Icebreaker merino wool garments: baselayer or magic?

We at Nomad Ventures have great enthusiasm for Icebreaker baselayer garments- we’ve worn it in every environment; hot, cold, casual, technical, etc.- and it has performed wonderfully.  So, it was no surprise when the fine folks over at Icebreaker received the following letter from Kevin Newton, a customer who recounted his experience with his Icebreaker SKIN200 top.

Dear Icebreaker person,

I wanted to share with you my recent thorough and wholly scientific review of your SKIN200 merino top.

I live in Scotland, so my Icebreaker gear is commonly used at the ‘stop me dying because it’s bloody freezing’ end of the performance envelope. A couple of weeks ago I left snowy Scotland for a week in Egypt in the hope of defrosting at least my extremities. On the way to the airport I wore my SKIN200 as the bottom layer in a typical multi layer, survive long enough to vacate Scotland, ensemble.

Thanks to the magic of merino I made it out of Scotland with minimal frostbite. Six hours later when the airplane doors opened in Egypt and the heat rushed in, all was well with the world. As I walked down the airplane steps and the heat started to thaw my toes, all was still well with the world. As I waited at the luggage carousel whilst everyone else went on their merry way, all was not so well with the world.

Situation check; one SKIN200 top, one goose-down jacket, gloves, Icebreaker skull cap and jeans. Perfect, pyramids here I come! I should also mention that I am considerably tighter than a duck’s arse and the only country more rip-off than the UK is Egypt. So… kicking and screaming, I remortgaged to rent some shorts. However, my mind cavorted back to the Icebreaker ads about the magic of merino and I declined the offer to swap my wife for a T-shirt.

Day 1. I’m somewhat bemused that no matter how much suntan lotion I apply, if I need to slip the SKIN200 on it doesn’t stick to me. I’m also confused about temperatures; if I get too hot and put it on I get cooler; if I’m too cold in the evening and put it on I get warmer. Weird.

Day 2. Similar to day one but as we enter the SKIN 200′s 48hr usage envelope I spill beer down the front. I can’t understand why there’s no stale beer smell. I spill more beer; still no smell. I fall asleep.

Days 3 to 6. Much the same as above, except the accumulated bouquet should by rights now include sweat, wine (red and white, I’m equally inept), ice cream, sun block, grease from an allegedly beef like substance and various camel secretions. Still no smell.

Day 7. Homeward bound. I’m not normally nervous of flying but I’ve never sat next to a drunken Glaswegian after I’ve been wearing the same top for 7 days before. All went well. Indeed, I even acquired some new deposits, ironically administered by Jock as he lurched forward to examine the garment I’d just been explaining was Egypt proof.


Back home, no matter how much I argued that the self cleaning merino should be be kept unadulterated for scientific research my good lady wife could not escape her social conditioning and snook it into the wash. Although I was disappointed I understood the logic; female though it was. What I didn’t understand was the need to drape it over the garden chair to dry when gales were forecast…

That was two weeks ago. My boyish optimism still keeps my spirits high as I arrive home from work each day hoping that a kind neighbour will have responded to the ‘missing’ posters and I will be reunited with my SKIN200. Realistically though hopes are starting to fade and I fear the grieving process is setting in.

What have I learnt? Advertising hype, isn’t alway hype. Icebreaker merino is weird sh!t. I need to start a fund for a new top as unfortunately weird sh!t does not come cheap.

Best regards

P.S. As we no longer make the SKIN200 we replaced it with the BF200 Oasis Crewe which is ultimately very similar to his original top. After such a great email, how could we not!

P.P.S If you want to read more of what Kevin writes about visit his blog at


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