By July 29, 2008

Wet t-shirt contest

It was 101°F today (adjusted for Virginia’s awesome-o humidity) when I left the office last week at about 5:45. I had heard about people soaking their t-shirts in cold water before riding, but I was skeptical. How big of a difference could it make?

A pretty noticeable difference, it turns out — at least for my 40-minute ride home. My t-shirt was completely drenched when I left and bone-dry by the time I made it home. I was wearing my perforated Teknic Chicane leather jacket. The front of my t-shirt dried out first, but every once in awhile I’d feel a cool breeze as air entered the back of my jacket through the collar.

The experience made me re-think my strategy of wearing wicking polyester clothing. I wear Wickers Comfortrel bottoms (reviewed here), along with similar long-sleeved tops. I think they would quickly dry out in hot conditions, whereas cotton would retain moisture longer. Outdoor activity logic says to avoid cotton where possible, as staying damp in the outdoors is generally a bad thing. However, this may be one time where having a clammy shirt against your skin is a good thing.

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2 Comments on "Wet t-shirt contest"

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  1. Jim Shoe says:

    I once had a supervisor (historic archaeologist, of course, which will become clear) who wore what he had dubbed his ‘radiator suit.’
    Full sleeve cotton or polyester button up, buttoned all the way up, with overalls, work boots, and full-brimmed hat. He believed soaking through the shirt and overalls with the attendant evaporation in the full-bore heat and humidity of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, or Kansas would effectively cool him.
    I thought him to be insane at the time, and still do.

    He was also allergic to soap and deodorant.

  2. Bond says:

    I used to to this all the time in the summer. Of course I wore a mesh jacket, so the effect was much more pronounced, but it does work well.

    On one extremely hot day, I went so far as to fill my pockets with ice and hose my entire jacket before leaving.