Product Review: Icebreaker

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Being an Aquarius, I have poor circulation.  I am always cold, unless it is 30°C/90°F.  A few years ago, I discovered merino wool and have never looked back.  It is light weight, soft, warm, and easy to care for.  I wear it skiing, walking around cold Michigan, and today in England when it is damp and 13°C.

"Merino" is the breed of New Zealand sheep found in higher altitudes and colder weather..  Icebreaker is a brand from New Zealand that was founded in 1994.  The company believes "nature is better than plastic" and embraces sustainability.  Each piece of clothing has a 'Baacode" which links you to the actual sheep back in New Zealand your wool came from.  Pretty cool, huh?

Icebreaker recently launched their GT line for technical sports (such as running) which are designed to be "itch-free, odor-resistant, breathable, adaptable to any temperature and protect you from harmful UV rays."

I was lucky enough to receive the LS Pace Zip, Rush V, Quantum vest, and SS Quest crewe to product test (note, the colors I received might not be available in all areas).

 Let me start with the LS Pace Zip.  This is a fantastic mock turtleneck.  I found it versatile, wearing it both as a base layer for a chilly evening spring time run and as a mid-layer over a t-shirt and under my rain coat.  It is extremely soft and has perfectly situated thumb holes.  The zipper has material behind it (I am sure there is a technical term, but I don't know it) to prevent a draft and material over the top of the zipper to avoid chaffing/cold metal on the skin.  I loved the color (sort of a berry) and it stayed bright after many washes.  The cut was flattering with a little bit of shape in the middle, but not so much that it was tight on my midsection.  The top was also long enough to cover my waistband on shorts, jeans, and running tights.  Nothing is worse that your belly flashing others in a workout (both the sight of it and the draft of cold air!).
Note the zipper
Thumb hole

LS Pace Zip on me

Back of shirt w/ mp3 pocket
Next, we have the Rush V which was also pink and just as lovely as the Pace Zip.  I wore this shirt for 3 sweaty workouts one week without washing it.  I wanted to see if the anti-stink would hold up (plus I was too lazy to empty my gym bag).  I taught two 45 minute indoor cycling classes, a 2 hour fitness instructor shift at a gym, and an one hour Legs, Bums, and Tums class.  The shirt was fantastic in indoor cycling when the weather was over 20°C outside.  I thought maybe I would overheat with the merino but it kept me cool, absorbed the sweat and stayed light on my skin (sometimes cotton becomes heavy when wet).  Also, there was barely any stink at the end of the week!  The side panels are a different texture, which helps with ventilation.  There is a touch of reflective material on the front and back, making it safe for nighttime use.  It also has a neat-o mp3 player pocket on the back right side.

The Quantum vest also has reflective piping all along the zipper and on the back of the neck collar.  I love that the zipper has plastic-covered pulls and be adjusted from the top and bottom.  On bike rides, this is great as it helps avoid buckling in the front.  Like the LS Pace Zip, the zipper top has material over it to avoid rubbing against your skin.  Zippers also are featured on the side pockets to keep your things from falling out.  The pockets are large enough to put in your entire hand or hold a wallet and phone.  The vest is heavier/thicker than the LS Pace Zip but I like that as it is meant to keep your core warm with layering.  My test vest was grey and had a fabulous hot pink zipper for a touch of color (I do love pink!).

Finally, we come to the SS Quest Crewe.  This color is vibrant and help up after many washes.  It has a pocket on the back that zips shut.  I went for a run after work one day and put my id card and keys in the pocket.  I worried that the pocket/shirt would stretch out with the weight of the keys.  The shirt did bounce on the run but did not stretch out.  There are ventilation panels under the arms. Because of the pockets and ventilation panels, there is a seam that goes across the back.  This can be bothersome when cycling as the seam lays across your back.  It just feels weird, but doesn't chafe.  Otherwise the cut is very flattering and the shirt is long enough to cover up your tummy.

Overall, merino wool is wear it is at.  After trying out Icebreaker, I am a convert to these technical pieces.  Normally, I wouldn't spend very much money on a t-shirt to sweat in.  But the temperature control, anti-stink, vibrant colors, and great cut of fabric make the GT line worth every penny.  An added bonus of being machine washable (line dry though) makes it easy to incorporate into your fitness regime.

Icebreaker did not pay me for this review. They graciously sent me these products and all opinions are honest and my own. If you have a product you would like me to review, please contact me

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