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The Science Behind Adventure: Wickron

When the days are long and the weather is warm, you’re probably reaching for your shortest cut and lightest weight apparel to beat the heat while enjoying the great outdoors. Chances are those items you’re wearing are not some old-school cotton things from the 90’s that weigh you down feeling heavy and sweaty after a day outside. We can all give thanks for that! But, have you ever wondered how and why your synthetic garments seem to feel and function so much better than the cotton clothes of yore?

Here at Montbell, we spend A LOT of time designing, refining and innovating ways to make every aspect of the outdoor experience better. We think you’d be surprised to know that even the most seemingly ordinary features of something like a hiking shirt have some pretty cool science behind them. Let’s take a dive into the science behind the adventure with Montbell’s groundbreaking fabric that has been keeping generations of outdoor enthusiasts cool and dry.

Cooling Down and Drying Quick

Everyone wants to enjoy being outside in hot weather while staying as cool as possible. Lucky for us, nature has come up with a solution to this problem in the form of sweat. In fact, within the animal kingdom, only humans and horses are able to produce quantities of perspiration large enough to create a significant cooling effect. Without this ability, performing sustained physical activity under the hot sun would not be fun.

As the body perspires, water accumulates on the surface of the skin. Movement and exercise generate heat which is absorbed by that water. Having taken on this heat energy, the water begins to evaporate taking that heat away with it, which in turn cools the skin. The more that evaporation occurs, the greater the cooling effect. So, in crafting a “cool” feeling garment, our engineers have to consider the evaporative cooling that takes place when you sweat.

Cool is what we want and cold is what we don’t. In fact, if evaporation isn’t occurring efficiently and all that sweat and excess water sticks around, you can actually cool things too much. If the body is wet for an extended period of time, as you may have experienced when standing around in wet clothing, the cooling effect can work too well and you’ll get cold.

As designers of outdoor clothing, we want to minimize the rapid cooling that occurs from excess wetness at all costs, as hypothermia can be a concern (even in summer) and comfort and enjoyment are paramount.

The Problem with Cotton

An ideal garment for hot conditions needs to help with evaporation and be able to keep you dry when you stop for breaks on a hike or climb. Next-to-skin garment materials need to facilitate the natural cooling from evaporating sweat while also providing quick-drying properties, and that's exactly what we did with our Wickron fabric.

As the name suggests, Wickron comes from the word “wicking,” which is something the fiber does magnificently. Using some special chemistry and polyester fibers, the spaces in-between the yarns of Wickron fabric work to draw a liquid away from its source, spreading it out over the surface of the material for faster drying. We are proud of the technologies that we develop, but we take even greater satisfaction in improving upon our inventions, Wickron being no exception.

Without a doubt, cotton is one of the most common materials that make up shirts and other everyday clothing items. As a natural fiber, cotton feels nice against the skin and it can help you feel dry and comfortable. For casual use around the home or office it is a great material, but for demanding physical activities, especially in the outdoors, it is not the best choice. This is because cotton is actually too good at absorbing moisture. The core fibers of a cotton garment soak up water molecules but don’t release them very well. As a result, items made from cotton can become heavy and waterlogged, which isn’t good when a cold front hits and you’re wearing a cotton shirt that is drenched in sweat.

Superior Wicking and Quick Drying

With the shortcomings of cotton in mind, Montbell began development of what would become our proprietary Wickron fabric in the late 1980s. Since then, we’ve been continuously improving our design to create today’s highly breathable and quick-drying fabric that is perfect for warm weather and high-octane activities.

When we looked at our initial Wickron formulations, we realized that we could improve performance by applying a water-attracting treatment to the outside of the polyester fibers. At first, applying a substance that attracts water to a fiber that is intended to wick it away may seem contradictory. However, through careful research and development, we discovered that it actually aids in the effectiveness of the wicking action. And because the treatment doesn’t penetrate into the fibers, perspiration is kept on the outside of the fabric where it evaporates quickly.

In addition, depending on the intended use of a Wickron garment, we can manipulate the size and shape of the fibers to enhance different aspects of performance. For example, Wickron COOL is designed to keep you cool, whereas Wickron ZEO was developed to provide warmth and keep you dry. No matter the use, Wickron in all its forms will help you feel comfortable by wicking moisture and drying quickly.

Comfort


In order to improve evaporation efficiency, Wickron features polyester fibers with irregular shapes. This way, when water comes into contact with the surface of the fibers, it spreads quickly and dries faster.
*The polyester in Wickron employs a variety of shapes to enhance specific aspects of garment performance.

Breathability Comparison


To maintain the fabric’s breathability, we developed a special spinning method to limit the nap, or the raised “fuzzy” surface on the fabric.
- Wickron
Because there is little nap, the fabric breathes better. Even if the fabric gets wet, the ability to breathe isn’t affected as much.
- A standard spun thread
The nap reduces breathability and also increases the possibility the fabric will pill.

Anti-Odor Properties


A photo-catalytic agent is kneaded into the fibers and works to decompose odor-producing substances once activated by a light source. The effect is semi-permanent and does not diminish even after repeated washing.

Recycled polyester


Montbell has begun incorporating recycled polyester into the production of Wickron (25%) and Wickron COOL (80%). This recycled material is made from plastic bottles that are collected in Japan, crushed into chips, turned into yarn and incorporated in a way that maintains the fabric's technical performance and allows for long-lasting use.

Care instructions


Another property of Wickron is its durability to machine washing. However, please avoid using fabric softener as it can affect the wicking properties of the fibers.

Wickron isn’t just for T-Shirts

We’ve utilized Wickron in many of our products when quick-drying properties and breathability are in demand. So if you want to feel cool and comfortable, look for a product made of Wickron.

Wickron


Features a soft touch and quick-drying properties



By using shorter fibers, we produced a quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabric with a tactile feel similar to cotton. Great for outdoor activities and casual use back in town.

Men's


Women's


Wickron Cool and Cool Light


Designed to keep you cool and comfortable



We designed thinner material to increase breathability and quick-drying properties. The result is an efficient evaporative cooling effect that helps maintain comfort in warm weather and during physically demanding activities.

COOL



Features a specialized knitting pattern with a highly breathable outer surface combined with an unevenly textured interior that effectively wicks moisture and dries quickly. The result is a fabric that helps keep you cool and comfortable even when you're sweating.

COOL LIGHT



The quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabric is knit extremely thin to be ultra-breathable and help you stay cool on hot days and during fast-paced pursuits.

Men's


Women's


Other items


Wickron ZEO


Keeps you dry and retains warmth



We created a 3D-patterned material with tiny pockets to trap air and insulate while maintaining the ability to wick moisture and dry quickly. Wickron ZEO is perfect for situations when temperatures can fluctuate wildly and warmth is needed to prevent rapid cooling. Wickron ZEO Thermal is designed for active pursuits in cold weather with a brushed interior that retains additional levels of warmth.

Men's


Women's


Other items


UV-TECT


Wickron UV-TECT is rated UPF 30 and has all the qualities that Wickron is known for; superior wicking and quick drying, excellent breathability and anti-odor properties. The result is a fabric designed to deliver excellent use outdoors.

Men's


Other items