It’s Day 7 of our 12 Gift of Christmas.  If you’re still stumped as to what to buy the Adventurer in your life for Christmas, this could just be the thing.  I cannot sing the praises of this brand enough.  I wear their stuff when I’m on the hill, when I’m canoeing, when I go to the shops, when I’m on holiday…it’s just great!  Icebreaker merino is probably one of my most favourite brands of all.

Paula Goude of RockRiver Expeditions stands at the trig point on the top of Scafell Pike

So what is it?  Well merino is the wool from a certain type of sheep.  These sheep live in the southern Alps of New Zealand so they’re pretty tough – existing in scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters.  So they have evolved to deal with this.  Their summer coats are breathable and lightweight, then they grow another layer in winter to give them extra insulation against the extreme cold temperatures.  Icebreaker take this wool and create clothing using all of the learning from nature – lightweight, breathable and layering.

You might think that wool is itchy, hot, heavy, smelly…but this isn’t.

Merino wool has antibacterial properties.  When we trekked across Switzerland I had one tshirt which I wore in the day times and one that I put on ‘fresh’ each evening.  I wore those two tshirts for three weeks and they didn’t smell.  Excellent therefore for lightweight travelling.

Merino is breathable.  So if you do wash them, they dry super quickly.  And if you’ve read our blog on layering your clothes for hiking, you’ll know that breathable layers are the best – they transport the sweat away from your skin to evaporate, meaning that you stay warm and comfortable.

Icebreaker manufacturer the garments in different weights of merino – Featherweight, Ultralight, Lightweight, Midweight.  Most of my short and long sleeved tshirts are in Ultralight or Lightweight, I can wear them on their own in the summer.  I have a Featherweight vest that I can wear under other tshirts so if I have to change out of my drysuit in full view of the world I can at least have a little modesty.  I have a hoody or two in Midweight that I wear on top instead of a fleece.  I have a long sleeved top and leggings in Midweight that I wore when we went skiing in Canada and we knew it was going to be much colder than European ski trips.  Being able to layer the items up and pick and choose the weight makes it incredibly versatile.

The leggings are comfortable, they stay up, and they’re thin enough to wear under trousers.  So I can walk in winter in my favourite walking trousers and still be warm.  I sleep in them some nights when I’m camping if there’s snow on the ground.  An added bonus is that if I have to get up in the night I don’t have to hunt around for something to pull on.

Michael and Paula Goude, owners of RockRiver Expeditions wearing Icebreaker merino base layers on a hike in Snowdonia with a lake in the background

You can get base layers in his and hers too!

Despite my lack of care, Icebreaker merino tops hold their shape.  They don’t go stretch or go baggy.  In fact, I bought one in 2012, I’ve worn it at least once a week for most weeks since then and it’s still going strong.  Which brings me onto my next point.

They’re great value for money.  Yes, you’ll take a look at their website and think I’m a crazy lady spending £55 on a tshirt.  But read that last paragraph again.  I’ve had a tshirt for 5 years and worn it at least once a week almost every week.  That works out at about 20p per wear.  And that’s if you buy at full price.  I’m lucky that I have relatives in New Zealand who can buy them at a good price and generally my collection grows each Christmas as a result.  But you can also buy them in the end of season sales for around half the price and keep them until the next year.  So you can make it even better value if you look around.

And if sustainability is important to you, these tick that box too.  Scan the ‘baacode’ and see which sheep station your wool has come from.  And when you’re done with your top (and it’s beyond use for the charity shop), just bury it and it’ll break down naturally in time.

Paula Goude of RockRiver Expediions wears Icebreaker merino hooded top in Dorset

So if you don’t know what to buy me for Christmas, you won’t go far wrong with an Icebreaker merino v neck tshirt 😉 But really, if there is an Adventurer in your life I’m sure they’d love something from the Icebreaker collection.  Or anyone who walks the dog regularly, or works outdoors, or walks the school run, or just wants a nice, comfortable, antibacterial, long lasting tshirt really.

Have you tried Icebreaker merino yet?  Are you a fan too?  Let me know in the comments…

Find all of our gift recommendations here;
Day 1 – The Buff
Day 2 – The Lifeventure Thermal Mug
Day 3 – The Silva Expedition 4 Compass
Day 4 – The MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
Day 5 – The Alpkit MytiStax
Day 6 – The Satmap Active 12 GPS
Day 7 – Icebreaker Merino Tshirts
Day 8 – Leki Walking Poles
Day 9 – Alpkit Viper 2 Headtorch
Day 10 – Hats
Day 11 – Mountains
Day 12 – Ordnance Survey Maps

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