By Su Reid-St. John
Wool in the summertime? I know, it sounds crazy. But companies like Smartwool, Icebreaker, and Ibex claim their wool workout wear will keep you cool in a more sustainable way than other “tech” apparel, without the itch you’d normally expect from the fabric. I decided to put the new Icebreaker GT Dash Zip to the test—and what better time and place than July in Alabama?
The sustainable part comes from the fact that most other tech apparel (quick-drying, wicking fabrics) is made from petroleum-based fibers. Many companies have begun to blend in eco-friendly fibers; Icebreaker is already ahead of the game in that their fibers are 100% natural, coming from New Zealand merino sheep. That’s a plus in my book.
I was a little skeptical, though. I usually hate wearing wool, as it makes me itch like mad. But, hey, anything for the blog. (Well, almost anything.)
It’s a good-looking top, styled like a cycling jersey, with a nice long zipper down the front—edged with handy reflective details—to help you control ventilation. It’s a little clingy, though, and not very forgiving if you have a belly or other imperfection you’d rather hide.
The top was surprisingly smooth against my skin. The only part that itched was the collar, and it was merely a slight irritation once I started to sweat. The collar also felt a little warm during my workout—but otherwise, the shirt kept me feeling pretty darned cool. The air seems to go right through this fabric, much more so than with my tech shirts. After my workout, the fabric was barely damp—quite impressive.
To my surprise, I find that I would wear wool workout wear again. I don’t think the Dash Zip is the best style for summer in Alabama, thanks to the slightly warm and itchy collar, but Icebreaker also sells a GT Dash tank top that would be ideal. Wool in the summertime? You bet.
Product: Icebreaker GT Dash Zip women’s workout top
Pros: The fabric lets the breeze blow right through, plus wicks like nobody’s business. Wool, it turns out, is a great summer workout fabric.
Cons: The collar is a little warm and itchy when you sweat, plus the fabric’s a little clingy.
Cost: $75 at Icebreaker.com
Extra tip: Steer clear of black (the color of the shirt I tested), as it draws lint and hair like a magnet.