Thursday, June 28, 2012

Icebreaker Merino Wool Sonic SS Zip Review

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For the last ten years I've been using merino wool blend clothing as base layers for cold weather climbing and skiing, but have left it at home for any warm weather forays because it has always been too warm.  I'm the type of person that would be just fine with nine months of cold weather and snow and three months of cool, spring/fall-like temperatures.  I do not do well in the heat and I don't enjoy the heat.  Unfortunately, I live in the desert that is Utah, a mile or so away from the eastern side of the wasatch front.  What that means is that it gets hot and is very dry.

As much as I hate the heat, I hate staying inside more.  I like to get out and hike, climb, bike, run, etc., no matter the temperature, I just don't like it as much as during the winter or early spring.  If I have the option, I try to head up to higher elevations (above 10,000ft) where temperatures are cooler.  But, with work and other obligations, those trips are few and far between.  If I relied only on these trips to stay in shape, I'd get fat (fatter than I already am).

Anyway, to deal with the heat I wear the lightest clothing I can find, sometimes sacrificing a little modesty to try to stay cool (I used to run in knee-length shorts and a t-shirt but find myself liking shorter, looser shorts now and lighter, looser shirts (or sometimes no shirt).

A little while back I was sent a t-shirt from Icebreaker to try out.  I had an icebreaker shirt before but it was a little too warm and tight for warm-weather training.  I thought I'd wear it more as a casual shirt because it would be too warm for our 90-100 degree heat, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It has become my go-to shirt for most any warm weather outing.

The shirt is the Icebreaker Tech T Lite short sleeve shirt.  It is a really nice looking shirt and I often wear it when I'm trying to look nice, but I often grab that shirt first for a trail run or to climb.

So, on Monday I got a surprise knock on my door from the UPS guy with a new Icebreaker shirt.  I think this one is the Icebreaker GT Sonic SS Zip.  So far I have gone trail running a couple times and played a couple hours of tennis yesterday in it.  I love it!  And it doesn't stink.

Spec and Pictures


  • Zip through workouts in dry comfort
  • Quick drying GT150
  • MP3 tunes via cord loophole
  • Eyelet panels Increase venting underarm and on the back
  • Sweat away with quick drying odour resistance
  • Weight: 0.47-0.55 kg

The Icebreaker Tech T Lite.  This shirt first won me over to icebreaker for warm weather clothing.  The material is light and airy, dries quickly, and doesn't stink, even after days of use.

The Icebreaker GT Sonic SS Zip.  I'm actually not sure if this is the quest zip, but the quest zip is the closest thing I can find to this shirt. I threw out the packaging before looking at the model.  It has a reflective, half zip.  The front green material is a light, stretchy, and comfortable.  The dark gray under the arm and the back panel are made of a super light, knitted material for extra coolness and breathability.

Reflective detailing on upper back.  The neck is kind of high, which I originally didn't think I'd like for warm weather.  But, the neck is really soft and it's nice to keep the sun off the back of my neck.

This is the underarm panel.

This is the material on the back of the shirt and under the arms.  We'll see how durable it is, but is very soft and comfortable next to the skin.  Dries really quickly too, especially for wool.

It has an iPod pocket on the backside of the shirt.  I put keys in the pocket at the start of one of my runs and they fell out of the pocket about 30 seconds later.  Not ideal for keys but works well for mp3 players or iPods.

Headphone port on the interior of the shirt.

I'm 6'2", about 185-190lbs.  This is a size large and fits me very comfortably for warm weather.  I could go down to a medium if I wanted a closer, performance fit, but I like the looser fit in warm weather.

The Verdict

Of all the warm weather tech shirts that I have and have used, these two shirts have become my two favorites.  They are as cool as any of the other shirts that I have, they dry as quickly as most any of my other shirts, and after days of exercising in them, they still don't stink (though I am going to wash them anyway).  I'd give these shirts 5 out of 5 stars.  I wish I had a bunch more.  I wouldn't take any other shirt on an extended backpacking trip because of these shirts' function and stink-resistance.

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