The best technical fabrics to keep you cool in the heat, dry in the rain and warm in the cold

Thanks to huge advances in fabric technology, you can now remain at the optimal temperature, whatever the weather

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Fabric technology has come a long way in recent years; synthetic fabrics are no longer seen as poor replacements to natural fabrics, and are actually starting to outperform their organic counterparts.

From garment tech attempting to keep you warm in Arctic conditions to innovations in sneaker design to stop your feet getting hot and sweaty, here are 7 fabric and clothing technologies designed to keep you comfortable.

Some clothing brands develop their own fabric technology, such as Nike and Adidas, while some purchase it from companies that are dedicated to high-tech fabrics, such as Gore-Tex, PrimaLoft and Polartec.

We’ve collected some key fabric technologies, and looked at how they can help you keep cool in the hot weather, dry in the rain and warm on cold days.

1. Polartec Alpha

Originally designed for the US Special Forces, Polartec Alpha insulation uses lofted knit fibres to keep moisture moving and regulate your core temperature whether you’re working out or standing still in changing weather conditions. 

This latest advancement in adaptable breathability helps eliminate the need for shedding or adding layers while on the move.

2. PrimaLoft ThermoPlume

Next on the list is PrimaLoft’s fully synthetic insulation called ThermoPlume. ThermoPlume is the closest a synthetic fibre has come to matching the fluidity, feel and aesthetics of goose down, with a 550 fill power down equivalent. 

It's made from a unique blend of water-resistant PrimaLoft fibres that form silky plumes. They collectively form a loose-fill insulation, replicating the lightweight warmth, softness and compressibility of natural goose down. As these fibres are synthetic, ThurmoPlume is actually more efficient than traditional down when wet, helping you remain warm and dry in the harshest weather conditions.

The first jackets in the UK to feature ThermoPlume were Montane’s Icarus and Phoenix jackets.

3. Gore-Tex

If you’ve done any research into outdoor clothing, chances are you’ve come across Gore-Tex. It’s a technology known for providing long-lasting waterproofing, and can be found in anything from hats to jackets and shoes.

Wet fabrics conduct heat three times faster than dry clothes, robbing your body of warmth, so properly waterproofed clothing is essential. Gore-Tex is a membrane with microscopic pores that are 20,000 times smaller than water droplets. This stops water from penetrating it, but keeps it breathable, and allows moisture vapour (sweat) to exit.

4. Nike Dri-Fit

If you really must run in the hot weather (or cold weather, in fact) our advice is to wear Nike Dri-Fit. It’s a high-performance microfibre polyester fabric that moves sweat away from the body to the fabric surface, where it evaporates. 

It keeps you dry and comfortable, and can be found in a variety of Nike products, including shirts, socks, pants, shorts, sweatshirts, sleeves, hats, gloves and more.

Dri-Fit also uses body-mapping construction, which features strategically placed ventilation zones to allow air to flow and cool the body where you need it most.

If you’re spending a lot of time in the sun, look for Dri-Fit UV. It works double-duty by also providing minimum UPF 30 ultraviolet protection.

5. Adidas Climachill

Along similar lines, but with three stripes instead of a swoosh, Adidas has a range of clothing specifically designed to keep you cool. It's called Climachill and includes some interesting tech to ensure maximum freshness.

The range uses strategically positioned aluminium spheres to create a cooling sensation on contact. The clothing is also made from highly breathable Polar Fiber, which is highly efficient at releasing heat and moisture.

An added benefit is that it doesn't actually look too much like sports clothing, so you could get away with wearing it in everyday situations such as the pub, or the queue for a Mr Whippy.

6. O’Neill x ISKO Denim

O’Neill, the Californian lifestyle brand, and denim experts ISKO, have released the world’s first denim board shorts, bridging the gap between street style and functional water sport gear. The shorts are made with fast-drying, lightweight, four-way stretch and patented ISKO 'Blue Skin' denim fabric.

ISKO's fabric doesn't really feel like traditional denim, it's lighter (50 per cent, apparently), softer and stretchier. 

Of course, the headline feature here is that they're water repellent thanks to the O’Neill Hyperdry treatment applied to the material in production. They don't get sodden like a regular pair of jeans would, and they dry quickly, making it easy to transition from being in the water to sitting in a cafe for lunch.

7. Nike Flyknit

Practically every sneaker manufacturer has a tech-infused knitted fabric: with Adidas you have Primeknit, there’s Evoknit from Puma, and Flyknit from Nike.

Flyknit is made by feeding fabrics such as nylon, polyester and spandex into knitting machines. The result is a one-piece upper that features a soft and pliable weave. 

These knitted uppers don’t just bring comfort and durability improvements; they are also more breathable. As a result, sweat won’t get trapped inside your shoe, avoiding a hot, smelly mess.

This article is part of our Tech Innovation for the Future series, brought to you in association with Honor.