Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Every now and then I get some email from a company hoping I will plug them on my blog. If they saw my current traffic statistics, I'm not entirely sure they would waste the email. Not sure how I managed to get on their mailing lists. I suspect some asshole PR firm in the United States just put together a bunch of blogs into an email and sold them to some willing suckers.

I'm sure I could turn this blog into something that sucks up to companies for free stuff, just as I'm sure the few of you remaining would quickly stop finding reasons to come here. I've never been interested in making money from the blog. It's had other functions - a place for me to rant, a place for me to share information about Nunavut, a place for me to try and stretch my writing muscles - but never a place to make any money.

And yet, I'm going to plug something here, because it's kind of cool and I'm kind of in awe of it.

The last few years I've been paying a bit more attention to clothing. If you knew me in high school or university, you'd understand what a transformative thing that is. I was a t-shirt, jeans and cheap sneakers kind of guy (one of the many causes of my catastrophic luck with women). I had to beg and bribe women friends to go shopping with me so I could figure out what went with what and what clothing looked good on me. Some did it because it brought them amusement. Others, I'm sure, were just tired of looking at the horrorshow that was my wardrobe.

I'm much better at it now. I still consult with Cathy from time to time, just to confirm what I'm thinking. But I'm mostly safe to do my own clothes shopping. I think Cathy gets amusement over how fussy I can be, especially considering how lax most of the dress codes are in Nunavut. I've worked in place where senior bosses have come into work wearing dirty jeans and ratty sweatshirts.

But along with dressing better I've also become interested in, for lack of a better word, clothing technology. Some serious money goes into clothing these days especially if you're working out in it or travelling. I thought doing a workout in an old t-shirt and some shorts would be fine, but I've learned those shirts make a different. I've used Columbia, North Face and MEC shirts for working out and while I've occasionally gone "I'm paying how much for a shirt just to sweat in?" the damn things work. I feel better working out in one of those shirts.

Travel clothing has been somewhat trickier. We tried Tilley for ages, but they've gone downhill badly the last few years. The clothes have gotten uglier and not as durable. Plus, it's still ridiculously expensive. From there we've tried different clothing that's all been along the same lines - decent enough looking, light, packs easily, dries quickly, and durable.

You understand, not having to wash it after you wear it never entered the equation because we didn't think the option existed. Which, when you're travelling, can be a pain in the ass. Either you make your peace with offending people (which is fine if you're backpacking in the middle of nowhere, not so much if you're in large groups and urban environments) or make do with washing clothing, either in a laundromat or washing it in the sink and waiting for it to dry over night.

However, when I was in Sri Lanka and bumbling around with some of my friends, they raved about this clothing line called Icebreaker. They'd been wearing pretty much the same few shirts for the entire trip and they hadn't start to smell. At all. And they raved about how comfortable they were. So I filled it in the back of my mind for future reference.

Flashforward to Ottawa last month. Cathy and I wander into a shop with a Canada sale. Which was bad, given our state of mind at the time (post-sealift). And they had Icebreaker stuff there. On sale. So next thing you know I have a couple of t-shirts and a few other things. Even on sale they're still quite pricey, but what the hell. I was curious.

I'll be damned if the stuff doesn't work exactly as advertised. I'm on day 4 of the same t-shirt at this point. I've worn it to the gym twice and then hung it to dry, which it did in a few hours. I wore it to work this morning because I knew I was going to be running around later in the day (literally. I helped out with the kids games at Nunavut Day. Eight year olds are fast little buggers). There is still no odor from the t-shirt.

The salesperson gave me the pitch about someone going out on a boat for a couple of months and when he came ashore he took a shower, but the shirt was just fine. Not sure I believe that yet, but if I can get a week out of this shirt, I will be be pretty damn impressed.

It's made of merino wool. It's light. It's damn comfortable and they look pretty good. I wish it wasn't a fortune for the stuff, but if it lasts and it's good quality, well, I've wasted enough money over the years on cheap crap for the sake that it was cheap. I don't mind spending money if it's worth it. Early days yet, but colour me impressed. I'll have to stock up on some of this next time we travel. Whenever that will be.

Oh, I also like that each shirt has a "Baacode" that you can enter into Icebreaker's website so you can find out where the wool in your shirt comes from. Neat gimmick.

Last Five
1. In or out (live) - Ani DiFranco
2. First we take Manhattan - Jill Porter
3. Gloryland - Blue Vipers of Brooklyn
4. Le fantome, Denis - Colleen Power
5. Winter - Tori Amos*


John, Perth AU said...

Yeah, Icebreaker's are from New Zealand so they've been in Australia for a while. Too expensive for me. I think they're on Amazon now, as well.

There was story on the wires a few months ago about a US company using the same process on dress shirts. Google "100 day shirt wash" to find it. I figured a lawsuit was coming.

I also thought of Alec Guiness' "Man in the White Suit". Great movie.

Geoff Johnston said...

Is it possible to carry mace or pepper spray to deter dog attacks?

Janice said...

Hey...nice to see ya back writing. Enjoy reading your blog. hope you have a wonderful summer!