Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone Leggings - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Excellent fit, ventilation in the right places, comfortable next to skin, durable, no odor retention
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Icebreaker Merino 260 Zone Leggings - Women's
|Price||$91.00 at Backcountry|
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|$100.00 at REI|
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|Check Price at Backcountry|
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|$69.00 at REI|
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|Pros||Excellent fit, ventilation in the right places, comfortable next to skin, durable, no odor retention||Warm and cozy, will keep you dry, improved fit||Affordable, stylish design, super comfortable, excellent fit||Amazing breathability, comfortable on the skin, great fit, good warmth, cute colors and designs||Very breathable, ultralight construction, quick drying, great snug fit|
|Cons||Expensive||Lacks durability when worn alone, not the most technical or breathable option||Not as breathable due to thicker waistband, welded seams aren't our favorite||Less durable than previous version, holds smell after time||Not as comfortable as merino fabric|
|Bottom Line||This technical yet exceptionally comfortable pair provides ample warmth while simultaneously dumping heat in the right areas as you pick up the pace||A versatile merino wool bottom for cozy winter days of activity or inactivity||A versatile synthetic bottom featuring modern style, unbelievable comfort, sufficient thermoregulation, and affordability||A synthetic long underwear bottom with an all around impressive performance at a fair price||A highly breathable layer that dries quickly, making it exceptional for intense cool to cold weather activity|
|Rating Categories||Icebreaker Merino 2...||Smartwool Merino 25...||Kari Traa Rulle Hig...||Patagonia Capilene...||Odlo Performance Li...|
|Comfort and Fit (30%)|
|Specs||Icebreaker Merino 2...||Smartwool Merino 25...||Kari Traa Rulle Hig...||Patagonia Capilene...||Odlo Performance Li...|
|Material||Body: 97% Merino wool, 3% elastane; Panels: 100% Merino wool; Eyelet: 98% Merino wool, 1% elastane, 1% nylon||100% Merino wool||70% acrylic, 20% modal, 10% Merino wool||100% recycled polyester||69% polyester, 27% polyamide, 4% elastane|
|Fabric Weight (g/m²)||260 g/m²||250 g/m²||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Measured Weight (size medium)||10.3 oz||7.3 oz||5.9 oz||5.6 oz||3.1 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||No||Yes||No|
|Odor Control Fabric||Naturally odor resistant||Naturally odor resistant||N/A||HeiQ Fresh||N/A|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Trish Matheny
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