New fabric from Atacama promises to keep you cool and dry during your workouts

atacama
Breathability and moisture-wicking properties are two important characteristics that every outdoor athlete looks for in their workout apparel. If a garment is breathable, it allows heat to escape the body, keeping runners and cyclists cooler as a result. And if a garment also has the ability to wick away perspiration, it will keep them drier as well. Unfortunately, while a lot of sportswear promises to deliver in these two areas, their products often underperform when put to use in the field. But a new technical fabric from a company called Atacama is looking to change all that by delivering a potential breakthrough product that could revolutionize the way we work out.

Named for the Atacama Desert in northern Chile – the driest place on the planet – the company says that it has created the “world’s first ‘biometric‘ moisture-channeling system.” What that means is that researchers have found a way to not just wick moisture from the body, but to actually collect it and channel it away through tiny three-dimensional channels. This not only allows sweat to dissipate rapidly, but it has the added benefit of also keeping the article of clothing almost completely dry, even during intense aerobic activities.

The secret behind Atacama’s fabrics lies in microfluidics, which is the study of how liquids move when constrained on a microscopic level. In this case, the moisture is collected from the body, pulled into the fabric, and then channeled into tiny pathways that push it away. The result is a garment that won’t become oversaturated no matter how hot and humid the weather or how sweaty the athlete becomes. This prevents activewear from sticking to skin, while also providing a more natural method of cooling the body.

Atacama

One of the biggest challenges that the Atacama team faced when developing its new fabrics was figuring out how to create three-dimensional channels in thin, lightweight textiles. To achieve that, they had to first study the production process closely, eventually coming to the realization that it was not unlike microfabrication methods used to create computer chips. Eventually, they discovered that through the use of extremely fine knitting as part of the construction process, they could create channels that were as small as a single loop of thread, which is about 100 micrometers in diameter. Once that became possible, the dynamics of microfludics simply took over.

According to Atacama’s website, sports apparel made with its technical fabrics stayed 12 times drier than competing materials, and were three times lighter during high-intensity workouts. That’s good news to outdoor athletes who have endured soaked shirts and shorts for years while running and cycling in humid conditions.

As of now, Atacama hasn’t announced any partners who are using its fabrics, but there appears to be a lot of interest. It makes perfect sense that it would be used in fitness and outdoor apparel, although Susan Neal, the company’s CEO, recently told TechCrunch that inquiries have gone well beyond that. “We’ve been asked to look at car seats,” she says. “What we’re finding is that there is a lot of interest in this technology to keep moisture and spilled drinks away from electronics in autonomous cars.”

Find out more at atacamadry.com.

Mobile

Scientists have charged a phone and a Fitbit with solar-powered clothes

Scientists from Britain's Nottingham Trent University have discovered a way to incorporate solar panels into clothing, and they've even managed to charge a phone and Fitbit with the energy created.
Outdoors

Stay protected from the elements year-round in one of the best 4-season tents

No matter the time of year, it doesn't hurt to have a reliable 4-season tent in your arsenal of backpacking gear. From keeping you protected from the elements to staying warm and cozy when the temperature drops, we've found the best…
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Outdoors

Need gift ideas? Here’s what to get the skiers and snowboarders in your life

You can't purchase snow, but you can grab your favorite skier or snowboarder some sweet gear this holiday season. We've hand-picked some of the best available that'll wow even the most well-equipped terrain park junkie we know.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Outdoors

Puma revives its classic 1986 smart shoe, complete with high-tech heel hump

More marketing stunt than serious effort to dominate the smart shoe space, Puma is about to re-release its classic RS-Computer Shoe. The high-tech footwear from 1986 was a breakthrough at the time, despite its unsightly heel hump.
Photography

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.
Outdoors

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Wearables

Our favorite fitness trackers make it fun to keep moving

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Outdoors

Google Maps makes it easier than ever to find a Lime bike or scooter

Google Maps has added a new feature that helps you find a Lime bike or scooter in just a few taps. The feature currently works in 11 U.S. cities served by Lime, with more coming next year.
Outdoors

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.
Outdoors

Best holiday gifts for the outdoor junkie on your list

Have an outdoorsy person on your list and not sure what they need? We've hand-picked our favorite outdoor gear with an eye towards the unique and useful. From high-powered headlamps to heated socks, we've found something for everyone on…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!