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Stink-free Synthetics?
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Jon Hancock
(bigjackbrass)

Locale: Northwest England
Stink-free Synthetics? on 10/28/2010 12:55:28 MDT Print View

A few years ago you couldn't have given woollen base-layers away, whereas now they're ubiquitous. Even so, they do have some problems (after a fortnight's hiking my Finisterre merino baselayer looked as though it been part of a moth buffet, holes springing up all over it) and synthetics have some advantages. Price, for example, as well as durability and speed of drying.

One area where synthetics seem to have been thoroughly trounced is in long-term comfort, particularly with regards to odour control. The worst days of "Smelly Hellies" may be (largely) behind us, but I've yet to find a synthetic top capable of being worn for several days without developing an horrific niff. On-trail washing isn't always enough to shift the pong, either, and they can stay stinky until civilisation is reached.

But then again, I haven't bought new synthetics for quite a while. So tell me, which synthetic baselayers have been the most successful for you? Are there any that even come close to the continued comfort of merino or silk? or are synthetics better suited to short hikes in your opinion?

Edited by bigjackbrass on 10/28/2010 12:56:15 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
capilene on 10/28/2010 13:06:31 MDT Print View

i dont really see a problem, you just wash it every 2 nights in a zip lock back and dry it in yr sleep

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
yeah, right. on 10/28/2010 20:11:29 MDT Print View

When you can wash them they do pretty good but otherwise not so much. I know I can funkify one in a day. The thing is you also have to really wash them with vinegar every so often because they absorb some of the stink and hold it over time.

What kind of wool were you using? You might want to go to the next step up. Stuff around 200g/m2 holds up a lot better than the 150g/m2 stuff most people are using.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Synthetic on 10/28/2010 20:17:07 MDT Print View

Fast drying is the most important thing to me so I use really light, thin synthetics. I've never noticed any synthetic stink in any of my various synthetic shirts. I do wear deoderant.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Cap 1 on 10/28/2010 20:54:46 MDT Print View

Cap 1 has been pretty odor free for me, on longer outings- @ day 3 or so, I give it a quick wash w/ Dr Bronners, rinse and ring- this is usually a good time to give my self a similar treatment :)

William Johnsen
(sixoclocknews) - F
synthetics on 10/28/2010 22:40:22 MDT Print View

I was able to get an Arc'teryx Rho LT off steepandcheap a few years ago and have been impressed with the anti-stink treatment (silver based I think). It's on par (in terms of how long it takes to funk them up) with the merino I've tried (Ibex/Icebreaker), maybe even a bit better, but it's pretty subjective. It's lighter and softer (I don't have a problem with wool itch, but the Rho's are like butter) and I reach for them for backpacking trips.

I've also tried a couple tops with the silver threads woven in (Brooks, and I think Lululemon has some) and it works just was well. I recently picked up a North Face baselayer with some cocona fiber for pretty cheap to see how it does with odor, but haven't tested it yet.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
arcteryx on 10/28/2010 23:06:58 MDT Print View

the new phase stuff is pretty good.looks funny when its wet from the 2 different types of fabrics. it has silver in the fibers to cut the funk.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: arcteryx on 10/28/2010 23:28:57 MDT Print View

Arc'Teryx Phase is also incredibly light apparently. 3.7oz for a longsleeve lightweight top. I may just have to pick one up.

Jon Hancock
(bigjackbrass)

Locale: Northwest England
Arc'teryx on 10/29/2010 01:59:40 MDT Print View

That Arc'teryx Phase SL stuff looks promising, particularly the boxers. Too many underpants have very short legs, but these look like a decent length. Prices aren't absurd either (high, but not the usual Arc'teryx jaw-droppers).

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Stink-free Synthetics? on 10/29/2010 11:32:14 MDT Print View

I've been wearing "odor-resistant" synthetics since the mid 80s, and have yet to find any that really keep odor resistant. Some are a bit better than others, but nothing touches wool.

During a period as pretty literally a ski bum I was outside every day but spending a lot of time in social situations, too. I couldn't really get away with wearing a synthetic top over the course of a day, despite regular bathing & deodorant. I found that the older the shirt/more days of use it had seen, the more quickly it re-stunk.

On the other hand, I have some wool pieces I've washed... sometime? And they don't stink. Some of the wool layers will eventually build up odor, but a little airing out usually takes care of it. Wool midlayers I've found I pretty much don't need to wash... such as some old button-up Pendletons...

On that note, I have Korean war vintage wool pants that are still in great shape. I have wool Pendleton shirts bought from second-hand shops years ago that were obviously worn regularly before purchase... but they're still in great shape. I have a lot of old wool pieces, & they're virtually all in good condition.

Most of my "contemporary," merino wool "techy" layers are holding up great, too, despite very regular wear. One of my 150-ish weights got caught on some melted plastic in the dryer and got a couple small holes. The holes haven't gotten any worse. I just picked up an Ibex Woolies piece that's 150 wt & ribbed; I'm wondering if the ribbed weave will wear any better than normal. I don't know yet though...

In terms of drying: when I've been hiking in rainy conditions and actually soaked baselayers, I've found that whether I hang, or throw in a pile, either synthetic or merino layers both materials are still wet in the morning. On the other hand, if I wring out either material & put the shirt back on, my body heat dries out either synthetic or merino in ~1/2 hour. The merino might take an extra 5 to 10 minutes Max?

Jon Hancock
(bigjackbrass)

Locale: Northwest England
Re: Re: Stink-free Synthetics? on 10/29/2010 13:12:44 MDT Print View

"I found that the older the shirt/more days of use it had seen, the more quickly it re-stunk."

That's definitely something I've found as well. I wear some of my hiking kit on the daily cycle commute to work and it certainly shows up how the older pieces (ten years or more, in some cases) are not performing as well as they used to. Indeed, one pair of trousers now develops a very weird sort of plastic-toasted-biscuity smell whenever they are rained on, something they certainly didn't do previously. I noticed a similar odour on a few old synthetic pieces when I returned home from the 2009 TGO Challenge, despite regular washing (both in camp and in regular washing machines) along the way. It's because these items are clearly wearing out that I'm looking to see what's on the market at the moment and what, amid the marketing claims for bamboo and silver and coconut husks, people are finding works for them.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
more balanced nowadays on 10/29/2010 14:05:42 MDT Print View

My observations have been the same as Brad's on drying between synthetic and wool. If that Ibex 150g/m2 shirt does work out, please let me know.

Silver threads/ions do seem to work for some people and others need at least 8%