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High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt?
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(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 09/14/2013 23:41:24 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/23/2015 10:09:47 MDT.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
Montura on 09/15/2013 04:53:17 MDT Print View

Our summers and then typhoon season are also very (very) warm. Combined with the high humidity it can be quite challenging to do more high output trekking.
I can't stand wool. I've tried a lot of Merino wool garments but I guess my skin and wool are just not good friends.

My thinnest/coolest shirt up till recently has always been Capilene 1, but I do think it starts to stink pretty quickly. After one/two seasons I have to throw it out (bear in mind this is with weekly hikes resulting in drenched shirts after one hour into a 6~10 hour hike).

I bought a long sleeve Montura Run Zip Maglia shirt before this summer and I'm very impressed. It is thinner than Capilene 1, more breathable, cooler, and has a 1/2 zip to ventilate more. It has UPF50 and doesn't stink as much either. It was expensive but I'm going to buy another one very soon because it is all I ever hike in from May to October.

Might be interesting to check out.

Edited by jakuchu on 09/15/2013 07:01:45 MDT.

dry on 09/15/2013 10:06:28 MDT Print View

Simply doesnt bother me.
You dont tend to smell yourself really.

I prefer the lightest weight synthetic I can find. Fastest drying and least moisture absorption is more important to me, than least smelly. Especially in humid SE where things dont dry very fast, if at all.

In NM or CO, anything is totally dry in 30 min, and the more water it holds, the cooler it feels while drying. Out there you dont even need short sleeves, can wear long sleeves for sun protection and be comfortable even on hottest days due to low humidity.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
My Options on 09/15/2013 10:21:14 MDT Print View

My two go to shirts for hot weather are a patagonia silckweight merino and a patagonia air flow t-shirt. The air flow might be more in line with what you are looking for ... super breathable and dries quick. It is pretty good for stink for a poly shirt.

THe merino is a wool poly blend which allows for a thiner cooler fabric then pure wool. I haven't had an issue with itch.

I also have a mountain hardware poly t shirts I got off steep and cheap that has a bike jersey style chest vent which works pretty well.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/15/2013 13:45:48 MDT Print View

IMO, there's a time and a place for each of the options. I like my OR Echo T shirts and my Icebreaker 150s enough that I wear 'em sometimes even when I'm not on the trail (as cycling base layers or even just around the house or around town), but for the hot,dry conditions you describe, my number one would be light, tightly woven cotton.

It won't insulate when wet, but that's not what I brought it to do (it can even be considered a virtue, in hot, dry conditions). Here's what it is:

Cheaper than wool or the really good poly.
Lighter, cooler, faster-drying and easier to launder than 150 wool.
Much less stinky than any synthetic.
More durable than wool or the really light poly that I might choose for its other virtues.


Bill S.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/15/2013 18:58:24 MDT Print View

A percentage of folks are recommending synthetics on here, but what i don't understand is why all the emphasis on polyester when nylon is in many ways more suited to hot backpacking especially for those trying to be as light as possible?

It's lighter, stronger/more durable, less stinky, more innately absorptive than polyester but still dries very quickly, and more thermally conductive (less heat retaining) than polyester.

All these traits combined make it significantly better than polyester for hotter weather backpacking. The only downsides to it, is that it's less UV resistant/tolerant than polyester, but in typical use it will still last quite a number of seasons on average (unlike most merino).

I think polyester is so common in the tech wear world simply because it's really cheap and plentiful. A lot of polyester comes from recycled PET bottles, and companies make a profit killing off the stuff and hence why they market and push it more.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/15/2013 19:18:35 MDT Print View

I started this thread a couple weeks ago.

I tried Patagonia, Icebreaker, and Minus 33. Patagonia and Icebreaker were too tight and I screwed up and ordered too heavy of a Minus 33 shirt which otherwise fit fine. I could of ordered a lighter weight Minus 33 but David Thomas suggested Duluth Trading Company:

This shirt is perfect for me. My Reebok shirt would start to smell like road kill after day one. I wore the Duluth shirt for a few days with no odor problems. It fits like a normal T shirt but it's longer than most which I appreciate since I'm 6'3".

I was hiking in the mountains in 85* weather and sweating like a pig. I rinsed the salt off of it on day 2 of my hike, wrung it out the best I could, and just threw it back on. It was perfectly dry less than a mile down the trail.

Due to the cost, no odor, and fit, this has become my go-to T-shirt for backpacking. I have to wear body armor at work where odor management is important as well. I like this shirt enough that I'm going to order several more for work.

Happy hunting.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/15/2013 19:56:47 MDT Print View

I have a few 100% supplex nylon shirts and several 80% nylon/20% poly shirts, and I'm not sure I'm convinced nylon is the key to smelling nice. (It also doesn't seem to breathe as well.)

With that said, it'd be interested to give some lightweight nylon a try. Sources for nylon t shirts? They don't seem to be all that common, for some reason.

Bill S.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/15/2013 20:29:46 MDT Print View

I don't think they "smell nice" by a long shot. Synthetic is synthetic and it all gets stinky unless it's specially treated not to. All i was saying is that nylon is less innately stinky than polyester if both are untreated because of the difference in hydrophobic levels. I actually recommend and prefer Linen over nylon, even for more humid conditions.

As the moisture regain properties get lower, the stink is going to go up. This is why polypro, which is the most extremely hydrophobic is so well known for it's quick and bad stink development. Polyester follows after polypro, acrylic follows after polyester, and nylon follows after acrylic. Compared to polypro and polyester, nylon is significantly more moisture absorptive, but still basically being hydrophobic compared to natural fibers it dries out fast enough--plus it's so strong and durable, you can make it thinner which further decreases drying time.

Check out Ebay for nylon shirts.

Breathing, in the case of synthetics which all are basically hydrophobic, has little to do with the material itself, but with the weave patterns and tightness used. Historically, nylon has often been used in a more tight weaved way (windshirts, bugshirts, rain repellent jackets, etc), hence if it's tight weaved it will be less breathable. However, if you compared a poly shirt with a nylon shirt that have a very similar weave with similar sized fibers being used, there will be NO difference in "breathability". But the nylon shirt WILL be a bit cooler because it's more thermally conductive.

Natural fibers are known to breathe better than synthetics simply because they actually absorb moisture considerably and in the case of cellulose based fibers they tend to be quite thermally conductive (making them feel cooler on the skin). But certain natural fibers, like cotton, can easily get overwhelmed with moisture and thus lose breathability because the fibers swell up with the moisture and it creates a layer of wetness on the skin. On the other hand, its much harder to so overwhelm something like pure Linen.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Righteous. on 09/16/2013 19:37:06 MDT Print View

Righteous post, Justin. Good info. I guess I won't try to improve my stink problem by switching to polypro.

My burning question is, how good are these "treated" synthetics? Because if a treated synthetic actually worked, I'd buy it.

Edited by Bolster on 09/16/2013 19:38:34 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: High-heat, Low-stink options for Tee Shirt? on 09/16/2013 19:42:07 MDT Print View

I've become an instant fan of the Rohan ultra silver shirt (in my case, the long sleeve version, as I never hike in short sleeves) that Colin Krusor talked about in a different thread. It's the lightest, softest shirt I've ever had on (and the corresponding boxers the softest underwear I've ever worn), and yet they seem quite durable. Dry fast. And the one I wore for two days of backpacking, including plenty of sweating, did not smell a bit after the second day.

Expensive, but a wonderful shirt so far.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Righteous. on 09/16/2013 20:20:36 MDT Print View

Thanks Delmar, i think.

"My burning question is, how good are these "treated" synthetics? Because if a treated synthetic actually worked, I'd buy it."

I don't really know, as i have a lack of experience with treated synthetics comparatively. As far as hearing things and reading, what i've heard is that they really vary from product to product. I've heard a lot of treated stuff eventually will get overwhelmed on a truly long trip, or the properties will eventually wear out over time, use, washing, etc unlike say merino or linen.

Again, i don't know for sure, but if i was doing a long thru hike, i wouldn't primarily rely on any synthetic baselayers--have a lightweight synthetic backup yeah, but not my primary.

Some folks might scoff at even caring at all about stink, etc, but personally, it's not so much the stink itself that's the issue, it's the hygiene aspect. Bad stink indicates build up of fungus and bacterias that are un-hygienic in nature. Having once had a chronic jock itch infection, i can tell you it's not fun especially not when you are on a long backpacking trip. Well, a truly hygienic fabric on your skin, like merino or linen, will go a long way in helping to avoid skin issues like that. It's a nice side benefit though, that it won't stink to high heaven.

Anyways, i think i mentioned it earlier, but with my limited experience so far, i've found dri release to be decent. Not as good as high percentage merino or linen in long term stink control, but pretty decent especially for shorter trips and the great thing is that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

You can get a good dri-release T-shirt on STP for like 10 dollars with one of their coupons, it's the Terramar brand one. That's the one i have, in color white (which unfortunately they don't have any more of).

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
inexpensive option on 09/16/2013 21:28:00 MDT Print View

All these suggestions for expensive Ibex, Smartwool or Patagucci wool is great.... but you're forgetting a valuable resource. the Thrift Store. (or eBay)

You can find a very nice wool long sleeve shirt at the Thrift store or eBay. Generally they've been washed a few times and are a little less scratchy. If you want a short sleeve shirt, then cut the sleeves off. Low cost entry to the sophisticated world of wool.

I'd recommend Pendleton shirts, they are made in USA and are fantastic quality. Woolrich are great, but the ones I've found are tend to be thicker and heavier than the Pendleton. I've scored a couple for $10-$20 depending on size/condition/desirable colors. I'll buy a medium if I plan to cur the sleeves off (i am thin with long arms). I also pick the less popular "old man pattern" of browns/tan plaid that are usually cheaper.

Unbutton to vent, cut off the bottom button if you don't need it, modify your $12 shirt to suit your needs, makes a great pot holder too... and it keeps the stink under control.

just Justin Whitson
Re: inexpensive option on 09/16/2013 21:39:21 MDT Print View

Great Advice J Her. That's where the huge majority of my merino stuff came from. Non sports-wear thrift store stuff.

Just keep in mind if you go that route, chances are you will be dealing with untreated merino, which WILL shrink and intensely so if you don't wash it and dry it right. Plus, it's rare ime to find this kind of merino stuff that's thin enough to be appropriate for hot weather backpacking, which is what the OP was specifically asking about. I can't even wear the 165 Rab MeCo stuff i have until it starts getting to the low 50's at the least.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: inexpensive option on 09/16/2013 21:44:08 MDT Print View

I've only ever found wool sweaters or wool flannels at thrift stores. I've never, ever seen a thin wool shirt that was suitable for warm weather.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
A few synthetics on 09/17/2013 02:58:47 MDT Print View

+1 to Doug on the Rohan Ultra Silver. I wish the top came in other colours than black, though, as it's not the best in the sun.
Rohan uses polygiene. Rab has also started using it this year for its Aeon T-shirts (also some of the Polartec tops as well). They're a little heavier then the Rohan (110g vs 95g) but they come with a bigger choice of colours. There are still some older ones around from before they started using polygiene so be careful if you buy from the internet.
I've found that the Arcteryx Phase SL and Motus tops are pretty good at not smelling too. The weave seems more open than the Rab and Rohan, which I like when it's hot. They seem to let air through a little better.

Thomas Rayl
(trayl) - MLife

Locale: SE Tx
High-head, Low-stink options on 09/17/2013 14:25:12 MDT Print View

For a different approach to the problem, look up "Thai deodorant stone". (I got mine on Mine are about 2-inch cubes of an unpronounceable salt which one merely dampens and rubs in/on the offending areas of the body (pits). Whatever this stuff is, it apparently totally nukes the bacteria resulting in *NO* B.O. and *NO* perfumy artificial smell. A 2-inch cube will last months/years and it's the cheapest option I've found. Cut/break it down to smaller piece(s) for UL packing. (NOTE: The TSA reaction to my "that's my deodorant" explanation was priceless!)