the ultimate ingredient in great yoga clothes. Just keep in mind that not all poly is created equal, and there’s a wide variation in the quality of these poly products.
Look for recycled polyester for a super comfy and breathable blend.
Remember, the most breathable activewear clothes are a mixture of quality materials rather than 100% composition of a single fabric.
Use your best judgment, browse around to find a suitable blend, and keep track of what feels best on your body for particular types of workouts. Variety is key to an effective rotation of workout gear, so mix it up and keep things fresh.
Other Factors to Consider
Fabric is just a part of the breathability equation. You need to look at the complete picture to know if you’re getting a garment that is fully breathable and also comfortable.
Fit and Weight
You can have a top or pair of leggings made from the world’s most breathable fabric, but unless it fits well and feels light on your skin, it won’t do you much good.
Too tight, and the fabric will cling to your body, while a loose fit will end up being distracting and uncomfortable due to excess material dangling around.
Find a happy middle ground in terms of fit, and make sure the outfit is light enough to do all your preferred activities with ease.
We need to look beyond labels and consider how our garments are made to make a proper assessment of quality.
Does the manufacturer use high-quality stitching, or does it skimp on construction? Is the garment built to last for years, or will it only survive a few months in your rotation?
These are the things that deserve a closer look when shopping for new activewear.
Vents and Panels
Modern yoga clothing is complex when you examine the various vents, panels, straps, and other elements that make it unique. Ventilation is crucial, and sometimes, it’s better to have some strategic gaps in the material to get maximum airflow throughout.
Try racerbacks, halter tops, crop tops, and other detailed designs that ensure a breezy experience every time you wear the piece.
Improving Your Activewear Wardrobe
Ready to upgrade your collection of activewear but not sure how to get started? Here are some suggestions to get a full assortment of quality, breathable garments.
There are a wide array of fabrics to choose from; see what suits you best. That’s the best way to get started.
What feels great for one person might not be so comfortable for another. Carve out some time to visit various stores and test out multiple garments in the fitting room.
If you want to speed things up and take a more relaxed approach, Yoga Club has you covered with a subscription box service that delivers top-tier breathable clothing right to your door.
You just fill out a quiz that tells us your dimensions and style, then we ship a new outfit to you once a month! Professional stylists ensure that you get the perfect fits and fabrics every time.
This is the ultimate way to upgrade your activewear collection with confidence, and you can even save money thanks to our direct business model.
Breathable fabrics are simply a non-negotiable in today’s fitness world. Pick the best for yourself or have a subscription service handle all the details for you.