Wicking is the ability of a textile to absorb moisture from the skin and transport it from the inside of the fabric to the outer surface, where it evaporates in the surrounding air. ‘Quick-dry’ means that the moisture spreads across the fabric, over a large surface area, for rapid evaporation. The wicking and quick-dry function is essential for base layers and next-to-skin garments.
The effect can be achieved in two ways. Either a hydrophilic softener (a chemical finish) is used to attract moisture to the fibres, which increases the material’s ability to absorb and distribute moisture throughout the fabric, and can be said to be the opposite of water-repellency. The other alternative is to use a hydrophobic functional yarn, such as filament polyester and nylon. The poor absorbance of these fibres forces the moisture to move along the length of the yarn and flow out through the material.