Merino wool garments are fast becoming a must have item for any backpacker, walker, traveller and climber. One of the most common merino wool products is the simple baselayer t-shirt, and one of the top manufacturers is Icebreaker.
For those unacquainted with Icebreaker they are a relatively new company based in New Zealand. Set up in 1995 they are world specialists in merino wool clothing with their baselayer products being at the forefront of the range.
We were sent the Icebreaker Bodyfit 150 L/S Atlas mens t-shirt to review. The 150 refers to the fabric weight, and if you want to get technical, the 150 refers to the fabric’s weight – ie 150 g/m² which is 150 grames per meters squared. The 150 is the thinnest and lightest in the range. Other weights include 200, 250 etc. Because it is fairly thin and light, the 150 is suitable for when the temperatures reaches the higher end. The L/S means that it has long sleeves. S/S is also available which is the short sleeve version of the atlas.
Merino wool baselayers are not just for keeping you warm in cold conditions. They also keep you cool when its heating up, it’s almost like a reverse flask. It’s able to keep you cool due to it’s breathability. The Atlas features flatlock stitching which ensures that there’s no irritation or chaffing on any of the seams.
Another benefit is that the fabric won’t pick up any body odour, so if you need to wear it after exercise or on consecutive days you won’t stink. Great if you’re a traveller or long term backpacker. Another great property for travellers is that it’s easy to wash, dries quickly and doesn’t need ironing.
It’s also provides a high level of UV protection – a good feature if you burn easily. If you are suspect to the sun then get the long sleeve version which protects your forearms and elbows. The sleeves on my version were great as they were able to pull up easily past the elbow.
The list of benefits go on, it’s fire resistant, it’s bio degradable so after you’ve finished using it you can dig a hole and bury it. But i guess the more likely scenario is that it will go to landfill and biodegrade making it more environmentally friendly. Even the box is sustainable and can be recycled.
I went on a long walk to test out some of these benefits and found that the baselayer was great at keeping me cool despite it being a long sleeved top. It was a fairly hot-ish day so for most of the day, the sleeves were rolled up. I also found that the top was very quick drying. After scrambling up a steep incline, I stopped for around 10 minutes and with a slight breeze, the top was practically dry!
The Bodyfit 150 L/S Atlas is an all rounder and a great introduction into merino wool clothing. It can be used for any activity for work under your shirt, going out, walking, running, cycling, anything you want, in pretty much any condition. Remember it is a baselayer so its designed to have a snug fit so if you’re conscious about a few extra pounds it won’t be flattering. You might be best off with a traditional t-shirt made from merino wool.
If you’re a travelling any time soon this is a must have!
Inca Trail Test
For the Inca Trail the top was great for all parts of the journey. Early mornings are cold on the trail, as you start to walk you heat up and will start to sweat. The top kept you warm while you were having breakfast and then cool as you started to heat up.
With long sleeves it was also ideal to keep the sun off the back of your arms and forearms. Walking lasted around 6 hours per day, a long time to be in the sun.
Each night on the trail you camp, the highest on the second night at around 3,000 feet, temperatures drop as soon as the sun goes down and remain low till around 8 in the morning, again the top was great, especially having long sleeves to pull down!
In total the top was worn for all three nights, and one day. It wasn´t stinky and didn´t feel like I was putting on a used top each day.