Tag Archives: merino wool

Icebreaker Clothing – Unbreakable Outdoor Gear

Sweaty Guy

Disclaimer: Some, ok 99.8% of you, will consider the events that follow positively gross, but that’s what created the buzz for us and made it worth risking a nasty untreatable skin disease.:)). WARNING DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

Icebreaker clothing lays claim to being thin and made from natural fibers which makes it warm in cold weather, cool in warm weather, light, breathable, easy care, no stink and no itch.  Having worn Icebreaker merino wool in Alaska for 10 days I can attest to all of the above however I was curious just how far the limits could be pushed so I rounded up three co-workers and put it to the test.

Four testosterone-rich Canadian guys sharing one shirt for three weeks to see if they could bring Icebreakers outdoor gear to its knees.   We had two very simple rules as follows: 1/ each activity had to produce copious amounts of sweat   2/ no washes, rinses or application of good smelling products were permitted during the challenge.

Our intense sweat-filled activities over the three weeks are listed below:

  • 9 8  km runs each @ 90 degrees F plus
  • 3 1.5 hour hot yoga sessions @ 109 degrees F
  • 36 holes of golf @ 95 degrees F
  • 1 1.5 hour cycle ride at 93 degrees F

To give you some idea of what we threw at this shirt, the average male sweats out one liter per hour of activity so this shirt sucked up and spit out approximately 24 liters of man juice from four different guys over a three week period.  I KNOW YUCK.

Knowing guys and gals have a very different take on what passes the smell test I made my very “hyper-sensitive to unclean” wife the judge.  When handed the shirt at the end of the three weeks for the final verdict the best criticism she could come up with was to say it didn’t have that fresh out of the laundry smell.  I will give her that much but what about that nasty don’t come near me smell  of body odor?   Definitely no body odor smell were her final words.  Actually her finals words were, “It’s still gross”.

May be so but for anyone who’s active this little test should serve to reassure you that whatever activity you’re involved for whatever length of time if you’re wearing Icebreaker merino wool you won’t finish up smelling like a barn yard animal in the heat of summer.

For photographers specifically the results of this challenge should bring a huge smile to your face as we often travel for weeks at a time to remote areas that have small plane weight restrictions and no access to laundry facilities.  When it comes to photography clothing nothing else can match Icebreaker merino wool.  With varying 150, 200, 260, 320 weights available this makes layering for a variety of temperatures possible without having to carry more than 3-4 pieces of photography clothing for your entire trip.  When Icebreaker clothing is layered together they lock together like a single garment with air being trapped in between each fine layer to ramp up the warmth.  So a few tops and bottoms of varying weights and you’re all set for a week or a month.  Icebreaker has a very nice illustration of the merino weights and layering process on the Icebreaker clothing website.

If you want to purchase Icebreaker Outdoor Gear you may go direct to the  “Icebreaker Store”   (Choose the country you reside in from the  drop down menu top left to shop in your preferred currency)

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Body Odor No More – So What Is Merino Wool and How Does It Work?

Picture of man with Stinky ShirtIf you’ve got a friend who has a problem with body odor keep reading.  Ever since I wore the Icebreaker merino wool base layers in Alaska for eight days straight under heavy sweat conditions with “no stink” I have had a ton of questions on the science behind it and a few skeptics who still don’t believe it.

So in this post I will try to unravel the mystery.  First off  it is important to note that sweat itself has no odor, if it remains on the skin in time bacteria develops and that is what creates unpleasant body odor.   Yes sorry folks you still need to shower.  But why does merino wool succeed in eliminating body odor smell on the clothing itself where synthetics and other materials fail?  The first plus for merino wool in reducing the opportunity for body odor to generate is that it is more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and evaporating it into the air.  Merino wool is  renowned for this wicking ability however what I find really amazing is that even though you are sweating heavily the clothing still feels dry to the touch.

That’s because merino wool has a much greater capacity than other fibers to absorb moisture. In fact, it can absorb 35% of its own weight in liquid. The moisture is bound within the structure, and so is not available to microbes which cause body odor.  Merino wool fibers are scaly and studies  have shown that bacteria are more attracted to the smooth, positively charged surface of a synthetic fiber than the scaly surface of a merino fiber which carries no charge thus bacteria are less likely to penetrate it.

So how good is merino wool at curbing the smell and when does it break?  Sir Peter Blake, a legendary New Zealand yachtsman wore Icebreaker merino wool clothing for 40 days and 40 nights while sailing around the globe without it getting whiffy.  One mans testimony is fine for most but I decided to take it a step further and take it til it breaks.

I’ve enrolled a group of crazy Canadians to take the Icebreaker “No Stink” Challenge.  Big thanks to Icebreaker for providing the test garment, just in case it explodes:))


In a nutshell there’s one shirt and many participants.  Each person will subject the shirt to a series of events that under normal circumstance would generate “mucho stinko” in any other garment.  When they are done they pass the shirt to the next participant and so on.  Did I mention no washing in between!!!  The event launched August 28th where I took it for two days worth of trail runnings.  At last report it had done 36 holes of golf and was holding up just fine.  I will have a full report for you when we break it, whenever that is.

If you can’t wait for the results and want to buy now go to the “Icebreaker Store” You may choose the country you reside in from a drop down menu at the top left of the site so that you may shop in your currency.


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Icebreaker Merino Wool Base Layers – So What’s The Big Stink?

Icebreaker No Stink Clothing



Already know about Icebreaker and want to buy go to the “Icebreaker Store”  You may choose the country you reside in from a drop down menu at the top left of the site so that you  may shop in your currency.

For the rest of you “What’s the big stink all about you ask?”  This expression may very well be about to change forever to something more like “Where’s the big stink”.  Move over synthetics and make way for Icebreaker Merino wool.  What if I told you I’d found a light, breathable, wicking garment?  You’d say been there, done that, already own the t-shirt.  Hey let me finish, what if I then said that same garment kept you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather?  Starting to get interesting says you but then I come at you with the Pièce de résistance, what if you could wear that Merino Base Layer for 40 days without washing it and it wouldn’t smell?  Seriously, 40 days and no smell and let’s throw in no itch just to top it all off.

Like you I was skeptical, so before my Alaskan Bear tour I wore an Icebreaker Men’s Bodyfit 150 for five days around my cottage in sweltering temperatures to test things out.  Let me just say, one day in my synthetics and you wouldn’t want to be within three city blocks of me but after five days in the Icebreaker Merino Base Layer still no smell.  I took that little test on the road while out on an Alaskan Bear Photography Tour August 2012 and wore the same Merino shirt for ten days and once again no smell and this after heavy trekking and sweating daily.  I can also attest to the warm in cool weather and cool in warm weather attributes along with breathable and no itch as Alaska threw all kinds of weather at us.  I also layered with an Icebreaker Men’s Bodyfit 260 and Icebreaker Men’s 200 Leggings for additional warmth on the really cold days.

I loaned out one of my Men’s Bodyfit 150 merino wool base layer tops to Buck Wilde, my bear guide in Alaska, and he liked it so much that I left him with a 150 and 200 as a thank you for the most memorable grizzly bear experience of my life, pictures can be seen at COOLwildlife Coastal Bear Pictures.  He was going camping with the bears in Hallo Bay for two months after my tour so I figured he could put them to good use.  I will be touching base with Buck in October to see how 40 plus days stands up to the no stink test.

Icebreaker base layers are measured for warmth by a numbering system.  The 150 is the lightest weight moving up to 200, 260, 380, etc. each one providing more warmth as the numbers get higher and you can layer as required so it’s really easy to build out a layered system with just three  pieces.  Perfect for those that wish to travel light and be prepared for extreme weather conditions.

For the outdoor adventurer, athletic folks Icebreaker clothing is like sex on a stick.  If you’re thinking you need to rush out and buy a full set of tops and bottoms in varying weights you’d be right.  Having said that it just doesn’t seem fair that this new technology development is hoarded by adventurers, so I got to thinking what the other possible applications for this clothing might be just to be more inclusive.  Here are a few every day ideas just to get you thinking:

  • hockey base layer that can stay in duffle bag for the entire season (gross but doable)
  • single guy can do laundry every six months, but only if he wants to and is not actively dating
  • cheating scoundrel of a husband – no perfume smell on clothes (other stupidity at your own risk)
  • smokers who claim to have quit can now get away with a mint and crossed fingers, no more smelly clothing

and the list goes on.  Spend three hours at a bar with friends and a few pitchers of beer and I am sure you could come up with two pages of fun and practical uses for this stuff.  And feel free to spill beer all down the front of yourself cause it won’t smell in the morning.  How’s that for putting an end to the next day nagging about your drinking habits, you’re free and clear my friends.:))

If you want to see the entire Icebreaker collection it’s best to shop directly at the Icebreaker store. Remember to choose the country you reside in from a drop down menu at the top left of the site so that you  may shop in your preferred currency.  Suffice it say I will never buy synthetics or cotton again, for my money Icebreaker Merino Wool is the only way to go.  I now own a complete collection of merino underwear, merino t-shirts, merino base layers and athletic clothing for running, golf, etc.  I’ve never been cooler, happier and smelling so good in all my life.

Hope you enjoy too!!!


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