Adventures with Icebreaker – gear review
We’ve been on the road for 275 days, travelled through 25 countries covering 25 thousand miles from 51 degrees north to 29 degrees south to arrive here in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. We’ve been wearing our Icebreaker merino wool clothing every single day, and we’ve had a pretty good chance to put them to the test in the most extreme of conditions.
Icebreaker clothing is made from ultra-fine strands merino wool that is grown in our back yard – the Southern Alps of New Zealand! It’s really soft, incredibly comfortable and very versatile, as well as being sustainable, renewable and biodegradable. We’ve been huge fans of Icebreaker for over ten years now, so it’s hardly surprising that nearly every bit of clothing we packed for our expedition is an Icebreaker – all up we have 21 icebreaker products with us – including 4 jerseys, 5 t-shirts, 1 jacket, 1 hat, 5 pairs of undies, 2 pairs of socks, 2 singlets and a pair of leggings – and every one has been worth its weight in gold. This must surely be the world’s best clothing range for travelling and adventuring!
It’s really important on a trip like this that every item you bring serves more than one purpose. Our items of Icebreaker clothing have been fantastic as they keep us warm on cold days and keep us cool on hot days! They are super easy to wash, dry quickly, and pack down to almost nothing so don’t take up too much space in our truck or backpack making them perfect for travelling or hiking. We wear them adventuring whether it be climbing, biking, tramping, scrambling, kayaking, rafting or snorkelling. EVEN swimming in the Dead Sea, one of the saltiest places on earth! Not only are Icebreakers perfect for adventuring, but they are also smart enough to wear to work or out to dinner at a nice restaurant. On the road we can wear them every day and every night and they still don’t stink! We have a few tops of different weights so when it’s cold we layer up – a fantastic way to regulate your temperature in the great outdoors. I achieved a personal best in Croatia’s Paklenica gorge in February this year – it was so freezing while out rockclimbing that I wore five Icebreaker tops at the same time – and a down jacket on top, and a windbreaker on top of that!
My favourite item of clothing is my Icebreaker GT 320 expedition weight full zip hooded jacket. It’s great for travelling as you can use it as a jersey over a t-shirt or singlet, or a jacket over several other layers. It’s really nice and thick so keeps you toasty warm on freezing days. The fabric is hardwearing and for this reason I often wear it rock climbing as it doesn’t get damaged easily against abrasive surfaces. The pockets have zips so it’s great for keeping keys or money in, which is especially handy if you’re travelling on public transport or in crowded places where there are potential pickpockets. The full length double-ended zip lets you control your temperature, and if you’re belaying you can unzip it from the bottom to provide extra room for your harness and rope. It’s smart enough to wear out to a restaurant and casual enough to wear to the beach. I’ve probably worn my jacket more than any of my other clothes on this trip. The only downside to it is the hood is quite small so if I wear it up it makes me look like a bit of a noodle!! This look is reserved for VERY cold days!
Sometimes I think Brett is fonder of his icebreaker undies than he is of me! He raves about them. He’s got four pairs and wears them pretty much every day. In his words, they’re so comfortable it feels like your not wearing any undies at all – you hardly know you’ve got them on! In fact, he has claimed that if it wasn’t for his icebreaker undies, we probably wouldn’t have made it this far.
Our Icebreaker clothing has been well tested over the years in cold, wet and windy conditions where of course it performs superbly, but we’ve been surprised by just how comfortable Icebreakers are in hot and humid conditions. It can be difficult as a woman travelling in Muslim countries where you have to keep covered up. Icebreaker UK kindly gave me a lovely superfine 200 weight three-quarter length top which was just perfect for keeping covered but was still cool and comfortable to wear, even in 45°C heat! When travelling through Sudan we bushcamped quite a lot and it was great being able to wear the same top day and night in temperatures that rarely dropped below 35°C without getting too stinky. In humid conditions where cotton or synthetic clothing gets unbearably sticky and sweaty, Icebreaker remains amazingly comfortable.
For the first time on this trip I tried Icebreaker’s bodyfit 200 weight leggings. They are super comfy and are great for tramping, rock climbing, mountain biking or for wearing under a dress or skirt out on the town. If you’re going somewhere really cold then I would recommend getting the 260 weight ones, but for our trip the 200 weight have been perfect. I wore them under my overtrou on our summit attempt on Pt Lenana, Mt Kenya and they were great, nice and breathable.
All in all we can’t recommend Icebreaker clothing highly enough. They are so versatile, comfortable and practical, but also fun and funky. It’s also pretty cool to wear clothing grown in the cool mountain air of New Zealand’s Southern Alps! It makes us think of home every time we put them on.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Icebreaker for making such damn good clothing, and also for providing us with a number of Icebreakers for our trip. It’s refreshing to find a company at the cutting edge, constantly coming up with innovative, trendy clothing lines and designs that can be worn anywhere and outperform any other product we’ve tried. Over the last decade every single adventure has been accompanied by Icebreaker – it has become an indispensable friend. Cheers Icebreaker, keep up the good work.
Icebreaker have a great website www.icebreaker.com and also have a fun blog where you can read about other people’s adventures and catch up on the latest news from Icebreaker. We’ve also got a whole page on our website dedicated to Icebreaker where you can check out some of our worldy adventures over the last ten years.
I’ve put some of our favourite Icebreaker photos from this trip below: