Icebreaker Merino Oasis Crewe review

Icebreaker Merino Oasis Crewe review

I was first introduced to the concept of ‘base layer’ as a child. Swaddled in itchy C&A thermals I would be marched up the side of Snowdonia, and then marched back down, clammy, irritable and probably very smelly. These experiences led me to dismiss base layer for a long time. An orienteering trip in the Lake District (it was so cold I can’t believe I lived to tell the tale) a decade later allowed me and base layer to get back on to talking terms, but that’s another story.

Flash forward to today and I was presented with the opportunity to review the Icebreaker Merino Oasis Crewe from Velovixen.

The Test

I have used the Long Sleeve Icebreaker Merino Oasis Crewe for commuting to work for the last six weeks and temperatures have ranged from -2 degrees centigrade up to a high of 14. I have also used it do spinning class twice because I have forgotten my vest (side note: and my water bottle – not relevant!).

First Impressions

Icebreaker present their products neatly packaged in small boxes bursting with information; these explain the technical information behind the product and also give you insight into the company’s values and ethics. I will leave you to have a read through their informative website as I have to talk about this garment, but I must say they do have a lot to shout about.

First off I really liked the simplicity of the garment – neat, minimal and a great colour. I am not a fan of “female friendly” trims, so I was happy with the “does what it says on the tin” approach to this product. Often when we consider wool we think of something quite chunky, but this is a streamlined and lightweight bit of kit, in actually weighs 200 grams, which is the weight of a regular T-shirt. All of the seams are flat locked, this basically means you won’t get chaffing. So far so good.

The Fit

As I expected the top is slim fitting – it has to be close to the skin to allow it to wick moisture away from your body when you are hot. I found the sleeves just about on the longer side of perfect for me and I am 5 foot 7 and opted for a medium. The top is form fitting, but not skin tight and the fabric is flattering – I certainly felt comfortable wearing it alone for spinning class.

Did It Perform

In a word, yes. Icebreaker reckons their products can perform under much more severe extremities than I tested it under, but in my humble experience it was great.

I found it super soft against the skin, plus it was a welcome barrier between my arms and my unlined shell jacket which has a habit of clinging. The base layer certainly helped keep me warm during my commute when it was freezing and it weirdly kept me really cool during spinning class.

Even though I know merino wool has superior natural performance abilities I did enter the class with trepidation. Spinning makes you hot/sweaty/red as it is and I did not want to have the added hassle of overheating in a wooly top. Following my voluntary 45 minutes of torture, the top did feel damp, but I did not. It did not even smell.

When I did come to wash the top I found it dried really quickly and kept its shape, which I did not expect as it is wool, but I was pleased so I asked no questions.

The good:

  • Wicks moisture
  • Keeps you warm/cool
  • Understated design
  • Lightweight
  • Natural fibres (the company claim to be ethical in their production methods)
  • No itching
  • Naturally odour resistant

The bad:

Oooh struggling with this one, so if I have to find something – I think there is an irony in the amount of high gloss printed swing tickets and packaging that comes with such an “environmentally friendly” product (I admit I am picking holes here and this is part of a much wider discussion).

Should you buy?

Coming in at £60.00 it is an investment, but it is the kind of thing you keep until it’s threadbare, which judging from the quality would take some serious time. It is getting a big thumbs up from me.

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10 Responses to Icebreaker Merino Oasis Crewe review

  1. Vincent 14/03/2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Any alternative for men?

    • Andreas 16/03/2013 at 12:54 am #

      Velovixen is a female focused brand but I’m sure Icebreaker is available for men too.

  2. Kathryn 15/03/2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Just make sure you protect it from moths come the start of the moth season (around April). Those wretched clothes moths love merino wool more than anything, and I’ve got holes in my merino baselayer to prove it.

  3. Helen 15/03/2013 at 4:08 pm #

    I have two Icebreaker base layers, used for cycling, snowboarding and even watching football in 2 degrees. They’re perfect, and even wore them to après-ski afterwards and didn’t look like a marshmallow in the pub.

    When I commute to work they don’t smell on the ride home after being in a bag all day.

    Love mine!

  4. RHH 15/03/2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I cannot speak highly enough about Icebreaker when cycling. I’ve used it for many years now and use them for all my cycling. The merino base layer allows me to cycle at the speed I want to without too much fear of smelling when I get to where I want to. As soon as I owned a merino base layer, all the more common ones went stright in the bin – they perform terribly in comparison.

    Very much converted…

    • Andreas 16/03/2013 at 12:55 am #

      Nice – thanks for the comment and glad you are enjoying the Icebreaker tops much like Georgie is.

  5. Carolyn 15/03/2013 at 6:06 pm #

    I bought an icebreaker top several years ago whilst in the Lakes, but for the last few winters (and autumn/springs) have been using daily for cycling to work. After a few winters of constantly washing my gear, feeling like michelin woman in so many layers and never getting my temperature right, I’ve been using my icebreaker either on sits own or just with a thin fleece HH gillet and amazed at the difference it makes to my daily winter cycling. I’m always looking out for the tops on sale, usually coloured tops rather than black or white, but deals can be found. Def recommend icebreaker!

  6. Graeme 15/03/2013 at 6:30 pm #

    I’ve been using Icebreaker base layers since I started cycling 3 years ago. They are very good and would highly recommend them. The only issue I have is that they tend to tear very easily especially at the back and the sleeves.

  7. Lavina 15/03/2013 at 10:32 pm #

    I’ve been using merino base layers for many years now, mainly for doing the daily 20+15min sprint school run on a tripletbike (=3-pers tandem), and cannot live without! Paying £60 for this Icebreaker Oasis Crewe is a rip off (RRP £52.95), the women’s outdoor shop Be Outdoors has much better offers (£42.50). I find the Icebreaker camis tear easily (after 3 yrs everyday use so perhaps not too bad…). Don’t rule out the excellent, heavier quality Endura Baa Baa, and the flimsier but very much cheaper Wiggles merinos from DHB. I use them all year round (short/long sleeve).

  8. Lawrie 18/04/2013 at 9:58 am #

    I am not a cyclist but a walker and invested in 2 Icebreaker Men’s Oasis Crew 200 in January 2013. I wore the baselayer with a down jacket in temperatures below -6c, without the need for multiple layers which would be heavy and too warm.

    I enjoyed the experience so much that I now have 6 Crewe long sleeve tops which keep me warm and dry as well as no smell. Taunton Leasure now have a sale…..good prices.


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