Stink Test: Never-Washed T-shirt worn for Months

This year, on outdoor activities around the world, I’ve put the MeCo 120 shirt from Rab through a metaphorical wringer. Now, I think it’s time to put it through a literal one — it’s time to wash my shirt!

Indeed, since I received this athletic T-shirt last winter I have not washed it once. In a test of the shirt material’s touted anti-microbial, anti-stink properties, I made a decision to keep the Rab piece out of the laundry even after ski days, bike rides, and a half-marathon in Vail.

rab t shirt.jpg

The author in well-loved (and never washed!) Rab wool/Cocona T-shirt

The anti-stink properties come from the shirt’s blend of merino wool and recycled polyester with Cocona technology, which is said to be an “activated carbon particle” treatment. Cocona materials are licensed by Rab and other companies such as Obermeyer, Eddie Bauer, and a few more.

Cocona Inc. claims its material works by increasing the surface area of fabric by “800 percent” to distribute water over a larger area and accelerate evaporation. While I have no means to verify that number, I have found the Rab top to be a comfortable and quick-drying piece under varied conditions.

As a winter base layer, the shirt stayed dry even when the temperature rose and the sun shined. I wore it on days ranging from full-blown blizzard conditions to 50-degree spring skiing days.

rab shirt.jpg

Air drying the never-washed Rab top

Wool was formerly not the first material that I reached for when the temperature climbed above 80. But during many long runs in the record heat in Denver this spring, I found the shirt to be comfortable, cool and dry.

The MeCo 120 shirt costs $60, but with its stout construction and a fabric that breathes and dries quickly, I think that is a fair price. You might save the money on laundry soap costs alone.

After all my use, as well as being stuffed into backpacks when still wet, my test shirt is finally getting a bit musky. I think it’s time to start the wash.

—Sean McCoy is a contributing writer based in Denver.

Posted by US - 07/11/2012 08:32 AM

Fascinating.
But it does make you wonder what it does to the microbial balance of your skin. If it kills off all the stinkers, what about the ones you need?

Posted by Rebecca - 07/11/2012 12:25 PM

Wow, the perfect shirt. I love it (and hope they make a women’s version).

Posted by paddlingotaku - 07/11/2012 01:57 PM

like I needed an excuse to not do my laundry….

Posted by Molly_OAR - 07/11/2012 02:07 PM

but does the shirt still retain the anti-stink properties when used for heavy exercise, but regularly laundered? That is what my husband needs! I want to see results after 6 months of regular use and weekly washings!

Posted by Rachel UK - 07/12/2012 01:26 AM

yeah i love my Rab Meco top for this reason no stink even after regular sweating & washing, much better than any other merino top i have..

Posted by maddog - 07/12/2012 01:22 PM

I agree with Molly OAR, I would like to know how the cocona holds up to repeated washings. Will the shirt still reteain its antistink properties next year after repeated washings? Please give us an updated post!

Posted by Sean - 07/12/2012 09:30 PM

Maddog and Molly OAR – My literature from Cocona claims that the particles are permanently embedded in the yarn and will not wash out. I cannot yet validate that claim but have been quite happy with the shirt so far.

Posted by bennington - 07/14/2012 05:59 AM

Very interesting review. Unfortunately, Rab doesn’t appear to sell online through their website and their closest store is a 3.5 hour drive from me in Virginia. So it is going to be very hard to purchase one of these.

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Posted by Paul - 11/20/2012 10:11 PM

Eddie Bauers First Ascent line has tee shirts, ultra light and mid weight base layers made with cocona, I own 3 of the tee’s they are 52%poly 48% Cocona. LOVE THEM!

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