As I mentioned in my review of women’s travel pants, I’m determined to pack super-light for the upcoming Joyful Heart Yoga trip to Spain. While researching travel clothes, I came across the fact that merino wool is a great fabric for travel. Who knew? I normally avoid wool, thinking that it’s heavy, itchy, and gets stinky when it’s wet, but marino wool is different. It is lightweight, easy to pack, wicks away moisture, dries quickly, does not get stinky so you can go longer between washes, and it has a natural sun protection factor of 50. And best of all, it’s natural! It comes from sheep raised in New Zealand. Not only do travelers love merino wool, but athletes choose it for the same reasons. The other interesting thing about these clothes is that they regulate your temperature. I went on several long, sweaty bike rides in various temperatures, with the trail changing from hot sun to cool and shady, and I was always comfortable.
After looking at my options, I placed an order with Icebreaker — a company that specializes in merino wool and has a great reputation. They have free shipping and returns, so there is no risk, and you can even trace your garments to learn more about the sheep they came from, their living conditions, and the people who raised them.
When I received the order I was very surprised. I couldn’t believe that this light, silky fabric was wool. It’s very nice and comes in different weights for different levels of warmth. It’s nice enough to wear for dressy or casual occasions. Like all good things, these clothes are fairly expensive. But the good news is that you don’t need many pieces since they dry so fast and can go longer than tech fabrics without washing. Here’s a run-down on a few products:
Seeker Short Sleeve This is my handsome husband modeling this sharp button-front shirt with a collar. It looks nice enough for a night out, but it’s very comfortable and lightweight. If we go dancing, it will wick away sweat quickly, and he can wear it out all day long while we’re exploring Spain and go right into a restaurant at night. Before wearing, he washed it in the machine and hung it to dry — it dried quickly and looked perfect. He also has the Tech Short Sleeve Polo, which looks just as nice but is a pullover style, and he got some of their great socks for all the hiking we’re going to do. Icebreaker has plenty of other clothes for men whether you’re looking for workout clothes or day-to-day clothes.
I bought some basic pieces with the idea of layering. First, the Siren Short Sleeve Sweetheart. The Siren line is considered to be an under-layer — the fabric is thinner and it fits closer to the body than the tech line. I found the fit to be very flattering, and wore it alone. Even though it was a body-hugging fit, I had no trouble layering a tank underneath when I wanted extra warmth. The Icebreaker tanks really do add noticeable warmth even though they are feather-weight, so if I pack these three items I can mix and match as needed with no bulk in my suitcase. The Siren Tank is whisper-thin. You will need a bra underneath if wearing it alone. I wore this with the sports bra for a bike ride on a hot day, and I wear it underneath other clothes when I want an extra layer. Many people like it for yoga. (Note on the sports bra: It’s super comfortable and great for yoga or biking, but, for me, it does not have enough support for running, zumba, or anything where you’ll be jumping.)
The Tech Tank is more substantial, yet still very lightweight. I’m more comfortable wearing this alone for non-sports events. For cooler nights, I ordered the heavier Tech Top Long Sleeve Crewe in black. It fit perfect and can be worn alone or underneath a sweater. And last, but certainly not least, the Willow tee. This is the lightest weight available. It has a boatneck and a flattering drape. It is slightly sheer, so if you wear black pants underneath a lighter color top, you will see the black through the shirt. The Siren tank would be a perfect layer underneath if you wanted more warmth or coverage. I’ve received so many compliments on this, and it’s perfect for a very sunny day when you want to protect your arms from the sun but want to stay cool.
All in all, I’m in love with Icebreaker. The one item that I returned was the tech short-sleeved scoop tee. It was a little tight across the bust, and since the others fit so well I decided that I didn’t need it. Other than that, I find their size charts to be a true fit. I’m 5’6″, 126 pounds, and the small is a good fit. My husband is about 6′, 180 lbs and wears a large. I can’t wait to pack my bag for Spain and show you how small it is!
If you have a favorite Icebreaker piece or if you have a great packing tip, please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page (link is in the upper right-hand corner of this website.)