SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Breaking the Base Layer Mold: Icebreaker Offers Snowshoers the Solution

Icebreaker makes wearing Merino Wool sexy.  No, really.  When I wear Icebreaker’s line of GT200 Sprint Crewe and Legging, I feel slimmer and ready for sexy snowshoeing.  Icebreaker has created a line of active clothing and base layers that perform beyond the everyday options.  And it’s all made with Merino Wool fabric from New Zealand.  This performance fabric combines the benefits of synthetics (lightweight and quick drying) and the natural benefits of Merino (warm, breathable, odor resistant, and biodegradable).

Icebreaker’s Founder, Jeremy Moon, took Icebreaker to the next level after getting started in the mid to late 90s.  His vision stemmed from the production of a fabric that performed beyond what most outdoorspeople expect from a wool product.  It was the Golden Fleece of fabrics.  It performed flawlessly when tested in the harshest conditions.  Thanks to Mr. Moon and his team of Merino Wool enthusiasts in Wellington, Icebreaker doles out a massive line of products that snowshoers will appreciate.  I surely did.  

I’ve taken my Icebreaker base layers into sub-zero temperatures and I have no complaints.  Normally, I’m forced to wear multiple layers to achieve optimal warmth in the frozen Colorado landscapes where I explore on snowshoes.  Icebreaker’s active clothing eliminates the need for excessive layering.  While warm, Icebreaker’s fabric is breathable and versatile.  This fits its origin: Alpine sheep that live 6,000 feet in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. 

Icebreaker describes it best: “Merino fiber has an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, and uses a process called ‘heat of sorption’ to generate heat from moisture absorbed from the air. Layers of Icebreaker merino bond together like a single lightweight garment, trapping air in between each layer and giving all the warmth of a heavy sweater – but with none of the bulk. When it’s hot, the highly-breathable fiber keeps the wearer cool by releasing heat in a process called ‘cooling by evaporation.’”

With Icebreaker active clothing, I’m safe from experiencing the pain of a severe wind chill and below zero threats.  I wore the Icebreaker Sprint Crewe and Legging underneath a softshell pant and jacket on a recent snowshoeing excursion.  Considering the amount of snow the Colorado Rocky Mountains have received (a ton!), I was trudging through two to three feet of dry powder.  In some cases, I was waist deep when ascending some challenging hills.  Truly, I never felt the slightest chill.  I was warm the entire day.  My combination of gear and clothing – with the Icebreaker base layers at the heart of it all – helped me achieve a very successful day of shoeing.     

The next day, I wore the same gear combination while skiing at Keystone Mountain Resort.  Again, no complaints.  Gliding down powdery slopes and riding upwards on wind-chilled chairlifts offered no competition to the Icebreaker layers I wore.  I could feel the cold, but it never left me yearning for the occasional warm-up in the lodge.  In my opinion, Icebreaker clothing is ideal for any winter sport – no matter the extremes.   

The Icebreaker GT200 Sprint Crewe and Legging have a high performance athletic fit, dry quickly, are breathable, and feel comfortable on the skin.  No itching or scratching, which is normal with an average wool product.  No adjusting either.  The base layers stayed in place and didn’t bind or shift. 

Beyond the base layers, I tested Icebreaker’s AC Quantum Gloves and Frost Hat.  The gloves are best used as liners, similar to a base layer: Made with 96 percent Merino and 4 percent Lycra.  Of course, the gloves are breathable and offer “close-to-the-skin” non-itch comfort.  The Frost Hat uses a Sport320 yarn and is form-fitting to the skull.  The hat covered my ears completely and offered comfort on the snowshoeing trails.  

Adding to the “cool factor” of the products I tested, I was also impressed with Icebreaker’s Baacode program.  The company follows a code of ethics that not only illustrate a commitment to the outdoors but also a solid love for Mother Earth.  This includes being mindful of animal welfare.  Icebreaker wants its users to know the origin of the Merino Wool – to the exact living conditions of the sheep that helped produce a single piece of clothing.  

Each Icebreaker garment has a Baacode tag that can then be used to trace its source via an online database.  Customers can see the living conditions of the sheep, meet the high country farmers who run the sheep stations, and follow every step of the production process.  Unbaalievable!

For more information on the Icebreaker GT200 Sprint Legging, visit http://bit.ly/evxe3l.  To purchase the Icebreaker GT200 Sprint Legging – Men’s, click here.  To purchase Icebreaker GT 200 Pace Legging – Women’s click here (a similar product).  

For more information on the Icebreaker GT200 Icebreaker Sprint Crewe, visit http://bit.ly/fITWeB.  To purchase the Icebreaker GT200 Sprint Zip Top – Long-Sleeve – Men’s, click here (a similar product).  To purchase the Icebreaker GT 260 Quantum Full-Zip Hooded Top – Long-Sleeve – Women’s, click here (a similar product).

For more information on the Icebreaker Frost Hat, visit http://bit.ly/eLNpTD.

For more information on the Icebreaker Quantum Glove, visit http://bit.ly/eFdRlt.

(No, that’s not me in the photos.  Sorry.)