In my classic whap stick review, I chided readers for not knowing the “Keeping it 100” reference and noted that if you didn’t know it that you were officially out of touch because you were too old. Now I’m turning the tables on y’all with my latest wild assertion that if you don’t know the “We Want The Funk” reference, well, you’re out of touch because you are too young. George Clinton and Parliament are one of the most influential bands of all time, so if you aren’t already intimately familiar with this legendary group and song, well, you need to “get woke”. There, now that I have suitably confused everyone, let’s get rolling.
I often rotate in experts for certain reviews, as I believe it is particularly important to not only have diversity of voice, but also to use people with extensive experience and expertise in any given area. This means that test teams can vary in size from project to project, but there is almost always one constant — the core group of my trusty colleagues at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC). I am incredibly fortunate to be a part of this amazing organization for all sorts of reasons and we are a very close-knit group. It’s a good thing, too, as this latest undertaking took took our relationships to the next level. How? Well, we just spent a week smelling each other every night before dinner.
Long and Lonely Road
Like many Nordic teams, SSWSCXC just returned from our annual early season training trip to the West Yellowstone Ski Festival.
At these training camps all of the coaches ski together (naturally) and dine together, but without a doubt this was the first time that we sat at meals and discussed not only how often we were all changing our socks and underwear, but also how these pieces smelled. I’ve heard that conduct of this nature is nothing new for Vail coaches Dan Weiland and Eric Pepper, but this is just one of many reasons why those two are usually found dining alone.
As you all know by now, the FBD has a reputation for looking real nice for the ladies. In our journey together to right the wrongs in the world of ski gear, we’ve tackled thick puffies, thin puffies, base layers, skate rollerskis and classic rollerskis, and we’re doing it people, we’re making a difference. It used to be that I’d see Josh Smullin in outfits like this every day, but now the frequency is down to every second or third day.
Baby steps. Baby steps.
So the fashion bar has been raised. Good. Very good. But looking good is only part of the picture. What if your outfit is “lit” but you smell like sh*t? I can tell you right now that this is a deal-breaker. I don’t care how fast you ski, how good you look and how savage your latest outfit is, if your base layers smell like Dave “Slow Ski” Cieslowski’s hockey equipment after spending a month in his trunk in July, you’re going to be relegated to the Weiland/Pepper lunch table in no time.
But fear not stinky nordie, all is not lost.
By now you’re probably thinking, “What the hell is this lunatic talking about? This is the craziest gear review I have ever read.”
I (along with my readers, editors, friends, neighbors, and local law enforcement) often find myself asking that very question, so let’s dive right in. Since thanks to all of you loyal readers, I have rapidly risen to the most influential and trusted gear reviewer in the galaxy, I am therefore frequently contacted by companies from all walks of life with every crazy product you can possible imagine. Some are cool, some are dumb, but occasionally something bubbles up that really catches my eye. This was one of them: a laundry detergent that supposedly allows you to wear base layers for multiple workouts without washing. Since no one is lazier than me, I was immediately intrigued.
The product in question is called, deFUNKit and here’s how it works. You simply do a normal load of laundry with their special detergent, then do repeat the same load with two different sets of their reagents (concurrently), and voila, your B.O. is now officially banished. Or so the story goes.
To test this product, three brave men and one very brave woman descended on West Yellowstone, Mont., with only the shirts on their backs, almost literally. We brought a combination of wool and synthetic socks, undies and base layers to see if this mystery potion could stand up to real-life, real-world, real-stink testing. The plan was to ski in the same clothes for as long as possible and ride the party train until someone in the group “threw the flag.” Due to 1960s HVAC technology in our rooms, some of us wore one outfit for a.m. workouts and another in the p.m. to allow for drying, while others just went for it (more on that later).
Here is the precise breakdown of who wore what:
Tester 1, “Mr. Fabulous”:
- Base layers: SmartWool, Swix synthetic
- Socks: SmartWool, Swix synthetic
- Fundies: SmartWool wind briefs, Swix synthetic wind briefs
Tester 2, “Mr. Reliable”:
- Base layers: SmartWool
- Midlayer: SmartWool, Patagonia synthetic
- Socks: SmartWool wind briefs, Craft synthetic wind briefs
- Fundies: SmartWool wind briefs, Craft synthetic wind briefs
Tester 3, “Captain Deodorant Conspiracy”:
- Base layers: Bjorn Daehlie synthetic top, Craft synthetic top, SmartWool bottom
- Socks: SmartWool and Point 6
- Fundies: SmartWool wind briefs
Tester 4, “The AK Brawler”:
- Base layers: Swix synthetic top, Craft synthetic bottoms
- Socks: SmartWool
- Fundies: Victoria’s Secret (Yes, really. And no, people, this is not Josh Smullin, even though he is from Alaska)
Hours of usage
This is where it got real. There was a fair amount of variance in the final data mainly because one tester got super fired up and went “raw dog,” wearing the exact same outfit for the entire camp. This put their testing hours up to the extremely impressive level of 18 hours, split fairly evenly over 12 workouts. This is TRAINING HOURS, too, for much like my podcast colleagues Dean Nigglesson and Kristor Svonn, we only start our watches when we’re actually skiing (except for Smullin, who started his at breakfast — or “Bekfast, as he calls it — but that’s another story).
When you add up time at the wax table, the walk to and from the tracks and the occasional, “rushing to get lunch so I don’t have time to change clothes after my ski” hours, this brave soul logged over 35 hours in the same socks, undies and base layers, all without a single trip to the very nasty looking hotel washing machines.
The rest of us stuck to the protocol a bit more vigorously (or perhaps more cowardly) and racked up a range of 8-14 ski hours in each the a.m. outfit and the p.m. outfit, with another 60-75 percent of additional wear time, bringing total “on body” time for each outfit to 12-25 hours, again, split fairly evenly over seven sessions in the a.m. and another seven in the p.m.
The conditions skiing ranged from -10 to 7 degrees Celsius (14-45 Fahrenheit), with the majority of the workouts being Level 1 cruisers, but a few of us raced and had a couple of interval sessions thrown in for good measure, so there was ample opportunity to build up the funk. All in all, it was probably a very representative sample of typical skier usage and wear patterns.
So does this stuff work? In a word, yes, amazingly well. One of the coaches’ wives is pregnant and with an already very acute sense of smell, the impending bambino has enhanced her olfactory system to the point of “super smeller” status, and bless her soul, she very bravely volunteered to sniff test us each night. Yup, I told you we are a very tightly-knit group.
Remarkably, even by the end of the camp, no one scored lower than a ‘7’ on the stink index (with 10 being ‘fresh as a daisy’ and 1 being ‘Weiland/Pepper lunch table’). This is pretty incredible given the high number of training hours. Even the “one outfit cowboy” came through with flying colors, which is nothing short of remarkable.
To be clear, we all came into this with a very health dose of skepticism. Mr. Reliable noted in his log, “I was very unsure about this whole plan at the start of this test, so much so that I brought several sets of back-up clothes in case this failed spectacularly.”
The AK Brawler agreed, “I really didn’t think this product was going to work, so I brought lots of spare clothes. Amazingly, I did not need any of them. I couldn’t believe it.”
Captain Deodorant Conspiracy noted, “I am very surprised. This product works way better than expected.” And then the kicker, “I went the whole week doing every workout in the same outfit and I think I can keep going. In fact, I think I AM going to keep this rolling, just to see how far I can take it.” Wow.
Since no one is a bigger numbers nerd than yours truly, I couldn’t help but attempt to make the data set as statistically significant as possible, so prior to the camp in West, I logged 31 hours of rollerskiing, running and strength (divided over 12 workouts) in one outfit. The temperature in this workouts ranged from 11 to 26° C (52-79 Fahrenheit) and was often quite sunny. I managed to talk a few reluctant coaches into giving me the sniff test (though not the cowardly Captain Deodorant Conspiracy, whose fear of germs eclipses that of even my own) and they were also amazed to discover that the outfit (at right) was still quite pleasant.
So with multiple fabrics, multiple testers, multiple brands, multiple sexes, widely divergent approaches to personal grooming and government conspiracies, not to mention highly variant body chemistries, in every piece of clothing on every single reviewer, we found a significant decrease in smell. Every single investigator felt as though they could ski in socks and “unmentionables” for a minimum of four workouts and base layers for a minimum of eight. That’s a lot. And that was the low end. On the upper end, estimates vary here as well, but “intimates” made it upwards of 10 days and base layers maxed out the test. I think that pretty much says it all.
But what about life after skiing? Is there life after skiing? I realize I am getting a little philosophical here, but not to worry, I’m not speaking in terms of the after-life, I’m speaking in terms of the after-workout. In other words, do you need to wash your everyday fundies, well, every day?
“Back in the day,” I would prepare myself for a night on the town with a shower, shave and a nice, new, crisp pair of “knickers”, knowing very well that the chances of a member of the opposite sex actually seeing them were quite small. We were a good team though, as my BVDs had my back and dutifully played along with this ruse every Friday and Saturday night. I also did my part and got the troops ready for battle through proper and efficient rotation in the meticulous FBD laundry regimen. I figured it was the least I could do. Business is all about mitigating risk and optimizing your chances for success…
However, those days are now long gone, as every game is now a home game, but my focus on proper hygiene persists nonetheless. So the question at hand is can this miracle solvent work its wonder on not just athletic garments, but also daily wear?
To execute this phase of testing, I must confess that there’s a certain psychological barrier that must first be crossed, for, to put it bluntly, getting up every day and putting on 10-day-old drawers just feels weird. Or at least it did in the beginning. But being the good scientist that I am, I decided to break it down methodically.
Firstly, is there anything magical about wearing your man-panties for 24 hours? Why not 26 hours? Or 17.2? The answer here is fairly obvious in that it is logical and convenient to synchronize a “wear cycle” with your daily cycle. Certainly there are many options and variations here, but a common regimen for many working professions is to wake up, shower, put on clean underwear, then go to work. So would you change your tighty whities halfway through the day or just before dinner (you aren’t really still wearing these guys, are you? If so, you need to seek professional help immediately)? You could, but it really doesn’t make any sense, baring any “accidents” or unforeseen circumstances.
The point here is that under normal operations, underwear rotation schedules are not analogous to tire or oil changes in that there is not a mechanical or chemical breakdown taking place that requires attention after a set period of time. If it took the Earth 18 or 28 hours for one revolution, you’d probably wear your skivvies for 18 or 28 hours, respectively, and think nothing of it.
Having said this, clearly there is some type of ceiling (“The Cotton Ceiling?”). Remember, the core of my hypothesis is that users install new undergarments after a shower, when presumably the whole undercarriage is all cleaned up, so there are in fact some chemical reactions that need to be taken into consideration. Leave cheese in your car on a hot day and you’ll be treated to an olfactory assault when you return to your vehicle, so by not coordinating and synchronizing the daily shower/undy swap, are we just begging for some crotch-pot cooking?
The answer to this seems to be no. Without getting too graphic here, objects begin to smell when bacteria collects, colonizes and grows. Showers help prevent this on you and DeFUNKit helps prevent this in your clothing. So yes, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, all of your lazy, single dudes out there, you can in fact “safely” extend the wear cycle of your Jockeys. During a research project at the University of Michigan’s Biological Field Station, one of my colleagues was completely bought in to his “Four Wears Per Pair™” (FWPP) theory (forward, backward, inside out forward, inside out backward). While somewhat ingenious, I can tell you for a fact that all of our female colleagues found both this theory and process to be repulsive and let’s just say he had lots of quality time alone in his cabin. The point here being that this new laundry formulation will allow for extended wear cycles without suffering the shame, stigmas and practical difficulties associated with the FWPP lifestyle choice.
How do I know this? Because I tested it. I had a “control” pair of Underoos that were in the rotation that were not treated with deFunkit, and an identical pair (SmartWool boxer briefs) that was treated. To ease the psychological torment of coming out of the shower clean and putting on the same pair of underwear that I had been wearing for 10 days, I alternated between the two configurations until someone said “Uncle.”
(If you’re thinking, did this nut really wear the same pair of underwear for 10 days? Yup, I did. Ten fricking days.) The non-treated pair made it four days before they were pulled from the rotation, but the treated pair was still going strong on Day 10. The only reason this test ended was I was leaving for West and I made the executive decision to start that trip w/ “a clean slate,” so everything went into the washer.
Now might be a good time to note that while I was the only person twisted (and thorough) enough to specifically “A:B” my test fleet (think of the most awful ski testing scenario that you could possibly imagine), our entire test team had a decent baseline on smell accumulation on all of their garments. Everyone in this group has literally dozens of years of skiing experience and overall a very good sense of how many days of use each given piece can withstand before things get ugly. So while my test was the only direct comparison between treated and non-treated, everyone on the team had a very good idea of the non-wash lifespan of their non-treated garments and all found significant deltas between treated and non-treated articles.
Some of the applications of this product are quite obvious: training camps, hut trips, camping/backpacking and the like, immediately spring to mind. In the past, essentially your only options on these adventures were to grin and bear it, or if you were lucky enough to be someplace with running water, you could annoy your roommates with “sock soup.”
Not having to subject oneself to the indignity and inconvenience of sink laundry makes this product basically a no brainer for all of these scenarios, as this stuff will absolutely help you come out the other side smell much, much more pleasant.
Now, having said this, the elephant in the room is you. Both of our test environments (West and Steamboat) had showers. Some of the test team showered after every workout, some only once per day. Some of us wore deodorant, some did not, but regardless, we were all starting every workout fairly to completely clean. If you’re someplace where regular showers aren’t an option or you’re one of those repulsive, stinky hippies that refuses to shower, you’ve got bigger problems than can be solved with DeFunkIt — you are a disgusting, filthy, despicable human who needs to learn basic grooming and self-respect. Yes, DeFunk will most certainly help if you can’t/won’t shower, but if you’ve got a really bad case of stank, well, there’s only so much we can do here people. This is NOT a deodorant, cologne (God help us) or anything weird like that, it’s a treating process that helps to repel odor. If you absolutely reek though, well, guess what, you’re on a one-way trip to the aforementioned lunch table w/ Dan and Pep. I just wanted to get that out there.
Disclaimer: If you’re someplace where regular showers aren’t an option or you’re one of those repulsive, stinky hippies that refuses to shower, you’ve got bigger problems than can be solved with deFunkit.
Another important dimension that came up in our summary and review meeting is the potential ecological impact of this product. The manufacturer reports that the preparation will last for up to 20 washes. This means that once you have treated your clothing, you can not only wear everything many more times between washes, but you can “refresh” this effect by simply doing a load of laundry with regular detergent. Undoubtedly there will be some type of degradation curve in effectiveness, but even so, if articles are only making it five or so wears near the end of the treatment cycle before requiring washing, you are still way ahead in the game.
One more interesting angle here is the stress that laundry machines places on clothes and how significantly trips through these machines reduces the lifespan of clothing — a very interesting observation that should be factored in this equation — if one treatment of DeFunkIt results in a four- to 10-fold decrease in wash frequency, not only are you saving water and electricity (dryers, in particular, are noted energy hogs), but you will also be greatly extending the life of your garments.
You know those car commercials which offer ridiculous, seemingly unobtainable mileage estimates for their vehicle? They often conclude with their get-out-of-jail-free statement of, “Your actual mileage may vary.” Well, same deal here. We did our best to expose a wide variety of different brands, different fabrics and different people to a fairly grueling week of testing. Overall, everyone was incredibly impressed with the findings and in some cases, people were ready to keep the test going. Will you have the same results? Probably, but who knows. I’d be amazed if it didn’t work at all for you and it could actually work better. Or perhaps worse. But I’d be shocked if it didn’t work at all.
We have not yet had the opportunity to test how this treatment process will hold up after regular washings. Does this treatment really last 20 “normal” washes? Who knows. We simply cannot answer that question at this time. We have no reason to believe that it won’t, but at the same time we always approach claims from ANY company with a fair amount of caution. The fact that everything that they’ve told us thus far has proven to be true certainly makes us optimistic, but again, our mileage may vary. As may yours.
In conclusion, is this product worthwhile? Absolutely. For $20 and one extra trip through the washer, you can wear all of your ski crap for several additional workouts without grossing out all of the dudes/babes at the coffee shop. If you’re lazy (like me), you can throw a few pairs of “civilian clothes” into the machine at the same time and not only free up more of your valuable time for important things like playing Noah Hoffman’s Fantasy XC league, but hell, who knows, you could perhaps even ski more. And you’re saving water, saving energy and extending the life of your clothes. To me, that’s well worth 20 bucks.
Smell ya later,
Jon "Fast Big Dog" Schafer
Fast Big Dog is a paradoxically gregarious yet reclusive, self-absorbed mystic and world traveler. In addition to his calling to right the wrongs in the ski fashion and gear world, he also brings his style, wit and devilish charm to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as the Nordic High Performance Director and Worldwide Director of Morale and Awesomeness. Savor these articles while you can, as his Great Dane puppy may burn down his house at any moment, possibly making this his last transmission.