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Icebreaker Merino Wool Review

Another Day in Paradise. Photo: Amrei von Hase
Icebreaker Merino Wool Review by Malcolm Gowans
Another Day in Paradise. Photo: Amrei von Hase
Malcolm in his Icebreaker Tech T Lite on Another Day in Paradise. Photo: Amrei von Hase

Call me old fashioned, but when I think of woolen clothing the first thing that comes to mind is a thick Cable-knit fisherman’s jumper. Stiff, scratchy and super warm with lots of character, and possibly the smell of too many days at sea.

I got my first Icebreaker shirts a couple of months ago and they were everything other than the wooly jumper I had imagined earlier. Since then I’ve been testing out my Icebreakers on multi-pitch sport routes, wintery trail runs, sweating and grunting while missioning up bushy kloofs in search of illusive trad lines and TACFIT training on cold rainy beaches.

What makes Icebreaker clothes so unique?
Firstly lets look at the fabric. Icebreaker Merino Wool is a blend of a super-fine woolen yarn and elastane. The fabric has a soft, raw silk like feel, sheen and drape to it. Some sensitive-skinned individuals have commented on it being slight scratchy but I found it to be comfortable from the start.  Note it gets softer after repeated washes.

The cut is trim and fits me well. I’m a lean 6’2” with a slightly positive ape index and the Large fits me perfectly. The athletic cut (slim waist, optional cuff thumb-loops) and solid construction (double over-locked stitching all round) of the Sprint keep the top in the right place and cool drafts out when reaching forward or up for the next hold.

One of the unique properties Merino wool is its thermal regulatory properties compared to a lightweight fleece.
(It literally keeps you warm when cool and cool when warm) It dries fast and best of all it holds off the stink!

What is the best feature of my Icebreaker?  The shirt can be worn multiple times before you need to wash it.
It might sound gross but you can have repeated sweat-dry cycles before the need to wash it. After each use, I turn the shirt inside out and hang it out to air. Next day, no smelly armpits ☺
Less effort required from me, better for the environment and better for my Icebreaker.

Lastly as Icebreaker is spun from a natural, sustainable resource, the environmental implications leave me with a pleasant warm and fuzzy feeling.

In conclusion, Icebreaker have hit the mark with a 98% natural fiber garment that fits well, performs brilliantly, is easy to care for and can be worn climbing, trail running, during training sessions or a base layer while working.

Ooorlogs kloof. Photo: Amrei von Hase
Ooorlogs kloof. Photo: Amrei von Hase


Icebreaker GT Sprint Crewe
Icebreaker GT Sprint Crewe

Men’s Icebreaker GT Sprint Crewe
You won’t find a silkier, more supple technical base layer to move in than this. The new Sprint Crewe has a high performance athletic fit, dries faster than ever, is supremely breathable and feels amazing against your skin.
Colours: Green
Recommended Retail Price – R949

Icebreaker Tech T Lite
Tech T Lite is an odour resistant alternative to cotton in the hottest months.
Colours:  Blue
Recommended Retail Price – R599

Icebreaker is sold through the following outlets:
Cape Union Mart [selected stores]
Drifter’s – Sandton City [JHB] and Cape Quarter [Cape Town]
Ventures for Africa – Cresta Centre [JHB]


  1. R599 for a t-shirt? WTF???

  2. I concur! They are amazing!

  3. I was fortunate enough to do testing of Icebreaker garments in Whales and Scotland a few years back. They are truely superb! They may be slightly pricey but not much more than some other barnds out there and thier quality and comfort make it definitely worth while.

  4. I could not find them at cape union mart?they dont even know what merinos wool.where else please?

  5. Ditto – not on the Cape Union Mart web site, but AdventureInc seem to be the local distributors. There are on-line shops in New Zealand that also sell Icebreaker clothing ($20 delivery charge). It’s a pity we don’t have a local manufacturer considering we also produce high quality Merino Wool in this country

    • Suggest you try Core Merino – check out there website South African and they will post but I believe that there is a walk in in Port Elizabeth

  6. This stuff save my life – must have product. @cruisercaptain

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