Icebreaker Mondo Longsleeve Half Zip (2013)

It would seem that the sheep in New Zealand must be some of the nicest-smelling in the world. The merino wool that the Icebreaker Mondo Longsleeve Half Zip base layer is made from can be worn repeatedly over several days without any hint of unpleasantness, then machine-washed. It’s a bit thicker and heavier than the synthetic base layers we looked at, so it’s best suited to slightly cooler conditions. Although not particularly long, the neck zip does offer the ability to control your temperature through venting. This in combination with merino’s natural wicking properties means the Icebreaker base layer can still be worn for gentle activities in warmer temperatures. However, it’s in cool, damp weather that you’ll really appreciate the benefits of the Mondo long-sleeve and the fact that merino wool retains its insulating properties even when wet.

Material 100% merino wool
Colours black, grey, blue, green (men’s); black, grey (women’s chakra)
Sizes S-XL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s Chakra)
Weight 244g (size men’s L)
Website www.icebreaker.com

 

Verdict

Of the base layers we looked at, the Icebreaker Mondo Longsleeve Half Zip is the best for odour resistance.

Review by Ben Weeks
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2013


Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip (2012)

As it’s made from merino wool, you could honestly live in the Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip for months without washing it because of its natural antibacterial properties. Made from Icebreaker’s RealFleece (260g/m2), this is a thick, warm full-zip jacket that keeps you very toasty but also breathes well so you shouldn’t ever get clammy. You can feel stronger wind through the material, so it is best worn under a wind- or waterproof jacket in such conditions. The collar is soft and snug around the neck but the cuffs are a little baggy and there are no thumb loops for extra hand warmth. The rest of the Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip is well-fitting and very smart, meaning you could wear this top as casual wear too as it doesn’t scream “I’m a hillwalker!” The absence of a hem drawcord is not noticeable as it fits well around the bum, with a slight drop tail to add to the warmth and cover your kidneys when reaching up for rock holds when scrambling. The two side pockets are just about accessible with a rucksack hipbelt and there’s also a small lipsalve/iPod pocket on the arm. The Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip’s weight is reasonable at 422g (size UK12) without a hood or thumb loops.

Weight 422g
Pockets 2 side, 1 arm
Material Realfleece merino wool weight 260g/m2
Thumb loops no
Hood no (Cascade Hood available though)
Men’s version yes
Website heu2.icebreaker.com

 

Verdict

The Icebreaker Cascade Full Zip is a very warm, smart and well-fitting natural fleece jacket that’s especially great for multi-day trekking when washing facilities are non-existent.

Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine October 2012


Ice Breaker Chakra Zip (2012)

Simply the warmest, softest, best-looking, most versatile base-layer on test. It’s got a high zip-neck collar which locks in warmth when you need it, and allows a welcome flow of air if you get too warm. The fit is form-fitting but not tight, so it feels just as comfortable underneath outer layers as it does on its own. Made from 100% merino wool, it breathes incredibly well, and quickly wicks away sweat so that your skin stays dry. It washes easily (best on a cold wash), and won’t suffer any shrinkage. The fabric is strong too, and although it’s pricey, it should keep you warm year after year. But the most amazing thing about this base-layer is that it just won’t smell – even when you think it ought to!

Sizes: XS-XL

Fabric: 100% merino wool

Weight: 200g

Contact: 01572 772 437 www.icebreaker.com

Review from Country Walking magazine, January 2012.


Icebreaker Mondo Zip

A classic full merino top with all the characteristics that you would expect. It’s not too heavy a weight of fabric so it works well over a wide range of temperatures, with a reasonably snug fit that gives plenty of warmth when you need it. It wicks sweat incredibly well, although it’s not the fastest-drying on test (typical of the natural fabric). Body odour isn’t really an issue either, with several days of use being perfectly possible without any obvious stink rearing its ugly head. The zip neck adds extra versatility to the top, allowing you to open up the collar when it’s warmer and batten down the hatches when it’s not, and the sleeves can also be rolled up if need be.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: S-XXL
Weight: 243g
Fabric: Merino wool
Features: Zip neck, flat-locked stitching, forward side seam
Contact: 01572 772437; www.icebreaker.com


Icebreaker Mondo Zip

A classic full merino top with all the characteristics that you would expect. It’s not too heavy a weight of fabric so it works well over a wide range of temperatures, with a reasonably snug fit that gives plenty of warmth when you need it. It wicks sweat incredibly well, although it’s not the fastest-drying on test (typical of the natural fabric). Body odour isn’t really an issue either, with several days of use being perfectly possible without any obvious stink rearing its ugly head. The zip neck adds extra versatility to the top, allowing you to open up the collar when it’s warmer and batten down the hatches when it’s not, and the sleeves can also be rolled up if need be.

Sizes: S-XXL
Weight: 243g
Fabric: Merino wool
Features: Zip neck, flat-locked stitching, forward side seam
Contact: 01572 772437; www.icebreaker.com


Icebreaker Chakra zip base layer

Made from wonderfully soft, thick New Zealand merino wool, the Chakra feels fantastic against the skin. It’s fairly close-fitting with plenty of stretch so traps warmth very efficiently and the cuffs pull up easily to the elbows for ventilation. It doesn’t retain odour, so even after a couple of days’ walking the fabric won’t smell bad. It tolerates different temperatures well, keeping you warm when it’s cold, and wicking away moisture when you sweat. It repels water and dries quickly, too – although not as quickly as some of the synthetics. The only downside is that the fabric is fairly fragile and will last longer if you wash it less – but as odour isn’t an issue this isn’t too much of a problem.

VITAL STATS
Sizes: XS-XL
Fabric: 100% Pure New Zealand merino wool
Features: Flat seams, zip- neck
Contact: 01572 772437;
www.icebreaker.com


Icebreaker Mondo Zip 2009

The Icebreaker Mondo Zip weighs 222g (men’s S); closer fit; excellent-quality 100% merino wool won’t smell; very smooth and comfortable; long at rear so unlikely to ride up; various weights available; women’s version is the Chakra. But stitched logo; a longer zip would be better; wool not to everyone’s taste and will soak out in hot weather; surprisingly easy to puncture.

(01572) 772437; www.icebreaker.com

Verdict: The Icebreaker Mondo Zip boasts sublime quality and comfort, but is not the most durable wool base layer.

 

Review by Simon Ingram
First published in Trail magazine October 2009


ICEBREAKER ATLAS HALF-ZIP

Review: The midweight merino wool feels soft and comfortable against the skin and offers plenty of stretch for easy movement. Collar feels snug, warm and very cosy. However, while the body is ideal for moisture management and warmth, it’s a little too figure-hugging for casual use. Couldn’t fault the Atlas on the hill. It seemed to have a wider temperature tolerance than the synthetic base-layers tested and this was enhanced even more by the snug, high neck and the lovely long zip. It did feel a tiny bit wetter than the synthetics, but didn’t ever feel clammy, and it dried quickly, too. As always with merino wool, odour retention wasn’t a problem, even after a few days wear.
VITAL STATS
Colours: Sea, inferno, black, ink
Sizes: S-XXL
Fabric: 100% New Zealand merino wool
Women’s version: Yes
Contact: 01572 772437, www.icebreaker.comVerdict: While £40 seems a lot to pay for a base-layer, the versatility and performance of the Atlas definitely justifies the extra expense, especially if you walk in a range of conditions. A must for multi-day trips.