Gear Review: Icebreaker 260 Base layer

When it comes to keeping dry and warm cotton is OUT!  As the saying goes “Cotton Kills.”  During my time as a white water raft guide I have seen many people trying to go rafting in cotton t shirts or even worse jeans.  Pure insanity if you ask anyone with experience in water even during the summertime.  Many times our customers would complain of being cold because they were wet.  We had to explain how cotton absorbs water which cools the body 25 times faster than air. People would then remove their cotton clothing and put their life jackets back on.  They would quickly dry off and warm up soon afterwards.

There’s a reason wetsuits and swimsuits aren’t made from cotton.  The same concept applies to keeping dry and warm while hiking or any outdoor activity for that matter.  It still amazes me that in 2016 there is still a market for cotton “Long Johns.” Those old school waffle style cotton long underwear with the stretched out waistband awkwardly saggy crotch and 25″ neckline. You might have some hand-me-downs somewhere in a closet at home. They make great rags for washing your car but a poor base layer at best.

Why merino wool base layers?

The merino is an ancient breed of alpine sheep. Over millions of years they evolved a superfine, highly breathable fleece to protect them from freezing winters and scorching summers and it will do the same for you.

• TEMP CONTROL – Merino naturally keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather.
• BREATHABLE – Merino absorbs and releases vapour to prevent overheating and clamminess.
• UV PROTECTION – Merino gives you extra protection against the sun’s harmful rays, naturally.
• NO ODOR – Naturally anti-bacterial, it can be worn for days without washing.

Why Icebreaker?

Icebreaker is committed sustainability and responsibility in all aspects of their product lines.  They take pride in the way workers throughout the supply chain are treated.  The sheep and farmers are also selected through best practice methods with the utmost respect for animal welfare.  All this while protecting the environment the free range sheep are living in.  To sum it up Icebreaker values the big picture!

Base Layer specs

The 260 Tech Top Long sleeve I wore is $110 and weighs in at 10.4 oz.  Prices range for the 260 weight from $110 to $120 for the half zip turtle neck.  The 260 Apex Legging with Fly is $110 and weighs 10.4 oz.  The 200 series bottoms range from $80-$90.


TopImage result

Fabric weight: 260 Midweight
Fabric: 100% Merino wool
Product Weight: Medium = 316 g / 11.15 oz
Fit: Slim
Best for: Snow Sports, Outdoor & Hiking, Travel & Lifestyle
Benefits: Comfort, warmth, breathability, odor resistance
Features: Updated slim fit, offset shoulder seams prevent pack rub, forward set side seams for comfort, drop tail hem for added coverage

BottomsIcebreaker - Bodyfit 260 Midweight Apex Leggings with Fly - Men's - Black

Fabric weight: 260 Midweight
Inseam: Large = 76.4 cm, 30.1″
Fabric: 100% Merino wool
Product Weight: Medium = 251 g / 8.85 oz
Fit: Regular
Best for: Snow Sports, Outdoor & Hiking
Benefits: Warm, comfortable, odor resistant, breathable
Features: Functioning fly, gusset for comfort and mobility, no center back seam, Icebreaker branded brushed elastic waistband

Proper care

Machine wash. Dries fast in the shade, but do not tumble dry. Exact instructions on the care label

Circumstance of review

These base layers carried me through chilly nights from Springer Mountain through Roan Mountain during my 2016 thru hike.  I wore them each night to keep me warm and to keep my quilt and sleeping pad cleaner.  They have also kept me warm AND DRY during countless early mornings in the duck swamp in chest waders.  As well as in frozen tree stand in the Pennsylvania winter.


Compared to similar merino base layers Icebreaker truly does commit to sustainability and quality.  They are completely open with all aspects of their business.  That along with an amazing product make the a fantastic value for the money.  These base layers have been worn, and washed dozens and dozens of times.  They remain soft and warm and still look like new.  I couldn’t be happier with these base layers, or with Icebreaker as a whole!

Shop the 260 Tech Top Long sleeve & 260 Apex Legging.


Disclosure: This product was donated for the purpose of review.  Photos and details courtesy of

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Katina : Nov 14th

    Agreed! I wore the Icebreaker Zone Shorts under my Purple Rain skirt the entire time. Prevented chafing better while keeping all the lady bits modestly cloaked. This combination was superior, in my opinion, to skorts. I could easily swap them out for full-length merino wool long johns on cold mornings.


What Do You Think?