I cherish gear that performs and I have no patience for gear that doesn’t. In most cases, I look for items that can multi-task for economy of money, space and weight. Luckily, my work has the perk of allowing me to test a lot of new products.
For the last month, I’ve been testing Icebreaker’s Tech T Lite line of Merino wool shirts. These shirts are lightweight enough to wear alone on hot days or as a base layer on cooler days. I tested the shirts both ways, and as a trail-to-town piece. They certainly multi-task. I only had one hiccup during testing which I suspect was an anomaly, or my own fault, more on that in my notes below.
Here is Icebreaker’s description of the shirts:
The versatile Tech Scoop belongs to our Journeys collection and is made from soft 150gm merino for travel and everyday wear. Featuring a flattering feminine low neck with inset trim, the Scoop looks stunning solo or as a base layer on cooler days.
The Journeys range of lightweight, versatile merino layers can be worn across seasons and continents, solo in the heat or layered up in cooler weather. They’re ideal for travel because they regulate temperature, breathe to prevent overheating, resist odour naturally, pack light, are machine washable and dry in a flash.
1) Inclement cool weather hiking as a layer
2) Warm weather hiking as a single shirt
3) Out on the town
I considered the following qualities:
3) Looks (on the town)
Comfort/Performance – This shirt feels great. It has an almost slinky quality that I loved. The fabric is light and doesn’t bunch or bind and it breathes very well. When I got sweaty, it took about 30 minutes to dry but didn’t cling to my skin during that time so I wasn’t uncomfortable. An added bonus, no body odor, yes I can get seriously funky on trail… It’s the shirt you won’t have to think about, and that’s a win in my book.
Durability -This is where I had a small issue. I’ll never know exactly what happened with the first shirt I was sent. I cared for it per all of the instructions, but it developed two small holes. I must admit that I’m not a light tester, I play a little rough and perhaps I snagged the shirt without realizing. Icebreaker has a stellar reputation for quality and promptly sent me another shirt to try. The second shirt performed without a hitch and looks like new after use; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the information about the issue with the first shirt, even though I suspect it was a fluke.
Appearance – Ohhhh I love how this shirt looks! Remember that slinky quality I mentioned? Well that translates very well to wearing this shirt with nice jeans or even slacks. It’s nicely fitted and just thin enough. I tested the cobalt and azalea colors and both were vivid, pretty shades. There also offer some attractive graphics by Adam Haynes and Ed Hepp. I feel good whenever I wear it out to dinner or a business meeting.
Conclusion – Overall, this shirt is one of my new favorites because it’s multi-purpose. I particularly like it for travel because I can toss it in my suitcase and know I could hike in it or wear it out to dinner. Icebreaker has clearly elevated base layers to new heights.
Ethics – I couldn’t close out this review without pointing out a few of Icebreaker’s qualities as a company. They take ethics very seriously and believe in a transparent supply chain. Many of their products have a unique “Baacode” sewn inside so Icebreaker fans can go online, type in this code, and trace the wool from their apparel back to the sheep farm. I was able to trace my shirts all the way back to the farm including every step in between. In fact, here is a link and the code from my shirt if you want to try it yourself:
Baacode Trace Enter: B3E2D9B41
From here, you will get some insight to Icebreaker’s ethics in manufacturing.
The Icebreaker Merino Tech T, Short Sleeve retails for $69.99.
So, you might look at the price of purchasing one of these shirts, or other Icebreaker products, and flinch at first. I’d like to point out; you’re paying for both quality and an ethical supply chain. That does raise the cost some. What you’re not paying for an overinflated designer label.
In closing, I give these shirts my stamp of approval. In fact, there is a good chance you’ll see me in them regularly, both on the trail and in town.