When Base Layers Go Bad

Are you ashamed of your polypro collection? Try one of these three anti-funk fabric solutions.

Aug 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Wash that beloved technical tee all you want and you still might catch a whiff of something nasty. That's because bacteria tend to marinate in synthetic fabrics, rendering them rank after a season or so of heavy use. Fortunately, with several fume-fighting fabrics now on the market, there's no need to retire your base layers each year. The next time you hit the local gear shop, keep the following antimicrobial options in mind.

Wool: The original adventure fabric is huge again. Thanks to its natural sweat-absorbing properties, merino doesn't invite odor-breeding bacteria to hang around like yesterday's skivvies. Add the fact that this superfine wool is sustainable, bio-degradable, and easy on the skin and you've got good reason to pick up pieces from Ibex, Icebreaker, or SmartWool. Silver Ions: Mountain Hardwear is one of a number of apparel companies stitching athletic duds out of VisaEndurance—a polyester fabric dotted with surface-bonded silver ions. Bacteria in your sweat absorb the silver, which keeps the little buggers from reproducing and, frankly, reeking. Wash at will: The metallic ions are coated in ceramic to better survive the spin cycle. Additives: Sierra Designs takes a bath to keep your gear smelling sweet. Or, at least, its base layers do. During the dying process, the Louisville, Colorado-based gear maker saturates its fabric with Ultra-Fresh , an antibacterial solution based on Triclosan—the same stuff found in some Dial soap products. Result? An evenly distributed and nearly permanent anti-nasty force field.

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