Forum Index » GEAR » Polypro reconsidered also, but in different ways


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just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Polypro reconsidered also, but in different ways on 04/11/2013 13:51:27 MDT Print View

A little background; being only 33 yrs old, polypro baselayers is a little before my time popularity wise. I didn't even really know about them until somewhat recently. At first i didn't consider them because of the horrid smell factor, but i got to thinking about other possible uses besides using them as a baselayer.

I've wondered about using it for midlayers, specifically in the context of cold and wet conditions. For an example, i was thinking of trying this--wearing a thin merino or merino poly/or acrylic blend for a baselayer, wearing a thinnish polypro "baselayer", which i've soaked in DWR, over the top, and then wearing say my Brooks LSD II windshirt as the last, outer layer in cold rainy conditions. I would probably attach a polypro hood to the polypro mid layer.

Has anyone tried this, or something similar to same for these kind of conditions? Polypro seems to have so many advantages for lightweight backpacking that it seems a shame to not use it. It's very light weight, extremely hydrophobic, very thermally non conductive, and while not as durable as nylon or even polyester it's still more durable than most natural fabrics--especially more than thinner merino wool.

Wearing the merino underneath should minimize the odor factor, by filtering some of the body oils, dead skin, etc.

Thoughts, experiences, opinions?

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Polypro reconsidered also, but in different ways on 04/11/2013 14:02:49 MDT Print View

I currently wear a thin polypro over my fishnet. Reduces air movement around the fishnet and dries quickly. Fishnet keeps the wet (I'm always wet) polypro off my skin so I don't get that chilling feeling from the polypro. A windbreaker tops things off.

If I'm cold or it is raining I insert a closed cell foam upper garment between the polypro and the windbreaker.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Re: Polypro reconsidered also, but in different ways on 04/11/2013 15:18:27 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback Daryl. A couple of questions if you don't mind. How stinky does the polypro get, and how fast does it get that way?

2nd, have you tried using it by itself, without foam, during cold and wet conditions, and if so, did it wet through?

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Poly Pro on 04/11/2013 15:29:33 MDT Print View

They sell a polypro that is fleece lined. These work great as mid layers. They are mainly sold cheap at like military surplus stores. I brought these up in another thread but did not realise it was fleece onthe inside. I used to have one of these when I was really young I used it mainly for hunting chukar in nevada. The mornings can be brutally cold and the afternoons can be blazing hot.

Polypro

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Poly Pro on 04/11/2013 15:55:48 MDT Print View

Funny enough Josh, i have a polypro shirt that looks JUST like that one, which i did get from military surplus store via ebay.

Fleece is not a specific fabric or fiber, but a style or characteristic though. That polypro shirt is all polypro, but they do a "fleece" making process on the inside. They do that to increase wicking action, to increase heat retention, and to increase softness/comfort. The only downside is that it will increase piling as well, and thus slightly weakens the structure of the fabric.

The term fleece originally applied to wool and other woolen natural fibers.

Btw, my shirt that looks exactly like the above one, i believe weighs 11 oz. Not bad for the thickness, tight outer weave, very high neck and partial zip features. I believe it would be too thick for the purpose i want to use it for as outlined earlier in this thread in my 1st post.

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Light on 04/11/2013 16:20:50 MDT Print View

Yeah mine was really light fom what I remember and really warm. The only issue I remember with it was that mine would stretch out and not go back unless washed. So it had a wierd fit. But I might take a trip to a local army surplus and pick one up for fun. post on here how awsome my 15 dollar fleece is and make you all jealous with your 200 dollar pattys....HAHAH

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
"Oh yeah well when I wuz in the Army..." on 04/11/2013 17:02:18 MDT Print View

Ok so I'm that guy where anything and everything can be a reference to when I was in the military. I'll own that.

I've used these polypros and I like them. They dry quickly, they are very warm, and I don't remember them smelling any worse than anything else I've ever used. After a few days in the field, we will all smell like butt flavored corn chips anyways so I don't see what the big deal is. Maybe I am just nose-deaf to my own funk?

The trick to get better mileage out of them is to wash them inside out and air dry them.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Polypro on 04/11/2013 17:22:53 MDT Print View

I have and use the ECWCS polypro (http://coldweatherclothing.ciehub.info/ECWCS.html ) for winter.

Mainly for base camp purposes (like Chaco ..brrr!), but the shirt also works well as a 'shirt-jac'. I was toying with the idea of using it this winter for skiing in this way, but never got around to it.

FWIW, for many years, I used lightweight polypro for my thru-hikes. Seemed to work OK. It is dirt cheap, too.

Edited by PaulMags on 04/11/2013 17:23:33 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Polypro reconsidered also, but in different ways on 04/11/2013 17:49:03 MDT Print View

Thin polypro against the skin really wicks (thinking Lifa from HH) but gets really smelly really quick. Then other companies came up with their own polyester base layers (Capilene, etc...) which cost more. The military went with polypro probably since it's cheaper (in the budget-cutting 1990's) and developed the thick polypro sweater to replace the old Vietnam-era wool one. It wasn't until recently (thinking about 5 years ago) when the military went with waffle-fleece, soft shells, etc.. in response to Afghanistan (had to deploy there to initially get the stuff).

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: "Oh yeah well when I wuz in the Army..." on 04/11/2013 20:36:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tip Ian.


Yep Paul, the one you mentioned seems to be the one i have as well. I'm looking to get some thinner ones. I'm curious about layering two thin ones rather than having one thick, heavier one. But i'm not interested in using them as baselayers.


HK, why do you think the military switched from the Polypro to the Poly, etc? Flammability or melting issues?


Thank you for the feedback everyone. So far it seems like no one has experimented with this specific idea of turning it into a sort of cold weather raingear?

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
polypro on 04/11/2013 21:05:40 MDT Print View

I have lots of old polypro underwear.

It is warmer than most polyester fabrics of equal weight
It is lighter than most polyester fabrics, except powerdry
I have never had a smell issue with polypro


It picks up lint, pet hair, fuzz horribly, cannot keep it clean
Surface pills badly
They lose their "snap back" ability and get loose and stretched out when they get old
Drying them in the dryer too hot will really damage them.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/11/2013 21:06:13 MDT.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: polypro on 04/11/2013 21:13:29 MDT Print View

Hi M.B., thanks for the info. Re: the last part of your post, kind of makes me wonder why more manufactures don't blend it with other fibers. For example, Polypro with some polyester, and/or a little spandex should help some of those issues. The only blend that i've heard about is a Merino and Polypro blend, but it seems pretty uncommon.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: "Oh yeah well when I wuz in the Army..." on 04/11/2013 21:16:52 MDT Print View

Justin: Yes, flammability issues. The wickiness was great, ... many bought aftermarket UA Heat-gear on their own dime, but everyone neglected to think about flame (didn't read about the Falklands problem).

I was thinking about the civilian Lifa polypro however. The stench was truly horrible, so I just used it for day trips in the snow pre-merino wool.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Re: polypro on 04/11/2013 21:17:26 MDT Print View

On a side note, i would love to see and test out some Polypro microfiber clothes. Anyone know if they even make this for clothes?

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Brain must be fried on 04/11/2013 21:30:28 MDT Print View

HK,

I don't remember the military ones stinking all that bad. At least they didn't smell as bad as I did in comparison lol! I'm glad that they've gone with a safer material though.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Polypro stink on 04/11/2013 21:39:59 MDT Print View

Ian: It may also be my oily skin, which becomes a buffet for bacteria - wrapped up for the little suckers like a polypro burrito. It was so bad on my Jansport Rockies 7000cu in+ monster pack at the time, I strapped a sun shower to the top and debated on making a cedar "grid" floor to carry as well. Same thing happened with the military version smell-wise.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: Brain must be fried on 04/11/2013 21:57:42 MDT Print View

Ian, i've heard/read that a lot actually, about the Polypro stinking quickly There seems to be direct relationship between the moisture regain properties of the different fibers and degree of stink or not.

The more hydrophobic, the more stinky in general. This "may" be because the oils, dirt, dead skin, and related micro organisms that feed on same (primarily bacteria and fungi) get trapped in-between and build up in the fibers, and it's hard to wash them out because they literally sort of repel the water off the surface, whereas natural and hydrophillic fibers attract the water close to the surfaces and the water can better wash out all that stuff which the micro-organisms love to feed off and proliferate on.

Polypro being THE most hydrophobic of the commonly used fibers and fabrics for clothing, will tend to have the worst problem with this unless treated in some way to prevent same. Followed by polyester, followed by acrylic, followed by nylon. Nylon seems to be the least innately stinky synthetic because it has the highest moisture regain property of the synthetics although should still be considered basically hydrophobic.

I have no idea if this is completely true or not, but it's what i've pieced together using holistic logic and listening to the experiences of others or myself with different fabrics and wondering the "whys" behind same.

But I guarantee you Ian, that if you did a longer term thru hike, and took say an untreated polypro baselayer and one merino wool baselayer and wore them equally as much at different times, there would be a HUGE difference in the stink factor of them at the end, or even just a just a week in. This is part of the reason of why i have no interest in using polypro as a baselayer. Now putting a layer of odor controlling fabric in between my body and the polypro, should help that out quite a bit--theoretically speaking at least--i have yet to test it out.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 04/11/2013 22:00:22 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
No argument on 04/11/2013 22:12:15 MDT Print View

I'm not promoting it I'm just saying that I didn't have those problems with it. I was stationed at Ft. Drum NY as a grunt and wearing it for 2-4 weeks without bathing wasn't unheard of. We smelled like holy hell. Wearing merino wool or cuben fiber onesies wouldn't have changed that. I'd wash them and they would smell fine until the next ftx.

I rarely wear anything more than a light base layer and maybe a shell for three seasons. I'm good to 30* in that set up when I'm moving. So far, the only outdoor activity I'm in to for the winter is alpine skiing and a recent return to snowshoeing. The civy poly pros I wear for that doesn't smell worse than I do and they're odor free after I wash them. The key thing being that I'm not wearing them for days on end.

I'm working on taking my backpacking to all four seasons and going to build a pulk sled in the off season. I'll have the summer to dial my winter gear in and I'm sure that will include merino wool over poly pros but tbc.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear) - M
Re: No argument on 04/11/2013 22:19:47 MDT Print View

I hear yah Ian, and i wasn't trying to argue, just trying to explain the possible whys behind common reports.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Dang you Justin! Why must you torment me and hurt my feelings?!?! Why!?!! on 04/11/2013 22:29:53 MDT Print View

No it's cool bruddah! I've been in the woods for a while but I'm way behind the power curve when it comes to gear. I appreciate your input.