UA Charged Cotton vs. Nike Dri-Fit Cotton? What’s the Difference?

March 30, 2011 | By | 18 Replies More

Here’s a timely question from a reader wondering about how Under Armour Charged Cotton compares to Nike Dri-Fit Cotton:

What is the technical difference between UA Charged Cotton and Nike Dri-Fit Cotton? UA is really hyping theirs while Nike has had it for awhile and hasn’t hyped much.

Under Armour Charged Cotton Vs Nike Dri-Fit

Branding

Well, first off, let me clarify something.  The terms “Charged Cotton” and “Dri-Fit” are not so much specific technologies as they are product line names that have been trademarked by each company:

Under Armour Charged Cotton Trademark

Nike Dri-Fit Trademark

As you can see, the assigned trademarks span a wide variety of product types including caps, dress, headbands, pants, shorts, oh and of course- t-shirts.

Companies create product brands so they become easily recognizable by consumers. Think about it, if you had to ask “Hey, I’m looking for that Under Armour product that is made of cotton and spandex, oh and it’s supposed to be moisture wicking too”, that would be a little tough for consumers to wrap their heads around. Instead, companies create product line categories and give them easily identifiable names.

Technology

So this annoys me a little, but I believe the apparel market goes a little too far with the whole “technology” thing. They throw out these crazy terms, build up a bunch of hype about it, and then the consumer has to figure out what it all means. It’s pretty damn confusing.

Case-in-point: “Moisture Wicking”.  Manufacturers started promoting moisture wicking undershirts a couple years ago, and my site got bombarded with traffic from people trying to figure out what the benefits of moisture wicking undershirts were, if any. Not surprisingly, today I don’t see the same amount of emphasis from companies touting their undershirts as moisture wicking, because I believe most of it was short-lived hype.

Now, I’m not trying to piss off those companies who make moisture wicking undershirts, I’m just trying to illustrate my point of technology hype.

No doubt, there is a good amount of technology that goes into the creation of some clothing products, but I’d like to see a little more balance here and less consumer confusion.

Of course, if the products didn’t sound cool,  we probably wouldn’t be interested in learning about or buying them, so a part of me understands and appreciates the need for companies to do this.

So What Is It Really?

After a bunch of research over the last couple of days, here’s what I came up with:

Under Armour Charged Cotton – This clothing line consist of mens, boys, and womens t-shirts, shorts, and pants. In most all cases, the fabric blend consists of 95% TransDRY treated cotton and 5% spandex. TransDRY is actually a product from Cotton Inc. (trademark filed 10/2007) and it’s a treatment that is applied to cotton to give it moisture wicking properties. So, in essence, cotton treated or made with TransDRY will not absorb moisture like untreated cotton.

One part of the Under Armour marketing doesn’t set well with me. In most of their marketing, they say this:

We took Mother Nature’s most perfect fabric and supercharged it with our signature moisture transport system to create the world’s first true performance cotton.

If this is a Cotton Inc. product, what the hell is Under Armour’s “signature moisture transport system”? I’m thinking this is all hype and, from my point of view, it’s really misleading if all they did was apply TransDRY to their own cotton fabric.

If they did more, great. Maybe someone from Under Armour can email me and give me the specifics so I can add it here.

Nike Dri-Fit Cotton – The Dri-Fit clothing line consists of a whole lot of mens and women’s products. In fact, the Nike website says there are 1,014 Dri-Fit products available. When I searched for Dri-Fit Cotton products, that narrowed down the list to 7 items, and they were only for women. It looks like Nike did offer a Dri-Fit Cotton shirt for men, but it doesn’t appear to be generally available any longer.

In looking at the Dri-Fit Cotton line, it shows that the fabric blend across all products was 62% cotton (5% organic)/34% polyester/4% spandex.

When Nike refers to Dri-Fit, they describe it as a high-performance, microfiber, polyester fabric that wicks sweat away from the body and moves it to the fabric surface, where it evaporates. What isn’t clear, is what is special about the polyester to make it any different or better than any other polyester? Also, in looking at the Nike website, the Dri-Fit product line includes a variety of polyester fabric blends (100% polyester, 60% cotton/40% polyester, etc.)

I might be missing something here, but it looks as though Dri-Fit might simply be Nike’s main polyester fabric, so anytime it uses that polyester in a clothing item, it becomes a Dri-Fit item.

What Does It All Mean?

If you distill all that crap above, it really boils down to this: Moisture Management-treated Cotton vs. Polyester/Blend

Which is better? Well, I assume that is really subjective after it’s all said and done.

Which will perform better? That depends on your definition of “perform”. I suspect there is little noticeable difference between the two.

Which will feel better on the skin? I suspect the Under Armour Charged Cotton tee will feel a little softer, more natural feeling on the skin because there’s no polyester in it – but that’s just a guess.

If anyone has experience with Dri-Fit Cotton T-Shirts, please feel free to chime in. Also, if you do have one and are open to going out and picking up an Under Armour Charged Cotton tee to compare the two, be sure to email me or post your comments below.

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Category: Sweat Management

About the Author ()

Tug is the world's undershirt expert. Looking for undershirt or men's shapewear information? You'll find it here on my site - guaranteed! You can also find me on

Comments (18)

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  1. Qiuyong says:

    hi meg and tug,

    agree what meg said is right . as i know the reason why there are so many fabirc manufactures and garment manufactures and retailers are using aatcc 79 and vertical test for moisture management performance. because contton inc. suggested the MMT test methon to AATCC in last year . before that there is not any properly test methods for this treatment in exist commercial lab test house .
    but i am sure AATCC 195 will be used frequently in coming future .

  2. Qiuyong says:

    Got it with thanks! actually we are working with contton incorporated for many years. since UA changed the trade mark . so I suppose they will change the test standard as well.
    anyway thanks a lot fot your info.

  3. Qiuyong says:

    Maybe this way for roughly comparison is ok . but for professional test should be under AATCC test method. because there are many moisture management test method in AATCC . do you know which test method that charged cotton under .

    • no, i don’t know what official aatcc test method was used for charged cotton. but, charged cotton is only a brand from under armour. it’s not a technology.

      they are using cotton inc’s trans dry product. you may want to check with cotton inc. to see if they have any information about the fabric used by under armour in their charged cotton product.

      • Meg says:

        Actually, it is an actual technology and it isn’t just branding. Also, there is an AATCC test that tests for it – AATCC TM 195

        • meg, maybe i am wrong, but it is my understanding that there is a difference between the actual technology used in the construction of the garments and how a company brands the line.

          like the transdry “technology” used in the ua charged cotton line. “charged cotton” itself it’s a technology, as far as i am aware, but is a trademarked brand of ua.

          maybe i am misunderstanding something and/or confusing the difference, so please correct me where i may be wrong and provide the details that can help me and other readers understand the difference.

          specifically what does the aatcc test – test for?

          • Meg says:

            You are correct that a company can brand a technology however they want because it needs to fit in with their corporate image. But the technology itself on the fabric is real and valid has been tested extensively.

            AATCC 195 is a moisture management test that uses the MMT (Moisture Management Tester) to actually measure how quickly the moisture moves form the inside out and how quickly the moisture spreads. The greater surface area the moisture spreads, obviously the quicker it will dry. This is much more quantatative than the typical “vertical wicking test” that almost everyone used before the MMT came along. The vertical wicking test does not really show moisture management and many within the industry consider that test to be a waste of time, but prior to people actually understanding moisture management, that was all that was used. Even today many brands that don’t invest very much in testing their fabrics still use this outdated method.

          • hey meg, thanks for the additional details. so, one more question if i may.

            using ua charged cotton as an example. we already know they use cotton inc’s transdry product, as do other companies like xgo.

            so you have a cotton-based fabric made with transdry – could be 100% cotton, or a blend. it could knitted and constructed many different ways, some of which may change the performance characteristics of the fabric – think single knit vs. double knit.

            so what is ua doing other than using cotton inc’s transdry technology and implementing a certain blend and knit? are they adding other “technology” into their charged cotton line? if so, what specifically are they doing that allows us to believe that charged cotton is an actual technology?

            i’m very interested to better understand this more precisely so i can separate branding from technology used. thanks for your time!

  4. Qiuyong says:

    Charged cotton which sounds good. but how to measure the performance? what is the difference of the test method and reqirements for charged cotton and dri-fit ?

    • best way to test is to wet both products and compare drying times. i do this in a couple ways:

      1. work out in the items, hang them, and track the drying progress
      2. wash the items, let them go through the spin cycle, then track the drying progress

      hope that helps!

  5. Taylor says:

    hey TUG, i love your website and this article! I want to use this information in my science fair project, so i was wondering if you could tell me your primary sources or the places where you got your information?! -Thanks

    • hey talor! thanks for stopping by and posting your question!

      if i recall correctly, my sources for this article included: uspto.gov (for trademark stuff), nike website, under armour website, wikipedia, cotton inc’s website, and of course my site.

      hope that helps!

  6. Gil says:

    I agree with Tug. The Nike Dri-Fit products are mostly polyester. Of course you see this across all brands, eg Adidas ClimaCool and many others using the CoolMax technology or spin-offs. And Tug has many articles about alternative fabrics used by shirt manufacturers. I shop at Eddie Bauer and they introduced Cocona fabric from coconuts.

    In the fitness world, you want a ‘technical’ shirt. This is short way of saying moisture-wicking, odor resistant, quick-drying shirt. Be wary of fancy marketing. You want to look for fabric that is treated, alternative fabric specifically for odor/wetness, or physically altered fabric. You just don’t purchase a polyster/cotton shirt thinking it has these features. They do, but there are better products now a days.

    What I mean by physically altered is you will notice some 100% polyester shirts have a textured weave that allows the shirt to breathe better. The Vdri has this. If it’s a polyester shirt that has a sheen appearance, then it won’t help you. I been trying out several shirts over the years to be used both as an undershirt and exercise shirt. I might as well be wearing an old school mesh shirt than a sheen polyester shirt. However, I’ve become a fan other treated shirts rather than a textured-weave polyester shirt.

    Hope this helps.

    I’ve completed my testing of various Jockey shirts, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper. I’ll get to it. Thanks for all you do Tug!

  7. Bart says:

    If I am wearing an undershirt to keep sweat from getting my shirt wet and stained, why would I want an undershirt that promises to move that wetness to the outside of my undershirt where it can then get my (outer) shirt wet and stained? Maybe I am overthinking this?

    • hey bart! thanks for stopping by and posting your comment.

      a couple quick responses to your comment:
      1. i don’t really classify the under armour charged cotton tee or nike dri-fit cotton tees as “undershirts”. they are designed more as performance tees. if you look at this post where i put the ua charged cotton undershirt to the test, check out the section titled “quick side note”. it’s there where i clarify that i don’t believe the ua charged cotton tee would be a practical/suitable every day undershirt.

      2. if you peruse my site a bit, you’ll find that i have taken the same position as you with regard to moisture wicking undershirts. take a look at this article i wrote back in oct 2008 where i started surfacing the exact point about whether moisture wicking undershirts made the sweat-through problem worse.

      take a look and thanks again for stopping by!

      • Qiuyong says:

        Hey,

        after reading your comments of ua charged cotton and nike dri-fit cotton. on my professional points . the two have different advantage and disadvantage . let me talk moisture wicking first . ua 95% cotton 5% spandex single jersey can get better moisture management is because of it has only 47.5% cotton absorb water . so the fabric dry more quickly than 95% cotton absorb water fabric. and the hand feel is also soft and nature touch . nike’s 76% cotton 34% polyester fabric can be with moisture management as well. if the fabric stucture is plated jersey . it means cotton on the top of fabric and wicking filament polyester on the bottom of the fabric. and the filament polyester using micro fibre with wicking performance ( cross section is ‘+’ or something) . as we know the water regaining of polyester is much less than cotton . when wicking polyester touch the sweaty skin . the perspiration will be transport from polyester and absorbed by outside cotton and go inside the cells of cotton fiber . keeping skin dry . the hand feel can be soft but not nature . comparing the moisture evapour rate . i think ua’s charged cotton evapour moisture fast.

        so the yarn material and fabric structure and treatment are more important for moisture wicking performance .

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