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Polarmax TransDRY Cotton

rated 4.0 of 5 stars

The TransDRY Cotton has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best base layer tops for 2023.

photo: Polarmax TransDRY Cotton base layer top

Polarmax and Cotton Inc. have paired up to create the PMX TransDRY™ cotton, the first cotton base layer that is moisture wicking. New for fall 2010, the Polarmax TransDRY shirt, manages moisture by reducing the cotton’s absorbent capacity and drying time.

How is this possible? TransDRY, a technology developed by Cotton Inc., is a patented, high-performance moisture management application that allows 100 percent cotton fabrics to transfer moisture away from the skin or across the surface of the fabric and dry faster.

I was skeptical, of course. I have always lived and breathed by the adage, “Cotton is rotten”. Sure, it has its place, but not in the gym, on the mountain bike or cross-country ski trails or as a base layer for cold-weather sports. If you sweat in cotton, it feels cold and clammy and doesn’t insulate your skin. It takes hours to dry.

So I put the PMX TransDRY Cotton base layer to the test over three days, using three different shirts: my favorite Life is Good 100 percent cotton crusher tee, the PMX TransDRY Cotton , and a tried-and-true fast-drying, moisture-wicking (but smelly) Capilene top.

On all three testing days, I ran for forty-five minutes on the treadmill at the gym, walked briskly for a 15-minute cool down, and then attended one hour of restorative yoga.

The PMX TransDRY Cotton, I found, didn’t cling to my skin like the Life is Good shirt did. The sweat patch was about three times wider than that of the Life is Good shirt, proof that the TransDRY technology didn’t just absorb moisture, but spread it over a wider surface area where it dried completely in about twenty-five minutes (The Life is Good shirt never fully dried in the one hour and fifteen minutes following the run). The Capilene shirt, naturally, dried the fastest.

The mixture of hydrophobic (water-resistant) and hydrophilic (water absorbent) weave in the fabric makeup is the secret. You’ll never be able to see it with the naked eye but rows of alternating absorbent and resistant threads are woven into the shirt to promote moisture movement and speed the drying process.

For cross-country skiing, the PMX TransDRY Cotton didn’t have the same overall warmth as, say, a Merino wool or a tech fleece base, but I was still considerably more comfortable, temperature-wise, in the PMX TransDRY Cotton then I would have been in a cotton or thin Capilene shirt.

Obviously, if it’s very cold out (it was in the high 30's the day I skied), you’ll want something heavier (Polarmax makes excellent warm base layers). Still, the PMX TransDRY Cotton works well for running, biking and the gym. I can also see this as a great shirt for multi-day trekking in the summer, especially the long-sleeved version, because it will protect your arms from bugs and the sun and won’t absorb odors like the synthetic fabrics.

Does the TransDRY ever wash out? The folks at Cotton Inc. said that through extensive testing they found the TransDRY treatment on average remained unaffected on up to 50-plus loads of laundry. They also said that when put in the drier on low (no dryer sheets!), it often reactivates the treatment to help maintain optimal performance.

The PMX TransDRY Cotton shirt will be available in September 2010 in both the long sleeve ($49.95) and short sleeve ($44.95) versions.

Fabric: Cotton treated with TransDRY
Price Paid: Sample provided by PolarMax

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