Awhile back, I discussed my desperate need for solid quality, honest-to-goodness workout clothes, and asked for recommendations. Along with the usual suspects (mostly Nike Dri-FIT, UnderArmour, and Target’s C9 line – all brands I’m already super on board with), a few readers told me I had to try working out in – wait for it – wool. What? Huh? Exactly.
The New Zealand-based Icebreaker has developed a line of performance wear made from merino wool. The merino is one of the world’s most ancient breeds of sheep. It lives in the country’s Southern Alps, and its wool is known for being soft and lightweight (which is why you see so many sweaters made with the material). Priding itself on the use of this natural and sustainable material, the company even lets you trace your garment’s origin back to the farm in New Zealand where the wool came from, using the “Baacode” on the tag.
The brand’s logic goes something like this: The sheep manage to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so they must be doing something right. I’m neither a lawyer nor a sheep farmer, so I really can’t think of much to refute that argument.
I wore a pair of their shorts and a tee for a run one afternoon. It was 3:30 with the sun still high and it was H-O-T out. It was also the only time I could fit a workout that day, so I figured I’d be able to properly vet the noteworthy natural fibers by putting the gear (and me) through its sweaty paces. And I did.
On a sprint interval workout in 90-degree weather, I stayed remarkably dry. The shirt really wicked sweat away from my body, and the shorts especially felt nice and breezy against my hot skin.
The only thing is: the shirt was a little…itchy. Hilarious, right? Itchy like wool can be. Itchy like a new sweater you forgot to wear a t-shirt under. Itchy like those sheep must get from time to time, which is too bad because they can’t really do anything about it. I’m hoping that will go away with a washing…but that brings me to my next head-scratcher. The care instructions on the tags read machine-washable, but line dry.
For – well, I don’t know the breakdown of the population who has a washer and dryer versus those who don’t, but I imagine the haves outweigh the have-nots – but for those with more advanced in-home cleaning capabilities than me (i.e., more than their bathroom sink and a bottle of Woolite), this is absolutely no problem. I, however, drop my laundry off at the laundromat every week (okay FINE, every two weeks..ish), and can’t very well explain that the shorts and tee have to be dried separately. Like I said, not a problem for most people, but just something to call out to my fellow city dwellers.
All in all, I’m excited to rotate this new gear into my workout wear wardrobe. Plus, I’m always happy to try something new that you and I both can give a go.
Also, their mascot is a super-fit, naked guy in an oversize ram’s head. So there’s that.
Have you tried Icebreaker or another brand of wool workout wear? What do you think of the natural fiber technology?
Note: Products were provided gratis by the manufacturer.