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Is Cotton Rotten or is Poly Folly?

When you’re out there running on the road or the treadmill, the pool or the playground, the track or the field, the gear you’re wearing can be the difference between enjoyment and frustration. I’ve spent most of my professional life in run specialty, and we were taught that “cotton is rotten.” We were educating our customers on the benefits of a polyester shirt (or another technical fabric) vs. a cotton, non-breathing, non-wicking garment, all while we were wearing cotton all day on the sales floor.

Not everyone was willing to get on that wagon with us, and some people much prefer the feeling of a cotton shirt when they’re out there getting it done. In hindsight, neither are wrong, and the feeling of a blended cotton/poly shirt could be the perfect match. You have the benefit of wicking from the tech threads and the odor resistance of cotton, increased durability and decreased fading and shrinking, all while not having that clingy feeling that some of us experience when we’re wearing polyester. That, and a blended shirt is soft, feels great on and can be easily worn to the pub at the end of the day when you’re stressing about qualifying for Boston or a PR in your next 5K.

I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I am saying that if you can have the properties of both, and enjoy more uses than either cotton or poly, then I’d say you’re safe to blend.

What do you prefer to wear and why?