I have a high-quality baselayer for skiing already—anyone who has watched skiing on TV would recognize the brand. It’s made of synthetic fiber, and it works quite well as far as wicking moisture and insulating when wet are concerned. There’s just one problem: it stinks to high heaven with the slightest bit of sweat. If it’s not laundered within hours of use, the stink may not come out in one washing. In the past I’ve pulled it out of the clean clothes and wondered how something could make it through Tide and Clorox 2 and still smell like that.
My hope was that the Smartwool baselayer would suffer the sweaty rigors of backcountry skiing a bit better. I wore it on a 4.5 hour tour in Little Cottonwood on Saturday, and I was super comfortable all day.
It’s 100% merino wool, and I’m curious as to how Smartwool spins it’s yarn to be soft and comfortable with no itchiness as well as elastic enough to be form-fitting without binding. It also breathes amazingly well—much better than the synthetic stuff I’ve used previously—while still being at least as warm. At the end of a long tour, I’m accustomed to my baselayer being a bit soggy, but that was not the case on Saturday. Who knew spinning wool into yarn could be taken to such a high level?
When I got home, I took it off and threw it in the dirty clothes.
Then on Sunday morning, I did the unthinkable. As I went in my closet to get dressed before taking the kids skiing*, I decided to put my new baselayer to a real test—two days of use with no washing. I picked it up out of the dirty clothes and gave it a sniff. It wasn’t stinky. It didn’t feel crusty, either, so I pulled it on. The kids and I skied all day, and I was just as comfortable as I was the day before. I got home, and it still didn’t feel soggy, so I just changed into some shorts but wore the top while I watched the second half of the Chargers-Jets game (did anyone see that result coming? Wow!). It still didn’t stink.
*My Mormon friends, neighbors, and relatives may be alarmed** at this confession of defiling the Sabbath by skiing. Allow me to explain. Yesterday was our semi-annual stake conference. In Mormondom, stake conference is when your local congregation (or ward) meets together with all the other local congregations pertaining to the next higher level of organization, called a “stake.” In Boise, I quite liked stake conference, as those putting it on were intelligent and articulate and had a good sense of how to choose relevant, engaging topics.
Let’s just say it’s not the same here. Last time we went, I was just about to hack my wrists open with my carkeys when my neighbor seated a few rows in front of me—let’s call her “Kim”—whispered something to her husband—let’s call him “Doug”—and they and their three children packed up and left about 3/4 through the meeting. We were hot on their heels. And I knew that neither JunkieBoy nor I could ever survive such an ordeal again.
**Indeed, I know at least one relative was alarmed, because Rachel got a text last night asking if I got more out of skiing than I would have from church. Which begs the question of how said relative even found out since we didn’t tell her. News of heretical behavior travels fast, I guess.
I’m guessing I could get away with yet another day if push came to shove, but I’m going to do laundry tonight anyway. And though I don’t intend to wear the same baselayer on consecutive days in the future, it’s nice to know I could. In fact, if I were doing a hut trip or mountaineering expedition, having such an option would be invaluable.
My one complaint is that the cuff on the bottoms was just barely stretchy enough to get over my calves. But I sort of have big calves. Smartwool has apparently also considered this, as they have a version that only comes down to boot top instead of all the way to the ankles. I will probably cut mine off and re-hem them at that length.
Overall I’m quite pleased with my new clothing and will have a hard time wearing anything else in the future. I expect the top will work equally well when it gets repurposed for cold-weather cycling come spring. Smartwool has been sending me stuff for over a year now, yet somehow it always exceeds my already high expectations.