Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 11 March 2011

Gear Review: Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Men’s Oasis Crewe – time to turn down the central heating

Ascending Base Brown on 2 March 2011 - the Icebreaker Bodyfit200 Men's Oasis Crewe kept me warm 
[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has legitimately been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]

I was delighted, on return from Canada a month ago, to receive this superbly made garment from Webtogs for review.  Whilst it’s a shame I didn’t have it in Canada, where it would have been worn in anger on most days, I’ve now had a chance to wear the garment for long periods in various conditions.

Here are my first impressions:

Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Men’s Oasis Crewe

The manufacturer’s product description is provided at the foot of this posting.

Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 - out of the box

First impressions:
Out of the box – it feels a little heavy compared with my regular long-sleeved t-shirt. Because it is – 200gm vs 155gm (TNF Polartec®).
This long sleeve Merino base layer garment appears to be a product of NZ, but was actually made in China – that’s a surprise – but it’s very well made and has a ‘BAACODE’ that traces the wool back to four ‘stations’ (farms) on NZ’s South Island.
It sells for £49.95 RRP, currently £40 from Webtogs (March 2011).
First day out – v comfy under NF fleece. Arms just a little on the long side.

Fit and Finish:
  • the medium size fits my 38” chest – it’s snug but comfy
  • the length is just right – long enough to tuck into trousers, but equally wearable outside them without it looking too long
  • I have heard that when Icebreaker first started to use Chinese manufacturers they encountered quality problems; there is no sign of any such problem with the well finished garment in my possession
  • the garment exudes ‘quality’, with the flatlock stitching and  seamless underarm reducing friction from internal seams, making it extremely comfy (I should know by now – I’ve lived in it for the last month)
Icebreaker Bodyfit200 Icebreaker Bodyfit200
  • in addition to the features mentioned above, the integrated raglan sleeve design also features a highish neck that helps trap in the heat when you need it most
  • the sleeves are generously long; I believe that this is a feature of Icebreaker clothing
  • at 200gm, this garment is about 45 gm heavier than the equivalent Polartec® garment that I am used to wearing, but it’s definitely warmer.  Ideal for winter use, but probably too hot for most people as a summer base layer, when the 150gm version may be a better choice
Practical Use:
  • I’ve enjoyed wearing this base layer, indoors and outdoors, for the past month.  It has certainly resulted in a reduction in our household heating bill, and has meant that in the outdoors, an extra windproof layer over the Polartec® fleece that I use as a second layer has rarely needed to be deployed
  • in warm weather most people will find this garment too warm
  • I’ve worn this Merino wool top for days on end, including some ‘vigorous activity’, without it becoming noticeably smelly.  This is a big advantage over Polartec® polyester clothing.  On the other hand, if you do need to wash the Merino wool garment, it takes longer to dry than polyester
    [Apparently someone has worn one of these garments non-stop for 196 days in extreme conditions – so there’s no need to try to repeat that particular test!]
  • it’s a smart top that can be worn underneath a shirt or v-necked sweater as casual wear, as well as it’s obvious usefulness in The Great Outdoors
  • numerous manufacturers make similar products, with leading producers charging similar or slightly lower prices, Icebreaker being an acknowledged market leader in this field
  • there are cheaper alternatives; I suspect that they are ‘cheaper’ in more ways than one
  • for really cold weather, Icebreaker offers heavier duty Merino wool base layers such as this one, that may be the choice of readers with poor circulation or a tendency to venture out in extreme conditions 
  • this base layer is ideal for winter use for walking and backpacking.  Some backpackers may wish to deploy it all year round for use around camp and on cooler evenings 
  • if you work from home in the winter months, you’ll find that wearing a Merino wool base layer such as this one may have a dramatic effect on your heating bills
  • I’ll be using it for winter walks, and for general casual wear, all winter, and I may even take it on the two week ‘TGO Challenge’ backpack in May if the forecast is for cool weather
That’s it for now.  I’ll add to this review when I have been using this base layer for a longer term.
Icebreaker’s own product description is reiterated below

Icebreaker Men's Oasis Crewe 

Icebreaker Bodyfit200  

Product Description:

Designed to fit close to the body, this raglan long sleeve top has a higher neck to trap in the heat when you need it most. Flatlock stitching and a seamless underarm reduce friction from internal seams, which will make this top one of the most comfortable pieces of clothing in your wardrobe.
  • Crewe neck
  • Raglan sleeves
  • Gussets for ease of movement
  • Forward side seam
  • Fits close to the body
  • Flatlock stitching
  • Icebreaker tonal embroidered logo
For Icebreaker’s Size and Easy Care guides, click here

Note: Whilst the gear was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.


The Odyssee said...

Nice review of a good product.
I have had one of these for a couple of years. Bought it in Oban for £40. The guy in the shop told me to buy one that fitted slightly big as they have a tendency of shrinking a little bit after a couple of washes.
I wear my 200 icebreaker a lot what ever the time of year. I must be cold blooded. I also bought 2 Merino T's of 150 weight from Aldi for £14 each. Ideal for those warm days. Can't wait for those arriving.

afootinthehills said...

Good review Martin. I have a 100 150 and 260, all crews and think they are superb, if expensive - partcularly since Lynne likes them as well!

I find a 150 with a 260 in winter a good combination although I do run cold!

We've recently made purchases from Webtogs (boots/shoes) and found them to be an absolutely fantastic company to deal with.

Martin Rye said...

Merino is great till its hot and humid and then it's a soggy mess. Also when its wet it slow to dry. So there will be no merino tops on the TGO Challenge with me. I will happily sell anyone my Ice Breaker tops and Bear Tooth top as well. Simply put I am not alone in finding the limits of merino and read how others are no longer using it in the UK as they don't want a soggy wet mess to wear in the morning as it fails to dry over night. Cold weather use only is my view.

The Odyssee said...

I disagree with you in some ways Martin although i know exactly where you are coming from. You are correct that they do take longer to dry than other materials.
I wear mine regularly just like as a T shirt not as a base layer and then a mid layer and therefore when the rucksack gets taken off it doesn’t take too long to dry through body heat, sun (ha) and wind. However if it’s a miserable wet day then its a miserable damp top but i carry a change for such occasions. I put the damp one back on again in the morning or if it’s a nice morning i will hang it out while i have breakfast and pack up. It doesn’t take that long to dry in a breeze and also if you put it on damp it soon warms up.
Sorry for hijacking your comments Martin B.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks for those comments, gents.
I did make the point that wool takes longer to dry than polyester, but that will be irrelevant for me on the TGO Challenge, as the Merino top will be worn in the cool of the evening, rather than on sweaty stomps up hills (unless it's Really Cold). I know that some people prefer a down jacket for that purpose, but apart from places like the high Alps and the Himalaya I've found a long-sleeved t-shirt perfectly adequate, and it can be kept on all night if need be. And for the two weeks of the Challenge there will be no need to wash the Merino wool garment...
I have no intention of testing this base layer in hot and humid weather as I'm pretty sure it's not intended for such use!

Martin Rye said...

Alan the wicking ability is not as good as synthetic on hot days, or to be honest most days when you have a good hill to climb. It might dry but while walking it is a damp squib. Also on a multi day walk it gets wet and if it is wet over night you have a choice. Dry one to wear in the rain to get wet that day in the rain or the wet damp squib that did not dry over night. Me I go for a synthetic top which will be easy to wash at camp sites on say the Challenge and dry in the morning at a wild camp. Merino is good in the cold and that is about its limit. Some tops like the Montane bionic have a mix of merino and synthetic which is a good idea as it works well compared to a 100% merino top.

Phreerunner said...

That's alright Alan, your views went up whilst I was composing my own comment (and Martin's whilst I was composing this comment). Like you, I'm impressed with the Merino, not least because it's brilliant for those cool days at home when you don't really want to turn on the heating, but I acknowledge that like most kit it does have its limitations.
The top was great in the Lakes last week, for the ascent of Great Gable. It meant that I could happily stay in two thin layers whilst others were wrestling with their Paramo.
Martin R - I don't deny you have a point, but I really wouldn't consider wearing Merino during the day on a long backpacking trip when it's wet/humid/hot - polyester is better for that. But if it gets a bit sweaty on a day walk - which most people will use it for, so what!

Laura said...

A good review - I have been considering buying a merino wool base layer so me (the cheapskate) found a Decathlon one on sale (for 15E). I've worn it skiing, alpine and x-c, and snowshoeing, and loved it. But it is very warm!

btw nobody has mentioned the remarkable re-juvenating properties of this garment.....!
(compare photos at beginning and end of post?)......sorry couldn't resist it!

The Odyssee said...

Nice one Laura. I completely missed that.
Anyone had a run out in a Bamboo top? I have had no experience with this material but it reads to have similar anti perspiration qualities. It maybe a good alternative to Merino.

Theo said...

I used a Merino baselayer all the way on TGOC2007, occasionally a Merino midlayer and in rain a Paramo Alta jacket. Never used the 2 fleeces I carried in my backpack. During the Challenge the weather was mostly fine but I had gale and horizontal rain (you know what I'm talking about) in the Lairig Ghru. At Derry Lodge the Paramo was dried up (it had been absolutely soaked on the outside)and the 2 Merino's never got wet during the Challenge. Not on cool breezy days with jacket and not in scorging sunshine. Merino is topclass for me.

afootinthehills said...

I'm with merino especially in colder weather, but I've worn an Icebreaker 100T ultrafine backpacking in hot weather and it performed well, didn't become exceptionally damp and by the time we had the tent up and a brew going, it was dry. Never felt clammy either.

It's all down to individual preferences of course but I've used my Icebreakers for 3 years now I wouldn't be without them.

Phreerunner said...

Well spotted Laura. Sadly the magic potion supplied by Webtogs is already starting to wear off, so it's more likely to be the top image you spot in Oban on 12 May!
Thanks for all the comments, they certainly enhance the value of this review for anyone stumbling upon it.
I think there's a general 'thumbs up' for Merino, and Icebreaker, but care is obviously needed in selecting the particular product(s) needed for specific purposes.
I now also have (thank you Wolfgang!) a short-sleeved Bodyfit200 that I think may be great for cycling when it gets a bit warmer.

Louise said...

I now have three merino tops, (smartwool baselayer, 150 and 320 Icebreakers) two pairs pants, five pairs socks, two pairs (handknitted) flipflap mitts, one pair leggings. I do layer them but try not to wear them all at once so I don't look too much like a sheep. I love them, maybe because, living in the north of Scotland, they suit me and the weather I live with.

(I also have two bamboo tops, although I don't run, so maybe my thoughts don't count, but I find they get damp, don't smell, but don't feel warm wet like merino does. I use them to layer.)

It's very much what suits the individual and what one person hates, another will love. Boots v. lightweight shoes, for instance?! But I lurve merino!

Nice review btw., to get back to the point!