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November 2022

Gear Review: Icebreaker Zoneknit

Guest Authors: Morgan Forbes & Thomas Westwood

Men's Zoneknit 200 Long Sleeve Crewe

After getting the chance to try the Men’s Icebreaker ZoneKnit 200 Merino Long Sleeve Crewe I’m convinced that an Icebreaker merino wool base layer is a product more people should consider when partaking in outdoor activities that involve fluctuating temperatures, due to its temperature regulating abilities.

As someone who usually wears active style t-shirts, known for being light and breathable, I often notice how wet and damp my back feels while wearing a backpack throughout the trail. With this merino wool base layer, I don’t realize how much I’m sweating until removing the base layer and seeing it firsthand. The high breathability and sweat-wicking features of this Icebreaker base helps keep my body temperature well regulated and comfortable despite temperature changes during mountain activities.

This product offers plenty of length in the torso for added coverage and/or the ability to tuck it in when necessary. The arms of this base layer offer complete coverage with the use of the thumb loops without sacrificing mobility or comfort.

Men's Zoneknit 260 Leggings

The Men’s Merino 260 ZoneKnit Leggings are very comfortable and allow for full mobility and high breathability. The zoned temperature regulation areas are strategically placed to reduce heat in common hot zones, i.e., behind the knees.

The pleasant feel of this base layer doesn’t go unnoticed – these leggings hug your legs with a cozy sensation that might have you forgetting they are there in the first place unlike the itch accompanied by typical wool. I found these legging to be the perfect bottom base layer to have when trying to stay warm when temperatures drop and/or fluctuate.

I wore these leggings as my only layer in my sleeping bag while backcountry camping, and they kept me warm the whole night through. The fit and feel of these leggings out due any thermal leggings I have worn in the past. I highly recommend this product to those who spend any amount of time in the backcountry, partake in high-intensity activities or are simply looking to add warm to their wardrobe without the bulk.

Men's Zoneknit Insulated LS Hoodie

The Icebreaker ZoneKnit Insulated Hoodie is a comfortable and practical piece of clothing for any mountain/outdoor activity. It has a great form-fitting feel without feeling restricted. This sweater regulates body temperature incredibly well - keeping you warm in the cold but thin and cool enough that you won’t overheat in the sun. The quilted MerinoLoft at the chest is an excellent addition to ensure protection where I find it’s most needed.

The hood and built-in Balaklava provide complete facial coverage, minus the eyes of course, that is great for lower alpine temperatures and can be worn down when it’s no longer needed.

This hoodie is super lightweight and packable which makes it a perfect insulated option for backcountry adventures – cooler evenings and mornings yet allowing your body temperature to be happily regulated during high-intensity activities throughout the day. I paired this hoodie with a thin wind breaker while hiking on a very windy, frigid mountain ridge and it made for a warm, comfortable trek. I thoroughly enjoy this hoodie and I can’t wait to put it to use during colder, winter conditions in the mountains.

Women's ZoneKnit 200 LS Crewe

I was able to take the Women’s Icebreaker ZoneKnit 200 Merino Long Sleeve Crewe to the trail and I have to say I was overall impressed with the fit, features and functionality of this piece.

The sizing of this merino wool base layer fits true to size. I often find myself in between sizes due to apparel fitting bigger or smaller than usual which causes great frustration – this was not the case with Icebreaker sizing. I’m 5’6 and 120-125 lbs and the small has been a perfect fit.

The Ragan sleeve construction (a sleeve that extends in one piece fully to the collar, leaving a diagonal seam from underarm to collarbone. This gives easier movement than a set-in seam) and gusseted underarms contribute to a wider range of motion, increased comfort and freedom within the base layer. For me, having such ease under the arm and reducing stress from tight-fitting clothing is highly sought after when choosing outdoor apparel – especially for activities that involve the use of hiking poles or carrying a pack.

The drop tail hem on this long sleeve crewe allows for greater coverage – eliminating the annoyance of having your shirt ride up to the point of skin exposure, especially when wearing a backpack. The addition of thumb loops to this long sleeve is an incredible way to keep your sleeves in place and prevent bunching while layering your favourite pieces. They also provide a convenient source of hand coverage if needed while you’re on the move.

Weather in the mountains is very unpredictable so it’s important to have clothing that can accommodate to both extreme warmth and cold. The Body mapping technology designed to actively regulate body temperature and let skin breathe during high-intensity activity is a feature that has drawn me to this base layer repeatedly throughout my mountain adventures.

Merino wool is preferred in the backcountry for its comfort across a range of temperatures. In the morning, it’ll keep you reasonably insulated, but you’ll be cool, dry and ventilated once you start working up a sweat.

One of the reasons merino wool is so popular is its warmth relative to weight. It’s known for having high levels of moisture wicking because of its ability to retain a lot of liquid in proportion to its weight. For the same reason Merino wool keeps you comfortable by keeping you dry, it also encourages breathability.

There are many natural benefits of merino wool – it’s moisture-wicking, insulating, temperature-regulating, breathable, natural elasticity and odour-resistant to name a few, all of which stood out to me in this Icebreaker base layer.

Women's Zoneknit 260 Leggings

I can’t get over how warm these Zoneknit 260 Leggings are – they’re made for a perfect night in the backcountry. I tend to sleep very cold, especially when backpacking. It’s been hard to find the right layers that add warm without adding bulk and creating extra weight in my pack. The solution for me has been the 260 ZoneKnit leggings. I paired these leggings with the Women’s 200 ZoneKnit Merino Long Sleeve Crewe and I was incredibly cozy throughout a cooler alpine night and along with coffee, this set also makes the perfect addition to chilly mountain mornings.

Typically, I find wool very itchy or irritating against my skin, so I was a little hesitant to try out merino wool initially, but I’m happy to say I’ve experienced nothing but complete comfort. These heavyweight, 100% pure and natural merino wool leggings prepare you for all the possibilities in colder temperatures without reducing comfort or mobility. Packing light with clothes that do more is an adventure’s dream.

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