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Best Performance Fabrics for Outdoors and Sports

image of human on top of a mountain looking at the view. He's wearing outdoor fabrics and waterproof fabric.

There is much more to performance fabrics than meets the eye, especially when making clothes for sports or outdoor activities. If you are a buddy dressmaker or you want to have a go and make your own clothes. Make sure you find out what fabrics and materials are best for your project.

Whether you need some new leggings for pilates, a fleece for your son when out walking or you even need to fix your backpack. With durable and water-resistant fabric, you can create all of these clothes with the right performance fabric.

Take a look at some of the top features to look out for when considering each fabric and the top fabrics dressmakers use, to see which one is right for you, below.

Why Are Performance Fabrics Essential for Outdoor Clothes?

The material of your clothes can entirely change their function, which is particularly important for sports and outdoor activities. This can also be important in terms of your safety too, as your clothes will keep you warm and dry and is your line of defence against the weather.

They can also enhance or hinder the way you move and perform. Therefore, they need to be comfortable and suitable for your sport. This is why knowing a little bit about performance fabrics is essential when making your own clothes, as they can make or break the clothes you create.

Performance Fabric Features to Look Out For

What makes performance fabrics stand out is their features and each fabric you will look at has its own unique ones. Each of these can vastly change the function of a piece of outdoor or sports clothing. Also if you are making them at home yourself, you want to get the right fabric for your project for the first time round.

Different features will be hugely beneficial to different sports and activities and can even vastly improve your comfort and even your performance at times. Choosing the right material also means that you won’t be too hot or too cold, but will suit your surroundings and the season too.


Being warm is an absolute must for colder weather or sports where you might be sitting around between matches. There are a lot of fleeces, jumpers and coats made from materials that have thermal properties, to keep you nice and toasty. Warmth should never be underestimated and even in the warmer months is essential, especially for when it gets dark.


This is a very useful quality and can hugely benefit you in the outdoors. Synthetic materials such as faux leather and natural ones can be waterproof and fabrics can even be treated, to increase their water-resistant qualities. This feature is essential for keeping you dry when outside or in the rain and can ensure your body temperature doesn’t drop too low if you get wet. 

Wicking Qualities

This unique feature tends to be for more expensive materials, as it is so useful for sports and outdoor clothing. If a fabric has wicking qualities, this means it will draw moisture away from your body and evaporate, jeeping the material dry.

This is very useful as when you sweat, it will not get trapped in your clothing and bring down your body temperature. It will keep both your body and your clothing dry, ensuring your body temperature doesn’t drop too low when you’re out in the elements.


When doing any physical activity, you want to be able to move freely around. This not only means getting fabric that fits properly but using fabric that is stretchy too. Depending on the sport or activity you do, you might need to squat, stretch or run, so you don’t want your clothes hindering your movement.


During many outdoor activities, you can come into contact with rocks, extreme weather conditions or high impacts and many sports can involve ripping clothes and even breaking equipment at times.

This makes durability a key factor when buying any sort of fabric for sportswear or outdoor gear, as you want it to last. High-quality materials may tend to be more long-lasting. However, this isn’t always true, so check each fabric’s properties before making a decision.

UV Resistant

This is a particularly useful feature if you are sensitive to the sun or are going to be spending time outdoors in the sunshine. This might not be the most useful feature for many people, but if you are spending long periods outdoors on a regular basis, it could be beneficial for you.

Any sort of UV resistant material, that doesn’t let in harmful rays would suit anyone who participates in sports like tennis, mountain biking, hillwalking or even skiing, could probably benefit from having clothes that don’t.

Great Performance Fabrics for Clothes

Anti polar fleece

A great option for any outdoor activity, this material is sure to keep you warm. Anti polar fleece is a polyester material that has insulative properties, ensuring you don’t get cold, even if it gets a bit wet. It will make a great jacket for people of all ages and is perfect for walking, or wearing in between tennis, squash or hockey matches.


Many people wear cotton for light sporting and outdoor activities. But caution should be taken if you are doing high energy or intensive activities. More often than not, cotton is a warm, breathable and light material that many people wear because of how comfortable it feels in your skin.

For many activities, cotton t-shirts or even shorts will be fine to wear, especially during the summer. If you do decide to wear it outdoors.


This is a popular choice for sporting and outdoor gear. As you will find many t-shirts, vests, trousers and leggings made from synthetic polyester material. Polycotton is cheap and easy to come by. This bi-stretch fabric is also stretchy making it a comfortable option for many people as they can move around freely.

Because it repels UV light even when wet. It is a smart option for anyone who suffers from sunburn, will be spending many hours exposed to direct sunlight, or wants to protect their skin.


This synthetic material is incredibly hardy, making it perfect for anyone who needs material that is rip and tear-resistant. Whether you need accessories for mountaineering, outdoor clothing items or apparel, this can be a winning material for you.

As a reinforced material, ripstop is certainly durable, meaning every item you make with ripstop will last a long time. Its waterproof qualities also make it great for protecting gear. Also equipment when outdoors or simply out and about around town.

To find out which performance fabrics would be best suited for your next project, simply get in touch with our team now. If you want more inspiration and ideas about materials and dressmaking, check out our blog as well.