Embracing the act of running with a sheep on my back.
The first I heard of Icebreaker, the New Zealand Merino wool garment pioneers, was back in 2005 or 2006. A work colleague had just returned from a year in New Zealand, supplementing her snowboarding by working in an outdoor store. She raved about a brand that used pure Merino wool for their base-layers. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement; I hated wool- my dad has worked in the clothing-trade for over 50 years and thinking about my childhood, even today, brings back itchy memories, scratchy memories. Wool was everywhere in our house: blankets, scarves, a throw over the sofa..I think I even had a wool pillow-case. So as I stood there hearing about the virtues of this ‘magical’ fibre my skin was literally crawling. I was damaged-goods when it came to wool.
The Mighty Merino Sheep © Icebreaker
It was about another year or two before I actually saw an Icebreaker product first-hand. I was in an outdoor store and there they were stacked in their cool, eco-looking boxes. A few display base layers hung beside the boxed stock and, I will admit, curiosity got the better of me. I touched the sleeve of one- a gunmetal grey, long-sleeve top with red stitching and underarm panels. I remember the style & colour scheme because I bought that very top and still wear it running now over 5 years later- in fact I wore it only yesterday. I am a changed man.
My initial reaction after touching the top that day in the outdoor store was denial- “Thats not wool” I thought. Seriously, I reckoned that someone had hung a silk top there by mistake. A little more investigation of the label- Icebreaker GT150, size small, New Zealand Merino- left some serious holes in my defence. I picked up the top and headed for the changing room, once I had the top on I waited for the itch. Nothing. It was soft. Super-soft actually, it felt damn good. My thick cloak of wool-suspicion was being sheared away faster than a sheep’s winter coat in Spring.
Like I said, I bought the Icebreaker GT that day and decided to try it running that same evening. An hour later and any hint of merino-cynicism that remained had evaporated- the reason, funnily enough, was due to another type of evaporation- that of the usual sweat and odour that would normally accompany an after-run stretch. Merino, as I had just discovered, breathes incredibly efficiently- more so that any other top that I had used running. It is that good. As for the odour- I could literally wear the top running everyday for a week or two without a hint of stink- I still haven’t figured that one out yet. I really don’t know, magic is my best guess.
So here we are in early 2013 now. My original Icebreaker GT is still hanging-in there although my armpits have eventually taken there revenge- not through odour but through a general erosion of the material culminating in gaping holes in the underarm panel. After 5 years of next-to-skin action though I feel the top has gone beyond the call of duty and since then my wardrobe has seen quite a few more Icebreaker additions, I’ve got back-up. The latest of which is the Relay Short Sleeve, part of Icebreakers Spring/Summer 2013 GT running collection.
So what is Icebreakers GT range? Well, I guess the GT range could be described as the high-performance range, a range for fast-paced activities. Think running, mountain-races, biking and any aerobic workouts really. This is where the GT garments are designed to excel- this is their natural environment. Heres why..
- Highly Breathable
- Perforated panels for increased ventilation
- Flat, body-mapped seams
- A tiny amount of added Lycra for a next-level fit
Actually, fit is something that Icebreaker really seem to focus on and it recently dwelled on me why they can focus so much time on getting the ranges patterns and sizes dialled. Well, they don’t have to worry about any fabric advancements or development, think about it- nature and evolution have been taking care of that for thousands of years. Its also renewable, the sheep get sheared in spring and grow a new coat (or in my eyes a whole GT outfit) in time for winter. How cool’s that? So instead they work on fit and also on sourcing the best, ethically farmed merino wool from New Zealand- the more one thinks about it, the more there is to like.
Job Half Done- a semi-sheared merino sheep, lets call him ‘shag-pile’ © Icebreaker
So if this comes across as an ode to loving merino- then I am sorry, it is, but you gotta realise that I, this formerly wool-phobic runner, am the reluctant convert lured by what is a wonderfully performing, unreal feeling fabric. I have worn the same top in temperatures from -15° to +30° and it adopts accordingly. Warm when needed, cool when needed. Simple as that. I can now honestly, and without a hint of shame, say that it doesn’t get any better than running with a sheep on my back.
Thanks for reading. If you would like to share the article then please copy and share the link below//Robbie, RunTramp.
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