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Icebreaker delivers another great base layer in the new BodyfitZONE 200 series. No surprises here, which is just what we like in a baselayer.
We like to smell good when we spend a week ski touring at a mountain hut. We also like staying warm and dry. There is a way to do this without carrying a ton of extra clothes with you. The solution is merino wool, which is a great base layer, doesn’t get stinky like technical fabrics, and seems to last forever.
The importance of a good baselayer in cold weather is no secret. Your classic cold-weather layering setup might combine a warm down parka or Gore-Tex shell paired with a good insulating midlayer to provide the bulk of the warmth. But without an efficient baselayer made of wool or breathable synthetic fabric underneath, you’re still likely to have trouble regulating body temperature while staying active in very cold weather.
We have tested two items from the Icebreaker BodyfitZONE range: leggings and the half-zip long-sleeve top. We wanted to see how these pieces of gear work in high-output activities.
Our verdict is: invest in a good wool baselayer if you’re going to be exploring this winter. Icebreaker’s BodyfitZONE 200-weight half-zip and leggings are a great choice.
If you plan to be out ski-touring, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing this winter, this gear is a great choice to keep you warm and comfy. If you’ve got a lodge trip booked, then some merino gear will keep your friends happy, as it’s almost impossible to make Merino clothing smell bad!
The old mantra that “Cotton Kills” applies most especially to baselayers, which sit right next to your skin and are your first layer of defense against hypothermia. When you move, you sweat – even in cold weather. And when you sweat, your body temperature cools off – which is great in summer time but potentially deadly in winter – or even year-round in high elevations where the weather can be cool and unpredictable.
Cotton might be comfortable, but it readily absorbs sweat and traps it close to your skin, which can prevent you from warming up in cold weather. Again, fine when going for a run or doing yardwork in the summer, but lethal when gusts are blowing on top of the ridge or the temperature drops at sunset in the mountains.
While you can get a technical, synthetic base layer, our experience is that these items can get smelly fast. Especially if you need to wear them on repeated days.
Instead, you need to be outfitted in a wool baselayer. Instead of trapping your sweat on your skin, wool wicks moisture away from your skin and to the outside of the garment, where it can evaporate in the wind. As a result, you stay dry and warm.
At the same time, wool is also better at trapping heat than cotton is – both wet and dry. It’s just a fantastic (and completely natural) material for regulating body temperature in virtually all activity levels.
Icebreaker comes with 3 weights in the BodyfitZONE line, 150 (ultralight), 200 (Lightweight) and 260 (Midweight). The 150 is a good weight for summer, while the 200 weight is a good all-around weight. The 260 is a heavier weight, and we find we use that weight mostly for daytrips on very cold days in winter.
Long-sleeve Zip: Not provided
Leggings: Not Provided
- Doesn’t smell. Merino wool is naturally odor-resistant and breathable, so you smell (almost) as good after wearing these things for a week in the mountains as the day you put them on.
- Super Comfy. Merino is soft. Luxurious, almost. You probably won’t want to take these off.
- Athletic fit with gussets and other features makes them excellent performers when mobility and stretch matter.
- Quick-drying and breathable. Sweat evaporates quickly, so you stay warm and comfortable in all weather.
- Great Value. Our experience with Icebreaker is the base layers last years of regular use. So, while expensive, the quality means each garment lasts years and gets hundreds of uses.
- Stretchy. The added Lycra means these items have some stretch, which makes them super comfortable and doesn’t restrict movement when you’re on the trail.
- Would love thumb loops. These are nice when you aren’t wearing gloves and don’t like it when sleeves slide around when moving quickly.
- Slim cut means hard to wear around town for larger bodies. Consider going up a size if you are a larger body and plan to wear this around town as well.
Wool is often regard as wool rough and scratchy, but now that merino wool is popular, it’s considered one of the finest and softest – in addition to being fantastic at regulating body temperature. Wearing wool isn’t just safer than cotton, it’s actually more enjoyable.
And, for bonus points: wool doesn’t smell, even after becoming soaked in your sweat after a long day (or couple of days) on the trail. It’s commonly touted as having natural anti-microbial properties that keeps bacteria from growing in the sweat, thanks to lanolin, a natural wax found on sheep that does have slight anti-bacterial properties. When properly treated with lanolin, wool will resist the build-up of germs and other nasty smells long enough to keep you from smelling terrible on long backcountry trips and allow you to get by with doing your laundry much less often.
Merino wool is a wonder fabric, but is only one of the many reasons we really love Icebreaker’s BodyfitZONE baselayers. Both the half-zip and leggings are 96% merino wool, which gives them all the warmth, moisture-wicking breathability, and yes, even anti-odor, characteristics you expect, and makes them perfect for everything from mountain climbing to backcountry skiing (and sure, days out shoveling, too).
The BodyfitZONE line comes in three main weights 150, 200 and 260. The 150 is the thinnest and the 260 is the thickest. We like the balance of weight and performance of the 200-weight line, which is good for all seasons.
We’ve put them to the test in some of the coldest days the Rockies have thrown at us so far this fall, including a recent snowstorm, and they’ve performed beautifully. We expect them to do just as well all winter long.
Icebreaker designed BodyfitZONE to be as athletically-cut and comfortable as possible while remaining active, just like any good baselayer should be. Complementing the merino wool is 4% lycra, which gives both pieces enough stretch to let you maneuver without restriction when you are rock climbing or skiing. Gusseted knees and shoulders contribute to this mobility and help reduce stress during high-octane activities, and there are host of details there to help improve performance and comfort, such as flatlock seams to prevent chafing and a soft, brushed elastic waistband on the leggings.
To maximize both warmth and temperature-regulating, Icebreaker used two different weaves to create different sections – some that trap in heat, and some (underarms, for example) that use eyelets to dump heat quickly. As a result, we found they never get too hot, even when moving quickly uphill, or too cold when sitting still.
Overall, Icebreaker delivered on comfort; they’re slim enough that you never notice them under your clothes, drape well, and provide ample coverage; the half-zip has an elongated hem to keep it tucked in. And of course, the merino wool is super soft; they can become a sort of second skin during long trips outside, and we felt they fit great under our Arc’teryx Atom SL midlayers and Gamma LT pants.
When it comes to keeping us warm and toasty on hikes and climbs of all levels, the BodyfitZONE baselayers have performed very well. They’re breathable enough to keep us cool when moving quickly but are substantial enough to keep heat in when we’re stopped and sitting around. And the moisture-wicking quickly wicked any sweat that did build-up when we were exerting ourselves. In short, they do everything they say they’ll do, and are the perfect complement to Arc’teryx Atom and Beta jackets and Gamma pants for creating a classic three-layer system.
Oh, and they really don’t stink. While you’re bound to create some odor on long, very sweaty trips, the merino wool does its job at fighting them off, and you won’t come back from every trip scaring off everyone within 10 feet.
All in all, we’re very happy with both the IceBreaker BodyfitZONE half-zip and leggings, and highly recommend them. This isn’t surprising, it seems that most of us have a ton of icebreaker gear. It performs well and lasts a heck of a long time!
We like the new BodyfitZONE as they’re supremely soft and comfortable, just as merino wool should be. They also excel at both keeping us warm and dry and letting us breathe during high-output activity. The stretch and athletic cut keeps us comfy. Perhaps most importantly on hut trips in winter, they do a great job at keeping the smell at bay. We can keep our packs light knowing we can wear most of our gear every day!
They also look good. We find we wear them around town, and have a clean look. They’re even versatile enough for wearing on chilly spring and summer nights and mornings. They’re our favorite baselayer set so far, and we expect to be using them for a long-time to come.