Icebreaker gear test: snugger than an unshorn sheep

The Icebreaker gear test plan for March 2020 was simple: ski Japan, eat amazing food, kanpai into the wee hours and put the latest stuff from the sustainable merino gear specialists to a solid test. Nice in theory, then along came lockdown and flight shutdown.

So tester Dave Windsor shifted the parameters slightly ..

Got a point there Woolly one © Dave Windsor

I didn’t go anywhere. No skiing, no fishing, no golfing, no hunting, no camping.

Instead, rather than shredding it at 1,000m+ sub-zero in J-land I decided to road test the latest Icebreaker gear at 440m at 8-12° celsius doing laps on the bike, hiking in the forest, shopping for the essentials and home-schooling my kids … oh the joys!

Couldn’t get to J-land but I can still “Kanpai!” One way of keeping warm in Isolation © Dave Windsor

The good news is that the schools are open and Vic, NZ and almost NSW will soon join China and open their ski seasons in June 2020.

So, it’s time to get ski-fit. Living sub-alpine on the way to beautiful Baw Baw the sunlight hours have been shortening and the days chilling fast, so warmth is definitely key in a cool Aussie pre-season.

New Zealand based Icebreaker have been leaders in sustainable merino clothing ideal for active outdoor pursuits. Or just indoor schooling in a chilly climate, as our 2020 Icebreaker gear test finds out. Their merino is sourced 84% from NZ, 11% Australia and 5% South Africa.

Icebreaker Descender Hybrid Long Sleeve Half Zip Hood

Icebreaker Descender long sleeve half zip hood gear test
A core warming hoodie to shop the essentials can’t be beat © Icebreaker

I found the Descender Hybrid Long Sleeve Half Zip Hood (All rates $AUD 319.99) to be absolutely spot on. Normally I’d use it as mid-layer when skiing, but for my trips up the street & hits of tennis with the kids it was bang on for chic social-distancing, comfort and style. The merinoloft™ front chest panel provided extra warmth and wind protection for the all-important core and the 100% merino sleeves are light and cosy … and the pockets easily squeezed a half dozen tennis balls.

Icebreaker Hyperia Lite Vest

Icebreaker Hyperia vest
The slim fit Hyperia Lite Vest is svelte, slim and sexy – as opposed to me! © Icebreaker

To complement the look and add extra warmth on those occasional 4°C mornings I layered up with the form fitting merino-insulated Hyperia Lite Vest ($269.99). Admittedly, my lockdown girth made for a snugger than usual fit. Nevertheless, my poor-of-sight wife convinced me I looked the part.

Unlike me, the vest has maintained its super sleek and light shape.

It could easily substitute for a mid-layer and be worn under a soft-shell on those spring like days or under an après jacket at the local. Also, it was easy to stuff into its interior pocket and stowe in my backpack during my frequent forest treks.

Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve Crewe

Can’t beat a killer merino Tee for those long painful flights in cattle class © Icebreaker

A couple of years ago I wore a merino tee on the plane and haven’t looked back. In fact dress like a sheep and relax in cattle class is a pretty good travel tip. You read it here first.

I fully expect that the Tech Lite Short Sleeve Crewe Peak In Reach (RRP $109.99) will be my next mile-high go to.

Why? It’s naturally warm, odourless, comfortable, doesn’t crease and I love the colour and design. Wear it under a smart black jacket and security won’t scan twice.

I’ve tested it in the lodge (aka our lounge-room), heading out to après (aka cocktails in the kitchen), and strolling in the village (aka the local hardware shop & general store). I’ve felt great and looked even greater I tell myself. I’m extremely confident that in this bad boy I’ll be warm and looking sharp, down south or up north.

Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe Peak

It’s a fact … red thermals make you ski faster © Icebreaker

Let’s not mince words, home-schooling is not natural. Especially with teenagers.

What is natural on those frosty 8:30am home school starts is staying toasty in a merino 200gm Oasis Long Sleeve Crewe ($119.99) and a pair of blissfully silent noise cancelling headphones.

The jury’s out as to whether home-schooling was worse for me or my 14 year old, but given my swear jar is full speaks volumes.

At least she loved Ferrari red merino thermal. It’s wool and it’s warm. Enough said!

Although, the 260gm Tech Long Sleeve Crewe ($139.99) would probably have been warmer on those extra crisp challenging mornings explaining algebra, and if you are in the snow a lot would be the go to in the range.

To cap things off

Keep the heat in – on & off the slope © Icebreaker

To cap things off for our 2020 Icebreaker gear test the super thin, versatile reversible merino pocket beanie $39.99 is the go-to all rounder.

It snuggly fit my balding skull – inside out and outside in. It works under my bike helmet, and will do just as well under my ski one too as soon as that comes back out.

In stores or online – stockists/shop www.icebreaker.com