A staple in the wardrobes of many outdoor enthusiasts, EMS Techwick has been a trusted adventure partner on trips ranging from months spent hiking on the Appalachian Trail to days spent cragging at Acadia to after-work runs on local trails. Like other outdoor gear and garments, EMS Techwick has evolved over the years and has spawned unique collections of lightweight wicking fabrics like Techwick Essential and Techwich Vital, each of which is designed to meet the specific needs and demands of its users.

Techwick Essential/Essence

Techwick Essential and Essence are the names given to the men’s and women’s line of an up-to-date version of the classic polyester wicking material EMS began using all those years ago. Techwick Essential/Essence is a foundational baselayer in the kits of all types of outdoors people, from hikers to trail runners to climbers.

Essential/Essence Pros

The Techwick Essential/Essence line is made from 100% polyester, a material long lauded for its lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying properties. Polyester is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, and fabrics like Techwick are designed to move moisture from your body to the surface of the garment between tiny spaces in the fabric.

Thanks to Techwick Essential/Essence’s ability to wick sweat and dry quickly, it’s a popular choice for high-exertion activities like running and biking, along with warm-weather adventures. Because Techwick Essential/Essense dries so quickly, it is also a favorite companion for outings on the water, whether it’s whitewater rafting or kayaking. Since hot-weather and on-the-water activities are commonly accompanied by strong sun, Techwick Essential/Essence features 30+ UPF protection that won’t wash out.

Essential/Essence Cons

A common complaint about almost every piece of outdoor clothing made from polyester is that it starts to stink over time. In addition to being hydrophobic, polyester is also oleophilic, meaning it holds onto oils like body odor. Thankfully, EMS treats its Essential/Essence clothing with an antimicrobial finish to help keep funky smells at bay.

While the performance advantage that Techwick Essential/Essence has over cotton in areas like wicking and breathability in extremely aerobic activities, hot weather, and high humidity is indisputable, some knock the material for not feeling as soft as cotton. Still, garments from the Techwick Essential/Essence collection are plenty comfortable for everything from a one-day Presidential Traverse to an ascent of Little Finger above Lake George.

Techwick Vital

Techwick Vital is a newer addition to the Techwick family. Made with a combination of polyester and cotton fabrics, Techwick Vital delivers outdoor performance along with the comfort and casual appearance of an everyday tee—making them feel as at home on the trail as they are at the coffee shop.

Vital Pros

The look and the feel of the fabric are what attract many outdoor adventurers to EMS’s Techwick Vital—On first inspection, Vital seems remarkably like a classic cotton tee. However, although Techwick Vital looks like an everyday tee, it’s a serious performance improvement over typical cotton.

Similar to other great duos—like peanut butter and jelly, NetFlix and chill, and Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson—Techwick Vital blends the best attributes of both to deliver a winning combination. Techwick Vital contains both hydrophobic (won’t absorb water) and hydrophilic (will absorb water) fibers, which together produce a fabric that is super breathable, moisture-wicking, and dries up to four times faster than a traditional cotton tee shirt.

The excellent wicking ability of Techwick Vital makes it a natural choice for low- to medium-aerobic activities, like hiking to a White Mountain Ghost Town, bouldering at Lincoln Woods, or layering in cool weather. Techwick Vital also resists wrinkles which, in combination with its non-technical look and “technical”-like feel, makes it a favorite of travelers

Vital Cons

Polyester is the primary fabric found in Techwick Vital, and like other polyester, garments can hold onto odors. Fortunately, EMS treats its Vital collection with an antimicrobial treatment to keep clothing smelling fresh and clean.

The other drawback to Techwick Vital is that while these garments dry faster than cotton, they won’t dry as quickly as those in the Techwick Essential line. In other words, on hot days or hard runs, they will work well, just not as well as other options, like Essential.

The Techwick Way

Techwick has played an important role in the kits of outdoor users for years and is poised to continue doing so in the future. EMS continues to develop its line of Techwick using innovative new materials, weaves, and treatments and continues to expand its offerings to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse group of users—from thru-hikers to travelers, there is a type of Techwick for you.