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non stinking baselayers?
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Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
non stinking baselayers? on 10/22/2012 15:08:24 MDT Print View

Since my membership will be running out soon I thought I would ask this.

What kind of T's don't stink after a day or two of wearing them?

I can stink poly out in a 24 hour period or so. Thin wool somewhat works for me in that the odor is a bit changed and much muted but it still does after a few days and they are just not made to last and very expensive even for the blend stuff. I used Visa Endurance stuff and it mutes it and changes it to a more mushy smell. Nylon is not that bad but it doesn't breath in the least.

I am thinking of just going with some REALLY thin cotton T's. If they get wet I am thinking my body heat should possibly be able to dry them at a good rate. Wool takes forever to dry and the thin stuff does not provide any heat. And the poly stuff is so much thicker than thin cotton that they might be in the same ball park for drying. Does anyone have experience with this? Am I too far off?

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: non stinking baselayers? on 10/22/2012 15:21:35 MDT Print View

Thin wool works best for me, but sometimes when it's really hot I'll use a cotton/poly blend that works pretty well. Unfortunately I haven't found a magic stink-killing shirt yet.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: non stinking baselayers? on 10/22/2012 15:30:26 MDT Print View

There isn't a perfect material for baselayers out there. Poly is gross and starts to stink and wool is not durable. I wear cotton most of the time, even in cool weather. The shirt cools me down a little when I stop moving, but I can tolerate it. I carry a cotton shirt and a thin wool long sleeve which would go under my windshirt or rain jacket in windy/wet weather. I am usually able to dry out a slightly damp cotton shirt in the evening with my insulation layers on before I sleep. Or if I have a campfire, I can dry it out almost instantly.

If it gets torn up or dirty beyond cleaning, I can throw it away without much loss.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
thanks on 10/22/2012 17:10:09 MDT Print View

Quite so. I some 50/50 blend T's that I wear and they push the stink off for a bit but they end up smelling also and they are a bit thick what with the poly. I will have to look at Wal-Mart next time I am in there to see if they have some really thin cotton T's in a larger size and try them out. That coupled with trimming my arm pit hair should help out. I guess if my baselayer T ever gets too wet I can just take it off and layer with my R2, wind shirt and rain shell which should still keep me pretty good above freezing.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Cabela's on 10/22/2012 21:47:46 MDT Print View

Look into Cabela's odor fighting Ts and longies. They use the very latest carbon technology for hunters to help eliminate human odor.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Check out... on 10/22/2012 23:09:19 MDT Print View

Under Armour who sells some cotton-blended stuff that they at least claim addresses the stink and sweat wicking/drying issues. That said I just bought a Heat Gear super lightweight top for summer and it reminded me why I hate synthetic stuff. Went and bought some merino 150g stuff instead. Even if it wears out at least it's not synthetic. But yeah that's not for you!

Joseph Bianco

Locale: North East
I thought it was me! on 10/23/2012 05:58:17 MDT Print View

First hello this is my first post here. This is an interesting topic for me. Like most of you good folks, I wear the synthetic base layers for the obvious reasons. Even at home when working out I wear synthetic gym clothes on the treadmill etc. Gotta tell you after working out or hiking for a new hours, I smell like a donkey. My wife keeps saying it's me - i just stink when i sweat. I've tired a few things no underarm deodorant and lots of deodorant to no avail still smell like a donkey's ass. I had a suspicion it was the synthetic clothes but brushed it off. After reading this thread, I'm happy that you guys also stick. For me it's just nice to know it's not me and I can now tell my wife I need new gear to combat this awful smell. Only trick is how to extend the need from different base layers up to a new tent ;-)

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
silver on 10/23/2012 07:35:47 MDT Print View

I think between Verber and I we determined that if you use poly with about 8% silver thread it will not stink that much but I was never able to try this out as none of the stuff that comes like that fits me. So there is possibly hope for poly users.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: silver on 10/23/2012 09:14:58 MDT Print View

> 8% silver thread

Yes, I found that for me, the base layers I had with 8% silver did a pretty good job at keeping odor down. Alas, most of base layers with embedded silver are around 4% and they tend not to list % silver amounts. I found the treatments will less than 8% silver helped keep odor at bay for a day or so, but were not effective after a few days. I have tried really thin cotton and cotton/poly mixes. While better than the typically poly, they also got stinky after a few days. As other have observed, wool works pretty well. I often get a skin rash when wearing wool (even super fine merino) so I tend not to wear it, but there are trips I have worn a wool as a base. While the shirt did smell aren't a few days, it was much less than an typical poly or cotton shirt. Smell, well, a bit like a damp sheep. Not pleasant, but better than what I smell like after a few days.


Edited by verber on 10/23/2012 09:17:13 MDT.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
durable merino? on 10/23/2012 09:37:27 MDT Print View

I would agree with Mark's comments also. I can wear some merino for long periods of time with a reduced stink but my hesitations with merino are based upon its durability and the fact that it takes longer to dry than poly or cotton from my experience. If I could find some durable merino baselayers I would investigate them more but again from my experience the ones that are durable have poly mixed in or are too thick to be worn most of the year. Power Dry does work pretty well for reduced stink also.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Ibex wool or Arcteryx phase on 10/23/2012 11:29:14 MDT Print View

For me, Ibex wool base layers and the Arcteryx phase synthetic series seem to work the best at controlling stank.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
poly just for winter? on 10/23/2012 12:40:44 MDT Print View

I think I am going to relegate my two poly T's with Visa Endurance to the winter bin where keeping dry is more important than stinking.

I think I will try to use two of the thin cotton or poly blends shirts and just alternate them every day.

Ibex are nice base layers but really don't last either for their thing stuff. I really don't have to watch out for every branch that might snag it and tear a hole. Just the opposite with the dead bird stuff, $60 is way too much for a synth T.

Edited by bpeugh on 10/23/2012 12:44:15 MDT.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
There's a certain poly stank on 10/23/2012 20:08:09 MDT Print View

There's definitely a distinct poly stank that develops for me. It's kind of a musty old basement smell more than the classic grilled-onions-and-cabbage B.O. stink. I'm honestly starting to believe that poly base "wicking" layers is a huge scam that started back in the early 80's when a worldwide stockpile of no-longer-fashionable poly fabrics started to go unused.

In my experience there's not been a single aspect of poly/wicking clothing that's lived up to the hype: not the drying time, not the comfort, and not the "wicking". For me I'd rather stockpile a bunch of merino, even merino blends (in the case of socks) when the stuff goes on sale for 50% off each year and then just buy 2 articles of clothing for every 1 high-tech poly nonsense they'd like to charge you $60 for.

That said, depending on your size, and are blowing out their soon-to-be-discontinued Stoic line of clothes and gear. I just picked up a bunch of merino stuff that so far feels about 80-85% as nice as the Smartwool stuff I own. I've actually been pretty impressed on a couple of outtings in 70-80* weather with high humidity that my 250g mid-weight Smartwool longsleeve (with the sleeves pushed up a bit) kept me dry and comfortable. I would have expected to overheat a bit but nah, it was all good. Meanwhile my super-thin poly shirt stayed wet for 2 days, didn't get clean handwashing it, and was plenty stinky.

I dunno... I wish you luck though! Each person's body chemistry is totally different so YMMV....a lot.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: There's a certain poly stank on 10/24/2012 09:12:06 MDT Print View

While I agree that poly/wicking clothing has been over-hyped, we need to remember that those claims were typically in comparison the the cotton tee-shirt, not to a modern merino shirt. In the late 1970s / early 1980s almost no one wore wool next to skin, it was just too scratchy during the summer. More people would wear wool base in the winter, but I would often hear people complain about comfort. Back then most people I knew used a cotton Tee-shirt with a wool button up. Poly/wicking was a huge improvement over cotton when it comes to drying time, wicking, and for me, comfort.

Comparing poly/wicking to a good merino shirt the it's much more even. I would say merino -vs- poly is really a personal preference more than a clear winner / loser. I loved the BPL test from several years ago where they made and then reported experiences with a couple of shirts that were wool on one side, poly on the other. They found that poly has a slight edge with drying times and was more durable. In hot weather poly tended to be more air permeable which could make it more comfortable. I would add to that poly can provide more UV protection, and for many people a bit more skin comfort... merino is a huge improvement over the wool shirts of old, but numerous people still report various degrees of discomfort.


Edited by verber on 10/24/2012 09:16:40 MDT.

Gary Yee

Locale: NW Montana
non stinking baselayers on 10/24/2012 10:28:27 MDT Print View

The "newer" patagonia stuff is blended with 20-30% polyester and is more durable than the 100% merino stuff. It also retains a good amount of the stink control.

Craig Rowland
(craigr) - MLife

Locale: Pacific NW
Icebreaker on 10/24/2012 10:43:33 MDT Print View

Icebreaker Merino T's don't stink after continuous wear on the trail. They also dry very quickly next to the skin. I have been using the very thin merino version all season and in fact wear them almost every day for normal wear as well. Durability is OK so far for me, but I notice some small holes developing in the area where my pack belt would go. Could have been damage from brush, etc. though.

I only wear merino now for base layer insulation as well. I've found the Icebreaker or Woolpower brands to both wear very well. I think they perform much better than any synthetic product I've used for this purpose.

Edited by craigr on 10/24/2012 10:44:40 MDT.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Non Stinking Baselayers on 10/24/2012 15:33:32 MDT Print View

I have found the absolute best non-stinking base layer clothing....Rab Meco from England. It is expensive but I have found it to be very durable, breathable, and absolutely does not stink. I wore a t-shirt four days straight while hiking and it did not stink at all. It is 65% merino wool and 35% polyester treated with a carbon compound derived from coconut, hence the name "Meco". And it dries much more quickly than 100% merino. I hand wash the stuff in the evening and it is dry in the morning. If you can justify the cost, it is the best solution I have found. is the source in the U.S. that seems to stock the product the most.

Edited by taedawood on 10/24/2012 15:34:24 MDT.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Re: There's a certain poly stank on 10/24/2012 20:28:35 MDT Print View

Yeah it should be said I wasn't around during those uncomfortable scratchy years of wool. I was just a wee lad! But yeah you're totally right about everything mentioned. I do have a theory (that I intend to test next summer here in Texas) that my Under Armour Heat Gear shirt is better when the temps are 90+. I'd like to try a 125 or 150g weight Merino for comparison but I've definitely heard that stuff is so thin it's not meant for the stress of being under pack straps directly. So it might be an expensive test!

That said, yes, it's totally up to each person. Frankly I love merino acrylic blend socks. But don't let my hardcore wool-knitting girlfriend hear me say that. Acrylic is a four letter word for high end knitters. Ooooooh the wrath I caught when I bought an acrylic beanie because it was on sale for $10. But I digress.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Non Stinking Baselayers on 10/24/2012 20:33:22 MDT Print View

@Gerry - I have a Kuhl hoodie that's apparently made out of coffee beans that's supposed to have much the same properties. Come to think of it I haven't tested it out but it's certainly light enough to wear next to skin even if it has a full front zipper. I'll have to give it a shot and see if I can get it funky. I'm curious what people think of the biological poly (can you can them poly?) fabrics that are made out of recycled organic stuff like coconuts and coffee beans.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
oh well on 10/24/2012 20:58:09 MDT Print View

Yeah, I tried some of the Patagonia Merino 1 stuff they had with the poly blend. Still stunk.

Icebreaker stuff seems okay but their largest size is not big enough for me.

I have tried the coconut stuff from Patagonia on a poly shirt a few years ago, lasted for about 3 weeks and then died.

Since I am a tall person it is hard to find wool that fits me well. And cheaply at that. For the price it is just hard not to look at cheap poly and cotton at $5-10 a shirt that you don't have to worry about wearing while the wool usually has to be babied below 200g.