Jul 25, 2006 at 9:45 pm #1219107
Companion forum thread to:Jul 26, 2006 at 5:42 am #1359928
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
not sur what to make of the results. it appears that the increased cost of a wool base layer yields a garment that does not offend the olfactories.
i thought there was going to be a slam dunk result, but it appears that in the end, synthetics have the advantage in high humidity and in warm tempuratures.
with that said, i might get a wool base layer shirt just to avoid smelling like funk. you know it’s bad when you can still smell yourself in 10mph winds.
-SteveJul 26, 2006 at 12:32 pm #1359958
First off, great test. I have one comment, especially about the SmartWool products. They do not make shirts in a light enough color, the albedo of a base layer plays a *huge* role in warm weather comfort. The fact that SmartWool makes a “microweight” crew that only comes in relatively dark colors is really silly. If you are hiking in the sun white, yellow or very light tan should be the only color you wear, but SmartWool refuses to make anything like this. The “clown” shirt at least appears to have realtively similarly toned halves, but it is worth noting that small changes in albedo can have a huge impact it hot weather comfort!
Great job!Jul 26, 2006 at 12:53 pm #1359959
The fact that SmartWool makes a “microweight” crew that only comes in relatively dark colors is really silly. If you are hiking in the sun white, yellow or very light tan should be the only color you wear, but SmartWool refuses to make anything like this.
I avoided buying a Smartwoool shirt for a long time for exactly this reason. A few weeks ago I was in a discount store and found a Smartwool Moto Tee in “ash” (very light, off-white color). As soon as I tried it on I realized why Smartwool doesn’t make more shirts in very light colors. It was one of the most transparent t-shirts I’ve ever worn.
I recently ordered the Smartwool Swoop Tee from Campmor ($40 right now) in two reasonably light colors. Both colors are lighter than the Microweight tee colors that I’ve seen, but there’s barely any translucency, especially for the gray one.Jul 26, 2006 at 12:59 pm #1359960
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
“In torrentially wet environments like the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest or New Zealand’s South Island, the lightest synthetic base layer like Capilene would be the preferred choice. Low water absorption and quick drying times are the major reasons.”
I don’t know about New Zealand, but the Pacific Northwest rarely gets “torrential” rains. The significant weather is the cloud cover and that has a real impact on wilderness travel. It does rain– it can drizzle non-stop for weeks, but large thundershowers where inches of rain fall in a short period of time are rare. So, with the dampness and less sunlight, if you get wet, drying out is a challenge. You won’t find me using down west of the Cascades. I do prefer the lighter synthetics for a base layer– Patagonia Capilene and GoLite C-thru work well for me. Having base layers that will dry while wearing them can be a life-saver.Jul 26, 2006 at 2:17 pm #1359963
Wow, what a great article! I agree with Ken’s comment on color. I wonder if the bias toward dark colors by Smartwool is a reflection of the stereotype that wool is only good in the cold. Despite the fact that they state otherwise on their site. They apparently are not immune to the stereotype. Ibex does a little better job of this, but their base layers are also predominately dark. Retailers are particularly bad at this, to my benefit. Wool always goes on sale before spring. My new favorite garment for hiking, the Shadow’s Hoody, comes in a lighter color. I’ve used it comfortably up to 78° F with the zipper and hood down, and the sleeves up. This article reinforces my experience that wool is great in warm weather. Stretching out the benefits of evaporative cooling can be a good thing.
I suspect the lanolin content of wool has dropped as wool is processed more. Washing wool in the washing machine with detergent doesn’t help either. Part of what makes wool work for sheep is lanolin. I wonder what effect adding lanolin back into the wool would have? Would it make it more resistant to moisture, or would that just mess with it’s ability to wick? Would it be beneficial to add lanolin in the winter and wash it out in the summer?
One further comment on stink. Not only do synthetics get smelly faster but at some point it is almost impossible to get rid of the smell. After years of wearing Smartwool socks every day, they have not had this problem. My Ibex wool polo shirts, that I wear every day in the summer, don’t seem to get pit stains or smell either.
Do you guys have any comments on the durability of wool vs synthetic? Did both sides of the clown shirts wear the same? My wool briefs will definitely outlast my cotton briefs.Jul 26, 2006 at 3:23 pm #1359969
One of the things I like about many of Ibex’s wool garments are the range of unusual colours(sometimes light) they come in. My favorite all around wool shirt is an Ibex Pacifico L/S (disc.) —-deep zip front and thumbholes. It’s in yellow—light and bright. But, I’m eyeing a Shadow hoody.
My only real complaint about Merino Wool is it’s durability. When wet, wool is very fragile. I once had a wool baselayer drying on the rocks on a mtneering trip. A gust of wind took it, stripping off the weigh-down rocks and dragged along a rocky bench. It’s now an ex-baselayer—-totally shreaded. A capilene shirt that went on a similar trip was totally unscathed.Jul 26, 2006 at 5:30 pm #1359975
What effect is there on the two fabrics when permethrin is applied?Jul 26, 2006 at 9:39 pm #1359986
Ooooooo….the shadow hoody! I’ve been wanting to get my grubby hands on one for some time. It seems like the perfect base layer for the cooler months in my neck of the woods but the price is pretty steep. I’m hoping to find it on sale at some point so that I can team it up with my micropuff vest.Jul 26, 2006 at 10:09 pm #1359988
I’ve used Permethrin multiple times on both my Merino Wool and Capilene baselayers, outer shirts, and socks w/ no apparent deteriation of the fabrics.
two thumbs way up.Jul 26, 2006 at 10:22 pm #1359991
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Two of my partners on a recent trek to the Arctic took a Shadow hoody and loved it. I took took the lighter (microweight) Spectrum Hoody, which is for girls.
As expected, my XL Spectrum Hoody (I’m usually an “M” in men’s!) was, how shall we say, fashionable enough to show my hairy navel, so I hacked the bottom off of another merino shirt and sewed it to the hoody to extend its length. I resewed the hood so it had a more balaclava like feel, and I added (to the existing thumbcuffs) fold-over merino pajama mitts. The result was a hacked together garment that you’ll have to pull off my dead body! I love it. I didn’t take hat or gloves to the Arctic, neither did one of the other guys who wore a Shadow.
Just a great place to start for an all-purpose base layer.
Here’s a picture of Roman and Jason, my partners, sporting their Shadows.Jul 26, 2006 at 11:19 pm #1359994
speaking of permithren…
doesn’t darkly colored clothing attract the mosquitos moreso than light colors?Jul 27, 2006 at 7:11 am #1360002
The one modification I made to my Shadow was to remove the stripes on the sleeves. They serve no purpose other than fashion. They only weighed 0.2 oz, but they would just be something extra to dry if they got wet. I plan on writing a review as soon as I have been out in it more.Jul 27, 2006 at 4:10 pm #1360028
How does the new Capilene fare in the odor department after being washed? I usually wash my base layers after a few uses and I’ve noticed that some (especially an older Capilene shirt and a very old polypropylene shirt) still smell after coming out of the wash, or will begin smelling during use much sooner than when they were new. Have the newer fabrics improved in this regard?Jul 27, 2006 at 4:35 pm #1360029
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Who manufactures the Shadow hoody? I checked Patagonia and came up empty handed.Jul 27, 2006 at 4:37 pm #1360030
Smartwool.Jul 27, 2006 at 4:55 pm #1360031
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Thanks Eric!Jul 30, 2006 at 1:36 am #1360118
@waterloggedwelliesLocale: United Kingdom
A really good article and one that also took time and effort to put together, thanks!
I was looking at the Cambia Short Sleeve Tshirt by Paramo, link below. They are touting this as a ‘Two in One’ shirt. Wear it one way and it appranetly holds water against the skin to aid rapid cooling in hot weather with the smooth face of the fabric reducing the pooling of perspiration to eliminate cold spots after exercise.- yet still wicks. Turn it inside out and the honeycombed face of the fabric provides ‘dry’ comfort in cooler conditions.
Is this a practical shirt which ‘Works’ when worn either way or is it just manufacturers hype? After all, I could turn my underwear inside out and halve the underwear I take on the trail and claim they were a two in one garment! :-) (For the record – I don’t do that!!!)
I was wondering if anyone had any experience of this using this top. I searched the site but could’nt come up with anything.Jul 31, 2006 at 4:30 pm #1360203
Kevin, I was wondering whether the Permethrin changed the performance of the fabrics in any discernable way. For example, does the merino wool dry quicker, breath less, etc.?Aug 1, 2006 at 3:34 pm #1360241
@jimbluzLocale: Pacific NW
I have had poor results from this product having had the first pair develop a hole in the toe after 27 miles of hiking, and the second pair experienced the same thing after only 10 miles. I am using them with Salomon Tech Amphibians and my toenails are properly trimmed. I emailed Smartwool about this but have as yet received no reply. Has anyone else tried these socks?Aug 1, 2006 at 5:43 pm #1360246
Just got my hoody in the mail direct from Smartwool (fast). Driftwood (a light gray) w/ red trim. Men’s large is 12.5 oz. on the nose before cutting off tags and such. I like the fit—-hood is snug but comfy. It is in a lighter, mediumweight wool—I think SW calls it versawear.
Ideally, I wish that Smartwool offered this w/ a microweight body and arms and a versawear weight hood— that would be absolutely perfect for a primary 3 season layer. As it stands this is perfect for shoulder seasons in the Cascades and Sierra but a bit warm (for me) for most high Summer use.Aug 1, 2006 at 11:19 pm #1360268
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Kevin ya gotta switch hit if you want a microweight hoody.
Smartwool is making a microweight hoody for women, the Spectrum. See OR dispatches from the last show. I took a prototype to Alaska with me, but I had to sew a longer waist hem on it to make it man-belly-compatible. They may end up doing it in lightweight when it finally hits the market.
RyanAug 2, 2006 at 12:22 am #1360272
Your hack of the femme hoody was clever but my very long torso would require an awful lot of add’l material! Plus SW’s women’s sizing would have to go up to XL if not XXL for me to do something similar. You more gracile folk have it good—smaller clothing, less weight, etc., etc.
What I’m going to do in the LW vein is sew a hood to my Ibex Pacifica, using material from an old merino shirt of mine. The color combo is guarenteed to be atrocious.Aug 2, 2006 at 1:09 pm #1360300
James, I have not used the liners, but it do wear the Smartwool ultralight cycling socks every day during the spring, summer, and fall, along with Salomon Tech Amphibians. Over the course of 2 years they have yet to show any wear. My cycling sock are very thin. If yours are wearing out that fast they must be remarkably thin or defective. Is it the seam or the fabric that is wearing through?Aug 4, 2006 at 8:12 pm #1360490
@stubilbyLocale: New Zealand
Great article, nice to see solid measured numerical results.
The permethrin works well on merino. I haven’t noticed any change in performance or feel of the fabric.
The icebreaker skin weight merino is quite a lot more fragile than any of the synthetics. I manage to put holes in it after a few trips, but sometimes it is still worthwhile for its non-stink properties.
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