At the end of last year, Polarmax announced their partnership with Cotton Incorporated to introduce the world's first wicking cotton fabric called TransDRY. The great folks at Terra Public Relations were kind enough to send me a Polarmax PMX TransDRY short sleeve base layer top to test out for myself.
If you recall, TransDRY is the first truly technical, wicking cotton fabric. PMX TransDRY apparel from Polarmax actively moves moisture to the outside of the fabric where it can evaporate faster, supposedly drying twice as fast as regular cotton. The wicking cotton provides all the comfort you've come to expect from regular cotton, but with highly efficient performance features.
TransDRY wicking cotton claims to offer the following three main moisture management features, which I planned to put to the test:
1. Reduced absorbency capacity and overall drying time
2. Transfers moisture away from the body or over a wider surface area of fabric
3. Reduces fabric cling to skin during exercise
I spent quite a few days, in many different conditions, hiking while wearing my PMX TransDRY base layer. I would agree that the moisture management technology definitely reduces fabric cling compared to regular cotton. Even after working up a sweat, my base layer did not stick to my skin or cause friction. I also enjoyed the anti-microbial properties in TransDRY that cut down on the stink factor and the cotton feels very comfortable against your skin.
My problems with the PMX TransDRY base layer were in moisture wicking and breathability. I felt as though the wicking cotton did not transfer moisture as well as say my synthetic Pearl Izumi PRO Fly top or even my Cocona-Merino base layer top. I could definitely sense the sweat against my skin with an almost damp feeling all over. On a warm day, the base layer was way too thick and hot for hiking.
I wanted to conduct a more "scientific" experiment to test TransDRY's main moisture management claims and also to see if what I was experiencing on the trail was all in my head. You can watch my experiment in the video below. Interpret the results how you want as I know it was a bit of an "apples to oranges" type experiment.
Bottom Line: the wicking cotton experience for me turned out to be mixed, though PMX TransDRY base layers continue to win accolades from other bloggers and outdoor magazines. So I may just be an outlier. However, I think I will be sticking to wool as a base layer, especially on mountaineering, ice climbing or other cold weather adventures.