We all know how much better it feels when wearing the most comfortable sports kit. Trying to wear the wrong thing only ever results in discomfort and distraction. Over my adult life I've learned that carefully selecting my sportswear and dressing to feel good is really key. It's great to discover new brands, especially ones with something completely different about them so I'm happy to introduce you to Icebreaker who sell some fantastic outdoors wear for all the family. They use Merino wool as the principal material in all garments which makes them pretty unique. Wool, YES!
The Merino sheep in New Zealand grows a fleece which has to cope with everything the climate throws at it. The garments keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat; as a natural fibre they are breathable and odour resistant as well as machine washable and quick drying.
I was sent three pieces to review. Each of these come in sizes XS to XL (I wore a size S and usually wear a size 8, though occasionally 10). Here's how I got on.
Maybe after many years of wearing sports bras I thought I knew it all. It's something of a curveball when you find yourself holding an 83% wool sportsbra. Wool.... sports bra. Not two concepts I would have thought belonged together. HOWEVER, the Sprite racerback bra has defied my personal logic and works absolutely as a first class piece of sports kit. The remainder of the blend is 12% nylon and 5% elastane. The light amount of stretch is essential for comfort, plus as there are no fastenings, getting in and out easily is a must. The merino wool is so soft and smooth (completely the opposite to how a woolly bra would feel in my head!), the material is ideal for activities as it wicks away moisture, is breathable and naturally resists odour. Icebreaker recommend the Sprite bra is suitable for plenty, from travelling to running and fitness. Now, being me, I wore this bra to boot camp in the middle of summer to see how it fared. As it was a much less restrictive fit than all of my other sports bras I was concerned that it might perform in an inferior manner. Support is king (or queen, more aptly) when it comes to working out. I was wrong, it was a particularly comfortable bra to wear. There was no discomfort in the least, I felt great, cool, relaxed. Naturally, if you have a larger bust, it may be less practical to wear a softer bra like this for intensive activity.
It was a grotesquely sweaty session but still, my woolly bra kept me comfortable. Quite inspiring. The fit is first rate; good structured cups but no excess seams to rub or dig in. The thin racer back made for easy, free movement. To satisfy my perverse curiosity I gave my bra a sniff 24 hours later to see just how odour resistant it was. Weirdly, it seemed ok, not the gag inducing honk I was anticipating. Of course, I wouldn't want to wear it again but it was enlightening to know.
I wouldn't hesitate to wear this bra for any situation where I wanted a comfortable fit. From workouts to hiking, to long journeys and allotment pottering. I'm very impressed, it absolutely delivers on it's brief. At £45 it represents good value as a high quality, lasting product. It comes in a choice of four colours; black, orange, pink and the grey I have.
The Rush bra is more of the style of sports bra I would naturally gravitate towards; thick, high neckline, sturdy. It's a higher wool content, 92% (and 8% lycra). Again, this bra is very comfortable and I feel particularly at home in this one. It's secure, there is no chafing or rubbing and the material feels soft against the skin. At £50 it's a little more expensive, but you are buying a high quality, long lasting piece. his one only comes in black but hey, black suits everyone with sportswear. Although it is described as a bra, this one is suitable for wearing as a crop top while working out. I'd be happy enough to wear this without a tee.
I've not got much experience with leggings. I wear boingy lycra ones for workouts but the Oasis leggings are 100% wool and are soft, not stretchy. I consulted the Icebreaker recommended uses: base layer best for outdoor and hiking, snowsports and travel and lifestyle. So, they make more sense - I'd be happy to pop these under something else as a base layer but personally, I won't be wearing these on their own any time soon. Again, these are designed to keep you warm in the cold and cool in the warm, so they're suitable for all seasons. I spent a while round the house in them to see how I felt wearing them. Well, I can recommend them as loungewear, that's for certain! I loved the fit; they hugged in a gentle manner, not too tight but not too snug. A good shape for me, excellent length and the waistband was perfect, not too tight. The gusset is designed for comfort as well as super flat seams.
I'm envisaging wearing these under waterproofs out hiking in Autumn. And perhaps under long skirts in the winter to keep me snug as a bug when the temperatures drop.
These beauts come in black or light grey for £60 which represents the quality of materials and design.
I've had my eyes opened to the powers of wool! Big thank you to Icebreaker for sending me these items to review.