Over the last 10 years of blogging, I’ve tested out a lot of different gear.
Some good…some bad…some excellent. None the less, even after all that testing and meeting with brands, when I start looking at tags I’m always wondering what things mean and what I really need.
I see the fancy tags with all kinds of words thrown around, “wicking” or “antimicrobial” or even “3M” and wondered does it really do anything?
Is it just more marketing hype?
Is more expensive better???
Cost doesn’t mean better quality, but a company that does the research and tests their products ensures you get something that works and will stand up to your hard work.
And lest we forget that once we’ve laid out our dinero for these great pieces, we want to make them last! It turns out A LOT of us are making some big mistakes which break down our gear!
I’ve partnered with HEX Performance to help you understand the goods and workout clothes care for lasting performance.
Decoding Fitness Gear Jargon
Of course every brand uses their own terminology as well, which makes it all the more confusing to know what you’re really buying! Let’s break down some of the most common terms you’ll see and why they matter.
Most companies simply mean that the moisture from your body (sweat) is pulled away from the skin to help keep you from feeling soggy or getting cold in chillier temps. As it pulls sweat away from your body, the fabric disperses it throughout the fabric to help it dry faster. I can totally validate the importance of this from Miami running and from wearing the base layer pants during our snowshoe excursion.
Other names: Dri-fit, Climalite, Luxtreme
Have you ever noticed after a few washings your race shirts start to smell? It’s likely because they don’t have fabric technology to kill the bacteria that you produce while working out. That’s right body odor is bacteria!
The added benefit is that because it’s killing the bacteria if you don’t wash your clothing right away the stench won’t be able to settle in (assuming you follow the wash tips below).
Other names: Silverescent, Anti-bacterial, Anti-OdorUV Protection
Sun damage is the leading cause of premature aging, which is why all of us (right??) have started using sunscreen, but did you know that you also need to protect your peepers? You can indeed prevent eye cancer and those crow feet by using sunglasses with true UV protection!!! It’s worth upgrading to get a good pair of sunglasses, which I’ve discussed with Oakley in the past.
You can now also find many running shirts with UV built in, which usually means they are a very lightweight fabric to be worn in the heat of the day and help prevent burns when we’re out on the trails for extended periods.
Since this is something new that I was introduced to as we started shopping for more cold weather gear (turns out you don’t see this much in FL, ha!). Many ski jackets and pants now have a built in technology that works with Recco a location service that could save your life.
Should you get injured on a back country adventure, find yourself upside down after a snowboarding fall or simply wander off, it’s basically like “Find my iPhone” where you are the iPhone. A very cool, MUST have!
All right so every winter jacket is obviously going to contain some awesome material to keep you warm, but I am really drawn to the new use of PrimaLoft because it takes a puffy jacket and reduces the volume by 10 times. Think of this as how muscle is more tightly woven than fat and therefore takes up less space! Since I feel like traveling with a coat is possibly one of my biggest annoyances, this is awesome!!
Other names: 3M Thinsulate, PrimaLoft, Thermoball
Waterproof v water-resistant
Most soft shell jackets are considered water-resistant meaning they can take a light rain or a few spills in the snow without the water coming through to your skin. While a waterproof jacket is often less breathable, hence the reason you see vents, but can withstand more drenching rain or more time in the snow if you are say a new snowboarder!
Caring For Your Gear
All of this leads to the inevitable question “how do I take care of it?!”
Do you need special detergent? No.*
*Unless you want to make it last longer and continue working as designed. Ok, fine, so yes.Which is where HEX Performance comes in! What makes HEX different from other detergents and why should you care as a runner?
60% of clothes are synthetic, and most detergents weren’t designed to clean synthetic fabrics.
- No fragrances to hide that it’s killed the antimicrobial fibers, which is what your current detergent is doing.
- Cleans out the clogging created by other detergents, allowing the fabric to breathe better.
- Actually leaves behind molecules to help prevent future stinkage! Don’t pretend your sweat smells like roses.
- No dyes or fillers, yeah your detergent is clear not neon blue. We don’t drink neon stuff, why wash with it.
- Super eco-friendly!!! As runners aren’t we all focusing on how to keep our air cleaner, choosing products that care about the environment is part of that.
- HEX is designed for workout gear, but cleans all clothes well.
- Anti-static…since moving to arid Colorado, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.
- All leading to an extended life of your running gear.
Want to try HEX? Click here and use code RUNTOTHEFINISH20 for 20% off online. You can also find it in lots of stores from Target to Safeway.
Washing? Drying? What’s the deal here?
- Air dry them as soon as you finish working out, don’t let them sit wet in your hamper.
- Stop overdoing with detergent!! That actually leaves your clothes weighed down with residue.
- Skip the extra fabric softeners, they too will just create residue. And yes, use the right detergent like HEX.
- Wash with cold water only, this helps prevent breakdown of those techy fibers.
- Ideally wash with only other workout gear, so it’s not rubbing against harsher fabrics.
- Dry clothes on delicate or low — that’s right you don’t have to air dry them! I confirmed this with my friends at Under Armour!
If you have some real funk going, add a little white vinegar to the wash. But honestly, if you start using HEX Performance it’s going to take care of that, even if you haven’t been using it from the start.
Bonus Shoe Stink Tip
One of the downsides to trail running is after your shoes get wet, there is a lingering wet dog odor…also present if you shove sweaty clothes in to luggage…resolution: HEX spray.
I know you can technically put shoes in the washer, but I just never want to do that.I feel like it’s going to break them down, so I’m happy with shoving in some FEET to dry them out and then spraying for odor removal.
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This post is sponsored by HEX Performance, all opinions and sweat tests are my own.