I had never worn Merino wool until last Autumn, when Icebreaker sent over some gear to try out. Wool? For running? Careful readers and listeners will recall the 100 mile challenge I completed to test the manufacturers claim that the garments don’t stink after a workout. After a hundred mile week–all in the wool shirt–I took the garment in-studio and had Scotty smell it. Nothing. No smell. Totally neutral My hyper-sensitive wife agreed that the stuff is magic and the conversation invariably turned to the running clothes equivalent of “why don’t they make the whole plane out of the black box material?”
Although my shirt from last year is still in fantastic shape (because of the price of wool, Iactually follow thecleaning guidelines), I was excited to snag a new long sleeve top from Icebreaker. They’re a New Zealand manufacturer of Merino wool, and as everyone knows, New Zealand has a ton of sheep that need to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That wool works for runners, too.
I’ve been wearing the Icebreaker Long Sleeve Quest Zip for a month or so now and though it’s pricey ($120), it’ll be my go-to top for nearly every cold weather run this winter. The top is made with 97% Merino wool with the remaining 3% elastic, giving it an athletic wool feel with just the right amount of hold. There’s a mesh portion on the top of the back (between the shoulder
blades) and again all along the “bottom” of the arms and down the sides, allowing heat to escape in just the right places.
Icebreaker hid a small pocket along the nearly invisible seam along the right side that’s just the right size for keys or a couple of energy packs. Classic thumb holes (that often appear on women’s tops, but not as much on men’s) keep part of the hands warm on cold mornings.
Fit-wise, I’m 6’2″ and 165 pounds with an abnormally long torso and the size large fits me perfectly. It hangs just past my belt line and the arms don’t stop at my wrists. The neck zips all the way up for extra warmth and is snug without asphyxiating me. I’ve got thin shoulders and this has more of an athletic fit. The zipper extends halfway down my chest, allowing me to unzip all the way to really cool down if need be.
Icebreaker makes a big deal out of being eco-friendly and, by using a unique barcode included with each garment, allows the user to trace which particular sheep ranch the wool came from. You can watch interviewers with the ranchers, but this seems like a silly waste of time.
All in all, I love this top. I’ve found myself wearing it on runs as well as around town running errands. I haven’t
washed it yet, as I’ve got a little contest going with myself to make it stink. I will succeed! As with my other wool tops, cold wash then hang dry, and yeah, it’s a pain to have to hang dry, but if you consider you’re washing this 90% less than other tops, it’s really not this big of a deal.
If you’re looking for a top for cold weather that allows you to keep a moderate temperature, definitely check this out.