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Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone Leggings - Women's Review

This technical yet exceptionally comfortable pair provides ample warmth while simultaneously dumping heat in the right areas as you pick up the pace
Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone Leggings - Women's
Photo: Icebreaker
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $130 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Excellent fit, ventilation in the right places, comfortable next to skin, durable, no odor retention
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Icebreaker
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Warmth - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 9
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

For those looking for the ultimate long underwear bottoms, the Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone Leggings are worth the investment. This pair provides a balance between warmth and ventilation that is unmatched, while also being comfortable and well-fitting. The technical feature of the BodyfitZone ventilation enhances breathability in areas where we heat up and sweat the most. Throughout our testing, this midweight merino wool pair also proved to be durable. The Icebreaker 260 Zone Legging is for the athlete who is focused on high performance during cold-weather activity, from winter camping to skiing to snowshoeing all season long. Its versatility also allows this warm pair to be used through most of spring and fall, too.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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$65 List
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Pros Excellent fit, ventilation in the right places, comfortable next to skin, durable, no odor retentionWarm and cozy, will keep you dry, improved fitAmazing breathability, comfortable on the skin, great fit, good warmth, affordable, cute colors and designsVery breathable, ultralight construction, quick drying, great snug fitExcellent value, very warm, breathable, cute color options, comfortable waistband, versatile fit
Cons ExpensiveLacks durability when worn alone, not the most technical or breathable optionLess durable than previous versionNot as comfortable as merino fabricStretches out over time
Bottom Line This technical yet exceptionally comfortable pair provides ample warmth while simultaneously dumping heat in the right areas as you pick up the paceA versatile merino wool bottom for cozy winter days of activity or inactivityA synthetic long underwear bottom with exceptional value and versatile applicationsA highly breathable layer that dries quickly, making it exceptional for intense cool to cold weather activityA merino wool pant that offers an excellent value
Rating Categories Icebreaker Merino 2... Smartwool Merino 25... Patagonia Capilene... Odlo Performance Li... Meriwool Merino The...
Warmth (30%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
9.0
Breathability (30%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Comfort And Fit (30%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Icebreaker Merino 2... Smartwool Merino 25... Patagonia Capilene... Odlo Performance Li... Meriwool Merino The...
Material 97% Merino/3% Lycra; 99% Merino/1% Lycra 100% merino wool 100% recycled polyester 69% polyester/27% polyamide/4% elastane 100% merino wool
Fabric weight (g/m²) 260 g/m² 250 g/m² N/A N/A 250 g/m²
Our weight class assessment Midweight Midweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight
Measured Weight (size medium) 10.3 oz. 7.3 oz 5.6 oz 3.1 oz. 7.8 oz
Cuts avaliable Full length 3/4 length, full length, onsie (full body w/ hood) Full length Full length Full length
Smelly over time? No No Yes No No
Odor control fabric Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant HeiQ Fresh N/A Naturally odor resistant

Our Analysis and Test Results

Naturally anti-odor, the Icebreaker BodyfitZone Merino 260 Zone Leggings feature a durable construction, including BodyfitZone technology to increase ventilation while flatlock seams prevent chafing. The Icebreaker 260 Zone Legging is an excellent choice for a midweight, merino wool base layer to keep your warm during cold weather activity.

Performance Comparison


The Icebreaker Zone 260 Leggings kept us warm and happy even during...
The Icebreaker Zone 260 Leggings kept us warm and happy even during this cold rest day during the fall in Yosemite National Park.
Photo: Toby Swimmer

Warmth


To test for warmth, we consider the weight of each garment, from lightweight to midweight. While some garments advertise a heavyweight thermal fabric, they can perform more like a mid or lightweight fabric or vice versa. No matter the advertised level of warmth, we put each layer to the test, assessing the level of warmth from sedentary to vigorous activity. The layers that kept us the warmest received higher scores.


The Merino 260 Zone leggings do not disappoint in this category, providing plenty of warmth as the temperatures drop. They perform more like a midweight layer that is more geared towards high output activities rather than sedentary activity. These leggings are constructed from ​​97% merino wool and 3% Lycra. They feature BodyFitZone technology that utilizes breathable panels in areas where we tend to sweat the most, allowing for sweat to be wicked and released away from the body so that we remain warm and dry during long ski tours in backcountry or winter training runs. While it does not offer the highest level of warmth out of all the layers that we tested, we’re convinced this is the layer of choice for cold-weather activity because it balances warmth with ventilation when moving. As long as you aren't seeking base layer bottoms strictly for sedentary activity, this pair is warm enough for all but the coldest winters found in the lower 48.

The Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings kept us warm while dumping excess...
The Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings kept us warm while dumping excess heat through its vents behind the knees and at the lower back on desert fall runs.
Photo: Toby Swimmer

Breathability


For our breathability metric, we first note the fabric, whether synthetic or merino wool, as well as the level of thickness, from light to heavyweight. Next, we take these layers on a variety of activities to determine how well they wick moisture away from the body and keep us dry out in the cold.


Due to the BodyfitZone technology, we are impressed with the breathability and temperature regulation featured by the Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings. The ventilated features on the back of the knee as well as below the waist where a backpack might rest allow moisture to leave the base layer and keep you warmer when exposed to the elements. We noticed we stayed warm even when this layer would retain moisture, and it can dry quickly even when tucked under other layers. We believe the innovation behind the BodyfitZone technology brings us closer to finding the perfect base layer for cold weather activities.

Strategically placed ventilation just below the waistband help these...
Strategically placed ventilation just below the waistband help these leggings wick away moisture.
Photo: Toby Swimmer

Comfort and Fit


Warmth and breathability are certainly key components when selecting a base layer for the winter months. However, another key consideration is how comfortable that layer is next to your skin as well as the fit of the garment. Oftentimes, ill-fitting layers can allow for more airflow thereby preventing the layer from doing its job to keep you warm, they can also distract you from focusing on your ski turns if the material is itchy or a seam is out of place. We note our experience with each of these base layers to determine which layer provides the greatest level of comfort as well as the best form fitting layer to allow for maximum warmth and layering.


The Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings really impresses us with its ability to hug curves. They also offer enough stretch when we put our bodies in motion. They feature a brushed waistband that keeps these leggings in place during activity. They also fit true to size, at 5’6” and 130 pounds, our lead tester, Trish, felt confident selecting a size Small. These leggings were noticeably comfortable when we first tried them on and even more so as we washed the fabric and hung them to dry in front of the fire. Icebreaker really nailed the fit and overall comfort of these leggings, whether hanging around the cabin between activities or getting the heart rate up on the nordic trails.

The brushed waistband of the Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone is not only...
The brushed waistband of the Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone is not only comfortable, it also keeps these leggings in place during activity.
Photo: Toby Swimmer

Durability


To assess the durability of each long underwear bottom, we note the daily wear and tear we observed while testing these layers during cold weather activities. After taking these layers on adventures from trail runs to multi-pitch rock climbs, we evaluate the impact of those activities and then take a close look at the construction of the seams. We give higher scores to the layers that we find to offer the highest quality and craftsmanship.


The Merino 260 Zone Leggings are a superior base layer and set themselves apart from the competition in this category. The 260 Zone features gusseted construction that significantly reduces stress on the seams in high-mobility areas, a common failure point for base layer bottoms. The flatlock seams are robust, too, and also act to prevent chafing. Icebreaker also added extra material to increase resistance to abrasions in high traffic areas, like the knees, where our base layers tend to wear out the fastest. Lastly, due to the natural properties of merino wool, this pair of long underwear bottoms resist odor build-up. We confidently wore them for multiple days before finding them in need of a wash.

The Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings were durable enough to keep up with...
The Icebreaker 260 Zone Leggings were durable enough to keep up with us during all our adventures thanks to the craftsmanship behind these flatlock seams.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Value


One clear drawback to the Icebreaker legging is the price tag. However, you get what you pay for. The 260 Zone offers midweight merino fabric that includes technology like the BodyfitZone, which allows for maximum breathability despite consisting of relatively thick and warm fabric. Your dollars also support practices such as the Responsible Wool Standard-certified wool that focuses on responsible land management as well as caring for the sheep with proper animal welfare standards. We’re convinced you won’t be disappointed with this layer, offering durable construction that outlasts its competitors and is worthy of the higher initial investment.

Conclusion


We are confident that the Icebreaker BodyfitZone Merino 260 Zone Leggings will exceed your expectations. The anti-odor merino construction that aligns with the Responsible Wool Standard-certified wool standards, as well as the BodyfitZone ventilation panels, durable craftsmanship, and excellent fit made it clear to us that the Icebreaker 260 Zone Legging is worthy of our highest praise. Perhaps our highest recommendation, though, comes from the fact that this is the pair of base layer bottoms our testers could not stop wearing.

Running in the desert never felt so good. The Icebreaker 260 Zone...
Running in the desert never felt so good. The Icebreaker 260 Zone kept us warm, dry, and comfortable.
Photo: Toby Swimmer

Trish Matheny

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