After more than 2500 kilometers of this walking odyssey towards Anchorage, Alaska, and the few hundred kilometers and one marathon of running across those breath taking landscapes of Ontario and British Columbia, I will write a review of how the apparel performed under my misuse and abuse.
I must first state that I have been using Smartwool products for many years before I received this wonderful care package from Smartwool Canada — thank you again. My fortunate slip down the slippery slope of this walking odyssey, and the running along the highways of Ontario and British Columbia as a member of the run across Canada for Cours Pour Ta Vie (Run For Your Life) — whose goal is to raise awareness among the young and old in the importance of adopting an active and healthy lifestyle– is a great opportunity to challenge a product(s) quality, ruggedness, and comfort.
While walking for four months and running/living out of an R.V. for almost a month, laundry care isn’t at the top of your mind; in essence, you stop at any laundromat or washing machine along the way, throw everything you can realistically put into a washer machine for a few dollars, then let your whites, lights, and darks finally unite (sorry mom!).
Above. A typical laundromat I visited every seven or more days.
Conditions of Use
I tried caring for all apparel as best as I could, but sometimes that late night camp setup after an exhausting day causes you to do funny and irregular acts with anything at arms length! Other inconspicuous events also add an extra strain to gear, like my multiple encounters with those spiteful chipmunks that chew threw anything with a food scent (gear, clothing, food bags, you name it). I also believe that my gift in jurry rigging that cart of mine can can result in the unintended stress to various clothing and gear items.
As you can see in the pictures above, the day in, day out wear and tear of the socks and t-shirts were similar to the conditions that any outdoor enthusiast would put these items through.
Results and Conclusions
With all of the walking and running of 2017, I think an unhealthy attachment to some of the apparel had formed, much like the relationship Tom Hanks character in Cast Away formed with the volleyball he named Wilson; however, I have not named any piece of apparel, yet!
The Smartwool items revealed almost no wear and tear after all they have been through. I wish I could say the same! For example, the base-layer t-shirt and regular t-shirt sent to me by Smartwool still look brand new, even after improper washing procedures, care, and strenuous use. I really like the lighter weight socks while walking and running in warmer temperatures, even though they demonstrated greater wear in the top of the toe and some localized areas of the mid-foot and heel area, primarily due to the upper toe box of one pair of shoes I wore and the orthotics I wore, respectively.
My favorite apparel item(s) were the two t-shirts, especially the base-layer t-shirt. The shirts fit well, were comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and they can withstand an inordinate amount of use and misuse.
For socks, it is a little more complicated to name a favorite sock, due to both seasonality and activity of sock usage. The lighter weight socks were great for both walking and running during those high 20 and 30 degree Celsius days, whereas the medium weight socks were ideal in cooler temperatures for walking; a big day of running the mountain passes in B.C.; or as those dry pair of socks you put on while you lay in your tent during a storm.