Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

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
Features:
  • 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
Weight:
  • 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
Alternatives:
  • 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 
Conclusion:
  • 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.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Spring Flowers (3)

Flower at Dunham Massey on 3/3/11

Last Thursday Sue went down to the Winter Garden at Dunham Massey with a work colleague and snapped a few images.

Flower at Dunham Massey on 3/3/11

The ubiquitous purple and white flowers have now been joined by an array of daffodils that will become increasingly colourful over the course of the next few weeks.

Daffodils at Dunham Massey on 3/3/11

Wednesday 2 March 2011 – Great Gable

Sorry about the delay in posting – I’ll try to catch up over the next few days.

Last Wednesday, was it really a week ago?, JJ, Viv, Rick and I set off from a rather gloomy Timperley (I’ve tried to adjust the image in the slideshow to make it ‘less gloomy’!) at around 7.15am.  Stuart kindly picked us up in Lancaster and the five of us enjoyed a magnificent Lakeland day.  The slideshow (click here – 48 images) provides a fuller story, but here’s a taster.

By soon after 10am  we were slogging up to the base of Base Brown in the sunshine. 

The ascent beside Sourmilk Gill, from Seathwaite

Sourmilk Gill’s fine waterfall, provided a welcome break for those of us with cameras, whilst everyone stopped to peel off layers of superfluous clothing.

Sourmilk Gill

The ascent of Base Brown proved harder than expected.  Stuart and I headed up an icy gully.  JJ, Viv and Rick wisely headed around to the right in a futile search for an easier line, and eventually gave up in favour of the path up Gillercomb.  This caused quite a delay, but Stuart and I could hardly complain as we had the only two guidebooks, which clearly state that the easy route up is to the left, rather than the chosen path.

I still feel guilty about this faux pas, but nobody seemed too bothered on this warm, sunny day.

Here’s a view from near the summit of Base Brown.

Borrowdale, from near the summit of Base Brown

The route over Green Gable to Great Gable saw us dicing with cloud and admiring inversions, especially towards Pillar, the Langdale peaks, and the nearby Scafell summits, seen below.

The view from Great Gable to Lingmell and Scafell

A photographer* was lingering on the summit of Great Gable.  It wasn’t actually the best day he had enjoyed up here, but he certainly wasn’t complaining.  He told us he was taking photos for an article on ‘A Year in the Life of Great Gable’ that should be published in Trail Magazine next winter.

* Stewart Smith, professional photographer and blogger, whose entry for the day is here.  Thanks go to Martin Rye for identifying Stewart, and to JJ for taking his photo and various others used in the slide show for this day out.

Trail Magazine's photographer, seeking out 'A Year in the life of Great Gable'

This self-timed image captures us at the summit of Great Gable, where we enjoyed one of several lunch breaks.

On the summit of Great Gable - JJ, Stuart, Rick, Viv, Martin

The rocky descent to Sty Head was achieved without resort to any form of hurrying, but we still had time to go a bit further.

Sprinkling Tarn was partially shaded as the sun tried to hide behind England’s highest mountain.  A conflab (below) resulted in the decision to forego Allen Crags and Glaramara today.  Instead we chose to go over Great Slack to Seathwaite Fell, an outlying ‘Wainwright’ that none of us could recall having visited before today.

Conflab by Sprinkling Tarn

We passed a tent – no sign of its occupants – in a fine position by Sprinkling Tarn.

Wild camping by Sprinkling Tarn

After around thirty minutes we reached the summit of Seathwaite Fell, from where the fine views down Borrowdale were partly obscured by the lowering cloud.

Borrowdale panorama from Seathwaite Fell

A final snack gave us the energy to locate a steep grassy gully to the north west of the summit, and carefully descend it to the main path by Styhead Gill.  Looking back from Stockley Bridge, the flanks of Seathwaite Fell to look quite imposing.  Our route was to the right.

Stockley Bridge, with Seathwaite Fell

We took a very leisurely 7 hours over this 11km walk with 1050 metres ascent.  Those counting summits could add four Wainwrights and five Birketts to their tally.

Our route - 11km, 1050 metres ascent, taking us 7 hours

As previously mentioned, the slideshow is here, and we did of course enjoy a post-walk beer, on this occasion at The Salutation in Threlkeld.

“A Grand Day Out” we all agreed.