In case you haven’t heard of Dri-FIT, it is a fabric made by sportswear giant Nike that has moisture-wicking, body-mapping properties. Any clothing made with this material will suck the sweat from one’s skin and transport it to the exterior where it will easily evaporate, leaving you nice and dry, hence the name.
Many active individuals who have exercised with their Dri-FIT clothes have praised how comfortable and dry they feel thanks to the fabric’s moisture-wicking ability. Furthermore, dri-fit even has antibacterial properties that prevent odors and a UPF-40 which is effective at preventing UV rays from reaching your skin.
Upon hearing all of this, you might make the connection (as others have) that Nike’s Dri-FIT sportswear functions similarly to swimwear. After all, comfortable, fast-drying, UV resistant, and odor-resistant sound like a winning combination. If Dri-FIT can double as swimwear, then you wouldn’t even need to spend money for a separate set of swimwear. So the question is: can you wear Dri-FIT for swimming?
While you can technically swim with Dri-FIT, that does not mean it’s a good idea. In general, you should be wearing the appropriate clothing for the activity because clothing manufacturers will include sport-specific features that will benefit you greatly. You’ll find that Dri-FIT is literally out of its element and will not provide the same level of comfort as an appropriate article of swimwear.
In this article, we want to discuss why it’s generally not a good idea to wear Nike’s Dri-FIT clothing as swimwear.
What is Dri-FIT?
Dri-FIT is Nike’s proprietary high-performance polyester material that provides excellent sweat wicking functionality. This fabric is used in many of Nike’s activewear lines.
Even though it has a cool name, you need to see it for what it is: branding. Many other companies offer similar products with moisture wicking properties, but perhaps theirs doesn’t sound as effective and premium as “Dri-FIT”.
At the very least, Dri-FIT lives up to its name. Instead of trapping sweat in the garment, Dri-FIT clothing transports the moisture from the body and onto its surface, where it is quickly evaporated by the wind.
To that end, Dri-FIT clothing is designed to promote airflow for maximum breathability. Dri-FIT clothes often contain mesh panels, and the lightweight microfiber does a great job of wicking moisture to keep you nice and dry.
The cherry on top is that Dri-FIT clothes also have a UPF-40 rating, meaning it is capable of blocking a majority of UV rays. If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, you will be exposed to plenty of harmful UV rays that can accelerate aging and cause cancer. By offering UV protection, you don’t need to apply as much sunscreen nor do you have to worry about reapplying sunscreen over such a large area, which is a massive quality of life feature.
Now, astute readers will no doubt have noticed the similarities that Dri-FIT clothing has with swimwear. Mesh materials, UPF rating, fast drying? It’s almost like this thing was designed to get soaked and dry off in record time, so it seems like a good candidate to be used as swimwear, right?
Why you shouldn’t swim with Dri-FIT clothing
In a separate article we discussed why it’s generally a bad idea to go swimming in workout clothes. The main point of that article is that swimwear will have specific features designed with swimming in mind that workout clothing won’t have.
While Dri-FIT is generally considered to be durable and long-lasting, that’s assuming it is being used properly. The moment you start to use something outside of its specifications is when you can quickly ruin it in record time.
Since Dri-FIT clothing aren’t designed to be worn in the water, they are more susceptible to wear and rear. For instance, it can get stretched out when wet and may not be able to return to its original shape after drying.
Another reason is that Dri-FIT fabrics can get damaged by chlorine and other harsh chemicals found in pool water. Even exposure to saltwater can quickly wear down your Dri-FIT clothing and damage the synthetic fibers.
Next, all of the Dri-FIT clothing’s primary benefits such as moisture wicking and fast drying are ineffective while in the water.
Furthermore, we cannot vouch for its effectiveness at properly covering your body. Many clothes become seethrough when wet. Also, if it does not have a snug fit, there is a possibility of accidentally exposing your private bits or creating a lot of drag when swimming laps.
Finally, there is also a lack of the little details that make swimwear the superior option. Swimwear will have side pockets that drain water, a mesh lining underneath swim trunks to prevent chafing and keeping your “package” in place, flatlock seams to further reduce chafing, and so on. These little features don’t seem like much on their own, but they add up to a big deal.
We are not saying that Nike’s Dri-FIT activewear is bad. On the contrary, they are excellent garments for land workouts. However, if you were to judge it as a substitute to other swimwear, it falls short in many areas. Just because a garment is moisture wicking does NOT mean that it’s suitable as swimwear.
Lastly, if you are considering wearing your Dri-FIT clothing to go swimming in an attempt to save money by not buying the appropriate swimwear, consider this. As we mentioned, saltwater and chlorine can damage your workout clothes. What you’re really doing is exposing it to conditions it’s not designed for and that greatly reduces its lifespan.
The outcome is that you will have to spend more money replacing your old Dri-FIT clothing that got ruined by chlorine, and that’s money you could have used to just buy a regular set of swimwear in the first place. The difference here is, you will have the superior experience because swimwear will feel much better in the water than Dri-FIT clothes.