A lot of apparel companies make a lot of claims about their products—it’s bomb-proof (whatever that means) or waterproof and breathable (ha!) or reflects your body heat with shiny dots—based on brand-new, proprietary technologies that were dreamed up in top-secret laboratories, probably on hidden volcanic islands.
But perhaps the biggest claim to date—stink-proof athletic wear—comes from New Zealand-based Icebreaker, whose entire business model is built on a fairly ancient technology: Merino wool. In fact, Merino, one of the softest, finest wools available, has been around since the sheep were first bred in Spain in the 1200s and 1300s. For the next few centuries, Spain enjoyed a monopoly on the fine wool market, and moving a Merino sheep outside the national borders was punishable by death (there’s closely guarded technology for you). Luckily, Icebreaker didn’t come along until 1994.
Besides being silky soft and not scratchy, Icebreaker claims that Merino insulates to keep you warm in winter, and breathes to keep you cool during the summertime. But the big claim is that it's odor-resistant. Dana Allen, a photographer and University of Vermont grad student recently tested this theory with hilarious results. He wore an Icebreaker 150 Tech Lite shirt for two straight weeks, mountain biking, constructing wetlands and splattering it with food. At the end of the test period, his fiancée said the shirt smelled like (drumroll), well, Dana. But that’s not the first time Icebreaker has proven itself. Kiwi sailing legend Sir Peter Blake once wore a prototype Icebreaker top and leggings for 43 days and nights while setting a world circumnavigation record (we’re pretty sure his fiancée wasn’t present for that test).
All this is to say is that Icebreaker stands up to both literal and figurative sniff tests. Their clothes perform in hot and cold weather (and are sustainable and traceable). In fact, I’m certain I’ll be wearing my own Icebreaker shirt when I go canoe camping in the Adirondacks this weekend, miles from the closest shower. It’s the only way my wife will put up with me. And, should you take advantage of a deal on one—20 percent off the 150 Tech Lite shirt at Backcountry.com—your wife might just put up with you, too.
Sale Price: $51.96 (20% off)