Smartwool base layers: Merino wool for all sizes
Baselayers | November 29, 2022
January 21, 2022
Technical clothing is made of technical materials designed to withstand the elements and keep you comfortable, even in the most extreme conditions. That’s why it’s so important to take good care of these useful pieces – when washing, drying or storing them – and to consider the fabrics they’re made of to keep their effectiveness and life as long as possible.
In this article, you will discover tips on how to take good care of your technical clothing and accessories according to their properties and the materials they are made of.
Unlike regular wool, Merino wool is delicate and soft to the touch. It is a coveted material for outdoor enthusiasts since it allows sweat to evaporate, keeping you dry and warm. Naturally antimicrobial, it does not retain odours and therefore does not need to be washed after each wear. In fact, the less often you wash your Merino wool socks, sweaters, baselayers, accessories and underwear, the better they will be.
When you decide to wash them, turn the items inside out and place them in the washing machine; a regular cold or warm water cycle is enough, followed by machine drying at a low temperature or air drying. Avoid hot water or air to avoid shrinking your garments. Clothing made of Alpaca wool or any other wool that is rougher and heavier than Merino wool must be washed by hand with mild soap and dried flat, horizontally, to avoid stretching the wool fibers.
Fleece, made of recycled polyester, is warm and comfortable, but has the unfortunate disadvantage of losing several milligrams of microfibres in the wash, which end up in rivers and in the food chain. The solution? Again, wash only your fleece sweaters when necessary, by hand in cold water, and treat the fabric gently. For optimal drying, spread the sweater on an absorbent towel for a few hours, then hang it on a hanger to air dry. Above all, wash your sweaters by colour and never use an iron on your fleece pieces.
Cotton usually takes a long time to dry and is not a breathable fabric so it is not popular when it comes to sportswear. However, this absorbent material can be used to keep cool during summer activities. Many brands still favour cotton for their t-shirts and training tank tops because it is durable and soft. IfIf you wear cotton clothing for workouts or outdoor activities, machine wash your items and air dry them to prevent them from shrinking.
Unlike natural fibers, synthetic materials like nylon and elastane tend to retain odours and therefore require frequent washing. What rule should I follow? Read the label. This applies to all clothing, but especially to synthetic materials made up of a wide variety of different fibers. Therefore, it’s vital that you take the time to decipher the symbols on the label. However, a classic cold water machine wash followed by air drying is generally a safe bet.
Here again, remember to separate white clothes from coloured ones and avoid putting elastane clothes in the dryer so they don’t lose their stretchy properties.
Some outdoor, hunting and fishing clothing can help protect you from mosquitoes and other insects and they are usually made of polyester.
If they are not too delicate, machine wash your polyester clothing on a warm temperature, following the instructions. If they have a net, wash them by hand so they don’t get damaged or torn.
Did you know that the insulating properties of both natural and synthetic down are compromised by dirt? If you want to stay warm, you must wash your down jacket properly. For natural down, a mild detergent designed for outdoor clothing is a must. Regular detergent will do the job for synthetic down jackets.
Be sure to zip up all the zippers on your coat, then wash both natural and synthetic down jackets in cold water in a front-loading machine or by hand and then dry at a very low temperature with two or three clean tennis balls to plump up the jacket.
Before storing your jacket, we recommend waiting two or three days after washing – especially natural down, as it will take much longer to dry – and storing it on a shelf rather than a hanger to avoid damaging the down around the shoulders.
Gore-Tex jackets and raincoats are very much appreciated when it rains, but their waterproofing properties can become less effective over time. Again, the characteristics of Gore-Tex technical garments can also be diminished by dirt, but you might have to go further than washing so that raindrops will slide off the fabric surface again. Has this happened with your jacket? It’s probably time to treat it. The next time you pop it in the washing machine, add a little waterproofing detergent specific for outdoor items, then tumble dry it on medium heat or air dry. This may help reactivate the water-repellent finish that is present in the fabric.
After each trip to the water, rinse your wetsuit thoroughly under cold water.
To remove odours, you can also soak the suit in a basin of warm water with a little mild soap and rinse thoroughly.
Turn the inside surface out and let the suit air dry and wait until the suit is completely dry before storing.
How should I maintain my shoes and accessories? As is the case with clothing, if you take good care of your leather shoes and accessories, they will last longer. If they lose their waterproof properties, adding a little waterproofing cleaner could do the trick.
As a general rule, wash your leather shoes, gloves and mittens and those made of other durable materials by simply wiping the surface with a damp cloth and a cleaning product designed to make them shine. After letting them air dry, store them in a dry place that is neither too hot nor too cold.
Of course, always follow the instructions on the label to care for your garments properly. Each piece differs from one brand to another and the mix of fabrics may require different care.
When necessary, use detergents specific to outdoor clothing. If you’re cleaning hunting clothes, be sure to use an odourless cleaner.
Wash your swimwear and underwear, especially sports bras, in a laundry bag to preserve their life.
Be sure to check the waterproofness of your clothing by spraying a little water on the outer membrane. If the water stops beading, use a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment.
Do not underestimate the drying process. If you have the facilities (clothesline, clothes rack, outdoor hanging cable, etc.) and the weather is nice, dry your clothes outside in the shade to let them breathe a little before washing. Once clean, make sure they are completely dry before storing or wearing them again.